robertogreco + via:jolinaclément   2

The dark side of Silicon Valley, according to a teen who grew up there - Business Insider
"Home of the brightest engineers, the coolest new technology, and the highest salaries in the world, Silicon Valley is also home of the most cutthroat competitive high schools.

Let's take a look at the schools with the highest SAT scores in the nation. Unsurprisingly, 6 of the top 20 are located in Silicon Valley: Monta Vista (#15), Mission San Jose (#18), Lynbrook (#7), Gunn (#12), Leland (#20), and Harker (#2).

In many of these schools, getting a 3.5 GPA could put you in the bottom half of the class (especially at academic powerhouses Gunn, Monta Vista, and Harker).

In other schools, athletics play a bigger role in the culture, but success is still expected nonetheless (Bellarmine, Los Gatos, Mitty). Also, it's a given that the student body is not only talented, but also well accomplished in many different areas.

It's unbelievable when you see the sheer numbers these schools put out. Harker has had 173 people admitted to Berkeley in the past 3 years. In just 2015, Harker had a 43% acceptance rate to Berkeley (69 admitted out of 162 who applied).

For the No. 1 public university in the world, those are some crazy numbers. Not to be out-matched, Mission San Jose High boasted a 29% acceptance rate to Berkeley in 2015, with 93 admitted. I understand admission to Berkeley isn't the best metric to judge competitiveness/success, but it shows a small part of the bigger picture.

Evergreen Valley, my home school, is considered one of the middle-tier competitive schools, but it's slowly becoming a microcosm of the Palo Alto/Cupertino areas. It's reflected in our college admissions.

This year alone, we have 32 students going to Berkeley and 4 going to Stanford. Now, it's great and all that we're succeeding in the college admissions game, but at what cost?

The bottom line is that behind these stellar numbers and phenomenal extracurricular activities lies a culture of overwork and incessant competition. There no longer exists a free summer for high school kids.

Everyone is competing — who can get the best internship? Who can pack their schedule the most? Who can get admitted to the best, most prestigious summer programs? Even in school, everyone is competing — who can work the hardest? Who can sleep the least and still get straight A's? Who can do it all? Who can be a part of the most clubs?

Going through it, it always seemed like a giant race to nowhere. There are a few features that distinguish Silicon Valley high schools:

1. Fear of failure

This sounds counterintuitive. I mean, we live in the freaking Silicon Valley, right? Home of entrepreneurship, risks, and solving the world's problems, right?

No, not really — high school isn't like that. We stick to what we know best. You play the piano really well? Keep doing that. You dance well? Stick to it.

Don't try other things — didn't you know you have to commit to an activity in order to put it on your college app? Why try new things and fail when you can stick to what you've been doing, work hard, and accomplish great things? Because, after all, isn't the point of life to get into college?

2. Stifling competition

We're ambitious and we're talented and we're hardworking — no doubt about it. We start companies and publish books and become nationally ranked in every extracurricular activity possible while juggling a 4.0 GPA. But with all of it comes a price.

By most of society here, you are judged by your numbers. I've lost track of the number of times I've heard parents ask about my SAT score and where I'm going to college, and then change their perception of me because of it. I want to tell them that these superficial things don't define me — that I'm more than these arbitrary numbers and test scores.

3. Ridiculous over-scheduling

You'll see kids with schedules more packed than an exec in the corporate world. After school, go to sports practice for 2-3 hours. After sports practice, practice your instrument for 1-2 hours. Now, it's time for dinner.

Eat for an hour, do homework for an hour, and then sleep at 9 p.m.? Not really. Not when you have five AP courses that each assign Herculean loads of homework. Not when you're managing several clubs and organizations. Not when you're also involved in student government.

Where's the time to relax? Where's the time to enjoy? We're bogged down in this mindset that happiness is to be postponed.

It's this mentality that says "I'll work hard now, so that I can enjoy my life later. It's OK if I don't enjoy now because it'll get better." But when does it end? Caught in this vicious cycle, it's hard to see what makes life worth it.

The only thing I want to say to the Silicon Valley teens out there is to enjoy your time. Be ambitious, be hardworking, be everything you've wanted to be and more — but don't forget to stop and smell the flowers. After all, what's life without enjoyment?"
siliconvalley  schools  competition  education  harker  children  parenting  kalvinlam  overscheduling  failure  colleges  universities  admissions  via:jolinaclément  sanjose  losgatos  paloalto 
august 2016 by robertogreco
How To Transform a Space | Activities For Children | Do It Yourself, Environment, homeschool, Imagination, Play At Home Mom, Uncategorized | Play At Home Mom
"Here are the steps I use when transforming a space – whether it be a classroom or playroom…..

1. Move everything out. Yep, get to work and clear out the entire space. This includes taking everything off the walls. My classroom had SEVEN cork boards (not even at child height – which is an entirely different topic altogether) with SEVEN different colors and SEVEN different borders. Whoa!!

2. Clean. There’s no better palate than a nice, clean space. My classroom walls were covered in posters, letters, numbers, tape, and Velcro. The first thing I did was rip those suckers off the walls. I did that before I even decided to take ‘before’ pictures. My floors were a disaster, covered in tape and sand.
3. Purge. Not going to use it? Chunk it. (I threw away about 4 filing cabinets full of worksheets. Worksheets? In pre-k? Pfft!!)

4. Sit in the space – I know this sounds corny, but sitting in a space to visualize how children play is important.

5. Consider the light. Natural light is a great area for an art space, darker areas are good spaces for relaxing and light panel play.

6. Is there a sink in the room? My classroom does not have a sink. Boooooooo! If you have a sink in your space, it’s also a good area for art….washing paint brushes, cleaning paint containers, etc.

7. Get neutral rugs and leave the walls bare. As Alfie Kohn says,

“You can tell quite a lot about what goes on in a classroom or a school even if you visit after everyone has gone home. Just by looking at the walls – or, more precisely, what’s on the walls — it’s possible to get a feel for the educational priorities, the attitudes about children, even the assumptions about human nature of the people in charge.”

Clean walls and neutral rugs/tables helps keep the focus on the beauty of the materials in the room, rather than the bright colors of carpet, tables, and furniture. Let children create the space with pictures of them playing and their artwork. This is a great way for them to reflect on their play and feel worthy – the space belongs to them.

8. Move things back and set up one space at a time. You might find that once you get the furniture in, it really doesn’t work in that space. We have a resource room in our school, so ALL of the cabinets and filing cabinets from my room went in there, to allow for more space. The same can be done with playroom closets, basements, and attic space.

9. Bring in your own lighting. One thing I love about my son’s Montessori school is all of the natural sky lights and the fact that they use lamps around the room for lighting, as opposed to overhead fluorescent lights – yuk! I keep the lights off in my classroom and rely on light sources such as strands of light, rope lights, lamps, and the overhead projector to light our room. There is something very peaceful about the space, and everyone who enters my room comments about how peaceful it is. Yay! That’s what I was going for.

10. Remember that nothing is permanent. It’s okay to change the room around to meet the needs of your students. I recently made a “cozy corner” where we put our rock pillows. Children can go here to read, listen to stories, of just jump on the pillows. My guess is that my room will change again."
via:jolinaclément  2015  classrooms  alfiekohn  sfsh  schooldesign  classroomideas 
august 2016 by robertogreco

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