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Attention as a Precious Currency
Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, by Winifred Gallagher

This book readily merits its readers' sustained attention. Gallagher persuasively shows how whatever we focus on is—quite literally—how we spend our lives. Our attention, in other words, is like currency. So the ways we choose to spend it determine the caliber and character of our experience. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi introduced us to Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience in 1991. New developments in neuroscience have since revealed even more about how brains function. Rapt thus works, in many ways, like an updated version of Flow. Yet Rapt draws from ancient wisdom traditions as well as from cutting-edge research in brain science. And Gallagher adduces compelling examples from the arts and humanities as well as controlled laboratory experiments. We thus learn why—and how—mindfulness trumps multitasking. With chapters on creativity, productivity, relationships, motivation, "disordered attention" (including ADHD, e.g.), and health, Rapt offers a comprehensive synthesis of how the ways we spend our precious attention determine our quality of life.

Mike Pardee, Kinkaid School, TX
  Penguin Press, April 2009  
  October, 2009 VOL 6



Coordinating Editor, Associate Head of the Brearley School, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY           
Academic Coordinator, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM                                            
Principal of the Child Study Institute, University of Toronto, Canada

Head of the Carey School, San Mateo, CA                                                                
Klingenstein Center Director

The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers.
rethinkingPlay190   Rethinking the Notion of Play in Elementary Schools
Can the Right Kind of Play Teach Self Control? by Paul Tough

In this fascinating NY Times article written by the journalist who has documented Canady's work at Harlem Children's Zone, we learn about a new program called Tools of The Mind. This experiment was designed by two child development scholars out of Denver based upon the early 20th century work of Vygotsky (whom some will recognize as a precursor of child psychology). This program of structured play in elementary school, a demanding, extended program of role-playing, is meant to strengthen executive function in elementary school children. Of greater importance, though, this curriculum is a response to the conflict between the pre-academic approach to early childhood education and the more romantic, unstructured vision that preceded it. Tough explores the psychological and curricular elements of this pilot in an effort to see if executive function can be trained differently and earlier by resolving tension between two early childhood ideologies.

Peter Herzberg, Brearley School, NY
  NY Times Magazine, September, 2009  
27cover-395   Sexual Orientation in Middle School
Coming Out in Middle School, by Benoit Benizet-Lewis

This recent article in the NY Times Magazine gives a glimpse into the lives of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and questioning middle-schoolers; the author describes the evolution of several schools, many of which have changed quite dramatically in the last ten years to become more supportive of these adolescents as they explore their identities and emerging sexuality. Of interest to educators is the fact that students are declaring their sexual orientation at younger ages and that quite a number of middle schools are finding ways to work with their communities to provide appropriate support to both students and their families. Access to the social networks through the internet and more accepting parents have also helped these teens navigate middle school more smoothly. The author leaves the reader with the cautiously optimistic sense that students in 2009 are beginning to come through adolescence feeling less traumatized, and thus not at the same risk for suicide and depression, than a decade ago.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy, NM
  NY Times Magazine, September 2009  
NoMusicLeftBehind   No Music Left Behind
Speech to the Freshman Class of the Boston Conservatory of Music, by Karl Paulnack

A magnificent speech and apt companion piece to Peter Schmidt’s submission in this edition of Klingbrief, classical pianist Paulnack’s untitled talk is about music as salvation and survival and, by extension, its central purpose in education, a pivotal role the ancient Greeks and many earlier cultures recognized implicitly. Whether or not you are a music lover, you will hear in this talk something essential about how other disciplines relate to music and why the relegation of music to a lower echelon—because it cannot be tested in our pragmatic “race to the top”—should be a source of sadness and outrage. In our schools, we are less likely to cut music programs, but the growing primacy of more measurable curriculum might influence us nonetheless—an influence against which speeches like this offer a kind of talisman. This particular version of the talk is found in an on-line journal that is a public relations arm of the NPR program called “From the Top,” which celebrates the achievements of young musicians.

Peter Herzberg, Brearley School, NY
  Green Room, From the Top, September 2009  
A_to_B_illustration_chafee   Baiting the Hook
Why I Got into Education: The Algebra of Buried Things, by Claire Chafee

This gem of a personal essay written by a graduate student and teacher from the Bay Area speaks to the eccentricity of both the choice of a career and the people in it. The author writes of her failure to live up to the gifted label she had been given in secondary school, her middling but comfortable experience at Oberlin, and then her encounters with the wonderful misfits who choose teaching as their calling—which fit her perfectly. “I came to teaching,” she writes, “to continue the conversation of ideas with people who…..exhibit a relationship to their subject that to an untrained eye is identical to the person talking things over with themselves on a subway. In short, I found my best teachers to be misfits; somewhat ill-equipped for life on the outside, but wonderful guides to the art of cutting a hole in the ice, baiting a hook, and lowering it into the dark unknown.” This brief article of startling prose will inspire all teachers on a cold night.

Peter Herzberg, Brearley School, NY
  Harvard School of Education Magazine, September 2009  
The Road Not Taken: Women as School Superintendents
Women Leading School Systems: Uncommon Roads to Fulfillment
by C. Cryss Brunner, Margaret Grogan

The work of these scholars presents an analysis of women in educational leadership with a comprehensive look at the personal lives, values, career paths, professional experiences, and leadership styles of talented women who face myriad challenges to becoming school superintendents. A professional field that has been dominated by white males, this book contributes to the limited research conducted that specifically represents the experiences of women in educational leadership. The data used for this research is the largest ever collected from women in administrative positions. Using the metaphors in the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, the researchers analyze what motivates women to seek administrative opportunities as opposed to those that do not. The findings show that an average of 80% of women superintendents are highly self-fulfilled, 85% reported mentoring others aspiring to be an administrator, 47% earned their highest degree within the past 10 years, and while not seen as necessary to becoming a superintendent, 65% of the women in this study have doctorates. The barriers to advancement included lack of mobility for family members (geographic relocation) and lack of mentors or mentoring. The skills and knowledge noted as factors that help advance career opportunities for women include knowledge of teaching and learning, and an emphasis on improving instruction. This research is a significant contribution to the studies on women in educational leadership.

Sylvia Rodríguez, Saint Mary’s School, NC
  American Association of School Administrators, Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2007  
  Achievement Inequities and Educational Practice
The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools,
by McKinsey & Company

What are the economic and social costs of the persistent educational achievement gap between racial groups in this nation and in comparison to other countries? Plenty according to this McKinsey report – literally hundreds of billions of dollars between actual and potential output in the economy. Gaps in US educational achievement have affected GDP more severely than have all recessions since the 1970s. And there are staggering social costs. A high school dropout, for example, is 5 to 8 times more likely to be incarcerated than a college graduate. These disturbing findings are reported with clear graphs, useful for classroom presentations. The authors conclude with a positive outlook that widespread application of best educational practices could secure a better, more equitable education for all children—along with substantial economic gains.

Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, NY
  McKinsey & Company, Social Sector Office, April 2009  
  Models of Sustainable Schools
SMART BY NATURE: Schooling for Sustainability,
by Michael K. Stone and the Centre for Ecoliteracy. Foreword by Daniel Goleman

Through inspiring success stories from independent and public schools across the United States, this book tackles big questions that educators determined to contribute to schooling for sustainability ask. What would a green school or an eco-schooling curriculum look like? What strategies work best for greening campuses, rethinking school food, and transforming schools into model sustainable communities? Smart by Nature documents the successful experiences of schools in which educators teach energy conservation, resource management, and earth sciences in the “living laboratories” their schools have become. Practical "what you can do" checklists and pages of resources make this an inviting twenty-first-century guide for our educational future.

Elizabeth Morley, Institute of Child Study Lab School, Ontario
  University of California Press, September 2009  
  Exploring the Parallels Between Music and Life
Music Quickens Time, by Daniel Barenboim

The former Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and co-founder along with the late Edward Said of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (made up of young Israeli and Palestinian musicians), Barenboim states his credo that music is essential to our lives and schools. In the prelude to this instructive short book, he writes how “no school would eliminate the study of language, mathematics, or history from the curriculum, yet the study of music, which encompasses so many aspects of these fields and can even contribute to a better understanding of them, is often entirely ignored.” His philosophical subtext explores the transformative power of music in international relations, how music speaks to the intellectual and spiritual centers of our humanity, and ultimately how music can help us to develop a greater sense of global citizenship. Daniel Barenboim is an original thinker and Music Quickens Time underscores his preeminence as a great artist and humanitarian.

Peter Schmidt, Gill St. Bernard’s School, NJ
  Verso Publishers, 2008  

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