Book review: The Political Classroom by Diana Hess & Paula McAvoy

The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic EducationThe Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education by Diana E. Hess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I sit on the board of a pre-K through 12 school, and this book was recommended to me by a faculty member. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which uses philosophical thinking and empirical science to frame a discussion on how best to answer the question: “How should we live together?” In an era of increasing political polarization, is there a place and an opportunity for schools to teach and model respect, tolerance, and political equity in the classroom, and what should that teaching look like?
The authors examine several types of schools, communities, teachers, and teaching styles to arrive at an ethical framework with which to analyze the question. They looked at schools across the political spectrum and how teachers dealt with students from differing socioeconomic classes, ethnicity, and political viewpoints to model political engagement in a respectful way and how that might differ from teachers who deal with students from more homogeneous socioeconomic classes, ethnicity and political viewpoints. The result is a thought provoking book on what ways teachers should model ideal behavior, the challenges in doing so, and the obstacles that remain.
This book should be the beginning–not the end–of the discussion of how we should all live together and demonstrates how schools and teachers can assist students to start on the path towards political tolerance, respect, and engagement. I highly recommend this book to teachers, parents, and administrators alike!

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China Trip Preparation (and irony)

Our 16 year old son is going to rural China (Yunnan Province) for 6 weeks as part of a school program called China Fieldwork Summer. He is very excited about the trip (which makes him a better person than me).
There was a meeting the other night regarding the trip with parents and many of the students who are going. My favorite moments from the meeting:

– when the faculty member announced there would be no smartphones allowed on the trip (audible gasps of horror)
– a follow up question about whether the ban would apply to smartphones with the SIM card removed (removed—yeah, right)
– when the faculty member said, “Don’t bring hair products. There are plenty of hair products in China.” A collective shudder rippled through the row of high school girls. (Needless to say, the faculty member is male.)
– after being told that the area was socially conservative so no tank tops or short shorts are allowed, a girl raised her hand and asked, “How short are short shorts?”
– a follow up question about workout clothes and whether they were exempted from the tank top/short shorts ban
– a question from one of the students: “Is this trip like camping?”

and last but not least:
– parents who had expressed resentment that our son speaks Chinese (ruining the curve in Chinese class) are now ecstatic that our son speaks Chinese (additional translator on the trip)

Graduation 2017!

We celebrated the graduation of our daughter from Sidwell Friends School last Friday. The day was perfect—sunny but not too hot and with low humidity. Jim’s mom, brother, and (brother’s) girlfriend attended, as did my parents. It was a joyous occasion, with lovely speeches given by Bryan Garman, the Head of School; Margaret Plank, the Clerk of the Board of Trustees (“clerk” = chair in Quakerspeak); and Michael Govan, Class of ’81, who is the head of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
We had a whirlwind weekend of celebration, including a dinner at Peking Gourmet Inn to celebrate with many of those who were instrumental in Jade’s upbringing, and a dinner at the Inn at Little Washington to celebrate both Jade’s graduation and Jim’s mom’s birthday. (The specific number birthday is a state secret.)
Everyone left town on Monday (calloo, callay!). Despite the commentary, it was a wonderful weekend of family and celebration!

class of 2017

Prom 2017

As we move ever more rapidly into the bittersweet final moments of our daughter’s senior year of high school, prom was the highlight of the week.  A group of her friends met up for a pre-prom get together where several parents were on the verge of tears contemplating the fact that their children would soon be off to college.  There was also much laughter, much love, and much incompetence when it came to the pinning of boutonnieres.  🙂
We think Jade looked stunning, but we are admittedly slightly biased in this regard.
Between the pre-party, prom, the official after-party, and the small after after-party, she got about an hour and a half of sleep.  Good practice for those college all-nighters (studying, of course.). Most importantly, she had a grand time!

Dance Ensemble Recital

For three years, our daughter has participated in the Sidwell Friends Upper School dance ensemble.  Dance ensemble was her first ever dance experience.  It has been the place she has found the most serenity and peace during high school.  (Her only regret is that she didn’t start in 9th grade and avoid the trauma of softball.)

This is the last dance recital of her high school career and so I have inexpertly filmed two of her dances from the recital.

Our biggest thanks go to Marie McNair, dance instructor extraordinaire, who provided a haven of support, growth, and encouragement for our daughter!

8th grade graduation

Our son graduated from 8th grade a few weeks ago in a lovely ceremony held at the school.  Being a 14 year old boy with only an embryonic frontal lobe (at best), he neglected to mention that he was part of an ensemble that was singing as part of the ceremony.  (If you knew the history of the non-existent singing genes of both the Lintott and Liang families, you would understand what a shocking development this is.)  Nonetheless, he did a lovely job (you can actually hear his voice during the performance).
It’s a little bittersweet to now have two children in high school.  I was a bit melancholy the week of graduation, but it was a sweet ceremony, and the kids were all great.  Our son has a great group of friends, which should stand him in good stead in high school.
I have already decided that come next school year, with a high school senior and a high school freshman, copious amounts of alcohol is what is getting me through the year! 🙂

filing in for the ceremony

filing in for the ceremony

singing (!) during the ceremony

singing (!) during the ceremony

graduating!

graduating!

DSC_1052

Life on the International Space Station (interview with Dan Tani)

As part of his 8th grade science project, our son had to do a podcast about life on the International Space Station.  Fortunately, a friend of ours, Dan Tani, is a former astronaut who actually spent significant time on the space station.  Dan very kindly came over to our house to be interviewed for this podcast.

Here is the final version of the podcast (and thank you, Dan, for your time!):

Dinner party – December 2015

Some friends of ours were hosting a dinner party as part of a school event, and we offered to help out with the cooking. They kindly agreed to let us do so and, again, with major help from Robert, Jim’s nephew, we served the following:

Apple rutabaga soup with gougeres and Parmesan tuiles (wine: 2002 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne)

apple rutabaga soup

apple rutabaga soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

parmesan tuiles

parmesan tuiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gougeres

gougeres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scallops with shallots and bacon on Brussel sprout slaw with mustard dressing (wine: 2010 Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne)

scallops on brussel  sprout slaw

scallops on brussel sprout slaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan lamb with couscous, Moroccan orange salad and home-made harissa (wine: 2010 Rudd Estate Oakville Proprietary Red)

moroccan lamb with couscous

moroccan lamb with couscous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gingerbread with salted caramel gelato and spiced whipped cream (wine: Alvear Pedro Ximinez de auada)

gingerbread with gelato & whipped cream

gingerbread with gelato & whipped cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a lot of fun to play in someone else’s kitchen for a change (although I’m not sure they shared the sentiment!).  🙂