Sunday, February 9, 2014
Education and Redirecting the Cultural “Primacy” of Sports
9:28 am est
book The Smartest Kids in the World compares the U.S. education system with those of Finland, Poland, and South Korea.
One of her observations concerns the relative attention devoted to sports (and other extracurricular activities) in
the U.S., versus in the other countries. She writes:
“Most successful or improving countries seemed to fit into
three basic categories: 1) the utopia model of Finland, a system built on trust in which kids achieved higher-order thinking
without excessive competition or parental meddling; 2) the pressure-cooker model of South Korea, where kids studied so compulsively
that the government had to institute a study curfew; and 3) the metamorphosis model of Poland, a country on the ascent, with
about as much child poverty as the United States, but recent and dramatic gains in what kids knew.” (p. 24)
She continues: “Sports
were central to American students’ lives and school cultures in a way in which they were not in most education superpowers.
Exchange students agreed almost universally on this point…. sports brought many benefits, including lessons in leadership
and persistence, not to mention exercise. In most U.S. high schools, however, only a minority of students actually played
sports. So they weren't getting the exercise, and the U.S. obesity rates reflected as much. And those valuable
life lessons, the ones about leadership and persistence, could be taught through rigorous academic work, too, in ways that
were more applicable to the real world. In many U.S. schools, sports instilled leadership and persistence in one group
of kids, while draining focus and resources from academics for everyone…. Wealth had made rigor unnecessary in the
United States, historically speaking. Kids didn't need to master complex material to succeed in life — not until
recently, anyway. Other things crowded in, including sports…. the glorification of sports chipped away at the
academic drive among U.S. kids. The primacy of sports sent a message that what mattered — what really led to greatness
— had little to do with what happened in the classroom. That lack of drive made teachers’ jobs harder, undercutting
the entire equation.” (p. 118-119)
While Amanda Ripley may exaggerate “the primacy of sports” in the U.S., she does
raise important issues (e.g., “higher rates of child poverty”
here than in many other countries). Academic rigor is often diluted by excessive attention to non-academic
matters, including sports. In some schools and colleges, “student athlete” is a term with contradictions.
As the Concord Review proposes, “varsity academics” should be championed.
Sometimes, the balance between sports and other priorities
For example, current Yale basketball players have been recognized not only for their play on the court,
but also for their scholarship, leadership, and community service.
athlete, elected to Phi Beta Kappa earlier in his junior year, recently earned further academic recognition while continuing to play on a Yale team that won at Harvard last night and is contending for an Ivy League title.
A former player, Earl Martin Phalen, received national acclaim from the NCAA on this 25th anniversary of his graduation from Yale. Congratulations to Earl, who was featured
in a New York Times article as early as 1995 for founding this organization.
Some young New Haveners have been playing basketball this winter in a City league on Saturdays at John Martinez School. I am a volunteer co-coach of a group of kids (my son among them)
ages six to eight. The boys
are getting some exercise and developing skills (including resilience and teamwork as playing time must be shared among 11
players) in a setting characterized by positive coaching – discussed in a December 2011 (December 24) post.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
“Hospitalizations Due to Firearm Injuries in Children and Adolescents”
11:19 pm est
A new article in the journal Pediatrics, “Hospitalizations Due to Firearm Injuries in Children and Adolescents,” documents
more than 7000 firearm-related hospitalizations of young people ages 19 and under in 2009 – some 20 per day.
In children under age 10, three-quarters of hospitalizations were due to unintentional injuries.
Article co-author John M. Leventhal, M.D., was
cited on this blog in an October 2011 (October 15) post, and is among the "men who give" to counter domestic violence.
In December 2013, an American Psychological Association report addressed “Gun Violence: Prevention, Prediction, and Policy” — with an emphasis on measures such as “behavioral
January 2013 op-ed addressed “guns and security” from a parent’s perspective.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
New Seminars for New Haven Teachers
7:56 am est
January 28 is the deadline for New Haven Public School teachers to
apply to the 2014 seminars that the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is offering.
Monday, January 20, 2014
MLK Jr. Day: “Martin’s Big Words”
6:29 pm est
Before today’s holiday, my son brought home from his school
library the book Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King Jr., by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated
by Bryan Collier. My wife and I and both of our children enjoyed reading this book, which earned various
awards upon its publication in 2001.
An August 2013 (August 25) post discussed our family’s trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. (and to the Lincoln) Memorial in D.C.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
7:25 am est
An October 2012 post mentioned the work of Q.N. Usmani, a physicist who is my father-in-law. In recognition of his 70th
birthday, there is a symposium this month; congratulations to him.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
10:44 am est
Sunday, January 5, 2014
2:00 pm est
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
9:49 am est
Sunday, December 29, 2013
“Closing the ‘Word Gap’…”
10:09 am est
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Learning and Dance, New Havener of the Year
9:04 am est
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013: “Education is the great engine of personal development..."
9:14 am est
The death this month
of one of the great figures of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela, is a marker of history – of when the events
of our time ascend to all time.
A passage from Mandela’s extraordinary autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom,
is among the words of inspiration on this website: “Education is the great
engine of personal development. . . . It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person
Sunday, November 10, 2013
History, Civics, and STEAM vs. STEM
7:37 am est
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Literacy Forum: Teachers, Librarians, and Young Readers
7:57 am est
A recent Literacy Forum gave voice to teachers, librarians, and students addressing, “Why read?”
This is a timeless question that each generation
has to answer, from the agricultural and then the industrial era to the advent of radio, TV, and many more technologies since.
One accessible, brief exploration is Motoko Rich’s November 2007 New York Times article.
Bacon, in 1597, recognized that “knowledge … is power.” In his 1625 essay Of Studies,
he asserted: “Reading maketh a full man ... and writing an exact man.”
In 1771, George Washington wrote: “I conceive
a knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built.”
Amid all that has changed over the centuries, these
Saturday, November 2, 2013
10:36 pm edt
It’s bloody likely
that I’ll give blood next week, eight weeks since my last donation. More donors are needed.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
“Every Community Deserves a Public School”
7:04 am edt
Sunday, October 6, 2013
“Why Read, Anyway?”
8:47 pm edt
Informed by work including Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide,
the Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven and the New Haven Free Public Library will co-sponsor an October 23 event.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
A School Gets Its New Building
12:50 pm edt
The new East Rock School, which opened in August and was used for a citywide kindergarten canvass, has its formal dedication tomorrow. Compliments to everyone who made this new school happen.
It will be a boon to the city and the neighborhood.
This is progress; the old building, where I was dozens of times, was badly
in need of replacement years ago.
A July 2008 (July 19) post treated school facilities.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
New Curricular Resources, by Teachers for Teachers
8:52 am edt
Volumes of curriculum units that New Haven public school teachers developed as 2013 Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Fellows – in four seminars
led by Yale faculty members in the sciences and the humanities – are online.
Also available are units that teachers, from New
Haven and other communities around the country, developed while participating as National Fellows in six seminars led by other
Yale faculty members. These units are at the Yale National Initiative website.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
12:57 am edt
With Hispanic Heritage Month underway
from September 15 through October 15, PBS is airing a documentary series on Latino Americans.
Ifill interviewed Ray Suarez, her colleague and author of a book that accompanies the series.
Among the historians consulted for the series was Stephen Pitti of Yale, mentioned in an August 2013 (August 10) post below.
the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, Steve Pitti led New Haven and national seminars on “Latino Cultures and Communities”
in 2006 and 2007, with Fellows developing curriculum units on such topics as “Civil Rights Struggles in the Latino Community.”
Sunday, September 8, 2013
International Literacy Day
2:42 pm edt