5 posts categorized "Schools" Feed

5 Ways to Change How We Are Raising Boys. (Guest Post)

This post come from my friend Ty Woznek. You can find him online here. His thoughts are sure to start some conversations today. A picture of his boys can be found at the end of this post.

I agree we need to reprogram how we raise boys.

Some suggestions:

1) End crazy zero tolerance policies. Suspending a boy for punching a bully is nuts. May not be the correct course of action, but it's not suspension worthy.

2) Bring back winners & losers. If a boy hates losing, he'll work harder on winning.

3) Let boys play with guns. Let them take risks. Let them achieve glory. Let em prank. Will they go to far? Yes. But robbing boys of failure also robs them of success. Let them take the risk at work, not just playing sports. 10668682_10204683532879394_939512397_n

4) Train them to be gentlemen and not label such as misogyny. It's not, it's being classy, romantic, and civil. And yes, part of that means we can say: "Man up!" and not be accused of meaning "UFC fighting, beer guzzling, BBQ dripping from mouth barbarian."

5) STOP PORTRAYING DADS AS DUMB OR DEADBEATS. We have a dad problem more than anything.

Why am I so emotional today?

I have random memories from first days of school.
I suppose that’s true for many people.
One positive one is cutting grass the night before. Back then, ABC or some such station had Monday Night Baseball and I wanted to watch the Dodgers play with my mom.
She loved Tommy Lasorda, him being Italian sealed that deal.
I also remember the night before sixth grade. I was going to a new school.  I wasn’t sure what to think. It was pretty much a train wreck.  I hated that year.
Probably at least some of that angst was just normal middle school stuff.
But today my oldest daughter started sixth grade. Photo
I almost always get a little down when we start the back to school ramp up. I like having my kids home. I like the freedom they (and I have) to visit the office and stay up late swimming.
I know education is a necessity (the grammatical errors that are sure to run through this post aside), but there is a lot of school systems that I don’t truly understand.

I’m also a pretty optimistic person. I hardly ever get too down, nor do I get grumpy for an entire day too often.

But yesterday I was grumpy.

And today as I drove away from the school where I had just dropped my daughter off for her first day, I fought back tears.
I woke up at 5:15 and didn’t fall back asleep this morning.

This caused me to what my family jokingly refers to as “therapize” myself. That is to say, I started to deconstruct my feelings so I could better understand them and process them.

I think there are a couple of things going on. For whatever reason, the loss of my mom has been really poignant this week.

But of course, there is more.
I think my daughter starting sixth grade has caused me to relive some of that and worry for her.
I mean, isn’t that the heart of parenting?
We don’t want our kids to suffer as we did.
We don’t want our kids to face the same bullies we faced.
We don’t want them to feel the searing hot pain of being misunderstood or outright rejected.
My daughter is so excited for middle school. She had a year, where a bully targeted her because my daughter had success at a project that the bully did not experience.
My daughter is a lot like me. She enjoys discussions about deep and random things.
I haven’t told her about my own troubles because the time isn’t right yet. Some day I will tell her all of it.

For now, I will hold my breath and hope. I will hope that her sixth grade year is better than mine was all those years ago. If it is not, we’ll deal with that as a family.
I will hope that her infectious desire to learn and process things will blossom through this year.
I will hope that I lead her well by walking beside her and her sisters as they traverse this next chapter of life. For some reason, the younger grades don’t seem to get to me as much.

I will also grieve.

I love being a dad. Seriously, besides getting married, it is absolutely the best thing I have ever done. And my kids are growing up. They are moving through the stages and its wonderful.
Wonderful change.
Years ago someone told me that all change is loss. I believed him then and I believe him now. We tend to think that grief is inherently bad. I disagree with that sentiment. Grief simply exists. It's a reminder that we are all growing and dying. It is a reminder that life is too short and time is too fast. It is a reminder of all that we've loved and all that we've lost.

So to you, my friend, I say wherever you are right now on the kids spectrum. May you find contentment and peace. May you find the courage to process your own stuff that having (or not having) kids brings up in you. May you find the next step while enjoying the current one.

Everyone Wins? Just for showing up? Part 3 of 5

I have a lot of things that I am excited to share with you over this upcoming year. But I'm kicking off the school year with a series that I did last year regarding what I think is a dangerous mentality of “everyone wins.” This series is designed to create some conversation on what it means to allow our children to lose and struggle and win. If you read it last year, maybe you’ll want to skip it…and then again you might enjoy it again. If you’re new to these parts maybe you’ll love it…or maybe you’ll hate it. We’ll see. Either way. Here is part three of five.




Part one can be found here and part two can be found here.

There is a great scene in the animated movie, The Incredibles. The son Dash is being "encouraged" by his parents. One of his parents tells him that everyone is special. Under his breath he replies, "Then no one is."

We are stuck on this idea that everyone is exceptional, special and a winner.

Of course, if these things are true than no one is actually any of them. Some people are good at math, while others are good at stringing words together. Some people can sing, some can play sports, some can cook and clean. Some people can do amazing things with a pencil, others do amazing things with fire and sand.

Yes, we are all unique. Yes, we are all have skills, talents, and abilities that make us unique. But have we gone to far. Are we creating a generation of people that expect to win just for showing up? Personally, I think the answer to that question is yes.

I have a problem with this mentality. I think it is hurting our society. When I was a teacher, I would hear all the time about the unfairness of life. Student X was upset because she wasn't getting the playing time she deserved. Parent after parent would ask me how their child would get better if he or she did not play in the game. I would get the it's not fair that she or he practices as much as the other person and doesn't get to play. 

My daughter played soccer a number of years ago. She loved it. She wasn't very good. It's not a value judgement on her, it is simply a statement of fact as someone who has coached for a number of years. She might be god some day, but the truth is at this point I doubt it. She did not enjoy running, which is a rather critical component of soccer. She has moved onto dance. She loves it. I have no idea if she is good or not from a critical point of view but I love watching her. I love the ways her eyes shimmer when she talks about dance.

What is interesting to me is that she knew she wasn't very good. She still got the same ribbon as everyone else on her team. Just for showing up.

A friend of mine has a son that played on a baseball team. He batted a thousand for the season and scored every time he came to bat. I have no idea what that would make his slugging percentage but I would think it would be really high. You see, he played in a league where every time a batter hit the ball he or she ran all of the bases. Every time, no matter what. At the end of the season he got an award, just for showing up.

He was ill prepared for the next season when three strikes meant you were out.

When I worked as an athletic director, I instituted rules and guidelines for people to earn a letter in a sport. To that point in the schools history, simply showing up meant you made the team and earned a letter. One of my favorite student athletes failed to earn his letter while his older and younger brother did make it. Two girls on the women's basketball team also failed.

"But they really tried." "It's not fair." "He's really disappointed." "I don't like to see him hurt."

Essentially they could have just said, "Look, trying is enough."

Of course, this isn't really true. What about the people who applied for the same job opening that you did and didn't get it because you got it. What about the people who put a bid on the same house that you are now living in. Do you want them moving in because they really wanted the house?

What do you think? Do you think people are being taught that you win just for showing up? If not, why are you still reading this? :) If so, do you think that is a good or bad thing?

In the next post, I'll begin to explain the problems inherent in the idea of winning just for showing up.

Academic Writing distilled....

If you know me, you know that I think there are very few organizations that take itself more seriously than it should besides Academia.  One may have to write poorly for the interest of academic integrity by referring to oneself in the third person. Or perhaps, the successful writer will engage in obtuse and obfuscation. A while ago, a friend shared this cartoon with me and I thought it was nearly perfect. :)


Self-plagiarism. We've finally gone over the edge

I was going to write about e-readers today. Then I opened my school email and received back from my professor a paper that I had recently submitted. There was a friendly reminder from my professor to avoid plagiarism. Sound awful doesn't it? What did I do?

Did I copy someone else's work and pass it off as my own? Did I quote someone and fail to cite them? Did quote someone wrong? Nope.

What I did was I used one sentence in two separate papers. Now, please understand I'm not railing against my professor. He is just fulfilling his job requirements. He's enforcing a bad rule.

I have often said that I think Academia has lost touch with reality. The stereotype of an Academic is a stereotype because there are too many rules, and regulations that make no sense. They create confusion and cause people who live in "the real world" to scratch their heads and wonder what in the world just happened.

Think about what I just told you. Writing the same sentence twice in two separate papers could be plagiarism. Well, let's look at the definition of plagiarism.

According to my school's own webpage:


Plagiarism is when an author represents someone else's intellectual property as his or her own work (Emphasis mine).  Authors are most commonly at risk of plagiarizing when they fail to adequately cite the original source material from which they took words and ideas. Plagiarism can occur in many forms and can range from a lack of citations to incorrect paraphrasing or actual direct copy and pasting of a source's phrasing into another author's own paper.

According to dictionary.com


the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work, as by not crediting the author:

Then how does one self-plagiarize? Well, evidently you can’t but according to this writer, it violates the “spirit of scholarly research."

Say what?

Now, what is interesting is that I am guessing that almost all academics don't actually follow this rule when they are presenting their ideas. They're presenting those ideas over and over again in many different venues.

And I want them to keep doing that. Ideas are not concrete. They change shape over time. They never leave an interaction the same way they came to it. They evolve. We need them to do that. One paper submitted to me will elicit different responses than the same paper submitted to you. Learning is not an assembly line production, no matter how much we may try to make it be one. It is a living breathing interaction.

The problem is that this rule is saying that ideas cannot change. Moreover, they are attempting to pretend that courses and classes are not alike. That too much of time spent in school is looking at the same material over and over again. How else could a student offer a paper in two classes and the paper be of value to both classes if we take this "infraction" away? What's interesting to me, is that in my case it wasn't even one paper for two classes. It was one sentence for two assignments on the same topic!

Who is being stolen from? Who is being protected by this rule? Academia's own self sense of importance is being protected and that's about it, in my opinion. Thankfully, I am not alone. This writer agrees with me.

Here's a long quote from the piece:

But—practically speaking—the opportunity to reuse a paper might arise only once or twice in a student's career, thanks to the diversity of our course assignments and disciplines. A paper assignment that a student gets in my English class on 20th-century literature won't be anything like her assignment in Renaissance literature—much less from psychology or sociology. Because the content of courses differs so much, the opportunity to use the same paper will happen only rarely.

But when it does, why not allow a student to take advantage of the opportunity? Suppose a student writes a final research paper for an introductory psychology course in the fall semester of her freshman year, and receives helpful suggestions on it from the professor. That same student then takes an English-composition course with me in the spring, and I assign an open-topic research paper to finish the semester.

Why should I not encourage the student to revise her psychology paper, according to both the guidance she received from her previous professor and the new writing principles she has learned in my course? She couldn't merely turn in her old paper; it would have to fulfill the requirements of my assignment. The student would not only get the opportunity to return to a set of ideas she thought she had finished, but the assignment would also reinforce the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and the curriculum.

No doubt, she might end up doing less work than a student who wrote a paper from scratch in my composition course. But does that really matter?

To borrow a phrase from the late eighties, we need to "stop the madness!!! (uncited)"

So of course, the question is what will I do. Obviously, I want to graduate my program. I've contacted three different people from my school expressing my frustration with this rule. I have written an email to the in house "expert" on plagiarism and cheating. I am waiting to hear back from him. I have written the official APA guidelines page and they have responded that they are unclear about this application of the rule. I will look up the rule in own APA guide manual when I get home tonight.

All of that to say I don't see much I can do except start conversations like this one. Some day, I'll have my degree. Things change because ideas get shared. I hope that my daughter's can go through school without having to deal with this type of absurdity.