Category Archives: Uncategorized

Teens and anxiety

Found this article to be provocative and powerful.

This description of the impact of technology on teen anxiety was particularly telling:

At a workshop for parents last fall at the NW Anxiety Institute in Portland, Ore., Kevin Ashworth, the clinical director, warned them of the “illusion of control and certainty” that smartphones offer anxious young people desperate to manage their environments. “Teens will go places if they feel like they know everything that will happen, if they know everyone who will be there, if they can see who’s checked in online,” Ashworth told the parents. “But life doesn’t always come with that kind of certainty, and they’re never practicing the skill of rolling with the punches, of walking into an unknown or awkward social situation and learning that they can survive it.”

A quibble: there’s three all of three paragraphs on the students I’ve taught in West Philly. True, “addressing anxiety is low on the priority list in many economically disadvantaged communities” but that’s because more often than not, students, parents, and teachers are worried about basic needs being met, not because anxiety doesn’t exist. Even if I’m dubious about the political will or economic resources necessary for a treatment protocol to develop, it doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.

Read this article.

Organization and Ownership

Another opening conversation designed to get at the relationship between organization — how do I keep track of my work — and ownership — how do projects become mine?

I did a paper folded in three: left side where students wrote bullet points for what it means to be organized and right side where students wrote bullet points for what it means to own a project.

We used the middle space to discuss the overlap between the two.

Some key insights:
time management is much easier when it’s your time, your choice, from your decisions…
pride helps make you organized.
“When you own a project you need to be organized to keep up with your work and have good time management to get your work to its best.” –SP
“When you’re organized you’re taking ownership over your projects because you’re focused on getting your work done.” — JC

Bucks County thoughts

The terrible tragedy in Bucks County has taken up most of the front page of the Philly papers for the past couple of weeks.   It’s an awful story.   Four young men are dead and two young men are going away for a long time.

Questions I’d like answered:

How many other murders has the city experienced in 2017 where one person involved with drugs shot another person involved with drugs?  I can see that there are 166 murders as of July 15, 2017.

Have there been other individuals who have acted in concert to rob people attempting to buy drugs who have ended up killing them?

How many murders in Philadelphia have had this kind of extensive (and basically inept) cover-up by the perpetrator?  Is this a common thing or do we just know the details because of the reporting?

How many other murders have been on the front cover of the Philly papers this year?  How many of these murders received coverage over multiple days?  How many of the victims received this kind of coverage, detailing their successes and past lives?  All four of these young men were attempting to buy drugs.   Let’s say they had never dealt drugs before, that they were truly great kids, and made a single, tragic mistake.   How do I teach my own children, my own students, that you only get one chance, that there’s no margin of error for them, that anything that’s too good to be true probably is too good to be true?  How do I teach them to run away from anyone making an offer like this?




What we’re after

This article details a new business that has an elegant solution to a complicated environmental problem: desertification.

Money paragraph:

The cocoon is a bit deceptive in its seeming simplicity: a good deal of high-tech thinking went into it. “Everyone likes biodegradable,” Ruys said, “but it’s actually a tricky concept. You want a thing to work over a period of time, then completely disappear. It’s hard to do, which is why, as consumers, we still buy plastic.” Ruys solved the problem with a particular kind of wax coating that dissolves at the right time. He also spent a lot of time developing a wick that would precisely feed water to the plant.



Circle: 05172017

Thinking about habits and motivation.  Reading Charles Duhigg’s follow up book to the Power of Habit this weekend and took these two quotes as a starting point for today’s discussion:

If you can link something hard to a choice you care about, it makes the task easier…Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge.   

Moreover, to teach ourselves to self-motivate more easily, we need to learn to see our choices not just as expressions of control but affirmations of our values and goals.   That’s the reason people ask each other “why” — because it shows them how to link small tasks to larger aspirations.  

Good student thoughts later…

Duhigg, Charles. Smarter faster better (New York: Random House Books, 2017), pp.30-31.  

Two questions

Our evil genius program evaluator had the students complete a survey; responses from two questions below. (N=17, which is all but two of my advisees).

I thought the result from Column I was particularly interesting given that my advisory all passed Gateway and half of every day is taken up with a project they choose and that they design.   I would hope that the result from the first column would look more like the second column, i.e., I feel like I’m taking their input all the time but maybe I’m not.

Am I giving them enough space to design and work on their own? Is my understanding of the structure necessary to complete a project being mistaken for actually overwhelming what they want to do? Is it a question of students working hard and me not appreciating it?  Or is it a question of students misidentifying activity as actual work?  Are my expectations too high?

Given that feeling, I figured I had to build a circle activity to hear what the students thought.  Two writing questions:

How much freedom should an eleventh grader have in terms of their education?
Should there be any limits or restrictions?