What is School For?

A month ago,  Seth Godin posted a very interesting question:  What is School For? 

Here is his starter list:

  1. Become an informed citizen
  2. Be able to read for pleasure
  3. Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment
  4. Do well on standardized tests
  5. Homogenize society, at least a bit
  6. Pasteurize out the dangerous ideas
  7. Give kids something to do while parents work
  8. Teach future citizens how to conform
  9. Teach future consumers how to desire
  10.  Build a social fabric
  11. Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage
  12. Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology
  13. Learn for the sake of learning
  14. Help people become interesting and productive
  15. Defang the proletariat
  16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall
  17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted
  18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems
  19. Teach future citizens to obey authority
  20. Teach future employees to do the same
  21. Increase appreciation for art and culture
  22. Teach creativity and problem solving
  23. Minimize public spelling mistakes
  24. Increase emotional intelligence
  25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics
  26. Increase understanding of a life well lived
  27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players

It is by no means exhaustive but provides starting points for very interesting conversations amongst parents and educators,  particularly when searching for that “perfect” primary or secondary school.   I personally would hate to place my son in a school whose principles were heavily skewed towards #4-8, at the expense of #2 & 22. 

Related post: Are Schools Educating Our Children Out of Their Creativity?

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Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Ted and Jose Antonio Abreu’s wish: El Sistema to Go Global

For the past few days,  whatever spare time I have has been spent surfing TedTalks.com.  Today’s uploads were especially thrilling as I finally got to hear from the founder of El Sistema:  Jose Antonio Abreu.

Mr. Abreu is a retired economist, trained musician, and social reformer who founded El Sistema (“the system”) in 1975 based on the conviction that what poor Venezuelan kids needed was classical music. After 30 years and 10 different political administrations, El Sistema is now a nationwide organization of 102 youth orchestras, 55 children’s orchestras and 270 music centers.  This February,  he was announced as one of 3 winners of the 2009 TED Prize:  $100,000 + “One Wish to Change the World.”    

Comprised of close to 250,000 young musicians, El Sistema uses music education to help youth, most from impoverished circumstances, to achieve their full potential and acquire values that favor their growth and have a positive impact on their lives in society.    Several participants have gone on to major international careers, including Gustavo Dudamel, incoming music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and double bass player Edicson Ruiz, who at the age of 17 became the youngest musician ever to join the Berlin Philharmonic. 

Witness and be moved by the passion and joy of the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra (composed of high-school musicians) led by the charismatic Gustavo Dudamel as they perform Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, 2nd movement, and Arturo Márquez’ Danzón No. 2.  I love the idea that these young kids are taught at a very early age to work as an ensemble – that in working together,  they may achieve something great.

 

What is Mr. Abreu’s wish? “I wish you would help create and document a special training program for at least 50 gifted young musicians, passionate for their art and for social justice, and dedicated to developing El Sistema in the US and in other countries.”

To help with this wish,  go to http://www.tedprize.org/contactadmin/?a=grant&winner=abreu.

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Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Quote of the Day

 For one of highest paid actresses in Hollywood,  Julia Roberts has always struck me as being surprisingly levelheaded.    In the latest issue of Allure,  she shares:  “The key to beauty is always to be looking at someone who loves you, really.”

Amen. 

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Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Barry Schwartz on TEDtalks: The real crisis? We stopped being wise

This is one of best TED lectures I’ve seen:   You don’t need to be brilliant in order to be wise.  Without wisdom, brilliance isn’t enough.  A wise person knows when to improvise, like a jazz musician.   A wise person is made,  NOT born.  Wisdom depends on experience.  It takes a lot of experience to learn to care for people.

This has important implications for education and the workplace.

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Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Greencard holder wanting to fast-track the citizenship process? Join the Military.

For the first time since the Vietnam war, temporary immigrants who have lived in the United States for a minimum of two years will have a chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months.   All that is required is that they answer the call of Uncle Sam and join the military.  The military will also waive naturalization fees, which are at least $675.

The program will initially be limited to 1,000 enlistees nationwide, mostly for the Army.  If proven successful,  it could be expanded to 14,000 across all branches of the military. 

Military officials want to attract immigrants who have native knowledge of languages and cultures that the Pentagon considers strategically vital. The program will also be open to students and refugees who have more education, foreign language skills and professional expertise needed to fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis.

The Army’s one-year pilot program will begin in New York City to recruit about 550 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igbo (a tongue spoken in Nigeria), Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil. Spanish speakers are not eligible. The Army’s program will also include about 300 medical professionals to be recruited nationwide.

To enlist, temporary immigrants will have to prove that they have lived in the United States for two years and have not been out of the country for longer than 90 days during that time. They will have to pass an English test.   Language experts will have to serve four years of active duty, and health care professionals will serve three years of active duty or six years in the Reserves. If the immigrants do not complete their service honorably, they could lose their citizenship.

Recruiting is expected to start in coming days.

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Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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A great idea for parents: Online Group Buying for New Parents

New parents quickly realize that with a new baby brings with it a whole slew of accessories from diapers to baby rails to car seats.   With safety concerns being raised on a fairly regular basis on various items,  we are deterred from sifting through garage sales to get bargains.  Fighting my way through the horde during sale day isn’t my cup of tea either.  I would rather sit in the comfort of my own home and click a buy button.  =)

Thanks to Springwise.com,  I discovered a wonderful site which focuses on new & expecting parents – helping them enjoy the benefits consumers can enjoy when they team up and buy baby & children’s goods as a crowd. 

CrowdSprout lets groups of consumers interested in purchasing the same item band together to get a better price.

purchase_sequence

Product categories on the site include car seats, carriers, diaper bags, furniture, high chairs and strollers; for each product included, the merchant lists a reduced price, the minimum number of buyers needed and a deadline. Consumers then spread the word about their planned purchase, with the goal of increasing that group’s size. Once enough buyers have joined the group, they then make their (reduced) payment through CrowdSprout and receive the item they wanted. If, on the other hand, the minimum number of buyers is not achieved in time, no one pays and the group disbands.  Not bad,  not bad at all!

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Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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Who are you? How old are you? (in credit years)

Who are you?

We frequently get asked that question and and often talk about what we do for a living but seldom talk about our inner drivers – what motivates us to do the things we do. 

When buckling down to face a financial challenge, like paying off loans or budgeting for a house, we rarely take the time to figure out our money personalities.    It’s extremely important to come to terms with your financial self before tackling the big questions on spending & saving.  The Independent has come up with an excellent financial quiz which helps readers determine their money personality. 

Once you’re ascertained (with all honestry) your personality type,  then it’s time to buckle down to business.  For big spenders,  SpendonLife.com has come up with a simple questionnaire which,  when answered,  will help you gauge how old you are in credit years.   This quiz   helps you ascertain what goals you need to set in order to become a Credit Connoisseur – One who is the Master of One’s Finances (and not the other way around).   At 14 years old (in credit years),  I’m still very much a padawan.   I still tend to be fairly complacent about my bills and haphazard in the timeliness of my payments.   

So,  tell me, who are you?  How old are you?  =)

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Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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