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Restoring the Tonic of Reflection and Depth to Leadership
Solitude and Leadership, by William Deresiewicz

Deresiewicz first presented this article as a speech to cadets at West Point. He acknowledges his title's inherent irony: solitude requires being alone, while leadership requires being with others. However, he argues that effective leaders use time alone to understand themselves and their motivations, and so he offers these future leaders useful guidance, suggesting ways for them to know themselves, develop a sense of integrity, learn from the past, and make sense of the complex world. Deresiewicz also serves as a valuable critic of contemporary society. He suggests that, though Ivy League schools believe they train "leaders," their students may have learned simply "to be world class hoop jumpers." He views Facebook as an impediment to pursuing the solitude required for leadership. He dismantles the "myth of multi-tasking." Leadership, he argues, requires concentration, solitude, and the cultivation of deep friendships. As independent schools begin to reassess the relationship between reflection, technology, and leadership, this article is a fine example of several such recent articles prodding us all to be more vigilant about how we use time.

Mary Kate Blaine, Notre Dame School, New York, NY
Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  The American Scholar, Spring 2010  
  October, 2010 VOL 15



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

Klingenstein Center Director, New York, NY

Head of the Park School of Buffalo, NY

Assistant Head, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM

Principal of the Child Study Institute, University of Toronto, Canada

Essex, MA

Head of the Carey School, San Mateo, CA

Assistant Head, Upper School
Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ

Klingbrief is a free, monthly publication of recommended articles, books, research reports and media selected by and for independent school educators.  The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership provides graduate programs and professional development for independent school educators throughout their careers. For more information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
10Myth   Another Sacred Cow De-Sanctified
Ten Myths About Legacy Preferences in College Admissions, by Richard Kahlenberg

In this incisive article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Kahlenberg debunks ten pervasive myths that were created to justify alumni legacy preferences in college admission practices. Based on his research, Kahlenberg calls into question, for example, the notion that colleges depend on legacy admission to reach their fund development goals or that legacy preferences are used mainly as "tie breakers" in close call admission decisions. Mr. Kahlenberg is eager to draw attention to what he calls "affirmative action for the rich," since the press so often directs negative attention toward affirmative action for racial minority groups. The article offers us an excellent corrective to that problem. It is not a big leap to apply such myths to independent school admissions. The question is to what degree such a challenge in our own secondary school world would be seen as analogous to the challenge-and the inequities- described in this article. It goes without saying that such analogies might cause discomfort.

Stephanie Lipkowitz, Albuquerque Academy NM
  The Chronicle of Higher Education, October, 2010  
yourTopTalent   How Can We Better Succeed at Cultivating Emerging Leaders?
How to Keep Your Top Talent , by Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt
(only part of this article is available without purchase)

Are independent schools doing the best they can to develop our most talented young teachers and administrators? This article is the first of three in May's Harvard Business Review titled "Spotlight on Leadership: The Next Generation," the same subtitle as the new Independent School Magazine. Martin and Schmidt based their research on 20,000 "emerging stars" from 100 organizations worldwide. The authors found that in spite of talk about leadership development, "most management teams stumble badly when they try to develop their next generation of leaders." The authors highlight six mistakes companies commonly make in their failure to cultivate new leaders. By extension, are independent schools deliberate enough about assessing, challenging, and mentoring top talent? As the article suggests, do they provide structured mentoring from top school leaders, give responsibility for mission-critical work, involve young talent in strategic discussions about the future direction of the school, and give regular feedback, praise and appropriate rewards for work well done? A text like this might serve as a rubric for self-evaluation in this aspect of our work.

Phillip Peck, Holderness School, NH
  Harvard Business Review, May, 2010  
raceToNowhere   Childhood Left Behind
Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America's Achievement Culture, by Vicky Abeles

In what appears to be the year of education documentaries, Abeles offers a probing examination of the achievement epidemic in America today and the tremendous pressures placed on the young people in its grip. The film explores the sources of stress for students in our schools - parents, homework, over-scheduling, unrealistic academic expectations, lack of time, sleep deprivation, and competition for college admissions - and illustrates the effects of the pressure to achieve through a series of student profiles featuring girls and boys in a variety of demographic and school settings. The most compelling elements of the film are its interviews of well-regarded experts including Ken Ginsburg from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Wendy Mogul (The Blessing of a Skinned Knee), and Stanford's Madeline Levine and Denise Pope (Challenge Success). While viewers may find plenty of faults with the film's artistry and one-dimensionality, its fundamental message that America's obsession with achievement is harmful to children is an important and refreshing counterpoint to the multiple films released since 2009 focusing on our "failing" schools.

Ole Jorgenson, The Country School, San Jose, CA
  Reel Link Films, 2010  
attentionMediaLiteracy   The Flow and the Queue
Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies, by Howard Rheingold

In this short, stimulating article, Howard Rheingold has his eyes on educational reform, urging educators to push beyond "digital skills" and "information literacies." Asking them to focus, instead, on "social media literacies: attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption," Rheingold's observations about the technology-mediated behavior of students will read as either accurate or prescient, depending on your student body. Yes, his students seem to be a bit more articulate about their digital desires than many high school students, since they feel a strong sense of entitlement to control the direction of their attention. Yet his suggestions about how to shape the next generation of tech users are jolting and spot on. He sees social media in terms of flow, not queue, and argues that to teach such a distinction would help students make conscious choices about what they allow to enter their "attention sphere[s]." That's not only curriculum - that's cultivating a kind of freedom that gives students power.

Stephen J. Valentine, The Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
  Educause Review, September-October 2010  
teacherEvaluation2   A Sequel to the Widget Effect
Teacher Evaluation 2.0, by The New Teacher Project

Nearly everyone agrees that great teachers are critical to student success - and that our schools have not done nearly enough to evaluate teachers accurately and use this information to improve education.

So begins this recently released report on teacher evaluation by The New Teacher Project a non-profit founded to introduce programs and policies to promote teacher effectiveness. The report follows its earlier publication, The Widget Effect (2009), documenting that evaluation systems fail to provide accurate and credible information about individual teachers' instructional performance. While aimed at improving public school evaluation systems, Teacher Evaluation 2.0 provides useful guidelines for independent schools to consider. Recommendations include: annual evaluations for all teachers aimed at professional growth, regardless of how long teachers have been in the classroom; rigorous performance expectations based primarily on evidence of student learning; multiple objective measures of students' academic growth; and, frequent teacher observations with constructive critical feedback for use in making continued employment decisions. The report underscores that an evaluation process must have meaningful implications, positive and negative, in order to improve the teacher workforce.

Pearl Rock Kane, The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership, NY
schoolSpirit   Still Waiting
School Spirit, by David Denby

Undoubtedly, many readers will have seen by now Davis Guggenheim's "Waiting for Superman," his documentary about Charter Schools and the failure of the public school system. More useful than a digest of the film may be a reading and consideration of David Denby's critical stance, which seems to capture what has made some viewers both enthralled by the documentary's suspenseful narrative yet troubled by its somewhat facile, one-dimensional take on the problems and solutions. Independent school audiences tend to be close followers of the complicated quest of The Charter School, second cousins to us, especially in their more heroic innovations, such as Harlem Children's Zone, whose founder is a key spokesman in the film, and the older experiment, Central Part East, mentioned prominently in the review as the focus of an earlier, and more earnest documentary, according to Denby. One review is limiting, of course, but the concision of observation and broader perspective this article brings to the fore is worth reading on its own merits.

Peter Herzberg, The Brearley School, NY
  The New Yorker Magazine, October 11, 2010  
  Parenting Through the Turbulent Waters of the Teen Years
The Blessing of a B-, by Wendy Mogel

Challenged by raising her own teenage daughters, Mogel, a psychologist and consultant to independent schools, turns, as she did in Blessing of a Skinned Knee, to Judaism as a guide to parenting. Judaism teaches, Mogel explains, "that the agonizing transition of adolescence is what is called tzar giddul banim, the necessary pain of raising children." Blending ancient religious counsel with knowledge of teenagers from the fields of psychology and neuroscience, as well as her own professional practice, Mogel offers both general and specific advice about how parents can support, guide, and manage their teen through their years of egocentric behavior. Mogel once again establishes her secure place among parenting gurus. In a tone full of empathy and humor, Mogel's recommendations will be appreciated by any parent, and by extension, our schools, as we strive to raise compassionate, respectful, and independent children.

Alona Scott, Hackley School, NY
Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  Scribner, 2010  
  Identity, Ability, and Performance
Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, by Claude M. Steele

Whistling Vivaldi is a book in a series edited by Louis Gates Jr. called Issues of Our Time. This small book traces the history of stereotype threat research conducted by Claude Steele, Columbia University's new Provost and former professor of social psychology at Stanford University. His research seeks to address questions of intellectual performance and identity in students in multiple settings and age groups. Dr. Steele shares engaging personal stories of students with traditionally "threatened" identities in cognitive tasks, such as black males in school, women in math class, and white men in athletic events. Each study shows surprising results regarding performance and demonstrated ability when a traditionally stereotyped identity is made explicit. His research has important implications for schools and classrooms, especially when analyzing student performance. He provides explicit strategies for implementing practical changes with lasting impact for students. We would all benefit from looking at our students, and ourselves, through this new lens

Kathryn Kaiser, The School at Columbia, NY
Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY
  Norton Press, 2010  
  A New Study on How Boys Learn
Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys: Strategies That Work - and Why, by Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley

Recently, there has been a surge of interest in gender-specific pedagogy. As more attention is given to this topic, researchers have found new avenues for understanding how boys learn. In Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys, Reichert and Hawley embrace this desire to understand how boys operate within an atmosphere of knowledge and ideas. Their book blends educational theory with detailed examples of classroom activities from their research with more than 1,500 boys and 1,000 teachers. This combination invites readers into specific insights that engage why boys are relational learners, how boys elicit the kinds of teaching they need, and what role transitivity plays in a successful lesson for boys. The practical nature of this text allows all educators of male students to find moments of inspiration and reflection that will make them better teachers.

Kai Bynum, Belmont Hill School, MA
Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY

  Jossey-Bass, July, 2010  

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