That playground that looks like a wooden castle…

That playground that looks like a wooden castle… where did it go?

Just figured out the name of the company that built a number of playgrounds in the eastern Massachusetts area that look like castles… Leathers & Associates

Many of them have been dismantled, but it’s interesting that Littleton MA is saving and renovating theirs. I am not quite sure how it’s possible, as you can read about the many hazards that are reported on at the link at the Lincoln MA site below, but hey, the company still exists, so obviously they have figured out how to make similar designs work that DO meet these much improved safety requirements.

Leathers & Associates

Castle in the Trees in Littleton, MA

Field of Dreams in Salem NH

Hannah Williams playground in Wayland MA (now dismantled and replaced with something else)

Strat’s Place Playground next to the Hartwell School in Lincoln MA (now dismantled)

safety audit

Our kids played at three of these when they were little and they liked them, but sure, I especially saw how there were lots of opportunities for bonking heads or “head entrapment” I think the audit describes. Great designs though so glad to see that the company is still around.

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Filed under history, local, playgrounds

Bored of Directors

Interesting… reading the corporate bylaws of the kids’ school — Sudbury Valley School​. They are on the board of directors — all students and staff “teachers” are. And yesterday at their weekly meeting, the board (“School Meeting” — like “Town Meeting”) elected the new officers and clerks of the corporation thru next Sept. Some positions are commonly held by staff, but others, including the president of the corporation “School Meeting Chairperson”, the law clerk, and the elections clerk are usually students.

But also interesting… my kids aren’t yet interested and didn’t know about the election, which is fine too.

Related and funny:
Nikole Beckwith (SVS alumna) tells the story of her becoming JC Clerk (judicial committee) and telling the principal of her former school

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, SVS alumni

smartphones/devices mess with us, but it is fixable

Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.
This was an interesting article but is probably one of those cases where you can more or less skip the book and just stick to the article and TED talk (if there is one).

And this article suffers from a problem that many (myself included of course!) suffer from… jumping from point to point, or mashing several somewhat related points together. And supporting them with a mix of unrelated short term studies and personal anecdotes including references to studies or “research” but no actual references.

One with a reference:
“…a 40 percent decline in empathy among college students, with most of the decline taking place after 2000.”

“… 2014 study of children at a device-free outdoor camp. After five days without phones or tablets, these campers were able to read facial emotions and correctly identify the emotions of actors in videotaped scenes significantly better than a control group.”

“Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. ”

So when she writes “In our hearts, we know this, and now research is catching up with our intuitions.” in some ways this article is nothing new… since the article itself is half anecdotes.

– family-time
– solitude
– self-talk
– conversation
– drastic decline in empathy since 2000
– uni-tasking vs multi-tasking
– choosing to NOT carry a phone
– “app generation” (again, where is the study?)
– “seven minute rule” (a thing?)
– “three person rule” (a thing?)
– study: even phones off in-view cause problems
– “technologies to which we are vulnerable” (a way of saying that tech is not neutral)

So I dunno… I doubt I will read the book. I read (or tried to read) one of her previous books in 1997 and I don’t remember thinking it was saying much that couldn’t have been put in a magazine article or TED talk. Could have been a good article, but maybe should have stayed that?

(Sherry Turkle is a professor in the program in Science, Technology and Society at M.I.T. and the author, most recently, of “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,” from which this essay is adapted.)

Windows 7 Commercial – Be Here Now

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Filed under person: Sherry Turkle, smartphones, technology

Android privacy and App Lock apps

1) In Android there is no way (circa 2015) to give access to some google apps but not gmail (you can uninstall, but nothing preventing a reinstall)

2) So… some recommend AppLock or some other applock app. Add a passcode to gmail and you are set. As long as it’s impossible to uninstall the app lock app itself!

3) But… all of the one’s I’ve looked at give themselves rather excessive permissions. Funny! So forget it.

I mean, it’s commonplace for Android games to do the same thing, but sheesh… for an app lock app itself?!?! Crazy!

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curiosity not passion and vocation

Elizabeth Gilbert — her book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” which is part memoir, part how-to for living a life that’s less routine and more curiosity-driven.

A few notes from the interview:

–Greek word: Eudaimonia — the happiness that comes when you are engaged with your creativity at the highest level.
–We more commonly call it “being in the zone” or “a state of flow”

Gilbert on passion and vocation — scrap that and “focus on the tiny, friendly impulse of curiosity which is within all of us”

Her friend who takes up ice skating at age 40… “this is the only thing that makes her feel so alive…”

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Filed under art, creativity, play, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

A for effort. Can a growth mindset itself be developed?

Is teaching a growth mindset possible? (In other words, does a person think their intelligence/talents are fixed traits or that they can be developed?)

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.” — Carol Dweck

Dweck thinks so. 10 minute TED talk below complete with brain scans.
(Or play at 1.25 or 1.5 speed! :-)

In the face of difficulty: “I love a challenge”
“You know, I was hoping this would be informative”

The math video game she mentions I guess is this:

Another way of looking at it is… maybe we are all born with a growth mindset, but many of our experiences can pull it out of us. So the idea should be to not so much teach it, as to not suck it out of people in the first place? Flip side of the same idea I guess.

So that’s why I think Sudbury Schools are approaching things in a reasonable way. Whereas I think most traditional schools are very risky in that it is quite likely that they will suck the growth mindset out. Some kids might make it through intact, but it’s a serious risk.

Hal Sadofsky on which is the riskier approach — Sudbury or traditional school

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Filed under growth mindset, mentoring / apprenticeship, nature vs nurture, person: Carol Dweck, raising kids / parenting, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, talent vs skill, unconditional love, underestimating kids, video games

Global Warming: What’s the worst that can happen?

Even if the chances are something small like 0.1% or 1% or 5% that human-caused global warming/climate change is
1. happening
2. substantial
3. and there is something we can do about it

It is still worth taking action because it’s not that hard to take action and the risk that it is real is HUGE


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Filed under climate change, erik-green, green