Klingbrief April 2012
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Managing Work Life One Step at a Time

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time, by Tony Schwartz

In this brief but useful summary of his own beliefs about renewal and boundaries in our work, Schwartz argues against the assumption of multi-tasking. Those familiar with Schwartz's Energy Project will recognize his most salient points; for others, the piece is a useful introduction to his plea for sanity. That technology has blurred the line between work and leisure is by now an accepted claim; it's the advice, first, to managers, and, second, to all of us who need to manage our own work lives better that provide the useful core of this article. In addition to increasing resilience in the workplace, Schwartz's advice might humanize the relationships between supervisors and supervised and build stronger work communities. Readers may find themselves inspired to seek those boundaries and antidotes to burn out with renewed vigor, especially as we approach Manic May. Sadly, most will find this task easier said than done.

Peter Herzberg, The Brearley School, NY
Harvard Business Review Blogs, March, 2012
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 information about submitting to Klingbrief, please click here.
April, 2012 VOL 29

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, The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto, Canada

Principal, Bruce A. Shaw Consulting, LLC     Essex, MA        

Head of Lick-Wilmerding High School,
San Francisco, CA

Communications Manager, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

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

AQuestionOfHonor A Classic Approach to Academic Honesty in a Cynical Era
A Question of Honor, by William M. Chace

In this comprehensive and provocative essay, William Chace argues that student-regulated honor codes are perhaps the only effective way to promote academic honesty and combat a culture in which cheating is increasingly acceptable. Chace reminds his readers that academic dishonesty did not begin with the current generation of internet-savvy students; he cites a 1964 study reporting that 75 percent of college students admitted to at least one offense of plagiarism. Moreover, Chace suggests that cheating students are imitating their hypocritical elders: when "institutions themselves exhibit questionable ethical standards...students come to understand that honor is only a word and not a practice." Ultimately, Chace champions the colleges and universities with deeply embedded honor codes. On these campuses, professors are freed from policing their students and allowed to focus on teaching, and students enforce and take pride in the ethical standards of their school. While Chace writes only of post-secondary institutions, his essay will interest any educator concerned with creating a climate of academic integrity.

Tara Safronoff, The Brearley School, NY
The American Scholar
Spring, 2012
PamperedPrivate Do Private Schools Hasten America's Decline?
This Pampered Private School Elite Can Only Lead to US Decline, by Naomi Wolf

This provocative article written for the British newspaper, The Guardian, by social critic and self-described feminist Naomi Wolf is bound to raise some hackles, trigger grunts of approval, engender ambivalence—possibly all of the above. Though Wolf begins her piece referring to the hothouse world of the New York independent school, she is writing about all elite, tuition-paying schools, even arguing that the ethos of pampering and consumerist pandering has "trickled down" to public schools as well. What happens when schools that educate the future elite focus too much on making learning safe and comfortable, cultivating the mentality of the spa rather than teaching resilience in the face of discomfort? While readers will no doubt see some well-documented trends in Wolf's article, the suggestion that the good old days of austere tradition, or that the uncoddled but under resourced and neglected urban public school may be a better alternative will leave other readers cold. Yet the article serves well as an agent provocateur for discussions of how we cater to parents and how well we teach resilience.

Llana Pergam, The Chapin School, NY
The Guardian, March 2012
MotherNature Addressing Nature Deficit Disorder
Mother Nature's Child, Growing Outdoors in the Media Age

The documentary film Mother Nature's Child explores why parents and educators should seek to reconnect children to the natural world. The movie features advocates for reincorporating a steady diet of nature into children's lives, the most notable of which is Richard Louv, the author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods, who has coined the term "nature deficit disorder." What happens when the virtual world we have created comes into conflict with the fact that evolution has wired us to be part of a much larger ecosystem? With this framework in place, the bulk of Mother Nature's Child provides lovely and practical examples of the role that being in nature can play in early childhood, middle school years, and adolescence. We follow pre–Kindergarten children using imaginative play as they tromp in the woods, watching as they come to a full and complete understanding of natural scientific principles through their authentic experiences with nature. At the other end, the film presents teenagers taking appropriate risks as they negotiate the intricacies of staying safe in the outdoors, and we watch as this experience informs a full understanding of themselves, their role in the community they form, and their journey towards becoming fully realized adults.

Chris Lauricella, Park School of Buffalo, NY
Fuzzy Slippers Production, 2010
MonsieurLazhar A Rare Gem of a Film About Schooling
Monsieur Lazhar
Official Trailer
"Film directed by Philippe Falardeau

How does a school respond to tragedy and negotiate its impact among various constituents? In Monsieur Lazhar, Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film of 2011 (French with English subtitles), a Quebec middle school class mourns the loss of a beloved teacher who has committed suicide. Enter Bashir Lazhar, a compassionate Algerian replacement teacher without training as an educator, a man who himself has experienced great tragedy and is seeking asylum in Canada. The film, based on Évelyne de la Chenelière's play of the same name, expertly weaves together the stories of both Lazhar and his students with smart post-colonial commentary on the politics of language and learning. Simultaneously, Monsieur Lazhar, presents the ways that schools, as institutions comprised of administrators, faculty, students, parents and community members, strive to negotiate the political and emotional boundaries of tragedy. The film offers a realistic, beautifully acted, and dignified set of insights into topics as varied as how children and teachers cope with unforeseen challenge, or how immigrants adjust to new cultures. Above all else, the film is an unusually fine view of days in the life of a Middle School classroom in a school that will be familiar to many of us. The parent conference scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Gina Sipley, Buckley Country Day School, NY
Microscope Films, 2011
ANumberOfGigtedSoars A Pandemic of Gifted and Talented
After Number of Gifted Soars, a Fight for Kindergarten Slots, by Anna Phillips

Top Score Isn't Enough for Preschooler Seeking Seat in Prime Gifted Programs, by Anna Phillips

Instead of heading for the suburbs, many middle class and wealthy families are choosing to remain in cities. According to the NY Times, parents who under better economic conditions may have paid to send their children to private schools are now seeking public school places for kindergarten in programs for gifted and talented children. As the number of students applying for these places has increased so has the competition, with only those scoring in the 99th percentile being considered. Tutoring 4 and 5 year olds is becoming the norm for those who can afford it, placing families that cannot afford expensive tutoring at a disadvantage. This year more than 5000 children qualified for gifted and talented seats, a 22 percent increase over last year, most from affluent districts where private schools are located. In addition to whatever ethical issues this trend raises about pressures on young children, private schools stand to lose market share and the situation may be exacerbated should the Department of Education choose to add more programs for gifted and talented children to meet the demand. And with a burgeoning clientele of preschoolers, private test prep businesses are adding to their coffers.

Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, NY
NY Times, April 13 and 21, 2012
  Sustaining Nonprofits
Linking Mission to Money: Finance for Nonprofit Leaders, by Allen J. Proctor

Linking Mission to Money, Allen J. Proctor's second edition of his first book, guides both school leadership and board members to fulfill more robustly an organization's mission by understanding finance and protocol for nonprofits. Written specifically for non-financial experts, the text uses a digestible, conversational style, and concisely structured chapters that discuss board planning, setting priorities and sustaining mission through adversity. The book provides an education in all of the key financial components for nonprofit leaders while devising some solutions for getting through turbulent and uncertain economic times. The book clearly shows Proctor's vast experience with independent schools and the differentiation between the Board's role and the administrative team's role in accomplishing financial success.

Paul Keller, Wayland Academy, WI
CreateSpace; Revised edition, March 18, 2011
  Playing Our Way to a More Grounded Future
Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, by Stuart Brown, M.D.

Familiar encouragements to see play as important to the life of children are not the purpose of Stuart Brown's book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. He goes further, taking a wider view of play as an essential human activity for children and adults alike. He draws on research based in social and brain science to define play as foundational to contextual memory development, the social sense of belonging, and the ability to engage in innovative thinking. For Brown, the place we take in the sandbox of new ideas is related to our opportunity and capacity to play which cannot be replaced by any other human activity. He knows that schools value play for the youngest and sportiest of our students but he makes the case that this may lead to a dangerous work/play differential that simply sets aside time for play, time that may be the first thing cut when cuts come. He argues instead for the serious infusion of play in all its forms – intellectual, body, object, social, story, fantasy, rough–and–tumble – throughout our school. For those called to defend play-based learning in the early years and those seeking lively, experiential teaching at every grade level, this book is a worthy companion.

Elizabeth Morley, Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School, Toronto
Penguin, 2010
  Gardner Channels Keats
Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed: Educating For the Virtues in the Twenty-First Century, by Howard Gardner

Prolific education expert Howard Gardner discusses the meanings of the traditional virtues in our post-modern digital culture. After establishing their continuing relevance and essential place, he explores practical ways of teaching them to today's youth. His idea that each student should create a digital portfolio of all she finds beautiful, his exploration of teaching truth to the wikipedia generation and the thoughtful discussion about what it means to be good to one's neighbor in a globalized society are all valuable additions to current discussions of curriculum. In doing so, Gardner reminds us that his original work on intelligence very much includes values associated with the social-emotional growth of children.

Cynthia Webb, Ed.M Candidate, The Klingenstein Center, NY
Basic Books, 2011

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