Last week, my school held Back to School Night, which is an opportunity for alumni and parents to return to campus and take classes on a range of topics from Beer Tasting to the latest developments in Afghanistan. I’ve always wanted to try to put together a course, but never really had the idea or courage to try something alone. This year, my work on our Mindset Research project got me thinking that maybe a discussion about parenting would be a good topic for a course, and my colleague A, and I decided to try to put something together. We also discovered the book “Nurtureshock” which is an excellent summary of much of the latest scientific research into parenting. Our goal was to describe 5 areas where current scientific research is reshaping thoughts about parenting: How praise affects learning, teaching self control, lying, teenage rebellion and sleep.
So A and I decided to put together a proposal on a whim back in November, which was later accepted, and it wasn’t until about two weeks ago that it occurred to me that we’d be doing this in February, a notoriously difficult and busy month in the life of a teacher. So, with all this busyness, Anna and I had to put most of this together at the last minute, overcome some huge technology hurdles like having half the computers we wanted to use go into deep freeze 5 minutes before the start of our presentation, and didn’t get finish our first walkthrough until about 30 minutes before showtime.
Here’s the video, in case you want to see how it turned out:
Incidentally, this conversation got me thinking that schools can do a lot more to educate parents, and technology makes it possible for us to do this in non-traditional ways that accommodate parent’s busy schedules. Why not put together an online reading group? Or a webinar featuring a local psychologist an and expert in adolescent psychology? With a clearly developed mission and a coherent curriculum, I think this could be a very powerful way to engage parents as allies and help extend the culture of our schools beyond the confines of our classrooms. As a new parent myself, I know that this is something I would welcome.
So here’s a small effort I made to try this. As a follow up to our presentation, I put together this posterous groups site with follow up material and an offer to continue the discussion online. I’m not sure if anyone will take us up on the offer, but it should be a fun exeperiment.