Friday, January 30, 2015

cozy stripes

sweater, Gap Outlet
Calvin Klein straight leg jeans, Ross

       I indulged myself in this pretty, lightweight sweater when I went outlet shopping over winter break. I couldn't resist the cheerful stripes in warm colors. 
       Have you ever read a book that made you rethink long-held assumptions? Over my winter break I read "The Smartest Kids in the World" by Amanda Ripley. The book looks at the educational systems of Finland, Poland, and South Korea. Several things really stood out.
           First, in some countries, only the top students are accepted into teacher training programs, where they undergo rigorous instruction. The job of educator is prestigious and coveted.
          Second, parents' view of and participation in education varies widely. Ripley said something like Asian parents see themselves as coaches, while Western parents see themselves as cheerleaders. "Coach" parents tend to make education an explicit part of home life, such as having their child do a workbook page for 30 minutes a day. Two of my students are of Korean ancestry, and I know that their mothers provide ample educational opportunities at home, ranging from subscriptions to online math education programs to workbooks.
       Third, in other countries, instructional time is preserved as ... well, instructional time. High school teachers aren't coaches; parents are the ones who run sports after school. One of the things that surprised me about my current school when I first arrived was how participation in service clubs cuts into students' instructional time.
      Fourth, some teachers don't want to know too much about their students' home lives and personal challenges. Why? A teacher explained that knowing too much about students' struggles may lead her to lower her expectations of what these students can achieve. This was an eye-opening statement to read. While I still believe it is useful for me to have information about students' life outside of school, I realize that I must not let this information dilute my expectations.  
    I don't usually read much nonfiction, preferring fluffy escapist novels during the school year, but this was a worthwhile choice for winter break.

    What's the last book you read that really made an impression on you?


  1. I've loved the kite runner! I recently finished reading it and I sped through it. It was an inspiring piece that talked about the times during the Afghanistan war and the story of two boys and their lives.

  2. Kat - good suggestion! I've heard a lot of positive things about the novel. Fun fact: for our first date, my husband and I went to see the movie version at the dollar theater. Not exactly a date movie ...


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