Scientists are beginning to harness the energy of our brains to move things outside of our bodies. Just take a look at this article:
This is truly amazing and has incredible possibilities and challenges for just about every aspect of life. My concern is that our kids are not being prepared to adequately assume roles in a society filled with this type of technology. Our schools are so focused on such a narrow band of skills, easily measured by multiple choice tests, that they are failing to develop young minds that can analyze, synthesize, communicate, and create. As you are reading the article, think about the skills and personal qualities that professionals in this field will need to be successful. Think about how this technology might impact other professions. Are our schools preparing kids for this? We need to get beyond test and job preparation if we are going to prepare the leaders of our brave new world.
So here I sit, reflecting on the year that is just about gone, and anticipating the one about to begin. Like most years, 2009 has been one filled with incredible joy, notable sadness, and lots of amazing little moments. Most of all for me, it was the year that I finally started living the life of my dreams. Don't get me wrong...I have enjoyed every moment of raising my children and doing all of the things that have led me to this point. But, long long ago I had a dream of the kind of life I really wanted to lead. It wasn't really possible to do when I was young, because there was so much else to do. I married very young (We will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary next week!) and had 2 kids very quickly. I finished several degrees, taught special education, traveled the globe through a fabulous job for 10 years, opened a school, and published a book. And while all of these things were fun and fulfilling, I knew I wasn't exactly where I should be. So, finally in 2009, I took a big leap of faith and moved to New York City. I had to come alone at first, without my husband or a job. Many people helped me to make this big transition, which is still not fully complete. But...I am living the life of my dreams, and I have to say that it has far exceeded all of my expectations. What I have learned from this experience is that dreams are very powerful. Sometimes they take over 30 years to come true. But if you keep them in your sights, and keep moving toward them, they will eventually come true. The amazing part is that life is so much easier when you just give in and move toward your dreams.
Make 2010 the mightiest year ever by following your own dreams!
It is incredible to me how quickly doctors will prescribe powerful drugs to children for conditions they don't understand. Part of the problem is that we don't want to talk about mental illness. When children misbehave, it is very easy to blame it on some "condition" like ADD or autism. Yet, when children or adults suffer with true, severe mental illness, it might go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. It seems that parents and caregivers go toward one extreme or another. They either drug every kid who can't pay attention or has a tantrum, or they ignore true symptoms and allow children to suffer. This article takes an interesting look at the rate of prescription for antipsychotic medications for children in poor families. It reaffirms the fact that families need more support to help them understand the multitude of dynamics that impact behavior. It also reminds me that we need to understand the difference between real mental illness (especially in children), and minor behavioral issues. Recognizing mental illness as illness, and providing adequate coverage for its diagnosis and treatment would be a great first step!
For a couple of decades, we thought that if we made kids feel good about themselves, they would accomplish more. I was in college, preparing to become a teacher, when I was taught this concept. Everyone gets a prize just for participating. Don't forget to have lots of stickers available. Catch them being good. These were the things we were taught, and I really believed it. However, after I had been teaching for a while, I started noticing that what really caused kids to feel good about themselves is true achievement. Their self-esteem absolutely soars when they accomplish something extraordinarily challenging. I was reminded of this today when I met with a supervisor. We were discussing what I had recently accomplished at work, and how my talents could best be utilized in our organization. I had the opportunity to reflect on what I had done throughout my career, and how those accomplishments would lead to future success. After the meeting, I suddenly felt great. I was inspired, and hopeful, and ready to take on the world. It reminded me of how we need to inspire our students and our own kids. Provide them with challenging opportunities, support them in their efforts toward success, and help them reflect on true accomplishments. You will notice they suddenly walk a little taller, smile a little more, and look for ways to help others achieve the same feeling. Stickers just won't do that.
I can't explain it. I am not really a very sentimental person. My daughter is fond of saying that her mother has no soul because the things most mothers ooh and ahh over, don't move me in the least. When she got married, I had no need to help her pick out her wedding gown. She happened to be shopping with friends and spotted one that would work. She emailed me the photo, only because she needed financial backing to make the purchase. Sure, I have saved a few works of art that she and her brother made as young kids. But when we moved to New York City, into a furnished 2 bedroom apartment, we dumped just about everything. I sold or gave away almost every piece of furniture, my wedding china, and many things that others, who have the "souls" my daughter suspects I lack, could have never parted with. So, my need to put up a Christmas tree and hang the ornaments that tell a story, baffles me every time I do it. The look of the tree is not important at all. I am not attached to a certain species of tree or even size. However, I learned the hard way that an artificial tree just will not do. We tried that one year and I simply could not decorate it. My husband, sensing my disappointment, went out that minute and came back with a beautiful real tree to surprise me.
This year, we had to go small since we have such a small place. I walked down Broadway and found a little 4 footer and carried it home on my shoulder. No husband required. It was already in a cute little tree stand. I opened the cabinet where all of the ornaments are stored and started going through them. Those that made the cut when we moved include: a hideous stuffed unicorn (the first Christmas ornament my husband ever bought me), a tree topper star (made by my husband when we couldn't afford one), an antique angel with a cracked face (purchased the next year when we had more money), 2 paper stars with crayon pictures colored by the kids, several bells bought for us by dear friends, 2 starfish-turned-Santas made by the kids, wooden cut-outs of the kids' names, sweet little boy/girl snow people with our names on them, 2 glass ornaments purchased at a seaside flea market, a potato representing my husband the year he was very ill, a penguin representing a book my husband wrote, and a strand of gold glass beads that hung on the family tree from the time I was a baby. I also have a small collection of Santa figurines that adorn the mantle, all of which have been given to me by my mother-in-law over the years.
Each year as I decorate the tree, my mind wanders back to events connected with each item and my heart just sings. I just can't explain it.