Sep 292010
93lbs AFC-Gold Golden Eagles Team Photo - 2013

93lbs AFC-Gold Golden Eagles Team Photo – 2013 (Photo credit: Jim Larrison)

Not long ago I was talking to a mother who told me that her parents did “not approve of” her approach to her elementary school-aged son’s “less than stellar” grades. Have you ever been stuck in the middle between well-meaning grandparents and their grandchildren?  Ouch.

As the conversation unfolded she shared a number of important thoughts. According to Mom, the young “offender” was (is):

– extraordinarily kind and compassionate
– a bundle of energy, excellent athlete, “good sport” and team player
– very curious and interested in learning
– socially skilled and fairly disinterested in grades

The prevailing wisdom –both from the school and from her parents — was that her son should be grounded from all sports, outdoor breaks and extra-curricular activities until the grades were better.

“People seem to think I’m  far too easy on him, that he’s lazy and I’m simply overprotective and making excuses that encourage poor school performance.”

Perspective is an interesting thing. I wanted to hear more about her thinking and decision-making process.

It was clear that this mom did not consider grades the Holy Grail of learning. Curiosity, problem-solving and creativity ranked pretty high among her values. She was concerned that turning the issue into a battle of wills would have a detrimental effect on her child’s desire to learn. “Maybe I’m wrong but I think that punishing him because he learns differently will do more damage than being a “C” student. Besides, even if punishment turns out to be an effective way to get him to work toward the goal of a better grade, won’t it have a negative impact on the desire and ability to set and achieve goals?”

When I didn’t argue she had more to say.

“Here’s the part that really bugs me. This is a very bright, active person who has already figured out that exercise ‘works’ for him. Where is the logic in depriving him of that tool in order to force him to sit down and focus better? I don’t get it!”

How much personal pressure do you feel about your child’s grades? Do you believe grades reflect performance or compliance? How do you balance respect for the process and classroom management versus your child’s individual learning style? And who is responsible for a child’s education: the parents or the school system?

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Apr 192010

Checklist (Photo credit: o.tacke)


In an effort to be more proactive about bullying prevention, a Spencer, Massachusetts school gave students the opportunity to -anonymously – submit a list of bullies to some of their teachers.

Apparently the the five kids whose names showed up at the top of most of the lists were separated from the other kids for a period of time and carefully monitored in the halls, the cafeteria and in the bus lines. For a while.

I have seen a number of news reports about this. One features a Mom whose son was on the list. In that video, both she and her son admit that he has been a bully. Her son said that although he didn’t like the school’s intervention, it was effective. He doesn’t like the fact that other kids have been saying that, because he’s on that list, they don’t want to be friends.

The focus of that report, however, was on the Mom’s anger at the school — although I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what she’s angry about. It seems to be for spotlighting the top five kids on the list and monitoring their behavior. The superintendent, while supporting the teachers’ intent, apparently has stopped ‘the list’ and the intervention.

But here’s something that only showed up in one of the reports: the young man in the report had been bullied at school for a long time prior to adopting the aggressive himself.

I’m confused. What do you think of what the teachers did? Is it discipline or is it abuse? The mom? Embarrassed, enabling or protective? The superintendent? Seeking fairness or avoiding headlines? Does responsible parenting mean asking ourselves whether or not OUR precious children could be perpetrating such behavior?

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Apr 162010

I am passionate about protecting and preparing kids…. so much so that sometimes I forget to lighten up and have fun.

With that in mind, no matter WHO you’d like to see take the Stanley Cup this year, I think that hockey fans around the country can appreciate this video.

Thank you Plum High School students (Pittsburgh PA) for the the talent, hard work, enthusiasm and fun you put in to this video. That really only leaves me one more thing to say about it.