Foster Kid Education

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The only thing that will get you out of your situation is to stay in school, Regina. I remember Ms. Van Dover’s words, so I perform well on Mrs. Young’s tests and participate not like my life depends on it, but because my life depends on it. I keep to myself during free time so that none of my classmates will ever ask to come to my house. When Mrs. Young sees me reading at recess, she gives me work sheets to practice long division and encourages me to take a stab at the challenge questions in our science books. The more work I have, the safer I feel.”

“I know you’re a foster kid,” Mr. Kelly says after class one day, “but don’t believe what anyone else tells you. There is a way out of your situation: It’s through continuing your education past high school.” Then they both co-opt my guidance counselor to get in on the cause. I feel torn for Camille’s sake. She also wants to go to college, but her senior class guidance counselor told her at the beginning of the year not to bother trying to get into the Fashion Institute of Technology, her dream school. “Concentrate on getting married and having babies,” her counselor told her.”

-Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra

Bullying is Unnatural

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Though bullying is a problem that cuts across lines of class, race, and geography, the reality is that most kids aren’t directly involved—either as perpetrators or as targets. And when kids understand that concerted cruelty is the exception and not the rule, they respond: bullying drops, and students become more active about reporting it.

-Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon

Deep Education

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“A deep education is one of both head and hands. Over the past twenty years of my life, books have taught me some things, people have taught me many things, and tools have taught me everything else.

Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods by Christine Byl

Intelligence and Human Value

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And why do psychologists call it intelligence? Who gave them the right to define and then own that term? Surely many of them do well on these standardized tests. But just because they do well, does that mean that we must all accept that the thing they are measuring—which they are really good at—is the pinnacle of human intelligence? Why do we listen to them? …What if these careful, objective scientists had completely different experiences as children? What if they grew up being denied opportunities because of a low score on one of their very own tests? Would they be so quick to label their tests as intelligence tests? … Maybe they would hold different views about the development and nurturance of intelligence, and focus more research on how IQ interacts with the many other important life traits that are on offer, many of which aren’t neatly captured by a single brief test administered one slice in time?

I firmly believe we can recognize and value every kind of mind without diminishing the value of others. I don’t see intelligence as a zero-sum game: just because someone is talented (whatever that means) by the standards set by society doesn’t mean that the person who isn’t doesn’t have dynamic potential for intellectual functioning. There are so many different paths to success.

Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined by Scott Barry Kaufman

Anti-bullying Benefits

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If we can tackle this issue wisely and well, the benefits to our kids will be real: bullying has been linked with depression, substance abuse, poor health, delinquency, and suicide—among both victims and the bullies themselves. And if we beat it back, even incrementally, perhaps we can begin to tame some of those bigger monsters, too.

-Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon