We recently returned from an amazing trip connecting with my father’s roots in Thailand. My wife Monica and I lived and traveled throughout Asia in the early 1990’s. But this was our first time back in 25 years and it was a wonderful way to introduce our son Alejandro to his Thai family with grandpa at his side.
It also made me reflect on an idea from our time in Asia, a mentor program!
While living in Hong Kong, Monica became the first international director of San Francisco based, Summerbridge (now called Breakthrough Collaborative.) The program’s mission: to “bridge the summer” with a unique summer school. The teachers were gifted high school and international college students. The students were elementary school students from lower income housing estates.
This week my wife and I went to the NY EDTech 2017 conference held at my alma mater NYU. Below are some of my notes from the opening morning show.
If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, EDTech has been a booming billion dollar industry for about a decade now. I’m happy to say that New York University, and New York City in general, have been at the forefront of this innovation.
But there are problems.
Most of the companies in EDTech focus on the use of technology to replace the human element in teaching with computers and apps interfacing with students. While this can create a personalized learning experience and provide valuable, measurable data,
We parents care deeply about giving our children the best chances possible. But we share similar fears: What if they get in with the wrong crowd? What if they are not as resilient as we wish? What if they lose their confidence and their way?
As long as our kids are self empowered, find their purpose, voice and happiness, we have done our jobs as parents.
In the future, when artificial intelligence and robots eliminate many current jobs, what skills are ones machines cannot replace?
I believe it’s creativity combined with curiosity and passion that make us undeniably human. It’s the unexpected spark of joy that comes when combining disparate unrelated ideas to make something new and familiar at the same time that helps solve a problem.
But, a study has found a correlation between the performance achievement of black children and whether or not they had a black teacher. The results seem to suggest that black children would fare better if taught by a teacher that looks more like them.
I love to travel and explore new places, but I’ve begun to notice something: each time I go away, I gain something. It’s not just the usual rest, relaxation, and renewal. That’s vitally important, but it’s beyond that. I gain some mental space, I can think clearer, see my best options, and make better decisions.
But it doesn’t have to be a big trip.
Coffee shops, libraries, and hotel lobbies are some of my favorite places to write, plan, and get work done. Why? I started wondering about this. Is it just the beautiful furniture?
Within three minutes of a first lesson, our beginning students learn a song. The song is really an exercise in disguise to get them using all ten fingers assigned to a five finger position. We also use fun words personalized to their tastes.
For some, this is Peanut Butter Sandwich, and some apple juice.
Other kids have chosen other 5 or 6 syllable phrases like:
“I like bacon ice cream, and some water too.”
“Strawberry ice cream, and some sprinkles please.”
“Pepperoni pizza and some lemonade.”
“Tuna Fish Sandwich and a glass of milk.”
“Creme Brulee Ice Cream, and some sprinkles too” – I kid you not!
You will notice that we don’t worry too much about curvature of the fingers at first.
If you don’t hold recitals, you’re missing a rare chance to separate yourself from the many other accomplished teachers out there. My studio ballooned after I held my first recital. So can yours.
No Recitals = Students that Don’t Practice
Here’s the problem I faced: years ago, I used to teach around 5 students from all over NYC. We had weekly lessons for years, but no recitals! Looking back, the lessons often became thin and poorly structured. There was no imperative to practice.
For weeks I’d see mediocre practice habits, if that, followed by lethargy. I’d express my disappointment, then they’d go back to mediocre practicing. The cycle continued, never really moving off that plateau.