This past week, I have been thinking about the college admissions scandal and what it says about the disconnect between what we say our values are and the messages we send through our actions. If I assume the best about the parents involved, I would like to think that on some level they purport to, and most likely believe in, the values of integrity, fairness, and honesty. But they also struggle with what they consider the real world of college admissions and what makes for a meaningful life of the child they love. It’s complicated, right?
In thinking about this internal struggle, I came across an article written by Richard Weissbourd (who also happens to be the author of The Parents We Mean To Be). In the piece, Weissbourd addresses the gap between what parents and teachers say we value, and the messages children are receiving. Research suggests that most parents and teachers value caring over achievement. The problem is, that is not the message students are hearing.
80 percent of students reported that their parents prioritized achievement (57%) or happiness (27%) over everything else. Only 19 percent of students reported that being a caring individual was highly important to their parents. Teachers did not fare much better. While promoting caring is a top priority of a majority of teachers, students believe academic achievement is by far the main thing teachers are concerned about.
The research shows that parents and teachers want caring to be a top priority (above achievement) for their children but our messaging is not in sync with that desire. A majority of teacher conversations with students is around academics and parents often want to know how their child did on a project before they ask about how they cared for a classmate. It is not that students don’t think we value caring, they do, just significantly less than achievement.
Our fears are that the real world of high schools and universities care more about the transcript than the person. But our inner selves know that a caring individual leads a rich life beyond measure. It’s complicated, right?
It is not as if there is a right or wrong answer here. Academics are important, caring is important and striking the balance between the two is an ongoing conversation. If you would like to be part of that conversation, please join us in reading The Parents We Mean To Be.
In Leadership class, it is important that our eighth grade students learn about the real world. One way that we prepare our students is by bringing a financial expert into Saklan to run an hour and a half workshop. Our expert and current parent, Ana Darby, has volunteered her time for the past two years to help educate our future adults.
Ana has developed a curriculum that is accessible to teens. She teaches them about creating a budget as soon as they have any income. Within that budget structure, she advises that they put 10% of their income into a savings or retirement account, even as young as thirteen years old. Mrs. Darby also discusses the importance of giving back through charitable donations, if that is a possibility. Next, students learn to read and understand a bank statement and how credit works. Finally, the most meaningful activity the students do is to be randomly assigned a particular profession. This year’s choices were doctor, cashier, computer programmer, and veterinarian. Each student was given a set income, a list of expenses, and a budget template. They were required to make choices about how they were going to spend their money and type up a monthly budget. Needless to say, most students were shocked how expensive everything was. Overall, each student seemed to have more of an appreciation of how hard their parents work. #SaklanWellRounded
The Saklan Suns basketball away team played two games this week. Monday’s game was in El Sobrante against the East Bay Waldorf School; and Tuesday’s game was in Berkeley against The Berkeley School.
The games were an awesome basketball field experience. Good job to all the players who participated! The team has two games left during the last week of March. These games will be played here at home so come on out and cheer on the Saklan Suns! #SaklanWellRounded
On Thursday, March 7th, the 4th and 5th grade embarked on a journey down the hill into Lafayette to visit our local community theater, Town Hall Theater. We experienced a beautiful play called “Brooklyn Bridge,” which on the surface seems to be about a 5th grade girl trying to find a pen so she can write a report, but is really about human connectedness and the small things that bring us all together. The students were able to ask the actors questions after, and for our Saklan students, they were able to tie the experience of actors they saw to their own memory of what it feels like to be on stage.
Different students were able to understand the play on different levels. There were moments of stillness and silence when the meaning of the play reached their hearts, and all of them laughed at the “plant moving people.” Experiencing such beautiful theater so close by is thrilling, and helps our students to understand that they are a part of the larger artistic community in Lamorinda and the East Bay. They walked away joyful, inspired, and empowered. Many thanks to Town Hall Theater for hosting us! #SaklanExperiental
The first and second graders were very fortunate to have special guest Sarah Shaffer of Sarah’s Science visit their classroom this week. The students all became scientists as they delved into the world of electricity, what it is and how it works.
As they did that, they each built their own secret pressure pad to sound an alarm when someone enters the room. We are sure they will come in very handy at home! #SaklanHandsOn
Hoot Owls learned about the 21 day embryonic development of a chicken. The children took turns opening pretend eggs that show pictures of the changes occurring inside an egg. Hoot Owls shared the picture inside the egg with classmates during circle-time. Together they talked about what specific changes they noticed from egg to egg. The whole class cheered when they opened egg number 21 and a small toy chick popped out!
They explored the eggs a little more closely by choosing four very different stages of egg development to study and draw. Hoot Owls decided that the beginning cluster of cells should be called, “The Little Nothing Stage.” They appropriately named the second transformation, “The Little Blah-Blah Stage.” #SaklanHandsOn
Since February, the 8th grade has been learning physics in Science class. They have been learning about the forces on our planet: gravity, air resistance, friction and centripetal force. They have also been working on putting Newton’s three Laws of Motion into real life scenarios.
In one example of this, the 8th grade had to create a rocket that could fight air resistance and gravity, and that could exhibit all of Newton’s three laws. After creating different paper airplanes and learning how different designs create different amounts of drag, their goal was to design a rocket that could not only defy gravity, but go the highest in the class.
They worked in pairs to design different wings and different types of cones for the top of their rockets. When the time came to shoot them off, they used an altimeter to measure their height as they blasted off. While each reached amazing heights, one rocket design made it an astonishing 39 meters in the sky (approximately 128 feet), a first for the 8th grade rocket experiment. Congrats, Max and Harrison on your design! #SaklanHandsOn
Kindergartners favorite fairy tale has been The Three Little Pigs. The children have been busy retelling the story using props. They love to huff and puff! Finally, the class had a lot of fun taking the Big, Bad, Blow-dryer Challenge.
Working in pairs, the children chose building materials needed to build a house. They made a diagram of how they wanted their house to look and predicted if their house would withstand the Big, Bad, Blow-dryer Challenge. The children then built their houses and the Big, Bad, Blow-dryer tried to blow down their houses.
Every house survived the Big, Bad, Blow-dryer Challenge. The children were very proud! #SaklanHandsOn
On Tuesday, March 5th, the Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades went out to explore our Bay Area community by traveling to the San Francisco Symphony. They attended a concert called “Play Me a Story,” designed to help students identify different sounds made by each unique instrument, and connect them to characters or events in a story. The students and teachers then heard a program that introduced them to the Overture from “Barber of Seville” by Rossini, “Elephants” by Camille Saint-Saens, and “Scheherezade” and “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Rimsky-Korskov, amongst others.
The musicians in the symphony expertly demonstrated to our students how a flute can be a bird, how and oboe can be a duck, how a group of violins can be a swarm of bumblebees, and how a trombone and trumpet conversation can be a battle! Everybody’s favorite moment was when the percussion section played us the story of a ship crashing against the rocks!
Introducing children to instrumental music at an early age is so important, but amongst the laundry list of reasons, one stands out; helping children experience the Symphony in person helps them understand fully that music is played by humans, not by computers, phones, or Alexa. Going outside our school gates and realizing that it is with our own bodies and brains that we create beauty helps our children realize that they too can create art, music or something beautiful, and that it is not out of their reach. For Saklan students, the experience helped them understand concepts reinforced every day in their classrooms and allows them to make a career connection into the greater community.