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How Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs

Curfews, sports, and understanding kids’ brain chemistry have all helped dramatically curb substance abuse in the country. It’s a little before 3 p.m. on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a stroller, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s…

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Assessments That Provide Real Insight into Learning

A math teacher described a problem he was having with his 2nd graders: “One of the goals of our math curriculum is to enable the students to articulate their mathematical reasoning. We would like them to explain, ‘The problem said two more came, so I knew I needed to add,’ but instead we get, ‘I…

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Adolescents Struggle to Identify Fake News

Given the multitude of phony news stories spawned during the 2016 election, culminating in the shooting at a D.C. pizza restaurant, the Stanford History Education Group’s study of adolescents’ ability to judge the credibility of all the information vying for their attention in cyberspace is amazingly timely. The study focused on over 7,800 middle school,…

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My School, My Self

“I just needed a place where I could be myself.” That was Teri’s assessment of what was missing from her life in school, and my experience suggests that she speaks for hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of students. School is not typically a place for the self, at least not the self of students. A…

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“If For No Other Reason But That I Said So”

(This speech was addressed to students, their parents and teachers at an academic awards ceremony.) Ceremonies like this one are a way for one generation to pass the ideals and values of a society to the next generation.  On this day, your teachers sit up here as a visual reminder of the responsibility adults have…

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What Happens to Empathy Deferred?

As an alumnus of an independent school, I have enjoyed reading about the increasing emphasis on teaching cooperation, teamwork, mindfulness, and empathy. As independent schools become more globally and racially diverse, the need for greater reflection, for awareness of one’s own thinking and biases, and for curiosity about the perspectives of others also grows.  The…

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The Teenage Brain: ADOLESCENTS AND ALCOHOL

The high levels of alcohol consumption characteristic of adolescence may be in part biologically based, given that elevated consumption levels are also evident during this developmental transition in other mammalian species as well. Studies conducted using a simple animal model of adolescence in the rat has shown adolescents to be more sensitive than adults to…

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Civics in Uncivil Times

Facing down the challenges of teaching the 2016 election, with resources for preparing engaged citizens     In a chaotic and hostile election season — rupturing political parties, incessant name-calling, and growing dissension along racial and class lines — it may be tempting for educators to discourage political talk at school. But as the school…

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