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Education

Raising Good Citizens

Raising good citizens in the parameters of a classroom / school. 
On the evening of the back to school night, my daughter’s teacher handed the parents a questionnaire. A simple set of questions to get to know each child and who better than the parents to answer that. As she explained what she expected the parents to fill, she said “Your inputs will help me raise good citizens. That is something I  promise every school year.”  That is all that I needed to hear that evening. That was mattered to me the most. I knew my daughter and every other student in the class would learn math, language arts, science and history inevitably. They always do. 
The life lessons, the good citizen lessons are the ones that get largely ignored. Ironically, they are the ones most needed in life. 
Few weeks into this school year, I see a lot of the promise implemented. There are simple ground rules in the class. It involves helping around in the class, being nice to others, sharing, keeping your desks organized, no teasing or bullying, being a good listener and et all. If you can follow the rules, you earn a sticker a day. If you earn 10 stickers, the teacher will reward you in some way. Nothing big. A shiny pencil or a penguin looking eraser is incentive enough for a first grader. The card with the stickers says “Fabulous” followed by the child’s name. Everyone gets rewarded for whatever little they have achieved, no good deeds ignored. 
Likewise, at every level, every grade I have heard of and met teachers who have adopted simple techniques to teach the meaningful lessons of life. We have written about “Eye Message”, “Walk Talk Rock” on the blog before. We applaud our teachers for the curriculum they teach, we thank them for the GATE and SAT scores, we thank them when the children make it to IVY leagues. We often forget to applaud, appreciate, even acknowledge them for the most valuable lessons in life that they teach. 
We at chatoveracuppa, take this opportunity to share with you some of the great teacher/school lead initiatives that we have seen or experienced – 
1.  Donation Drive – Asking students to donate their almost new toys and games, books, new pair of shoes, non-perishable food, blanket, sleeping bags etc for children who are less fortunate. Life Lesson – #Generosity 

2.  Voluntary Work –  Traffic duty around the school, cleaning up a neighborhood community, ensuring the school is litter free, making sandwiches in the kitchen of a shelter. Life Lesson – #Sense of community. #Responsibility 

3. Care – In an elementary school the donation drive was taken a little further and the children were taken on a field trip to share what they have donated with the little residents of a children’s hospital. Life Lesson – #Compassion

3. Celebrating Diversity – In a particular school, on UN day there was a fair with a representation from 30 countries showcasing their cuisine, their arts and crafts, their culture, literature etc. Each student was given a passport, with a world map on it. For every stall(thus country) they visited, they would get it stamped on their passport. A huge event organized by just the teachers and the parents. The children went back home embracing lot more about each other’s culture. Life Lesson – #Respecting Diversity. 
4. Organic Garden – Many schools in Califorina have this now. An organic garden maintained in the school campus, maintained by the students in the teacher’s supervision. A basic life skills to learn to grow your own food.  The fruits and vegetables from the garden are served to the students. Children learn to respect and appreciate what is is served on their plates. Life Lesson – #Survival 

5. Penmanship  – A pen-pal program with students from the other part of the globe. The letter MUST be handwritten. Life Lesson – #Save the extinction of penmanship. 

6. Rock And Roll –  In a middle school, a teacher was seeing unusually grumpy and very aggressive children every morning. So for 5 minutes every morning, he would switch on the radio and put on a foot tapping music. Initially reluctant, the kids eventually started to join him. 5 mins of free style dancing was all that was needed to push all the negative emotions out of the door. The day went more productive than anticipated.  Life Lesson – # Positivity, #Celebration Of Life 

Contributed By : The Chatoveracuppa Team 
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Sumitra

Sumitra, a stockily built forty-five year old, very contented, never complaining woman, is my present house help  Her husband is a few years elder to her and is an inveterate drunk. In her own words,”is the most wretched person God has ever created”. He is jobless, does not do any work but eats, smokes, buys prescription medicines with her money, and beats her and turns her out of the house often. She wonders where he gets the money for the drinks, because no one would give a penny to such a vile person. Still she does not complain.

Her twenty-two year old son is married and has a son of his own but his wife has deserted him. He also does not like to work, sits at home, watches television, day dreams and criticizes his mother for not providing enough good food. Her daughter is happily married to a cab driver and has a two year old son. This is a very common scenario among the economically backward working communities here in India. 

Are you wondering why I am writing about this girl during the education week? Here is why. 

Sumitra is quite a unique character. She was born and brought up in a mega city but has remained illiterate, many a time exploited for that reason but never complaining. Her only dream is to learn to write her name  and her family members’ name secretly as she wants to give a big them a big surprise and also read to them the “Laxmi’s Panchali“, the booklet praising Hindu-Goddess Laxmi. Upon knowing this, I took this as an opportunity to enable her by making her a literate. 

Reading of the booklet is important to Sumitra, important enough to encourage her to learn to read and write. She is not God fearing but believes in total surrender to God. I asked her whether she ever feels angry as other people have so many things and she has nothing. She said she manages to arrange two meals a day for her family, though it is meager rice and potato, but there are people who do not get even that. She is thankful to Lord Shiva-Hindu God, who she worships, providing her all she needs. 

So one evening, after her work, we start her education. In my 14 years of teaching, I have not come across such a simpleton. Once in ten days or so she manages to find some time to study and obviously by then she has forgotten what she learnt ten days back. I do not blame her for that as she works in seven houses including her own but sometimes she tests my patience! Anyways, after a lot of perseverance from both sides we have progressed a little. Now she knows to read and write a few simple words, her own name, her husband’s and son’s name. But she is not confident yet to write in front of anyone other than me. 

I also promised her I would help her open a bank account, which she thinks is the ultimate fulfilment of her life. When I told her about my visit abroad for more than two months, she was not ready to believe at first but then said, ‘Please don’t forget me and talk about me at least once a day.’

In more than forty years of my married life I have handled many house helps, but Sumitra is different. I almost envy her sense of contentment. I recently read the much talked about Indra Nooyi interview,a well educated and a highly successful woman mentioning about the sacrifices she made in life and still did get everything she wanted. I thought of Sumitra as I read that interview. Sumitra who is happy to be able to barely spell her own name, Sumitra who is surrounded by adversities in life yet she is the one who sleeps the most content at nights. 
As a teacher, I could not have asked for a better student than Sumitra. She inspires me to look at life so very differently. Charity must always begin at home. Enable some one, educate them. It may change their life in many little ways. For me, I hope in the coming months, Sumitra will learn to read the religious booklet, have a bank account, sign her own name and be less exploited. 

Story Credit and Picture Credit : Swapna Haldar 

The Black Board

If you grew up in the generation when the whiteboards did not exist, then you surely know about the blackboard. We understand this post does not advocate a cause in favor of education or an opinion on the systems of education. But it does beautifully narrate the existence and importance of the blackboards for those of us who went to school or college in the times of the “blackboard”. 

I have a fascination for the black board. The omnipresent center of attraction in the classrooms, almost sacred by the virtue of its limited access that demarked the teachers from the lesser mortals.
Countless times I had watched with fascination as the chalk transformed itself into dust, leaving ephemeral impressions that would last for less than an hour on the black board, but much longer in our minds.
Writing on the black board was an art in itself. Those expert in the art almost used the pauses between the impressions they made on it, as time to let a particular concept sink in. The concepts magically materializing in our minds a split second before materializing on the board.
Then there were others who used the medium for written dictation as the students furiously scribbled down the words of knowledge and wisdom from the blackboard before those words were wiped off to make space for more.
The black boards were very black in the hundred and fifty year old boys only convent school where I did my schooling from. The chalks were thick, soft and created a awful lot of dust. In fact, for a long time I had assumed that the reason the tunics of the fathers, brothers and sisters of the convent were white because it would be easier to go unnoticed after wiping the chalk dust from their fingers into their habits.
“Why did they assign Navy blue blazers for our uniform then” , I often used to wonder.
The blazers used to get stained with chalk by the end of the school day, much to the annoyance of the parents. If one was particularly lucky to got caught focusing on anything else apart from the blackboard, the punishment, was to be assigned to a space next to the blackboard , facing the class, where one was unable to see what the teacher was furiously scribbling, but at the same time get thoroughly drenched in the chalk dust.
After my school days, I managed to get admission in one of the coveted engineering colleges in India. The black-boards there were modern and were actually green in color, often stacked two or three on top of each other, and each could be individually pulled up and down by a pulley system.
Multiple boards gave a lot of time to the students to scribble down the words of knowledge and wisdom from the blackboard before those words were wiped off to make space for more. It also gave us sufficient time to sneak out of the class while a professor was busy writing a particularly lengthy passage on the board with apt concentration.I used to often silently admire the fact that someone can fill in four blackboards worth of information in one hour!
The chalk in my engineering college was thinner and harder, often making squeaky sounds especially while materializing into a particularly long mathematical formula. Also, the chalk dust was significantly less.
This light-weight chalk also doubled up as projectile ammunition that could be thrown at a person. In fact this was a very popular use, especially in the first year of college when several such projectiles were tested on the girls in the class who usually sat in the first bench of the class. I was in expert in this projectile art and often practiced on the lone girl in my class, the girl I eventually ended up getting married to.
My next encounter with black boards was at MIT. Here, there were a mix of black and green boards , mix of thick and thin chalks and in some classrooms pulley systems that stacked up four blackboards one on top of other !
But times had changed. In majority of the classes those magnificent black boards stood dwarfed by projector screens where well crafted and rehearsed slide shows materialized. There was no need to take notes as the lecture slides were available to all the students.
I had just completed my Master’s thesis and had to do a dissertation. My presentation was up just before the lunch break. As I entered the room during my allocated slot, I was surprised to see more than a hundred people in the lecture hall. I started hooking up my laptop with the help of the technical staff and we found out that there was some glitch in the projector setup. The projection screen would not unfold despite several attempts.
As the clock ticked through the futile attempts, the restless din in the room got louder and louder.
I looked longingly at the fixture on the roof just in front of the black boards, from where the currently inoperable screen was supposed to appear.
“Why me?” I thought when suddenly my gaze fixed into the three level stacks of black boards just behind the projector screen fixture. Looking at them, I realized that these boards were not green – they were actually black!
“I guess we will do this the old fashioned way!” I addressed the classroom as the din gradually died away.
I briefly paused to glance at my Navy-blue Blazer, and picking up the soft chalk from the podium, I walked towards the blackboards amidst an applause.

Story Credit And Sketch Credit : Prithvi Raj Banerjee.  He is a storyteller and plans to author a book some day. He is also a photographer and a cartoonist. In his blog ‘Tales from Near & Far’, he writes & illustrates stories inspired by incidences from his old and new homes, as a tribute to people who continue to make homes under new skies.

How education saved my life?


We sometimes take education for granted. But for many education is the only means to rise above many things in life. Today’s story is written by Ms. Sherreal Hammond, who is a hardworking and sincere laboratory technician in the biotech lab where our storyteller Dr.Amrita Madabushi teaches. She is an absolute inspiration for many who work around her. There are many facets to her life that are inspiring but today she shares her story that is eye-opening, chilling and extremely inspiring.


Education saved my life. As a child I grew up in a violent neighborhood in America, which I still refer to as a “war zone”.  I remember seeing people die on a daily basis. While I was in elementary school, I can never forget that day when my brother and I told a friend that we will meet with him after the school. We never did, because he was murdered while we were in class.  This was quite common for us and the odds were surely stacked against us.  This was not the life I wanted for myself.  I had wonderful teachers who would tell us every day that education was our only way out. They would encourage us to try very hard to study and to always come to school.  

Although the violence became a part in my life, I chose to listen to my teachers. I did not spend too much time out side playing.  I preferred to go to the library to read and study.  Spending time in the library kept me away from the violence that was plaguing everyone.  I recall hearing gun shots every night and having to stay away from my bedroom window for fear of a stray bullet accidently killing me. And I would read every night to keep myself from being interested in the events occurring outside.  As a result of this, reading became my escape as well as my hope. Years later, after I graduated from high school, I had lost many neighborhood friends to prison, death, and unfortunate situations.  I saw my teacher’s words come true and education was the very reason I got out of there.

In addition, having a solid formal education has completely changed my life. In my adult life there was a period when I would move from job to job never thinking of any type of career.  While attending classes, one day I had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a biological laboratory.  I instantly fell in love with the work that was being done in the lab, so from that day I found myself a goal, to become a laboratory technician. Before I received my Associates degree in Biotechnology, my life was not how I wanted it to be. I became the first college graduate and that too in science in my family!  

As a result of the education I received I am very happy to say that at this present moment in my life, I am working as a laboratory tech at my school from where I graduated. Education has giving me a career that I love and enjoy. I often reflect on my past and think, giving a child the option of education can change the child’s entire outcome in this world. I am a wonderful example of this. If education was not an option for me, I do not know if I would even be alive today.   Becoming educated saved my life on so many levels and changed it in ways I could never image.

For The Love Of Mark Twain’s Books


We all have been in a class where we have paid no attention to the teacher, not listened to one word that was said to us and giggled about it after the class. We asked Swapna Haldar, who has taught long years in a school, if that ever happened to her. She then told us about this little interesting incident where she used Mark Twain’s books to get the student’s attention. 

Twenty years back, school teaching was a bit different from now, it was more bookish. Quite naturally there were uninterested students and a lot of absenteeism in the class. It was the fourth or fifth year of my teaching when I was asked by the principal to teach eighth grade. As I was teaching higher classes, I was a bit surprised. It was a big class with fifty two students, mainly boys and a few girls. 

On the very first day I noticed that almost half the classroom was empty. It was a private school with high tuition fees. Second day it was not half but almost, third day it was the same. The students who were present seemed more interested in other things rather than learning from the book, leave aside the home assignments. I went to the principal, before I uttered anything, she said she knew I would be able to bring the boys back to the classroom. I was speechless. She wished me good luck as I came out of the office. I thought and thought about my course of action when suddenly an idea from Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer came to my mind. The two stories had been introduced in the curriculum the same year.

Next day in the classroom as I started reading, I saw the interest spark in their eyes (I was known for my story telling). I read two pages from the book and left the rest for later. Next day I could see the number of kids in the class had increased. I again read one page and announced that the students would also be given a chance to read aloud from the book. By the end of the week the class was almost full. Next week I asked them to submit their home assignments but most kids did not. I decided to use Mark Twain’s magic again and told them that only if the whole class did their homework, they would get to read aloud from the book.  

It became easier to bring back the students in the class. By the end of the term, the classroom was filled with many enthusiastic students and only a handful of disinterested ones. Long live Mark Twain’s books!

Gifted

The third post in our series on perspectives on education, “Gifted” children. Who or what defines “Gifted” ? A parent’s perspective, an important and heartfelt perspective. 

A friend of mine once told me about how her son watched a ‘Your Baby Can Read’ DVD and started reading at the age of 2. I was a little skeptical as my own kids were only speaking in simple sentences at that point and it seemed like everywhere I turned someone was telling me about how their kid was especially gifted. Could it be that there were so many gifted kids or was I just befriending only those people who had gifted children? It wasn’t until a couple years later that I realized that my friend hadn’t been exaggerating. I was at her house when her now 4 year old son came up to me with a book and started telling me about the early geological periods of the Earth from the Pre-Cambrian to the Phanerozoic. I was completely floored by his deep knowledge of the subject. When I asked him a question that he didn’t know, he’d go to the index and find the page where he could get the information. I remember him studying a graph inside the book that charted all the different animals that existed during the different time periods and cross-referencing the information with another chart on a different page. I knew from his mom that he wasn’t autistic, he was just incredibly smart. It was at that moment that I put my own kids into perspective — they would never attain his level of genius and it wasn’t the ‘Your Baby Can Read’ DVD that made him that way.

In the South Asian community, so many parents are obsessed with their children’s academic achievement that they sign their kids up for every Kumon class and take them to every after-school learning program. I know my own parents stressed good grades and intelligence so much that my self-worth was completely tied to my academic ability. In a million little ways my parents let me know that they valued my academic performance in school over all else and I wondered if my parents would still love me if I was a bad student. In high school, I remember feeling suicidal when I didn’t get a good grade on a test or the highest SAT score. There was also a hierarchy of learning where subjects like math and science were valued much higher than the arts and I felt I had to choose a career in the sciences to please my parents.

Now that I have my own kids, I don’t want them to grow up feeling this way. I want them to do well in school but I don’t want to pressure them to perfection. I want them to know that I love them no matter how they do in school. 

My son didn’t start reading till 1st grade and he never asked the kinds of interesting questions my daughter did. My daughter started teaching herself how to read when she was three, and by four she was reading on her own. I still remember the day she read Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” to her pre-school class. As an 8 year old, she plays violin well beyond her years, and, she’s self-motivated — her latest project was teaching herself Russian so she could speak to a Russian girl in her class. And yet, despite all these things she didn’t test gifted and my son did.

Knowing that my daughter didn’t test gifted put a tiny sliver of doubt in my mind about her ability to succeed in this world, whereas my son, who is not the most motivated kid, suddenly became an underachiever in my mind since his scores told me he had potential. The testing always introduces doubt into our minds. Why do we do this to our kids and to ourselves?


There are so many different types of human intelligence — while one person might have a natural ability in math, another person might have great kinesthetic skills which make them a great athlete or dancer. Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner identified seven different types of intelligence: logical-mathematical, musical, visual-spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic and bodily-kinesthetic. But in our current society we administer standardized tests that fail to measure all our childrens’ different abilities. Let’s embrace our children for who they are and stop judging them so harshly on their grades. We love them for so many reasons. Let’s let them know that.


I Give Up

Dr. Tanu Shree Singh, a mom, an educator and a blogger. She writes about the
time during the school tests and examinations in India. The thought behind the
post applies globally. A must read for all the parents, we think. We recommend. 

I give up. I do not fit the popular definition of an ideal parent. I admit. It is that time of the year when most parents lose sleep. Exams are here. Televisions have been shut, remotes hidden. I tried. I honestly tried to get them to study as if their life depended on it. But I couldn’t prevent them from reading their choice of fiction during exams, or making their share of origami and scoubidou string rings. Thing is, I have not forgotten my time. I never took exams seriously. And I seem to be doing fine. So how do I pretend? I cannot. Hence, I give up.

Also, I apologised to the elder one today. I had been telling him that he wasn’t studying the way he was ‘supposed to’. Then in a rare introspective moment, realisation hit me- I was no one to judge his system. For all you know, it might work. Just because the convention demands that he study continuously does not mean that his system of getting up from the desk every 20 minutes, doesn’t work.  He is still at the stage of working out his method. Hence apology was in order.
Exams are made to be a bigger monster than they are. And I am in the process of learning that. I tried to be The Mom – the one who worries, takes furious notes, writes out assignments for the kids, and panics every time the word test is mentioned. I failed. How long can you pretend after all? I was never an organised child and frankly, the lessons that mum tried to impart turned me against the whole idea of being a studious kid anyway. She tried. She tried to be The Mom. She somewhat failed too. So I leave them to their own devices. They study – sometimes at the last minute, and sometimes in a way more disciplined manner than I could have ever dared. 
When I get after their lives, am I ensuring success, or am I preventing them from learning from failure? Does my bugging them motivate them to do better? I think not. There are other ways to motivate. So I made my decision today. I am going to let them shoulder their burden. If it is success – it is theirs and if it is failure -it is their own toast to raise. That is how they will learn. A huge part of exams, I believe, is not categorising us in neat packets labelled by the marks we get; it is to gauge our strengths and weaknesses. It is to pave a way forward – not to get flogged for getting half a mark less than the highest, or for that matter flunking.
So I give up. For I want them to fail. Failure is the only way they would learn to cope. Life doesn’t ensure success. Hence they need to learn. When they prepare for the mid-terms on their own, and give it the importance that they feel is due, they earn what they deserve, and hence get presented with an opportunity to learn. That is where I choose to step in. I choose to sit and analyse the pitfalls with them rather than making sure that they learn the answers word for word.
I give up on obsessing about that one word answer that they seem to have missed. We never talk about how the fifth part of the third question went. I’ll know how they did in due time when the results get declared. There is no point in dissecting the question paper the moment they step inside the house after an exam. I never did that as a student. So if I did now, it would be hypocritical. We heave a sigh of relief when the exam is done and leave the rest to the results. When the results come, we gauge them against the last time’s performance and see what can be done in the future. And then we discuss the book that we want to read or the flavour of ice cream we want to try.
I am still confused about the efficacy of our system but deep down it feels right. I can be the pillar they lean on, but I cannot be the staircase they use to climb up, for I am dated. When they run out of staircase, then what? I cannot let them fall into blind dark abyss of failures after that. They have to make their own paths, hitch up their own ropeways. So when they fall below their own expectation, or for that matter fail, I smile – not because I am the proverbial wicked witch mother, but because I see an opportunity for them to learn. 
 Tomorrow they are facing their last exam for now. The older one says he is done with the entire syllabus except one chapter. I have no idea about the number of chapters he was supposed to mug anyway. And the younger one says he is halfway through and is cool about it. He says he’ll manage. That is not possible – I know it. If, however, he manages – good for him. If doesn’t, we will hopefully learn for future.
So while my peers live through a curfew, ours is a fairly regular household – music still blares sometimes, I still steal cups of solitary coffee, I do not listen to them rattle off answers, and I try not to freak out over the last minute preparations. I have fought my set of battles. This battlefield is theirs to tackle. I choose to be an observer, a motivator, enforcer of basic discipline, and an anchor. They know I am here for support, and they also know I am not their navigation system. They know I will arm them, but I will not fight their battles. If they fall in a ditch, I shall pull them out, and try to set them on course again. I might warn them about ditches, but I will try not to lay planks over it for them to cross. They have to figure that bit out. And when they balance, and make it across, of course I’ll secretly let out a sigh of relief. I am a mother after all.

This post is authored by Dr.Tanu Shree Singh who has previously written many a times for Chatoveracuppa. This post of her’s first appeared here at mycity4kids.com.  We read it and realized this is exactly what we wanted to read, write and share with all of you. An important perspective on education that many of us believe in but not not many are talking about it. We are glad this mom did. 

Thank you to mycity4kids.com for allowing us to cross post this article here. 

‘The New Price of a College Education — and It’s Not Tuition.’

Photo credit : Soumi Haldar
In its September 8 issue, Businessweek featured a story about ThinkTank Learning, a chain of San Francisco Bay Area tutoring centers that operate out of strip malls. The company was founded in 2002 by Steven Ma, a former hedge fund analyst who started the company with $2,000 of his own money saved from tutoring students, and a $15,000 loan. His first “center” was a desk and some phones in a 100 square foot office in Cupertino.


Ma, was born in Taipei and moved to California in the fifth grade, now brings in about 18 million dollars a year for his company. Essentially, Ma makes bets on student admissions the way a trader plays the commodities markets, summarizes Businessweek,

 “Using 12 variables from a student’s profile—from grades and test scores to extracurricular activities and immigration status—Ma’s software crunches the odds of admission to a range of top-shelf colleges. His proprietary algorithm assigns varying weights to different parameters, derived from his analysis of the successes and failures of thousands of students he’s coached over the years.”

The article gives an example. Ma’s algorithm predicts that a U. S.-born high school senior with a 3.8 GPA, an SAT score of 2,000 (out of 2,400), moderate leadership credentials, and 800 hours of extracurricular activities, has a 20.4 percent chance of admission to New York University and a 28.1 percent shot at the University of Southern California. These odds, it continues, determine the fee ThinkTank charges that student for its guaranteed consulting package: $25,931 to apply to NYU and $18, 826 for USC.

Is Ma’s business taking advantage of a population? It depends on your definition of taking advantage. Most of his clients are are Asian immigrants like himself, many of whom still have families living in their country of origin. He helps applicants and their families navigate the myriad criteria generated by applying to a university. He “reassures the bewildered, multigenerational audiences that top-ranked American universities aren’t nearly as capricious as they seem,” once you know their formula. To be sure, only the very wealthy or those willing to give up their life savings for their child can afford Ma’s services. 

And while ThinkTank serves a niche clientele, there are thousands of other college “counseling” businesses in the United States. The term “counseling” is a misnomer to me, because it often doesn’t describe a holistic approach to a college or vocational school that is the best environment for the youngster, but rather, a business that helps parents mold a student into the best possible candidate for the school they perceive as necessary for success in this world. If one Googles “college counseling,” one will need an entire afternoon to scroll through the endless advertisements for local and national help. One particularly bold one I found was called “The Ivy Coach,” and its website introduction goes right for the jugular: 

“Why live with regret? Why play these games? So you save some money by not working with a private college consultant? And then  your kid doesn’t get into Yale. Instead, he ends up at UCLA as an out-of-stater. So you end up paying a lot of tuition for a school that doesn’t have the cache of Yale. Seems like a poor investment strategy to us. Talk about a reality check. Every time your kid goes on a job interview and the interviewer sees that he went to Yale, do you know what his assumption generally is? That he’s smart. It’s quite the assumption to have in your back pocket. That’s not necessarily the case for UCLA students, even though UCLA is a terrific school. So if you choose to not invest with a good private college counselor (and there certainly are bad ones), just know that your strategy can backfire for many years to come! And that’s the cold, hard truth.”

My biggest wish for my children in the years to come is a nation that embraces the differences of each student, and places a premium on teaching children why it’s important to learn for the sake of learning, not just checking boxes for a particular class or university.  The “adult brain” isn’t formed until the age of 24 –– that’s two years past the point of graduation from undergraduate programs for most people. Very rarely do teens or young adults know “what they want to do in life” until they are closer to their late twenties or thirties or beyond. My second wish is for high school programs to teach students how to be adaptable –– that it is important to finish a course of learning to build basics, but also, how to take what one already knows and build from it with new experiences. My third wish for students today is for good health, both physical and mental, whereby they have peers that support them and vice versa, and get plenty of sleep for their growing brains. 

Maybe these are things that cannot be purchased, but as parents, we can demand them.


Authored By : Julia Bricklin, Picture By : Soumi Haldar 


Julia Bricklin is a mother of two kids studying in the elementary and middle school. When Julia sent in this article to us, we were so charged up, we decided to spend a week talking about different perspectives on education. 

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