Rethinking the G.P.A. and what it means to be successful

Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject. In life we want independent thinking and risk-taking, but the G.P.A. system encourages students to be deferential and risk averse, giving their teachers what they want.

Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the G.P.A. rewards those who can answer other people’s questions. The modern economy rewards those who can think in ways computers can’t, but the G.P.A. rewards people who can grind away at mental tasks they find boring. People are happiest when motivated intrinsically, but the G.P.A. is the mother of all extrinsic motivations.

An article on the pitfalls of the G.P.A. system. Love that people are starting to rethink what being a “good” or “successful” student really means. I’ve seen so many kids that are “so smart” in a grades-focused academic setting graduate high school with no clue what they want to do next. Or, worse, those who graduate university, having completed the degree that their parents told them to do, and they are completely without passion or purpose for the rest of their lives.


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This is how New York schools are trying to help students learn English

Among the most significant changes is that schools must now have an English language teacher — like the woman drawing pictures at P.S. 160 — in the classroom for part of each week if even one student is learning English. In the past, students could receive English language instruction outside of the classroom, while spending the rest of their time in a regular class trying to puzzle out the words on their own.

Another shift requires schools and districts to create programs in which classes are taught in two languages. These bilingual programs will now be offered to students who are new to the public system, as long as there are enough children in one place who speak the same tongue.

An interesting article about how public schools in New York are trying to cope with the high numbers of students who are new to English. At least they’re doing something about it instead of turning a blind eye and hoping that the problem will sort itself out. Is this something Australia might have to consider for some school districts one day?


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What if students controlled their own learning?

Peter Hutton of Templestowe College in Melbourne talks about an educational model that allows students to individualise their education and share control in the running of the school.

I’m excited that people are talking about what does and doesn’t work in conventional schooling. We might be a long way from completely overhauling our approach and perceptions towards education, but at least the conversation has begun.

I’ve read comments about how this educational model might not work as well for unmotivated students who are still trying to figure out what they’re interested in, or who perhaps might need a little more structure and guidance.

I can see how that might be the case, but I also wonder if students might have a better idea of what they’re passionate about if they were given more flexibility to explore in primary school. How would it look to incorporate some of these principles in a primary school setting?


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Priscilla Chan talks education and her famous husband Mark Zuckerberg

Education is an incredibly personal issue for me. If you’re the first generation to go to college, sometimes you don’t realise your potential until others point it out.

Dr. Priscilla Chan, a.k.a. Mark Zuckerberg’s wife, gave her first TV interview recently, and that last sentence really resonated with something I’ve been thinking about – that more often than not, children can only dream as big as their parents (or other grownups) encourage them to.

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Coolest ever weather announcement from a school

By Durham Academy Head of School Michael Ulku-Steiner and Assistant Head of School/Upper School Director Lee Hark. Attention all school administrators (and weather announcers): The bar has been set very high.


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“Give childhood back to children”

No, our children don’t need more school. They need more play. If we care about our children and future generations, we must reverse the horrid trend that has been occurring over the past half century. We must give childhood back to children. Children must be allowed to follow their inborn drives to play and explore, so that they can grow into intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically strong and resilient adults. The Chinese are finally beginning to realise this, and so should we.

If indeed (some of) the Chinese (in China) are starting to realise this, from what I’ve seen and heard, most of the ethnic Chinese in the rest of Australasia have not. And we need to, for the sake of our kids and our future selves.

A long while ago, I read an article that said kids should be allowed to get bored sometimes because that is when they start to use their imaginations and be creative. I don’t remember the source anymore but it was a great article because it made me feel so much better about how I regularly leave my 3yo to entertain herself while I work from home. I also began to notice that when she was left alone, she would tell stories, act out princess scenes, pretend play, build “houses” out of sofa cushions and “go shopping”.

Of course the question of what constitutes play then arises, and whether there’s “good” play or “bad” play, because inevitably parents will only want their child to do the “best kind of play”. That’s a different discussion altogether. For now, you can read Dr Peter Gray’s full article here. He raises some pretty important points.


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