John Medina's Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School is a rarity: A book that actually lives up to its title--and its jacket blurb. Medina's work fascinates me both for its simplicity and its complexity.
On the one hand, our molecular biologist, author and director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University manages to distill extensive research on the brain into 12 principles that have direct and clear application to three separate worlds: home, work and school.
Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power. (exercise)
Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too. (survival)
Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently. (wiring)
Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things. (attention)
Rule #5: Repeat to remember. (short-term memory)
Rule #6: Remember to repeat. (long-term memory)
Rule #7: Sleep well, think well. (sleep)
Rule #8: Stressed brains don't learn the same way. (stress)
Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses. (sensory integration)
Rule #10: Vision trumps all other sense. (vision)
Rule #11: Male and female brains are different. (gender)
Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers. (exploration)
On the other hand, over the course of 279 pages (not to mention the audio and video links and tutorials on his site http://www.brainrules.net) , Medina explores and probes and questions and summarizes and storytells with richness and complexity--and in ways that, at moments, leave you saying, quite literally, the brain rules!
My favorite chapter--chapter 1 on exercise--reflects the combination of studied research and playful, practical application that is a hallmark of Medina's writing. Yes, the summaries at the end of each chapter are handy--especially as memory hooks for future reference and application. But don't be fooled: Dr. Medina has done his homework, engages in some intellectual heavy lifting, and explores his points with vigor, precision and passion. Early in this first chapter, Medina sets the terms for his exploration:
"Given our relative wimpiness in the animal kingdom (we don't have enough body hair to survive a mildly chilly night), what these data tell us is that we grew up in top physical shape, or we didn't grow up at all. And they also tell us the human brain became the most powerful in the world under conditions where motion was a constant presence.
If our unique cognitive skills were forged in the furnace of physical activity, is it possible that physical activity still influences our cognitive skills? Are the cognitive abilities of someone in good physical condition different from those of someone in poor physical condition? And what if someone in poor physical condition were whipped into shape? Those are scientifically testable questions" (p. 11)
In citing the work of Dr. Antronette Yancey, Medina quotes Yancey as follows:
"Kids pay better attention to their subjects when they've been active. Kids are less likely to be disruptive in terms of their classroom behavior when they're active. Kids feel better about themselves, have higher self-esteem, less depression, less anxiety. All of those things can impair academic performance" (p. 18)
This is also one of those special books that can be read in any order you choose. Pick a chapter that appeals to you and have at it. Check out the related tutorial. Enjoy yourself. And explore how these 12 principles might serve you and every member of your family. It's true: The brain rules.
-- Michael Ebeling, Head of Summit School
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
On Tuesday, September 23 thanks to the financial support and generosity of our Summit School Parents Association, best-selling anti-bullying author and activist Jodee Blanco (Please Stop Laughing at Me and Please Stop Laughing at Us) spent the better part of her day immersing Summit students, teachers and parents in her unique, emotionally intense brand of performance-based presentation. Variously playing the roles of bullying victim, elite tormentor, worried parent, helpful & unhelpful teacher, and adult peer abuse survivor, Ms. Blanco placed her audiences on the inside of bullying and peer abuse: How it looks and feels to its victims as well as the actions bystanders, caring adults and victims themselves can “take today towards helping solve the problem of bullying.”
Over the course of her four presentations (2 to students, 1 to teachers, and 1 to parents), Jodee Blanco offered some essential points for each of her audiences: Students, teachers and parents.
I invite readers of this blog, especially those who attended one or more of Jodee Blanco’s sessions or who have read her work, to share their reflections on Jodee Blanco's points/insights/advice on this blog.
Key Points for Students to Ponder and Pursue
• Bullying is not just the things you do. It is the nice things you don’t do on purpose—like inviting someone sit with you at lunch or saying hello to someone in the hallway (who really needs that hello).
• Being different doesn’t give others the right to make fun of you.
• There are many, not-so-obvious ways to be a hero, including: Being honest, facing your fears, and telling the truth
• Being mean and bullying isn’t just joking around. It hurts people—and stays with them even into adulthood.
• If someone leads you to be mean to someone else, they are NOT your friend.
• Ignoring someone is a deeply hurtful kind of bullying. When we ignore someone, we lead them to believe that something is wrong with them. This becomes part of their identity—of how they see themselves.
• Steps to take when you are being bullied:
+ Look the bully in the eye.
+ Show no fear, anger or emotion (as reactions give the bully a sense of control, which they are seeking).
+ Say, “Stop. You’re really hurting my feelings.”
+ Tell, don’t tattle. Telling an adult comes from the desire to stop the hurting because you know the adult will help. In telling an adult you understand that a person is being mean because something else is going on in their lives and you want the adult to help—so it involves helping the victim AND the bully. Tattling means telling on someone just to get them in trouble.
Points for Teachers and Parents to Ponder and Pursue
• Bullying is a bonding ritual. Bullies and Elite Tormentors get so excited to be part of the “joke” and related bullying that they fail to think about their effect on the victim.
• Bullying is also the deliberate omission of kindness.
• When students are invisible to others long enough, they become invisible to themselves.
• The more confident a child becomes, the less of a target the child becomes.
• Traditional punishment is not typically effective with bullies. It tends to exacerbate their anger. Compassionate discipline is more effective: Innovative disciplinary strategies that help children discover the empathy inside them (developing that empathy muscle!). Its purpose is to teach children the joy of being kind as opposed to the consequences of being cruel, which is the focus of traditional discipline or punishment. Inspire internal change in the bully rather than command external behavior.
• Things not to tell the victims of bullying:
Ignore the bullies: This enforces adult logic in teen circumstances. In the world of kids, ignoring the bully gets the bully to try that much harder.
They bullies are just jealous: Why is it that adults assume that if children understand the motivation of their tormentors, they’ll feel better? Adults must remember that the emotional development of the child. While victims of bullying are often verbally and socially sophisticated, they are still children emotionally. Don’t assume that a child is as emotionally mature as s/he is verbally sophisticated.
20 years from now, the bullies will be in jail and you’ll be wildly successful: From the child’s perspective, who cares about 20 years from now? To a child, the future is after school. The distant future is next weekend. A bullied child news action—now.
I know how you feel: This statement makes the situation about the adult rather than about the child. The child needs to be heard and listened to—and needs “emotional credibility” of the adult.
Be patient: Not likely for the child—who will be just as patient as his or her developmental level will allow. Neurologically, human beings are adolescents until about age 25. Adults typically tell children to be patient when we are feeling impatient.
• Steps to take to support the victim of bullying
Look the child in the eye and say: I don’t know how you feel. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. It must be awful. The child will immediately note: Thank goodness. An adult who isn’t making it about them.
Take the approach of the helpful advocate not the disciplinarian. That is, focus on serving as an advocate for the victim.
Say: Let’s talk about action we can take together today towards helping solve the problem of bullying. This creates a framework for immediate action and locates the issue in the situation (of bullying) not in the child (the victim).
“Stop the bleeding” of loneliness: The first thing the child needs is some friends. So, the parent/adult needs to help create an interim social life. One important way to do this is: Contact the local park district, public library and community center one town over. Ask them to send you a list of their youth programs. Review this information with your child. Help him choose something s/he can participate in immediately.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
At least a couple of times a week, parents and colleagues ask me some variation of the following question: “Have you read anything lately that you’d recommend?” It’s a great question—and one that stems from a growth mindset (please refer to my September 8 blog entry below—along with Carol Dweck’s work). I would encourage us all to ask one another this question on a regular basis. Parents and educators are probably one another’s richest resources. Given our shared and profound commitment to our children, the answers to this question are often thought-provoking, engaging, and inspiring—and the responses from parents and educators come from and offer very different perspectives and areas of expertise. So, what do parents AND educators have to offer one another in terms of expertise?
In each of 5 separate Parent Nights this fall, I spoke to parents about the Parent-School Partnership—the relationship that parents and educators cultivate in order to become allies on behalf of the healthy development, well-being and success of our children. And how do we cultivate and sustain that partnership? First, we acknowledge that one thing we have figured out about relationships—at least those that are healthy and working well—is that the people in them are working on them: They are giving the relationship attention and they are approaching it with intention. Through this partnership that is exactly what we are trying to do: Give the parent-school relationship attention and fill it with intention—all in the interest of best supporting our children.
Second, we both acknowledge and leverage one another’s areas of focus and expertise. In the Parent-School Partnership, parents must be able to rely on teachers to provide leadership in three key areas:
• Child Development
The social-emotional lives of children are inextricably linked to their academic success. As a result, educators must constantly attend to the developmental needs and characteristics of the children we teach.
• Curriculum Development
Curriculum comes from the Latin currere, to run. By extension, we think of curriculum as the course our children take--the path they follow--through their time in school. The big ideas, essential questions, and transferable skills we explore and cultivate must be both timeless and timely—relevant in the first decade of the 21st century and beyond.
• Teaching and Learning
Can you imagine a more exciting or challenging time to be involved in learning and teaching? A host of complex issues (ranging from the changing roles of technology in our lives to the way cognitive neuroscience is reshaping our notions of intelligence) are recasting how we envision the roles and responsibilities of students, teachers, all of us as life-long learners. Perhaps most captivating is the rich, complex, and often surprising dialogue surrounding and informing learning and teaching. And, increasingly, our teachers (and their administrators!) must be adept at reading, interpreting and translating learning theory & research into classroom practice. This, in part, is what makes the field of education THE most exciting--not to mention the most interconnected and challenging--field of study on the planet.
And teachers must be able to rely on parents to provide leadership expertise in what writer and international presenter Rob Evans, in a remarkable book entitled Family Matters, calls “the building blocks of healthy growth”:
Love and acceptance, unconditional positive regard, that which cultivates in a child the sense that he or she is worthy of love. Parents provide this through caring, comfort and ministering. Nurture fosters an essential confidence that is the cornerstone of psycho-social development--and what Evans calls the “seedbed of trusting and socially responsible relationships and civic virtues.”
The framework for how to conduct oneself; basic or fundamental expectations for one’s behaviors; boundaries and fundamental notions of right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate. Over time, children come to INTERNALIZE this structure--which is vital to their ability to self-regulate, their sense of competence, perseverance and resilience.
Support for a child’s autonomy--creating a safe space to learn from experience. Supporting children in learning from MISTAKES and SETBACKS as well as accomplishments. Reality is that some of our most important learning stems from disappointment and loss. It’s not whether our children will encounter setbacks but how they COPE with those setbacks that builds self-esteem, self-worth, persistence, empathy and resilience.
According to Evans, the healthiest sort of parenting--what he calls Authoritative--is relatively high in all three of these elements: nurture, structure and latitude. And Evans’ thesis is both simple and profound: Authoritative parenting “fosters academic and social competence, empathy and considerateness toward others, self-esteem and the ability to self-regulate, optimism and perseverance.” In short, it cultivates well-adjusted human beings.
So, let’s come full circle to the beginning of this entry. What have I read lately (as an educator) and what have you read lately (as a parent) that are worthwhile? In my next entry, I’ll offer some thoughts on John Medina’s Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. I encourage you, prior to my next post, to take a look at the link above--and to check out Medina's interactive site: http://www.brainrules.net.
Over the course of the coming weeks, and in the context of upcoming entries in which I share my recommendations, I hope the readers of this blog will offer your recommendations on "worthwhile reads" as well.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
At the end of our administrative team meeting yesterday, I quipped that an article I'd just read was channeling Summit School founding head Louise Futrell. And it's true. The article? Alfie Kohn's backpage Commentary in the September 10 issue of Education Week entitled "It's Not What We Teach, It's What they Learn."
For those of you who either knew Miss Futrell or know of her remarkable work in creating and sustaining Summit School, it is no surprise to read, once again, that she was an educational pioneer--a progressive educator in the truest, most Deweyan sense. (I refer you to another fine piece by Mr. Kohn on the nature--and a bit of the history--of progressive education entitled "Progressive Education: Why It's Hard to Beat, but Also Hard to Find.") What I find remarkable is just how timeless and timely Louise Futrell's principles are proving to be. In 1933, or thereabouts, Miss Futrell said, "Until a child has learned, you have not taught." This, of course, is precisely the point Mr. Kohn is making in his essay--and something parents and educators alike must continue to take to heart, even as cognitive neuroscience and emerging technologies change the landscape of what we understand about learning and teaching. Mr. Kohn is channeling Miss Futrell, almost literally, when he writes,
"I never undertood all the fuss about that old riddle--'If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear, does it still make a sound?' Isn't it just a question of how we choose to define the word sound? If we mean 'vibrations of a certain frequency transmitted through the air," then the answer is yes. If we mean 'vibrations that stimulate an organism's auditory system,' then no.
More challenging, perhaps, is the following conundrum sometimes attributed to defiant educators: 'I taught a good lesson even though the students didn't learn it.' Again, everything turns on definition. If teaching is conceived as an interative activity, a process of facilitating learning, then the sentence is incoherent. . .Wouldn't an unsuccessful lesson lead whoever taught it to ask, 'So what could I have done that might have been more successful?'"
Now that's a question worthy of Miss Futrell. Interestingly, Kohn ends his piece on an equally Futrellian note--if not in tone, in substance. Kohn draws our attention to the importance of our truly listening to students, "not just listening in the literal sense. . .but the willingness to imagine the student's point of view." Then Kohn makes a final recommendation that resonates with Louise Futrell's wonderful legacy. Kohn writes, "Indeed, educators ought to make a point of trying something new in their own lives, something they must struggle to master, in order to appreciate" what their students experience each day. We are back to the future: The finest 21st Century teaching cultivates in children and adults alike the desire to have learning last a lifetime.
Monday, September 8, 2008
This morning I enjoyed a brief opportunity to speak with the 7th, 8th and 9th grade students during Assembly. During that time, I shared a four-minute video examining the work of Dr. Carol Dweck from Stanford University. I shared the video clip below (from greatergoodscience.org and featuring Dr. Christine Carter) and a brief summary of Dr. Dweck’s research with the students in a spirit of encouragement and support. And I ended my remarks with the statement, “I hope you’ll take some intellectual risks, make some new mistakes—and learn from them. That’s how we all become smarter—and grow our intelligence.”
In short, Dr. Dweck’s research focuses on two distinct types of “mindsets” in learning: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.
According to Dweck’s research, students who adopt a “fixed mindset” believe that each person has a certain amount of intelligence and that’s that. Further, Dweck writes, “A fixed mindset makes challenges threatening for students (because they believe that their fixed ability may not be up to the task) and it makes mistakes and failure demoralizing (because they believe that such setbacks reflect badly on their level of fixed intelligence).”
By contrast, Dweck’s research indicates that students who embrace a “growth mindset” (believing that intelligence can be developed through effort and hard work) are more likely to “confront challenges, profit from mistakes, and persevere in the face of setbacks [as ways of] getting smarter.”
In a fall 2007 presentation to Independent School leaders at Harvard's Annual Independent Schools Institute, NAIS President Pat Bassett named Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success as the book he most encouraged Independent School teachers and administrators to read this year. His rationale was both simple and profound:
Dweck's research shows us two things:  One's belief that one can't improve stunts achievement. That's what Dweck calls a fixed mindset.  One's belief that one can take concrete steps to improve enhances achievement. That's what Dweck calls a growth mindset.
If you're inclined, I invite you to watch Dr. Carter's video with your child--and discuss it. If you have an early adolescent or older child, I encourage to read Dr. Dweck's article "Brainology: Transforming Students' Motivation to Learn" with your child and discuss its key points. In the process, you might share your attitude about and approach to your own learning as an adult.
In the end, which mindset would you like to see your child embrace?
Friday, September 5, 2008
A recent Associated Press article published in the Winston-Salem Journal addressed the need for “9th Grade Academies” throughout the United States. The article, entitled “Ninth-grade-only schools try to ease students into high school,” made 4 key points that are relevant to our unique Summit School 9th Grade Program. Each key point below is followed by brief commentary exploring how our distinctive 9th grade program addresses this national need.
 Some educators are turning to ninth-grade-only schools to separate 14- and 15-year-olds from older students to facilitate 9th graders’ transition into high school.
At Summit, 9th grade represents a culminating experience in which, rather than being the youngest in the school and ostensible novices, the 9th graders are the “seniors” of the student body, embracing leadership roles and engaging in a distinctive, developmentally appropriate, vigorous curriculum—a unique component of which is the Life/SCALE course: Life Management Skills (Life) and Summit Career and Leadership Exploration (SCALE).
Life/SCALE is a required course that extends throughout the year for all 9th graders. Rather than a class that meets every day, it is a series of engaging and challenging endeavors and experiences that combine to give students one half credit for their high school transcript.
Nine character education traits are emphasized and cultivated throughout the course: Respect, Responsibility, Caring, Self-Discipline, Courage, Perseverance, Commitment, Personal Best, and Integrity.
This unique course focuses on the following three domains and subcomponents:
I. Summit Career Leadership Exploration: To instill in students the confidence, character, and practical skills needed to be effective leaders who will take initiative, contribute conscientiously to society, and accomplish challenging goals in today's world.
A. Leadership (e.g., Executive Council project planning, Leadership skills)
B. Exploring Careers (e.g., on-the-job internship, research into self-selected career fields)
C. Leadership Luncheons with Guest Speakers
II. Life Management Skills: To help students be more successful in high school and throughout their lives.
A. Organizational Skills (note-taking, study skills, time management)
B. Understanding Self (e.g., learning styles, role and sources of self-esteem)
C. Teaming and Cooperation
D. Developing Responsible Relationships (e.g., resolving conflict, dealing with peer pressure)
E. Caring for our World (e.g., recycling for the future, sustainability)
F. CPR Training
III. College Process: Participating in activities designed to frame the ninth grade year as the beginning of high school – a four-year journey toward college admission.
A. Guest Speaker in August on the importance of 9th grade year—and its role as a building block in preparation for college
B. Tour of Wake Forest University campus in October
C. Admission interview simulation with Guilford College VP of Admission in March
 Ninth grade year is crucial to success in high school. Students who do not earn their required credits to move on to 10th grade can “fall insurmountably behind.”
Within our program, 9th graders are able to earn up to 8 high school credits—over 1/3 of the required 23 credits for high school graduation in North Carolina.
 Ninth grade should not simply replicate the practices of a large comprehensive high school; rather, it should prepare them for the later stages of high school by meeting their particular needs.
The ninth grade year at Summit introduces students to their first year of high school within an academically challenging yet familiar, supportive, caring and encouraging environment that capitalizes on the 9th graders’ position as the elder statesmen of the student body.
The Summit 9th Grade Experience offers honors courses and a wide variety of course options. In addition, emphasis is placed on new ways of thinking, time management, positive relationships and increased responsibility for leadership. Ninth Grade experiences develop greater confidence (stemming from authentic competence) in students, and by year’s end produce young adults who are ready to continue developing their talents and academic potential while contributing to their next school environment—wherever that may be. The Summit Ninth Grade Experience builds a foundation for leadership and academic success in many ways, including through:
• Service project leadership
• Honors level classes
• Older student to younger student discussions
• Executive Council leadership
• Sports Team and Arts Activities leadership roles
• Camp High Rocks community building with classmates
• Small classes with talented teachers and caring mentors
• Student-led conferences
• Weekly advisory sessions
• College preparation program including tour of local college campus and participation in workshop on college application process
• High School Portfolio design, including course planning for 10th, 11th and 12th grades; Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory; Career Internship experience; and Leadership Luncheons with area business and academic leaders
 One potential downside to stand-alone 9th grade academies is that by segregating 9th graders, they can suffer from a lack of the more mature influence of older students.
At Summit, our 9th graders are not segregated from anyone; rather, they live and learn each day as leaders within a pre-K through 9th grade student body, free from premature exposure to 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. Our 9th Grade Experience achieves what 9th Grade Academies around the country seek: A challenging, vigorous, developmentally appropriate program where ninth-graders develop intellectually, emotionally and socially outside of the context of a large, potentially overwhelming high-school setting.
Summit 9th graders have the powerful, unique experience of stepping up as THE student leaders in the school--an experience that high schools around the country would relish for their own 9th graders.
Summit’s “Building to Ninth Grade” Informational Programs are scheduled for December 2 & 3, 2008. We warmly invite all interested parents to attend. Please look for more detailed information on our website in the coming months.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Education for Sustainability (EFS) consultant and presenter Josh Hahn spent nearly a day with Summit School educators on August 25 exploring the questions “What is education for sustainability?” and “What are the implications of EFS for Independent Schools?”
To begin to answer the former question, Josh first defined sustainability in two ways:
“The ability of current generations to meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” -- UN Commission on Environment & Development
“A sustainable society is one that can persist over generations; one that is far-seeing enough, flexible enough, and wise enough not to undermine either its physical or social systems of support.” -- D.H. Meadows
In the context of schools, Josh explained Education for Sustainability (EFS) as,
“Learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help students build a healthy future for their communities and their planet.”
Josh Hahn’s work offers a vision of EFS as a critical component of a 21st Century Global Education, one which Independent Schools like Summit are particularly well-suited to deliver. Josh argued that Independent Schools, given their smaller, more intimate environments, have the “agility to move at a relatively quick pace” when it comes to curricular innovation and connecting curriculum to the world outside the classroom—the world that our students will soon inhabit and in which they will play leadership roles.
Over the course of the day, Josh Hahn explored key principles that each of us, as educators, can employ with our students and colleagues. Some of these principles took the form of quotes from writers, theorists, philosophers, environmentalists and scientists while others took the form of insights and examples from sister schools. Either way, the principles had practical—and, over the long haul, potentially profound—implications for the world in which our students will be taking leadership roles. Here are a dozen of those points:
• Sustainability is not an issue simply or solely for scientists to address. Sustainability is an issue for 21st century citizens to address—that is, for us all. We must all learn and teach new habits of mind that will sustain us.
• “Education for youth starts with us adults; the lives we lead and thus project.” – Sizer and Sizer
• “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
• “The planetary emergency unfolding around us is, first and foremost a crisis of thought, values, perception, ideas and judgment. In other words, it is a crisis of mind, which makes it a crisis of those institutions which purport to improve minds.” – David Orr, Professor of Environmental Studies, Oberlin College
• “Independent Schools, by virtue of their non-taxable status, operate at the pleasure of the public. They, therefore, have both the opportunity and the obligation to develop models that contribute to the improvement of American education and to extend the use of their insights, energy, and resources beyond their campus walls.” – Al Adams
• “The students watch us, all the time. We must honestly ponder what they see, and what we want them to learn from it.” – Sizer and Sizer
• Individual actions matter. Significant change comes from the cumulative effect of lots of individuals.
• The future is what our students will inhabit and inherit. We must, then, teach about the future as much as about the past. We must look forward as well as back.
• Intellectual, economic and ecological resources come together in Independent Schools in special ways. As a result, we have the agility to move at a relatively quick pace when it comes to curricular innovation.
• The larger vision is not simply for sustainable schools but for regenerative schools—schools which strive not simply to sustain themselves but to create a better future for all, where:
- students are not just receivers of knowledge but are producers of it
- schools think beyond a zero carbon footprint and strive to produce energy
- campus landscapes do not deplete nutrients in the soil but rather build it up and produce food
- campus infrastructures not only do not degrade ecosystems but fortify them
- schools employ architecture as pedagogy—architecture that teaches the essential, core values we embrace
- schools cultivate not simply workers but creators, contributors and leaders.
• How can we, through our curricula, bridge the disconnect between our students and the natural world? For, as Stephen Jay Gould has written, “We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature—for we will not fight to save what we do not love.”
• Ask ourselves and teach our children to ask themselves: What is my sphere of influence? What are 2-3 things that I can do within my sphere of influence that promote sustainability? What is the “low-hanging fruit”?
Josh Hahn ended his time with our Summit School educators exploring ideas about spheres of influence and both short- and long-term goals and ideas for pursuing sustainability and, ultimately, regeneration.
Under the remarkable leadership of Summit School librarian Kathy Pounds, a list of over 50 professional growth and curriculum-related possibilities has been developed for Summit School educators, ranging from a study group focusing on Michael Stone and Zenobia Barlow's Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World to mini lessons on "learning how to live more sustainably while improving your technology skills." In support of and as a complement to this work, Summit Web Administrator and Design Specialist Karen House has led the design of SummitGreen, a wiki space for collaborating on and pursuing education for sustainability (a live link to which we will provide in the coming days).
And we'll end this entry with a concrete example of real-world collaboration toward a "Sustainable Summit." In this week's Summit Summary, we read the following piece--a wonderful example of adults modeling for children (and one another) our commitment to sustainability--and a nice example of the importance of changing habits of mind and the powerful cumulative effect of individual actions:
SUMMIT SUMMARY -- #2 – Friday, August 29, 2008
Sustainable Summit: Cafeteria Changes – from April Cox and Kathy Pounds
Pretty soon you won’t be seeing plastic and Styrofoam cups and plates in the Cafeteria! After our collection of disposables is exhausted, we’ll be using washable cups, plates and utensils unless some extenuating circumstances develop. (For example, some counties in the driest parts of the state are recommending that folks use compostable disposables to save on water while severe drought conditions continue.)
Why are we making this move? Using washable cups, plates, and utensils means that we’ll be buying fewer products made from oil, sending less trash to the landfill, and showing our students through our actions that we are serious about sustainable living. New plates and large drinking glasses are on order; we should have enough if we take care of them.
What does this change mean to you? We will all need to be a bit more considerate and responsible. Here’s how:
1. Please do not take glasses from the cafeteria. Carry your own tumbler or water bottle if you wish to take beverages back to your classroom. (Approximately 50 large cups disappeared from the Cafeteria last year.)
2. Please return coffee mugs promptly. We have a lot of coffee mugs, and more are on order, but we will not have enough if folks each hold several used mugs in their classrooms. Also, dirty mugs that sit around and “brew” for a few days are much more difficult to keep clean and clean-looking.
3. Please bring your own covered containers if you wish to take carry-outs.
In Monday’s workshop, Josh Hahn talked about being hopeful, about being ready for hard work, and about making changes in the ways we live and teach. This is our first assignment. Good luck!