EppsNet Archive: Kids

Why Do (Some) Smart Kids Fail?

29 Mar 2014 /
Bored of Education

A woman is telling me about her two sons . . . they’ve grown up to be fine young men, she says. It’s disappointing, of course, that neither of them managed to finish high school but it was really unavoidable because the older boy was much smarter than his peers and so he was always bored and academically unengaged and finally dropped out completely, and the younger boy just imitated whatever the older boy did.

I’ve heard this type of woulda-coulda-shoulda before and I have to admit I’ve never been totally receptive to it: this happened . . . then that happened . . . the kid did such-and-such . . .

It sounds very passive. Parents aren’t supposed to be passive observers. There are intervention points every day. If things aren’t going in the right direction, you do something to take them in a different direction.

Look in any classroom in America . . . you’ll see kids with a range of abilities. Are you telling me that all of the smartest kids are destined to fail because they’re smart? That because they’re smart, they have no option but to get bored and check out and fail?

Lots of smart kids do very well in school . . . they get good grades and test scores and they go to good colleges. What is the difference between those kids and the kids who get bored and check out and fail?

Think about it . . .


Forget About Female Leadership

22 Mar 2014 /

Everyone can shut up about “let’s get more women into leadership positions.” Because they don’t want leadership positions. Or they’d get them. Obviously. Women want to have time for their kids. And leaders – especially top-down leaders – dedicate their lives to their work. There won’t be female leadership and male leadership. There will be people who lead at home and people who lead at work. People will take ownership of outcomes for the areas of life they care most about.


4 Links

20 Mar 2014 /

The Hardest Available Challenge

22 Feb 2014 /

One of my colleagues at work has a son in 6th grade. She’s trying to figure out which math class to put him in for 7th grade.

Yuna Kim

Working backward, we know that “normal” kids take Algebra I in 9th grade, the smarter kids take Algebra I in 8th grade, and the smartest kids take Algebra I in 7th grade. Placement depends on how a kid scores on the math placement test.

My co-worker’s concern is if her kid gets a top score on the placement test and he’s eligible to take Algebra I in 7th grade, does she want him to do that, or to wait till 8th grade?

If he takes Algebra I in 7th grade, that would mean he’d be taking the hardest math classes all through high school. Would it be better from a college admission standpoint to take easier classes and get all A’s, or take the hardest classes and maybe get a B+?

Our kid has already been through the Irvine schools. He’s in college now so I can answer questions like this with the benefit of experience.

“I like to see kids push themselves to take the hardest challenge available,” I said. “Colleges are not impressed with kids who get A’s in easy classes.”

“But what if he takes hard classes and gets a B+?” she asked.

“My advice is, don’t get a B+.”

If your kid takes hard classes in high school and gets B’s in them, he or she may not be able to attend a top university, but it wasn’t their destiny to attend a top university. Your kid is not that kind of a kid.

 

That reminds me . . . Olympic figure skating is on TV this week. Are you watching it? Neither am I, but I’ve heard that some of the skaters actually fall down during their program.

They’re supposed to be the best skaters in the world. Even I could go out there and skate around for a few minutes without falling down. Granted, I couldn’t do any spins or jumps or skate backwards or anything like that.

The point is that to be recognized as the best at something, you can’t just do easy things well. You have to risk doing things that are hard to do. In the skating scenario, it’s not enough to say “I didn’t fall on my ass.” No, you didn’t, but you didn’t even try to do anything hard.

In any endeavor, you won’t impress people of discernment simply by avoiding anything that might give you some difficulty. Step up to the challenge.


Kids Eat Free

17 Feb 2014 /
Souplantation store front. La Cañada, California.

Souplantation is doing a Kids Eat Free promotion today for Presidents’ Day . . .

This is unfair. We’ve been coming to Souplantation for 20 years. They NEVER had a Kids Eat Free promotion when our kid was young enough to participate. Now that he’s too old, they do Kids Eat Free day.

I really feel that in recognition of our abiding loyalty to Souplantation, our kid should be able to eat free NOW, despite the fact that he’s 20 years old and eats as much as three normal guests . . .


Other People’s Kids

5 Feb 2014 /

My wife is telling me that the parents of one of our son’s high school friends are moving back to their home country of Japan. She doesn’t understand how parents could move so far away from their children. Their two kids, both in their 20s, are staying here in California.

“Well,” I say, “other people’s kids are often a little disappointing, in my opinion,” and she starts knocking on something that I’m pretty sure is not even made of wood.

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ADHD in the Making

9 Dec 2013 /

My family and I are enjoying a meal at a Japanese restaurant. In the booth behind me are a husband and wife and five kids, the oldest of whom looks to be about 12.

Adderall

One of the kids, a boy of about 5, is standing up and running a toy car back and forth along the divider between his booth and our booth. He gets bored with that after a while and starts drumming on the divider with a pair of chopsticks.

The boy’s activities don’t bother me much . . . what bothers me is that it takes 15 minutes for one of the parents to tell him to stop it and sit down. He doesn’t do either and nothing else is said or done about the matter.

In the near future, this boy’s inability to sit still and follow directions will get him “diagnosed” by a schoolteacher as an ADHD kid, even though the real reason he can’t sit still and follow directions is that his parents never taught him to sit still and follow directions.

And folks, don’t have five kids. Raising a kid requires more than 20 percent of your attention.


We’re Still Smarter Than You Are

7 Dec 2013 /

Teens from Asian nations dominated a global exam given to 15-year-olds, while U.S. students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading, according to test results released Tuesday.

Harvard emblem

Why am I not shocked by that?

Because Americans on the whole are dumb and lazy. We have lots of dumb, lazy parents raising dumb, lazy kids. The average American kid doesn’t compare well academically to the average kid in an Asian country where academics and hard work are valued, or to the average kid from a small, homogenous European country where it’s easier to get everyone pulling in the same educational direction.

The U.S. is a big, diverse country and the average academic results are pulled down by a lot of dummkopfs.

But still, the smartest people in the world are Americans. Our smartest people are smarter than the smartest people in other lands.

You don’t think so? I’m looking at the list of winners of the 2013 Nobel Prizes . . . out of 11 recipients (I’m omitting the winners of the literature and peace prizes because those aren’t academic awards), eight are from the U.S. The other three are from Belgium, the UK and France, and the Frenchman is affiliated with Harvard University.

No one in Asian countries is winning any Nobel Prizes. Q.E.D.


The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates

4 Dec 2013 /
The Joy Luck Club

“Do not ride your bicycle around the corner,” the mother had told the daughter when she was seven.

“Why not!” protested the girl.

“Because then I cannot see you and you will fall down and cry and I will not hear you.”

“How do you know I’ll fall?” whined the girl.

“It is in a book, The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates, all the bad things that can happen to you outside the protection of this house.”

“I don’t believe you. Let me see the book.”

“It is written in Chinese. You cannot understand it. That is why you must listen to me.”

“What are they, then?” the girl demanded. “Tell me the twenty-six bad things.”

But the mother sat knitting in silence.

“What twenty-six!” shouted the girl.

The mother still did not answer her.

“You can’t tell me anything because you don’t know! You don’t know anything!” And the girl ran outside, jumped on her bicycle, and in her hurry to get away, she fell before she even reached the corner.

— Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

Heredity

22 Nov 2013 /

Nut tree

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and neither does the nut.

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And So it Goes

16 Oct 2013 /

Joe Bell, 48, was walking cross-country from Oregon to New York to memorialize his gay son, who killed himself after being bullied.

Bell’s journey began April 20 and ended this week on a two-lane road in eastern Colorado, where he was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer whose driver had apparently fallen asleep.

Joe Bell


The School of Dysfunctional Parenting

15 Oct 2013 /

Specializing in ineffective and destructive ways of relating, a vicious spiral in which the faults of the parents are passed on to the children . . .

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Newton’s Cradle

1 Oct 2013 /

Newton's cradle


If You Quote Poetry at My Death, I Will Haunt You

12 Sep 2013 /

If you know me, and you outlive me, and you want to say something on the occasion of my demise, please do not quote a snippet of poetry or other literary material, e.g., “He did not go gently into that good night.” Or: “I think Wordsworth said it best . . .”

Portrait of William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

Bullshit . . . Wordsworth did not say it best. Wordsworth didn’t know me. You knew me. Go ahead and say something from the heart if you have something. Keep it real.

He was not a good person.

He had the most appalling social skills, which is why he had no close friends.

After his son moved out, he just unraveled like an old sock.

I remember at Jackie O’s funeral, her kids — was it just one kid, or both? I think both — read a poem. A poem! That’s when you really know that your life was not well-lived, when your own children have nothing to say about you.

Don’t you hope to god that your children at least will have some personal remembrance to share after you’re gone?

I remember when we used to go to the park and he pitched baseballs to me.

He spent a year of his life helping me with algebra homework.

He always believed in me.

To anyone tempted to eulogize me with a literary reference, I swear I will rise from the grave — in spirit if not in body, although body will be my preference — and cast a shadow upon your soul.


A Tradeoff

24 Aug 2013 /

Okay . . . but who would be raising our kids? Or is that not important?


How the Willis Tower Got Its Name

17 Aug 2013 /

When the Sears Tower opened in 1973, Sears, Roebuck & Co. was the biggest retailing company in the world. The annual Sears Christmas catalog was like amphetamines for American schoolchildren. (This was before half of America’s schoolchildren were already on amphetamines.)

Sadly, as time passed, the fortunes of Sears & Roebuck declined. Sears moved its offices out of the tower and sold it to some guy named Willis, who was so sick and tired of listening to people say “What you talkin bout, Willis?” that he renamed it to the Willis Tower.

Now when people say “What you talkin bout, Willis?” he says “You want to know what I’m talkin bout?! I’m talkin bout THE TALLEST BUILDING IN NORTH AMERICA! That’s what I’m talkin bout, you pricks.”

Looking down from Willis Tower skydeck, 103rd floor

Looking down from Willis Tower skydeck, 103rd floor (Photo credit: Paul Epps)


Rearview Cameras in Cars

15 Aug 2013 /

Gov’t delays requiring rearview cameras in carsAssociated Press

Rearview cameras in cars seem like a good idea. Who wants to accidentally back over a child or a pet, right? It’s upsetting, not to mention whoever the child or pet belonged to is probably going to hold it against you forever.

Let’s make rearview cameras required by law.

In fact, let’s make rearview and frontview cameras required, because kids and pets can get under the front of your car too, and running over them is bad, no matter what direction you’re going.

I’ve seen TV commercials where cars can detect obstacles in their path and stop automatically to avoid a collision. That’s great. Let’s make that required too.

In fact, let’s make so many features required by law that you can’t even buy a car anymore for less than $50,000.

You know what else is a good idea? Freedom, which is the reason we started up this country in the first place. Let people buy and sell whatever they want.


Opting Out

14 Apr 2013 /

Best-educated moms are also more likely to ‘opt out,’ research finds

Life Inc.

Opt out of what?

It turns out “opt out” means opt out of the workforce. How is a mom staying home and raising her kids considered “opting out”?


Our Children Can Drink Water From Broken Bowls

17 Mar 2013 /

We must make do with today’s
Happenings, and stoop and somehow glue together
The silly little shards of our lives, so that
Our children can drink water from broken bowls,
Not from cupped hands

— Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, “Aubade”

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

20 Jan 2013 /

This book should be read by everyone — especially anyone with grown children and/or older parents.


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