Category Archives: Education

Time Out for Doing Battle with Tiger Mom…

Crossposted on RiceDaddies

Do We all have a bit of Tiger Mom within us?

So, I recently wrote a short book review on BookDads of Amy Chua’s, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.Β  I actually had my Mother-in-law read it, too, and initially, as she started read it, she was a bit infuriated with Amy Chua. As she continued reading it (because it’s hard to put down once you get started), the book definitely grew on her, and it made for lots of interesting conversation. πŸ™‚

Writing a book review is one thing. Doing battle with Tiger Mom is not something I was prepared for…

Malachy had his first little recital yesterday at school. Β  As performance day drew near, I discovered there was a bit of Tiger Mom inside me, and I didn’t like it at all.Β  I found myself saying ugly things, like:

  • Come on! You can do better!
  • If you don’t play it right, then I’ll…
  • If you don’t make any mistakes, then we’ll…
  • Stop looking at me every time you make a mistake!
  • Don’t rush!Β  Slow down!
  • You’re playing it too slow!Β  Hurry up!

Ai ya!Β  There I was judging and mocking Tiger Mom for being so harsh to her daughters, and here I was doing and saying things that should and could have been edited.Β  Do we all have a bit of Tiger Mom within us? What were my reasons for pushing him to practice? Was it for him? Was it for me? Tiger Mom, Tiger Mom, what do you say?

As Malachy practiced, I sensed that he was feeling the stress and pressure coming from within me.Β  I knew he wanted to please me.Β  When he made a mistake, he just stopped to check how I would react.Β  Sometimes I would get upset, and other times I just let it go.Β  At the end of the day, he always received praise and hugs from Mom and Dad.Β  Most importantly, he enjoys practicing and playing, and he definitely has more showmanship than his dad.Β  πŸ˜‰

The bottom line is that if you want to do something really well, you HAVE TO practice.Β  Once in a while, you can rely on raw talent, but 99.99% of the time, it’s about hard work.Β  For things like music and some schoolwork, it’s about repetition, repetition, repetition.Β  With the piano, if he didn’t practice, he wouldn’t have done as well.Β  The crazy thing is that after all the practicing, there was still the chance he would “mess up.”Β  Watching ice skating on television comes to mind…Β  So, what’s the reward?Β  I guess you feel accomplished when you do it right and do it well.Β  You prove to yourself that you can do it if you work hard.Β  Plus, you get to have all those around you cheering you on.Β  πŸ˜‰

After the recital, we could tell that he was pleased with performance.Β  Later on, he called PoPo and GongGong (who were at the airport) and told them he didn’t make any mistakes.Β  They were so proud, because I had posted it on YouTube, and they had already seen it on the iPhone minutes later.Β  Technology is amazing!Β  He thanked Gong Gong for the practice sessions he had with him when grandpa was in New York.

Gong Gong had him stop and start over every time he “messed up,” and Malachy never complained.Β  From the other room, we would hear him play, Father, I Adore You, again and again and again.Β  He only got a check mark from Gong Gong when he played it without any mistakes.Β  Gong Gong was tough, but never mean.Β  When Malachy came out of the room, he felt good about his practice session.Β  I learned from Gong Gong that Malachy didn’t mind some hard work.Β  πŸ˜‰

Here’s to more doing battle with Tiger Mom again and again and again… πŸ˜‰

Time Out for “Hurtness”


It’s amazing when kids invent their own words. Malachy’s latest new word… “hurtness.” He’ll say, “Mommy, please make the hurtness go away,” or “Daddy, how can we make the hurtness go away?” πŸ˜‰

Well, this Friday, we had to deal with some “hurtness.” It was a grueling and mentally exhausting week because we were waiting all week to see if Malachy made it into one of the city’s more “prestigious” elementary schools. It was crazy how many dreams I had about it. He had made it to the top 290 from around 1400 kids, but didn’t make it into their top 50. For me, the biggest “carrot” for this school, was that if you got in, you didn’t have to worry about having to make any decisions or worry about any city/state exams from elementary to high school! We wouldn’t have had to worry in that department until college! We wouldn’t have had to deal with any “hurtness” in terms of having to try to make it into a “good” middle school or “good” high school. That makes me cringe, because shouldn’t ALL schools be “GOOD?”

We are in a society where we can start “prepping” our kids in one way or another if we want to increase their chances of getting into a “good” school or a “gifted” class in the city. How is it that we have such a range in terms of public education (starting at age 4 or 5) in a democratic society? Everyone is entitled to a good education but not everyone gets one. We are already separating and dividing our students at age 4! Is there not enough good education to go around for every child in America? What is up with that?

The one thing I have to remember is that we as parents are our children’s first teachers, and we can continue to play a key role in their education. No matter where Malachy winds up, we have to remember to stay involved and know that there is a lot of learning and teaching that comes from us. πŸ™‚

So, it’s more wait and see for now…

Time Out for IQ and High Tea!

High Tea!

Another busy Saturday for Malachy this past weekend. We have been anxiously awaiting his big IQ test. In order to get into some schools in the city, your child has to take an IQ test and score at a certain percentile in order to get to the interview round. So, basically, for this particular school, out of about 1800 children who apply, about 300 or so make it to the interview round, and from there, about 50 students are selected! It’s definitely like striking lottery, along with lots of hope and prayer! If accepted, we wouldn’t have to think about applying to middle school or high school. How awesome that would be! πŸ˜‰ In the meantime, we just applied for the NYC Gifted and Talented program, too, and that happens sometime in January. Wishin’ it wasn’t so complicated to get into Kindergarten!

We psyched him up for this day by calling it an IQ Fun Day, telling him he would get to spend some time with a teacher and show her what he knows and what is going on in his brain. πŸ˜‰ We told him he’d be answering a bunch of fun questions and to just to do his best. And AFTER, he would get to go to High Tea with Mommy at Alice’s Tea Cup! Yay! πŸ˜‰

Shien has always loved HIgh Tea. She took me once, and it was pretty neat. Definitely a bit on the chichi side. πŸ˜‰ I KNEW Malachy would LOVE it. We were often reminded of it because Malachy really enjoyed this book series that we’ve been reading to him, and he often reads them on his own, too. The High Rise Private Eyes series by Cynthia Rylant is filled with charm and wit and humor, starring Jack Jones and Bunny Brown. Each mystery book has 4 Chapters – an intro, the case, the clues, and the solution. One of the books, The Case of the Desperate Duck, took place in a Tea Room and talked about High Tea. This really piqued Malachy’s interest, as it mentioned fancy tablecloths, fancy teapots, sugar cubes, fancy cookies, and fancy sandwiches. YUMMY! So, there was no doubt in our minds that he was ready for High Tea with Mommy. πŸ™‚ Shien told me how he insisted on having cucumber sandwiches. He also saved some of his leftovers with me because he knew how much I loved coconut! I got to try some of the sandwiches and the coconut cookies that they brought home. πŸ˜‰ Shien also told me about how he loved talking to the people eating next to them. They were celebrating a child’s birthday. Afterwards, he quickly took notes on his experience. πŸ˜‰ His constant writing has inspired me to keep writing! Unbelievable! πŸ™‚

So, how did he do on the IQ test? It’s hard asking any child after taking a test how it was and what was asked. I attended a technology conference this Saturday, and I thought it would be better for Shien to take him to it. πŸ˜‰ Shien said he was really good in that he seemed ready to go and went into the test with the psychologist without even looking back at her. She said he was all business. Mr. Poker Face. πŸ˜‰ However he does, we are proud. As with any parent, we just want him getting the best education and most of all, to enjoy his learning. For now, it’s just wait and see…

Time Out for Social Homework!

This past Saturday, I attended the first Tri-State Education Technology Conference (TSETC 2010) at New Milford High School in New Jersey. I found out about it from Lisa Nielsen, who did an awesome job as the Keynote Speaker. She is the author of The Innovative Educator blog and also the Technology Innovation Manager for the Office of Educational Technology at the New York City Department of Education. The conference was great. Most of the workshops demonstrated the “power of technology” in the classrooms and all the wonderful ways that technology can be integrated into instruction and professional development. There was also a whole lot of buzz about Social Media and its role in education. It’s all about connecting, collaborating, creating, and communicating with others. It made me think a whole lot about technology and its role in education.

Technology is often said to be a tool. Whereas most tools have a clear and defined purpose, technology doesn’t. I could be playing video games, and I could say I’m using technology, but is it meaningful? In education, we have to keep asking ourselves if technology is being used in a meaningful way. I feel when we think of technology in education, we picture the computers, interactive whiteboards, projectors, and all the other tech gadgets that are used in schools. Yet, it’s much harder for us to explain exactly HOW the technology is being used or WHY it is being used in classrooms.

This week, like any other week, Malachy got his Pre-K homework. It’s usually given on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays and due the following school day. This Monday, he was given a more unique assignment that’s due at the end of the week. It’s a worksheet from Scholastic, but instead of the typical circling, coloring, cutting, or filling out something, the assignment was to go on a Nature Walk. The instructions were to, “Go for a walk outside. Look for the things on this page. If you see one, circle it. It’s OK if you don’t see them all!” The rain finally gave way, so today, we were able to do the assignment! πŸ˜‰

At first, it was just Malachy and me. I brought a camera because I wanted to document our homework and make it even more interactive. (Extra credit! πŸ˜‰ ) After a few minutes of looking around and searching for the objects, two other kids asked what we were doing and asked if they could help us! They wanted in on this homework and wanted to help Malachy complete his assignment. So, we all walked around our building’s playground/park area, looking for the items. We were pretty sure we wouldn’t find a snail. Also, since there were no pine trees or oak trees in the area, the pine cone and acorn weren’t going to happen either. (Malachy and I did find an acorn later on. Or was it? πŸ˜‰ ) What an awesome assignment this turned out to be!

Malachy’s homework “forced” us to interact with nature and with each other. We didn’t plan on getting outside help (networking!), but how cool was that to have others join in on the fun? This was a light bulb moment for me. To me, this assignment was like a microcosm of Social Media! It involved making connections, communicating, collaborating, and creating a meaningful experience.

It got me thinking about homework and technology and education. Homework shouldn’t be just between the student and a book or piece of paper. Technology shouldn’t be just between the user and a computer or other tech gadget. The goal should be about interacting and connecting with the outside world and with others and creating a meaningful experience. We should have more “nature walk” assignments for students, parents, and communities to work on together. When we learn together, we connect. Social Homework! πŸ˜‰ That’s what it’s all about! πŸ˜‰

This is part of the Tri-State Education Technology Conference (TSETC) Blogger CafΓ© Contest sponsored by edSocialMedia. TSETC is brought to you by Schoology.

Time Out for Nurture Shock!

Nurture Shock

This past weekend, I had the chance to read Nurture Shock. I came upon it because Chris from Book Dads sent out an e-mail to the Book Dads contributors to see if anyone had read or was interested in writing a review about it. I went right to Amazon, read the summary and some comments, and decided to buy it right away. So glad I did! For me, this book showed how much Nurture Matters and what an awesome responsibility we have as parents and/or teachers, because what we do or say or don’t do or don’t say can have such an impact on the lives of our children.Β  I was able to finish it over the weekend and then wrote my second book review for Book Dads! πŸ™‚

This morning, I noticed that someone had commented on my review. I felt like I needed to respond and hoped that person would get the chance to read my response. Then tonight, I received another comment… from one of the co-authors!!! How COOL was that? πŸ˜‰ SO COOL! This is the kind of experience I wish for our students to have in school. To make contributions to online communities and to have their voices heard. It’s such an awesome feeling! πŸ˜‰

Time Out for the First Day of School!

Back to School!

As the days approached the first day of school, I started worrying a little bit about how Malachy would react to going back to school. We had such a great summer, and I didn’t want him to feel that he was going back to something that he wouldn’t enjoy. I also started to get anxious about all the testing that he’s going to have to undergo this year for Kindergarten next year. Ai ya!
Anyways, we all psyched ourselves up with excitement for his first day back at school. He woke up feeling really excited today, and that was just awesome. He tossed and turned for over an hour last night, and it would take a bit to wake him up. He actually woke us up! πŸ˜‰

When I got home and asked him how his day was, he said that it was great. WHEW! Turns out he was more ready than I was! πŸ˜‰ Β The name of Malachy’s class last year was, “LOVE.” Oddly enough, the name of his class this year is, “TRUST!” That one word captures it all. It will be a constant reminder to me of what a great kid he is, and that we just have to trust that he will make it happen. Sure, there will be some rough days ahead, but with the right attitude and frame of mind (and his Gong Gong would add Self-Discipline πŸ˜‰ ), we can be sure to have another great year! Β No worries! πŸ˜‰

Graphic by Chris @ Daddy Doctrines

Time Out from Killing the Spirit of Education!

This compelling video featuring Yong Zhao, a University Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Michigan State University, really makes you think about what is going on with education in America. Is American Education really going backwards? Are we heading in the wrong direction when it comes to educating our students? Are we missing the target?
Why is so much money going into testing and nationalizing what is taught to our children? How does testing bring out our kids’ creativity? How does this motivate our students to learn?
Is our education system heading towards conformity and elitism, while other countries are moving towards innovation and celebrating individuality?

The good thing is that there appears to be a BUZZ around education and it’s getting louder.

School starts for Malachy tomorrow, and we’re trying to psych him up for a great year ahead for all of us. Let’s just hope we’re not psyching him out in terms of the future of his education. We want most for him to love learning. That’s what living is about. πŸ˜‰

Time Out for Race to Nowhere…

I’m really excited about this documentary movie coming out. The film, Race to Nowhere is directed by Vicki Abeles, a concerned mother turned filmmaker! Now, that’s cool! πŸ˜‰ What better way of addressing an issue than to bring it to the big screen? Hoping lots of people get to see this and seriously start talking and thinking about education. After all, our kids are the present and the future. We have to question what we’re teaching, how we’re teaching, and why we’re teaching. Our children deserve the best that we can give, both at home and at school.

Time Out for Test Prep… at Age 4?!?!

Graphic by Chris @ Daddy Doctrines

I gave Malachy a random spelling test last week, just to see how he would do. I used the Livescribe Smartpen, which is quite the nifty geek gadget, which I demoed in a previous post. After the assessment, we started going over all the words. When we came to a word that he misspelled (were should have been where), I told him that he missed just one letter. He immediately wanted to correct it, but I told him it was okay. He started getting misty-eyed. He said he didn’t want to tell Mommy. I told him he did an awesome job, and that it’s okay to make mistakes and that we all make mistakes. I told him we were so proud of him and that we all learn and make mistakes. He calmed down. He was all good as we went over the rest of the words. When we went over another misspelled word, he said, “It’s okay. See?” WHEW! πŸ˜‰

The thing is I could easily turn into grill and drill mode, and test him everyday. (As a teacher, this is why standardized testing just maddens me.) He’d get better and better at it, and be “prepared” for what was coming. Also, the “gifted” test for Kindergarten is coming up this year for Malachy.

Two parties arise within me with two voices. One is telling me (okay, yelling), “DON’T DO IT! YOU’LL BURN HIM AND YOURSELF OUT!” The other one says (just as loudly), “WELL, YOU CAN’T JUST SIT THERE AND DO NOTHING, while others are spending hundreds if not thousands on test prepping their kids!” (They say it might even start at age 3 next year! INSANITY!) Yes, I could easily ask people who have proctored these “gifted” tests for insider information, but no way, that’s cheating and just not the way I would want Malachy to “earn” a seat, if he does make it into one. “AI YA!” I say to both parties. What happened to the days of just going to your zoned school, where everyone had a fair share of a quality education?

So, I’ve decided to just give him a taste every now and then (MODERATION), with what materials are available for all parents in NYC, just so he knows what to expect when he does take these tests. The other day we went through that OLSAT (Otis-Lennon School Ability Test) Practice Test. I told him that this was coming sometime in the future, and to just do his best. As we went over it, I was thinking how crazy it must be for those parents who don’t use these materials out there or aren’t aware of them, and how hard it must be for those children who just take these tests cold turkey. It’s just not right… πŸ™

Below are links to other fellow blogging dads. Check them out! πŸ˜‰