Many use the term but it is often confused with just being responsible online. If it is just responsible and ethical use online, then how do we cultivate digital leadership where students are using digital means to help and assist their community at large?
I was privy to many wonderful conversations this past weekend at a digital citizenship conference at Microsoft Headquarters in Los Angeles, California.
As I listened to the college admissions panel speak, it was obvious to me that our students need to understand the importance of their digital footprint, now and for the future, and recognize that it has permanence.
76% of college admissions officers state that they googled applicants and their news feed as a step in the admissions process. What are they looking for? On balance in the college application process, they are looking for GRIT, authenticity, sincerity, consistency and what sets the student apart from other applicants.
For example, UCLA has approximately 119,000 applicants a year. Approximately 5,500 are accepted. How will your student(s) set themselves apart?
In a serendipitous turn of events, this article came out today regarding a new tool that the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success has made available. It is essentially a "locker" where students house their important and essential documents as they pave their journey to college...items that showcase who and what they stand for in written and photo format.
I challenge 7th and 8th graders to begin this process as well. It is never too early to begin creating your own positive online presence through mediums like zeemee.com, Weebly websites, LinkedIn, and the like.
This week I will be traveling to St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Jackson, Mississippi as part of their SAPA speakers series, to share our expertise on
digital citizenship and the many challenges and joys it can bring.
We would love to come visit your community on our roadshow.
Together, we can transform digital distress to digital success!
As I think about the last 10 years in schools and the movement of helping kids through conflict, I recall what works and what does not. Here are some of my observations.
1. If you think back as to how you were taught to take care of a bully....well, times have changed. The bullying is ongoing, it is frequent, and can be carried forward online at all hours and times of the day. There is no way for students to run pass interference for themselves online. It is a full time job, exhausting, and riddled with anxiety.
2. Typical statements like "Walk away. "Just ignore her." "He just likes you". Actually dismiss their voice, raise anxiety, and re-victimize the victim.
Sometimes adults are really messy. We send confusing and mixed messages even when we are really trying to help. Proper training and consistency are key.
Hence, Imagine a world where kids at a young age have a framework to follow.
SEAL is one of my favorites from Rosalind Wiseman's "Owning Up" curriculum and is easy to implement in any home, any school, and any after school space and program.
Is this the time or place to confront this person? At the lunch table, during passing period, with lots of people around? Probably not. And never via text. If it's relational or conflictual, F2F.
Explain the specific behavior the person did that hurt your feelings. Don't attack their personhood, identify the behavior.
"When you did xxxx, it made me feel xxxx".
Decide if you want to affirm the friendship or relationship. If you do, make it known. "We have been friends for a long time, today didn't go so well, but I am glad we got through it".
LOCK IN/LOCK OUT
This step goes along with the affirmation. It is the decision to continue, or to take a break from that person. Sometimes, it's okay to takes break. Especially if its toxic.
Kids need to know that their dignity is theirs to keep. At the base of what "bullying" is is the silencing of one's voice. No one has the right to do that.
We do a really great job of telling kids to respect each other. But they don't even know what that really means, and if they watch TV, there is none being displayed.
Respect is a mutual admiration for each other. Not sure about you but if someone steals my lunch, I am not admiring him/her. I am going to use my voice to get it back.
Teach them young.
Practice with them.
Model for them.
Blog Post Written by Gurian Institute Executive Director Katey McPherson
I was speaking at a conference recently on girls’ development. I had been asked to talk about what will make girls most successful in the future. Because the conference organizers knew that I have done a great deal of gender work in corporations, they asked me to talk about “girls and maturity,” and “how girls can succeed in the future as leaders.”
During my lecture I told a story about a time, while raising my own daughters, that one of them, 15 at that time, was headed out to a party. She wore a top so revealing I could see the top of her breasts to just above the nipple. “I told her she was being inappropriate,” I told the audience, “and putting herself in danger especially because there would likely be alcohol at the party. She and I debated for a while, then she changed her clothes.” I believe I did my job as her father, protecting her by helping her to think about her clothing not just in the moment but in life in general.”
After talking about this I asked the audience: “How do you feel about what I did? Do you agree with my course?” Most voices called out, “Yes,” but a few vehemently called out, “No!” I invited these people to come find me after my keynote at my booth. “Let’s argue about this,” I invited, “I love a good argument.” There were chuckles in the audience and I continued my presentation then moved to the booth where two young women, Marissa, 28, and Dana, 29, found me after the book signing. Marissa said, “First of all, we don’t want to argue with you. We teach our girls to discuss, not argue. We want to build a cohesive and friendly community. So let’s not argue, let’s discuss.”
I responded honestly. “Thank you for letting me know but if you’re afraid to teach healthy argument to girls, then aren’t you afraid of something and passing that fear on to the girls? I can tell from your faces that you want to argue with me and I want you to know I am fine with that.”
“No,” she insisted, “I don’t want to argue. Just the opposite: arguments can hurt feelings and we want our girls to feel comfortable.” I asked her where she taught. She said she and Dana taught at a girls’ school but had previously taught at a coed school and felt this way in any setting that taught girls.
I said, “I guess we just disagree here. It seems to me by holding the stance you’re holding you’re feeding right into the very thing the corporations are asking us to stop doing with girls: raise them in a bubble. The workplace needs women (and men) to be able to argue and hold their own in a complex adult environment.”
These two young women shook their heads in disagreement but then we moved to an area that gave them even more discomfort. Dana said, “We disagreed with your position on the way your daughter dressed. You as a man have no right to tell a woman how to dress. Thinking otherwise puts you, in our view, in the same camp as guys who blame the victim for rape.”
At this point my daughter, Davita, then 22, came up to us (I was speaking in the city she lived in and she had come to pick me up so we could hang out together). I gave her a hug and introduced her to the two women and caught her up on our discussion. Then to Dana I said, “Again, I disagree with you. Rape is a crime, it’s a violent act. If someone rapes my daughter, it will be a criminal matter targeting that person’s mental illness and his violent act. It will not be about how my daughter is dressed, so no, of course not, I would not blame the victim.”
“But still,” Dana insisted, “You’re taking away your daughter’s independence and empowerment by telling her how to dress.”
“I’m the dad,” I said, “she’s the child. My job is to help her develop a strong and socially adept self-image and self. At 15, most of what she does is indeed done independent of me, but some things still need my input.”
Davita concurred. “Why wouldn’t he say what he said? Are you saying that the girl has no responsibility for anything? She can do whatever she wants, no matter what? She can dress or say whatever she wants?”
Marissa said, “It’s not her responsibility to make sure guys don’t look at her breasts--it’s the guys’ responsibility not to look at her breasts. So, no,” she reiterated, “I would not tell her to change her clothing. She is in control of her self-image, not you. I would empower her to make her own decision. He—“ (pointing to me) “wants to disempower her, he is imposing his patriarchal dominance over her.”
“I guess I’m patriarchal, too, then,” Davita said acerbically. She was definitely in “fight mode” with these peers and I smiled at this interchange, loving it for its energy and acumen, but then I re-entered it by saying to Marissa and Dana: “Actually, I don’t see my position as patriarchal and disempowering, I see it as both biology-science-based and very empowering.
“If a fifteen-year-old girls is dressed in a sexually provocative way, a way that says, ‘come have sex with me’ then gets drunk then a peer male (or older male) also gets drunk, there is a biological likelihood that the limbic parts of those brains will do and say things the frontal cortices of both female and male may later regret. To mentor a girl in physical/social appropriateness and personal safety is absolutely empowering to her—it helps mature her into a healthy adult. To not do so—to risk, for socio-political reasons—her being assaulted at a party is not empowering at all. It could terribly affect her life. It is always better to err on the side of caution when we are dealing with alcohol, drugs, and biology.”
Marissa said, “I have to stop talking with you. You are giving me a really uncomfortable feeling.” She touched her stomach, rubbed it, and Dana agreed: “Congratulations for speaking up, Marissa. I feel the same way.” To me she said, “We teach our girls how important it is to speak up right away when someone makes them feel uncomfortable.”
I paused here, taking this in, then shook my head again. “Look, I’m sorry, but while I’m glad you told me you feel uncomfortable, I disagree with two things you said right there. One, you put the onus on me for your discomfort yet I’ve done nothing wrong. In doing that, you are able to take your internal awareness off of yourself, which is a first bad idea, I think, but secondly, it generates blame towards me.
“That is the very thing corporate leaders are wishing we would stop doing with millennials and younger kids: teaching them to take things personally, blame other people for their feelings, then create dramas, internal or external, around their blame and those feelings. Relationships gets paralyzed and people overreact to every little discomfort.
“And that’s the second thing I disagree with. Truly, friends, I beg you to not focus on telling adolescent girls that there’s something inherently wrong with feeling uncomfortable. Actually, from a nature-based standpoint, discomfort is generally natural and useful to child development.
“Obviously, if a child or adult is in danger of violence she or he must call attention to the discomfort and marshal forces against the person causing that, and among little children, ‘feeling uncomfortable’ can be a crucial key word to stop sexual abuse, but among adolescents and adults, our culture must titrate away from over-reliance on ‘discomfort’ (and blaming others for our own feelings) if we want adolescents to become fully mature adults.”
My point did not sit well with Marissa and Dana who reiterated that “feeling uncomfortable” was the gold standard of what they should teach girls to use as “a female empowerment principle.” I kept responding with things like, “Feeling uncomfortable is how we learn and grow,” and “your position is not based in any known science, the brain needs discomfort in order to mature,” but in the end, the argument that day ended with Marissa saying, “You’ve hurt my feelings, you’re just another patronizing and disempowering man,” and we parted ways.
At dinner that evening Davita told me: “Dad, I’m glad they weren’t my teachers.”
“Why?” I asked her.
She said, “Because they’re just teaching girls to be fragile little creatures. It’s the exact opposite of what girls should learn.”
She made me a proud papa that day!
I tell this story in the hope that we will continue to invigorate a diverse conversation on what girls need, one that is not only protective but also, from a science-based perspective, empowering. As we do this, let’s join together to help girls:
The interaction with Dana and Marissa is not the only one I have had of this kind. While I do believe most people agree that human maturation is the most important goal of parenting I also find that some people don’t focus on maturation—they focus on other ideological goals such as “empowerment.” As a father of daughters and an advocate for girls, I support female empowerment as a social goal and am proud to see that that goal is being reached all around us. I hope we will all keep pursuing it.
But I also hope we will remember that “maturity” should be as important a key word as “female empowerment” or more important. “Empowerment,” to me, should be a subset of “maturation,” not the other way around because a girl can become an adult who is culturally empowered but very immature. No one wants that. We want strong daughters and strong women. Strength may require a deeper look into the human soul than “feeling uncomfortable” can allow.
Julia Lythcott-Haims is the author of " How To Raise An Adult:Break Free of the Over Parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid For Success".
When her book came out I scooped up a copy as soon as I could. As an educator, the title in itself makes you jump for joy.
After spending the last 12 of my 20 years in education in an administrative role at the elementary and junior high school, I have seen and heard my share of overparenting and what my colleague and fellow Executive Director of the National Center For The Development of Boys, Troy Kemp, terms " Kung Fu" parenting.
Of course, I am able and was able to see the intent of many parents to want the best for their child. I have 4 of my own, and of course, am ready to Kung Fu for them any day. However. it has become what Lythcott-Haims has termed the "checklisted childhood" that becomes problematic.
Many are so focused on the end goal, that they miss the beginning. middle, and end. They miss the enchantment of learning, they miss the natural curiosity, and mistakenly squash the spirit of their child based on what THEY want so desperately for them, instead of valuing how they are uniquely wired.
Recently, my own 5th grader came home upset with an assignment, and I really had to check my own PTSD at the door, as I guided her through the process of breaking down what it was that was so challenging.
What Kemp terms as Tai Chi parenting is more of the stuff that our kids need. Tai Chi parenting goes along with the notion that you want to know them, the inside of them. The intricacies of tai chi are meditation, and slow controlled movements. The take away is to calm the mind, with precision.
Part of tai chi is also the sentiment of igikai, a Japanese term meaning " a reason for being," finding value in oneself". Better yet, a reason to get up in the morning.
And then, let's not forget when you really just need to turn into Swiss Miss. The Switzerland approach.
Let. It. Go.
Someone, you or your spouse, has to just remain neutral. Pretend you have Teflon sprayed on you and the outcome and every detail is going to slide off you like hot yoga sweat. Some things don't have to be addressed. Sometimes letting go IS actually taking control.
Certainly a blend of these approaches is the key. Boundaries that are healthy, with a dash of desire to create intrinsic emotional wealth, with a side helping of Elsa from Frozen.
The battles of parenting, teaching, and leadership are not for the faint of heart. They challenge the inner fibers of your being. They stretch you in ways you didn't think was aorticly possible.
Yet in the end, children are looking to us to provide a few basic needs:
Last night as I watched Michael Phelps and his relay team bring home his last gold, it was awesome to see the energy and camaraderie of the team, and the joking of the younger swimmers try to con him to stay on for 4 more years.
His medal count is unmatched.
His status, unheralded.
As I watched, it got me thinking about what got these athletes here and how “normal” they really are. They definitely seem superhuman. Their talents unbridled.
But as I heard their stories of struggle along with the glory, a great opportunity today arose for me to talk to my kids about how awesome their struggles and failures could be as I mold and shape my daughters into capable young women.
From the Syrian refugee that further developed her life skills by literally swimming for her life as her boat capsized in the Aegean Sea fleeing her war torn country, to Simone Biles coming out of the foster care system after being placed there with her sister by an mother addicted to drugs and alcohol, there is a sense of what real human capital means.
Even our most decorated Michael Phelps, had a dark period that included suicidal thoughts and excessive drinking to numb his demons. Most of us knew little of this story until he was interviewed about how he paved the road to Rio.
They all have incredible stories that exemplify the one character trait that is the most important for our kids to know and cultivate.
The ability to get up just like Mo Farah did last night when he tumbled in the 10,000m run. (Not only did he get up, he came from behind to win against two of the fastest men in the world.)
Resiliency includes the ability to recognize that you can’t do it alone, as Michael Phelps pointed out.
Michael was raised mainly by his mother and alluded how angry he was at his father for leaving. Yet, he was able to learn from that experience and eventually semi-mend that bridge.
Resiliency is also the ability to have to take matters into your own hands at times. Yursa Mardini did this when she was faced with sinking in the middle of the sea with her sister and 20 others whose lives she saved. She towed the boat line around herself for more than 3.5 hours.
And even as successful as Simone Biles has been under the care of her grandparents, (who yes indeed are her parents), her admission that it’s still tough to have gone through that journey is crystal clear.
These skills cannot be taught without opportunities to fail, to fall down, and to have questions that literally have no answers. If we shield kids from making fantastically horrible mistakes under our roofs, including our schools, then we have stopped resiliency training dead in its tracks.
Our tendency as parents and educators is to intervene, and often. We need to give children opportunities and time to make mistakes, to suffer for those mistakes, and to learn from them as they grow through them. A teacher during one of our trainings this week told me the reason she left the public middle school teaching environment was because the parents were constantly intervening and asking her to “fix” conflictual situations that occurred in her class or social situations she became aware of. She felt defeated, exhausted, and outnumbered as she struggled to deliver content while managing the dozens of conflicts typical teens have.
My standard response to the parents seeking for teachers to fix things is and will always be, “We need to seek to support, guide, and bolster their confidence alongside of them, but the real key to allowing them to get through what many term “fantastically horrible and messy”, is to allow them to begin to hear their own voice while teaching them how to maintain their dignity. If we constantly save them, they will never grow into themselves.” This puts the onus where it belongs–in the student’s hands, using their own voice to speak their truth. Of course we stand near them, and listen, actively, support them as they work through that process but the locust of control as Dr. Gurian points out comes from within them–not our plan for them, or what our own experiences have done to shape us.
It’s been nice this month focusing on what’s going right in our country with the distraction that the Olympics have brought. It almost made me forget the yucky stuff.
But ironically, the yucky stuff is what brought these super humans to the center stage.
Don’t forget that when your kids are struggling and muddling their way through childhood and adolescence.
Just like the Michael Phelps’ Under Armour commercial says “What happens in the dark, brings you into the light”
In their own way.
On their own timeline.
As for the divers from the Philippines, you go boys. That right there is resiliency to the max. They get a 10++ from me!
Blog post written by Gurian Executive Director, Katey McPherson. Questions? Don’t hesitate to email her at email@example.com
“What rights of privacy should my teen have, and what rights are not his or her rights at all?
“What are the apps that predators most likely use?”
There is so much for parents, administrators, and teachers to manage with social media–its’ platform, the effects, and the daily battle of knowing what is and is not appropriate. From both the parent’s and administrator’s viewpoint and experience, I can say most apps are not all bad. There are several wonderful assets and aspects to most social media. First among these is empathy development–as our kids are socially connected, they grow up and mature their ability to empathize with others. Secondly, they can get social and emotional needs and wants met from peers who “get them.” We parents often do not “get” our kids in the way peers do, and that is okay. Lastly, most apps are educational and most social media can become an excellent way for kids to start learning about the marketplace, how to develop a personal identity online, and how to navigate social situations as they head to college or into the workforce.
There are, of course, cons: excessive screen time harms the brain; sleep deprivation is associated with hyper-use of social media (and school failure or distress can follow from sleeplessness); physical problems can ensue such as vision issues and neck and back related distress. In addition, apps and online behaviors among youth with frontal lobes that are half formed and reward-centers that are screaming ” me, me, me, me” can create dangerous, ugly, not so nice, and tragic consequences in some cases.
Every family, school, and community can literally save lives by carrying on a conversation, in multiple settings and on multiple organized and spontaneous occasions, about “Digital Citizenship.” This is the contemporary equivalent to conversations on character development and good maturation. The digital world is becoming the real world.
To have this conversation, each of us must answer this question: Do I know what the kids are accessing? If you discover you do not have a sense of media your kids use, I hope you’ll ask them and ask others “in the know.” This is crucial information for every parent and every teacher. These kids are still kids so whatever world they are roaming in, we adults need to at least know something that can help them, and us, to grow and mature in this new digital wilderness.
As I work to always stay current on the various apps our kids are using, I realize that sometimes I start conversations with students and kids with ” Why would you do that?” My tone is punitive (or just plain parent-scared). As a result, the adolescent’s inside voice responds with, “Why wouldn’t I?” while the outside voice says with a verbal shrug, “I don’t know. And quite often, the kids truly don’t! Their brains are on over drive, their hormones awash in their bloodstream, and their only question beyond what’s for dinner is “How many people “liked my post”?” and “How many followers do I have now?”
Next month, I will represent the Gurian Institute as a part of a City of Tempe Town Hall hosted by the Tempe Coalition, Tempe Union High School District, and Tempe Police Department. We will discuss how to raise responsible digital citizens, how to cultivate social competence in homes and schools, and how access to devices linked to substance abuse and the like. In meetings such as this one communities are coming together to have the courageous conversations within their homes and schools, where we will gain the most traction. It is essential that as adults that are deemed as “trusted” within the school walls and the safe havens of home, that we live up to our label.
And lastly, and most importantly, aware.
I hope you will begin these conversations within your communities and homes. As you do, I hope you’ll consider seeking Digital Citizenship training for your community such as the training we provide through the Gurian Institute. Our students and children are counting on us to help them manage their apps and their empathy! We are their frontal lobe.
Commas. Periods. Semicolons. I never know when to use them. I love to write, so that makes, it, hard, to know, when, to, use, them.
I had never thought punctuation had another meaning. It was simply a way to express yourself. It puts pizazz in something! It ends a sentence. It makes lists: It makes you question things?
Until Easter. We ventured to a new church for Easter. Not because I didn’t want to go to our beloved church, but honestly, getting 4 kids ready for Easter service at 7:45 a.m. made me tired just thinking of it. So we went to Saturday night service at a church down the road. I was kind of bummed, feeling like I was almost sac religious. But then something awesome happened.
The pastor began to recount the meaning of Easter. The pain, the death, the healing and the rebirth and resurrection. He kept saying over and over, “This was not a period, this was a comma”.
He went on to outline that when in life you think something is over, it’s really just begun. When something tragic happens, it’s easy to put a period on it. When something tough happens to you, outside of your control, we often automatically put a period on it. Why don’t we choose the comma? Why is everything so final? What if we looked at tough things, unfair things, not what I wanted, not what I deserved, I really wanted that but didn’t get it things, as commas instead of periods?
You see, he explained, out of pain comes suffering and then healing in some way shape or form. Out of heartbreak comes vulnerability. Out of desire comes passion, and none of those are final events.
So these last few months, I tried it. I put a comma on it. And it totally changed the way I saw things. Nothing was final.
The red paint on the carpet? Comma.
The nasty email from someone I have never met? CAPITAL COMMA.
The news that someone I love is ill, comma. That’s not a period, that’s still a comma. She’s not done. She’s just in the middle of a gigantic comma.
It’s never impossible until it’s done.
As I watched the events of Dallas and Nice unfold, I was horrified. But then I remembered our children.
The reason that we teach in our classrooms, the reasons we continue to come to teach and instruct, is that our children are beautiful, graceful, and fantastic commas. We hold in our hands the ability to shape this world and who they are. The power to inspire and instill faith and trust. To fill their lives with knowledge and substance.
So for now, this world is part of a gigantic comma, it is in no way a period.
Our students are big, gigantic, awkward and sometimes clumsy, yet successful, full of grit and grace commas.
So instead of a ring, put a comma on it.
Let me know how it goes,,,,,
–Katey McPherson – Gurian Institute Executive Director
In thirty years of working with children, I have never been more worried than I am right now for our sons. As a father of daughters, I feel very grateful for the thousands of programs nationwide that focus on girls’ development, including our own Gurian Institute offerings. My two daughters, now adults, have access to multiple options for women, and multiple programs for women’s health. This a wonderful thing and we must keep working to give families and communities successful access to these programs and services.
If you have sons, however, you may be quite worried. Boys are behind girls in nearly every mental, educational, and social health category yet we have almost no federal, state, or local funding for organizations that focus on boys’ issues. A set of recent studies determined that the main or only way our struggling males get help in America is through the criminal justice system–by then, it is often too late to save these boys. Unfortunately, we live in an America that has ideologically and systematically neglected boys’ development as if that neglect was needed in order to help girls. When we do focus on males, we tend to insist we only need to focus on a particular sub-group of males because most males have privilege and are doing fine; or, we publicly persist in accusing males of inherent defectiveness, from deadbeat to rapist to school failure to bad husband to unnecessary parent.
Meanwhile, males kill our neighbors, our friends, our police, our leaders, our parents, and our children. This trend will keep growing unless we decide together that wherever we stand in the ideologically polarized zeitgeist of our time, we must face a hidden fact about which we seem to be in national denial–that we don’t just have a “boys of color” problem, we have a boy problem. We don’t just have “girls issues,” we have boys issues. We as a civilization are reaping terrible danger for families and neighbors because we have neglected not just some boys but created a culture of systematic neglect of males.
That neglect is our most pressing social problem, barely seen. Yet if we look closely at our country we’ll see that nearly every other social issue we face intersects with the state of American boyhood: violence on streets, in workplaces, and in schools; domestic violence and abuse in homes; sexual and physical abuse; addiction, ADD/ADHD, autism, covert depression, and other male-specific brain and psychological disorders; unemployment, underemployment, economic failure, and income inequality; religious and social/ideological radicalization that leads to hyper-aggression or social withdrawal; the loss of males to electronics, a lack of purpose, and a lack of service or mission. Wherever we turn we can see social issues that intersect with how we raise our sons.
From the issues of children grow the issues of a civilization. Yes, now and always, some males will do very well, but what about the other millions of males–what will we do to bring our national focus on them? Unless we answer this question, we will have annually increasingly elevated rates of male mental illness, violent depression, social-phobias-turned-violent, and tragic outcomes like those we’ve seen in Orlando, San Bernadino, Dallas, Minnesota, Louisiana, and nearly everywhere else. Among our answers to the question will be to support both our African American families and our police. Black lives matter and police lives matter.
We are not enemies of one another. In fact, just the opposite: our solutions now require deeper social change than attention on a single group can provide. We must research, fund, train and consult nationwide on boys’ and men’s issues as vigorously as girls and women’s issues (not more but not less, either).
We must realize it is not enough anymore to justify our neglect of males by saying, “Males make more money and lead lots of high office.” That argument fits a few powerful and wealthy males–it does not fit the tens of millions of males who are not doing well at all.
In your homes, schools, and organizations, as you process and integrate all of the violence you are seeing around you, I hope you will include the idea that the issues our boys are experiencing today comprise a vast flood in the face of which our culture is building only tiny skiffs. We must do more to help our sons–this means doing more to help all males. Like female development, the general state of boyhood in a culture is a hallmark of either that culture’s progress or its violent decline.
May our neighbors who have died in Minnesota, Dallas, Missouri, Louisiana, California, and everywhere else not have died in vain.
Let their sacrifice point us to the flood, and may we focus on the source and the reason before it is too late.
-Dr. Michael Gurian,Founder, the Gurian Institute
Enchantment. What does that word mean to you? Do you even remember the last time you were “enchanted?” It has been awhile for me…or so I thought.
Last week I was lucky enough to spend the day with two of my favorite authors, Rob Bell and Elizabeth Gilbert, at a writer’s workshop in Hollywood that I had zero expectations for. I just knew I wanted to hear what they had to say.
They began with this statement “Creativity is the single most rational decision you make.”
In order to examine what creativity and living a creative life was, we were given 6 words over the course of 7 hours to process, play with, dialogue about, and “sit with”.
The first word was courage, which ended up really being fear.
We had to write a letter to our fear. I was like what the heck I thought this was supposed to be an INSPIRING writer’s workshop?! As I set out to write my letter with the 300 other people in the room, I immediately felt the lump in my throat, my heart start to race, and my ears get hot.
Dear Fear….What are my fears and how the heck do I put them into words? Tears welled up in my eyes.
Most of my real and legitimate fears center largely around my children and their future…like any parent, I wish for them the many things I have experienced both good and bad, but maybe learning from them quicker, sooner, better?
As we progressed through the workshop we would write letters to the following: Courage/Fear, Enchantment, Persistence, Trust, Permission, and Divinity. It was genius.
You see, ultimately all of these do a dance. A mad, passionate, vicious cycle, super soul cycle workout that is a cross between Rhianna’s lashing out and Josh Groban’s heightened divine notes, with a dash of Beyonce in between.
We were instructed to share with someone we didn’t know. I was seated next to a stand up comedian from LA, donning an Aztec blanket of a coat like the one Jim Carey wore in “Dumb and Dumber.” I suddenly realized how really out of touch I was with the world of my own creativity. (I think he was the most eclectic person there, except for the lady named Heidi that stood up and described her disastrous failure of her last movie “ Hottie but Naughty” starring Paris Hilton….(Only in L.A.)
As Rob Bell guided her through her supposed failure of a movie script, he asked her what she did during her hiatus from screen writing? Well, she had been raising her medically fragile son….and thus he stopped her in her tracks. So many mothers and fathers that stay home or caregivers feel that they are not creating when they are tending to loved ones, or raising children, he stated “ Raising a child, caring for another human being, is the fundamentally most creative act one can do”. A-ha!
It was at this moment I realized, all these “systems”, “routines” that we have in place to protect our kids, to make sure they have what they need, to provide academics that make sense, they are sucking the everlasting drops of enchantment from them and from me. In the race for persistence, coupled with fear, this notion of scarcity, and follow through, I had lost the very essence of the human spirit— enchantment. And then, even worse, I realized, as teachers we have done the same thing. We have so many rules and high stakes tests, some of us have begun to lose our enchantment to teach, and in turn stifled the enchantment of our learners. In Arizona, we can barely keep teachers in the classroom longer than 3 years as we are 49th in student funding.
Rob and Elizabeth would go on to explain very succintly ,”There is no algorithm, no formula for enchantment. We are all born with it. It is the simple act of play, joy, and leaning into the mysteries of life, and allowing that mystery to move down one.more. layer. into becoming real.”
The wonder in a newborn’s eyes, the first steps our kids take, we capture those. But simple things like the pure nature of the US of A and all the glorious parts we miss because we are so busy creating “stuff” and “working hard” fearful we won’t have “enough”. As Elizabeth said, “Fear isn’t very smart, and it rarely has an answer for you. “ Enchantment is fear wearing a fake mustache”…..
I, like many, had almost lost my enchantment in the race for persistence.
Simply put as Rob said, “Persistence wants to dance with enchantment, but it often interrupts it.”
So the question I beg to ask is as educators, how do we keep the enchantment that brought us to this profession alive? My personal answer is to cultivate it. To manifest it. To continue to look for ways to inspire and motivate our students to learn. One of the ways that we can do this is to inspire movement in the classroom using the Gurian methodologies, to inspire collaboration and interfacing with each other in a day and age when technology seems to be the much easier route, and to allow students to learn how they are wired–through play, through joy, and through the very essence of who they came out of the womb as, enchanted.
So as you end your year, and relax into your summer of enchantment, take a balance check on what your enchantment level is and how it can work in tandem with your persistence. How can you motivate your learners and children with enchantment? How can you cultivate and manifest what they already intrinsically bring to you as far as enchanted human beings? How can you remain persistently enchanted with movement in your classroom? It is there, promise.
Elizabeth Gilbert coins this phenomena as “STUBBORN GLADNESS”, because believe it or not, shockingly, we are not just here to pay bills and die, people.
Summer 2016. Get enchanted.
We are honored and excited to be debuting the “Screenagers” movie as part of our 15th Annual Gurian Summer Institute.
This moving documentary is sure to propel your thoughts and ideas on how families manage and supervise the many devices and technological gadgets that continue to come on to the market. Over 16 devices exist that are specifically marketed to millions of teens and tweens all over the world.
Delaney Ruston, physician and mother, directed and wrote this piece as a talking point and platform for parents and guardians to be able to have resources and access to beginning the courageous conversations of, where is the balance? Experts on child therapy, brain research, and technology addiction chime in to reveal the latest trends and research while we watch Dr. Ruston handle her teen daughter’s wish for a phone.
Girls and boys differ in their approach to social media and online behavior. Girls, as is typical in their every day interpersonal communication, use it for a more verbal and emotive medium to connect and showcase their friendships and outward appearances, while boys typically interface on fast moving and spatial video games and digital media.
As with any medium, social aggression, ostracizing, and exclusion can be problematic for our youth, especially online where it’s difficult to run pass interference for yourself, especially when you lack the maturity to do so.
If you are local to the Carlsbad area, please join us Thursday, June 16, 2016, from 7-9 p.m. at Army and Navy Academy, a Gurian Model School, as we begin courageous conversations around how to manage and protect our kids in the digital world as we launch our digital citizenship initiative.
An expert panel headlined by Rosalind Wiseman, author of “Masterminds and Wingmen”, and one of the nation’s leading social justice philosophers, in tandem with cyber experts, law enforcement, educators, family therapists, and parents will follow our screening.
Attached please find a sample of our family data plan contract as a first step and template to assist you in defining what digital citizenship looks like in your home. This includes adults too!
Screenings are in all major cities. For more information on a screening near you, please visit screenagersmovie.com where you can provide your zip code for available showings near you.