Archive for the ‘Education/Raising Children’ Category

Taking a note from George Saunders’s commencement address at Syracuse in the spring, Kathleen McCartney, the new president of Smith College, started off her school year by calling attention to the failures of kindness and reminding her students of the strength in being kind.

“The kindness you find here — the kindness you create here — is and will be just as powerful as the diploma you will bring with you into the world beyond the Grécourt Gates. It can open doors. It can open minds. It can close divides.”

-Kathleen McCartney, President of Smith College

Read her full speech after the jump. Wishing everyone a kinder school year for 2013-2014.

 

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I read about efforts by the Reform and Conservative movements of Judaism to revise the way Bar Mitzvahs are being conducted and to explore how the rite of passage can deepen the bond with the B’nei Mitzvah and their families. It is the type of refreshing idea that is so obviously on target that in retrospect makes you wonder why nobody had led such a charge before. 

Rethinking how we train for and conduct Bar Mitzvahs is urgently needed. Not only should we do away with the Vegas-type excesses of some parties, but as the NYT article below shares, B’nei Mitzvah offer the opportunity for kids that are becoming men and women to learn their roles in making this a better world – a critical concept of Judaism, tikkun olam, and one that makes me most proud of my heritage and religion.

We should not stop at supporting social projects that kids can adopt that year. We should use the Bar Mitzvah training year to educate kids about how Judaism extols us to be mentshes (good human beings). Pirkei Avot – The Ethics of Our Fathers – is the type of jewel that I think is often skipped in favor of more traditional but less spiritual, inspirational and value-centric teaching in temple. It makes all the sense in the world to me that instead of rote repetition of words kids may not understand, we should invest in ethical guidance that will serve them for the rest of their lives, not to mention connect them to their faith with greater pride.

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George Saunders gave a graduation speech that Matthew Kahn shared with me. It really touched me. His “regret” absolutely reminded me of a couple kids in school that, like him, I was nice enough to, but I didn’t do enough to protect and stand up for against bullies. I could have been nicer. I could have been kinder. And I could have been more courageous. I hope to teach my kids to do better. And I hope we all as humankind can minimize what George Saunders aptly describes as “failures of kindness.”

See the full speech after the jump.

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You may remember the Turn the Tide Foundation‘s video, Unjunk Yourself, that teaches teens and tweens the importance of healthy eating. They are now out with another great video to educate us on the dangers of processed food and its marketing ploys as well as to encourage teens and tweens to opt for food that is real and good for them!

Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, by Julianna Storch

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This chilling New York Times article about the fatal consequences of prescription medications designed for ADHD reveals scary truths about the drugs and their side effects. Perhaps more frightening, however, is many doctors’ lack of attention or thorough examination of a patient before prescribing and renewing prescriptions for potentially harmful psychiatric drugs.

Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, by Julianna Storch

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This moving and inspiring video shines a spotlight on the young and talented Jodi DiPiazza as she performs with Katy Perry at the ‘Night of Too Many Stars,’ an evening to benefit autism education programs. Jodi’s autism does not hold her back from reaching her potential as a musician, and she serves as a role model to everyone working to overcome obstacles in their own lives.

Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, by Julianna Storch

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My Dad used to tell us a story he conceived about a little bird named Bimbambu when we were kids. It is one of my favorite stories – about a kindly bird who literally sheds all his feathers in order to help other animals fight the winter weather along the way, only to end up without any protection until all the animals come to his aid. This may very well have been one of the subconscious foundations for the creation of KIND and the KIND Movement, as it teaches the important lesson of exhibiting unbridled kindness to everyone we encounter.

And now my sister Ileana has brought the story of Bimbambu to life in a colorful and beautifully designed digital children’s book so that other parents can share Bimbambu’s lessons in kindness with their children too. The Kindle e-book edition is available on Amazon now (and I was able to view it on my Ipad by downloading the free Kindle reader), and I look forward to seeing the print copies in English, Hebrew and Spanish soon!

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This New York Times Magazine article demonstrates the rise in prescription stimulant abuse among high school students trying to keep up with the pressures of school and college applications. Douglas Young, a spokesman for the Lower Merion School District outside Philadelphia, best identified the problem and solution, “Straight A’s and high SAT scores look great on paper, but they aren’t reflective measures of a student’s health and well-being. We need to better understand the pressures and temptations, and ultimately we need to embrace new definitions of student success.”

Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, by Julianna Storch

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During a tornado, Stephanie Decker demonstrated extraordinary heroism as her house collapsed on her and her children.  Stephanie saved her children’s lives by wrapping them in a blanket and laying on top of them as their house was minimized to rubble. When she was found by neighbors, her legs had been severed but her children were unharmed.  Our thoughts are with Stephanie as she recovers and she will always have our admiration.

 

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Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, by Adeena Schlussel

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Food Business News came out with a staggering statistic that sugar makes up 16% of American kids’ calorie intake.  Research has shown that added sugars are most commonly found in soda which of course provides no nutritional benefit.  While food items like nuts and fruit contain sugar, this type of sugar is naturally occurring and carries nutritional benefits.  The remainder of this article depicts that kids are consuming too much added sugars, a problem that will only exacerbate the obesity and diabetes epidemics.

Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, by Adeena Schlussel

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