The calendar conditions us to send kids to school

If you have a decent sized blog you get tons of pitches from public relations people. And somewhere in the PR rule book it says that you do better with pitches that are tied to current events.

And as we all know, thanks to the industrial revolution, fall is no longer a time for harvest: back to school is the event of fall!

How much TV do most kids really watch?

We have about 4000 books in our house. This is because I threw out so many over the years. At one point I was moving from Chicago to LA to Boston to LA and on and on with nothing but 80 boxes of books.

Should we pay kids to go to school?

As a society we believe that kids should save some things for later in life.

The easiest example of this is sex. We don't think it benefits kids to do it early. Even though for centuries older people have forced kids to have sex with impunity, we do not accept that in our society. It's statutory rape until the youngest of the two people is 16 or so.

Do I need to prepare my teen for college?

Here's an email I received this week:

I've been really insecure lately about college for my oldest, but then every time I research Gen Z these kids are hacking their education and are basically gonna leapfrog over Gen Y… I don't know how to prepare my kids for that.  Maybe I should just leave them alone.  Did you know that Gen Z prefers having 5 screens and only has an 8 second attention span?  I didn't, until I read an infographic for marketers to Gen Z.  

Advice?  Especially when the oldest wants to live on Mars…. prep for college or just let her figure it out?

Is video the killer app for school reform?

When my kids want to know something, they search for it on YouTube. It would kill me to watch a video to find out where Tajikistan is. But the kids go to YouTube for everything.

How you can help a high schooler, right now

I meet a bunch of high schoolers on this blog, and my favorite, Thi, recently informed me that at her rich-kid, Palo Alto school all their AP tests were disqualified.

Guess why they were disqualified? Because the desks were four centimeters too close together.

School replaces family, one meal at a time

When we moved from New York City to Madison, WI, I did tons of research on how to pick a place to live. But I didn't realize that once you pick a city you have to do a lot of research about where to live within that city.

We had never even visited Madison before. We looked on a map. There was a nice park, and if you live in NYC, the idea of living in a rented house on a park is a dream come true. So we moved there.

The real truth about instilling love of learning

The assumption behind the idea of instilling a love of learning is that your kids are not born with a love of learning.

It's a terrible assumption. And probably wrong. Humans are born curious—as a species, we're constantly learning something new. Babies learn to read faces because we are visually curious. Not because their parents purposefully instilled in their kids an interest in faces. And we acquire language without going to school because we are curious and we are self-motivated to learn. Right off the bat.

When is it time to get a tutor?

One of the best resources for a homeschool parent is kids who were homeschooled and are now grown up and hated it. It's kind of like knowing your personal weaknesses so you can avoid them. It's always important to hear the negative opinions.

The most common complaint I hear is that kids were sheltered from scientific basics, like evolution, and they blame their parents for keeping them in the dark in the name of religion. That's a good complaint for me to hear, because I'll never do that to my kids so it makes me feel safe.

The second most common complaint is that the parents were incompetent at teaching math and science so they let the kids fend for themselves. There's a good chance that I am guilty of this neglect as well.


It's quantity time that matters, not quality time

I spent the weekend doing work in Chicago and now I’m at O’Hare and I'm not sure I should be here. I'm not sure I should travel so much for work.

The German woman next to me could not get the Internet on her phone. I used all the high school German I could remember, except Der Kartoffelsalat ist I'm Kühlschrank. Nothing worked, so I decided it would be ethical for me to download the Amazon mobile app onto her phone without asking.