Thursday, January 26, 2017

Monday, January 23, 2017

David Justin Urbas - You are So Much More Than Just a Score

Dear Students,

Much has been made about the state of our educational system these days…and the news hasn’t been good. We’re not keeping up with other countries. We’re lagging in our adoption of technology, and we haven’t mastered the math and science concepts necessary to win the nauseating, never-ending Race To Nowhere.

To solve this, policy-makers have decided that testing is necessary to monitor not only your progress, but that of your teachers and administrators, too.

They are partly right.

If you graduate from high school, and you’re not able to read, write, and understand math concepts capably, then we have utterly failed you. You deserve to go to school in a safe place where you can grow and learn. Schools need to be accountable, so that when you cross the stage in cap and gown, the diploma you grasp really, truly means something. It should be a symbol that you have met the standards set for you, and a testimony to the dedication of your teachers (and parents!) who guided you through the process.

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Friday, January 20, 2017


It’s no secret that today’s fast-paced lifestyle leaves many of us feeling as if we’re running on a never-ending treadmill. We’re pressured to over-schedule, overdo, and overspend. It takes a conscious effort to simplify and allow time for quiet and reflection in our adult lives. No wonder our children mirror our overly-busy lives, often to their emotional detriment. Their days may be too full of scheduled activities to allow time for healthy, unstructured play, and play is the childhood equivalent of work; it needs to happen. There’s power in your child’s unstructured, unplugged, creative play.

Plugged or unplugged

There’s good news. When given a quiet, unplugged environment, children will enter into creative play. They’ll use the props around them: household items, open-ended toys, art supplies, etc., and they’ll pretend something. Like adults, children need space in which to create. They need permission to move from an ‘entertain me’ attitude to a ‘let’s see what I can do on my own’ attitude. While screen activities can be healthy and educational, it’s a wise parent who is proactive in providing their children regular quiet times for creative play.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Why are Dutch children the world’s happiest?

Following UNICEF’s (2013) report of children’s wellbeing indicators for the world’s richest nations placed the Netherlands at the top of the list, a new book by two immigrant mothers explores what it is about growing up the Dutch way that is so good for their children. An extract from the book was published in the Telegraph and, here, the US blogsite ModaCity reflects on what lessons can be drawn from the Dutch experience

This past weekend, as if the universe knew we were longing for our days in the Netherlands, a story popped into our newsfeed touting that Dutch children are the happiest in the world. The article – an excerpt from a book ( published this week – looks at the lived experiences of two ex-pat mothers (one American and one British) raising families in the Netherlands, relating them to a 2013 study conducted by UNICEF that found Dutch kids topped the list for overall well-being when compared to the world’s 29 wealthiest countries.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

David Justin Urbas - Educational Consultant Warns of College Spin

So I’m here on the campus of my alma mater, Dartmouth College. I’m here for a reunion and it’s been a fun, nostalgia-filled weekend, and I always enjoy coming up here. And one of the things I like to do when I come here, too, is to connect with some of the students that I’ve counseled in the past. This morning I had coffee with, she’s a freshman and she’s a tour guide here on campus. And we got to talking about being a tour guide and how all that works, and we were also talking about the fraternity system, so I was asking her, “So what is the admissions saying to students when they’re coming on campus and want to know about the fraternity system and how many students are really a part of it?” And the party line statistic is 50%. Now, that’s accurate, but a little misleading, perhaps. Because that makes it seems like the statistic is much lower than the number, which is 68% of eligible students are in the Greek system. So 2/3 of students.

The reason there’s a difference between these two statistics is because freshmen are not allowed to be in the Greek system. You rush in your second or sophomore year. So it’s true that if you take the entire student body, you have only 50% of students that are in the system. But then when sophomore year happens, 2/3 of your cohort is going to be rushing for the Greek system. So it’s one of those things where it’s like where are they bending the truth? Are they bending the truth? No, they’re not, they’re stating a fact, but they’re also giving you a statistic that is perhaps going to make Dartmouth a little bit more palatable to you if you’re thinking the fraternity system may be not what you want, or if you’re worried about it, they want to make it seem less of a force in the social life on campus. It’s a force, there’s no getting around it that the Greek system is a very strong aspect of social life on campus.

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