Monthly Archives: May 2015

Standardized testing in schools: How about health and exercise?

“Over all, the accelerometer data showed that the children were sedentary during about 70 percent of their day… . On average, only about 48 minutes in a child’s day — about 12 percent of the time he or she spent in child care — were set aside for active play time… Compared to the recommended 120 minutes per day of physically active time for children at this age, the average of 48 minutes per day during which children had even the opportunity for active play is “considerably suboptimal,” the researchers wrote.”

And this is for pre-schoolers. I am sure it is even worse for older kids in school. So why don’t traditional schools get a bit more nuts on testing the aerobic capacity, flexibility, strength, agility, etc. of the kids?

Even the CDC says: “Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day. Aerobic activity should make up most of your child’s 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day.”

My son regularly says:
“I was outside running around ALL DAY at school today” at Sudbury Valley School

And I believe it. My two boys regularly come home from school sweaty and with a fine layer of dirt covering their entire body with tales of complicated collaborative games that they’ve been playing. Right now basketball is pretty popular. Followed by nukem and 4-square. But I’ve been hearing a lot about handball, ultimate, pickle, and a three-team tag/capture-the-flag sort of game someone came up with called Frank. I haven’t really been able to sort out what that’s all about.

Sidebar: Important tips when your kids got to a Sudbury School
Fall/Spring: Stock up on sunscreen and band-aids. Your kid might be riding a bike at age 4 or 3.5. It’s worth paying for good bikes (and helmets of course). Start with 12″, then 16″ (still ok to be kick-brakes), then 20″ (this should be a 6 speed with had brakes), then 24″. Trek or specialized seem like the way to go. craigslist is great. Buy 2 if necessary to avoid having to bring the bike to and from school everyday if you don’t want the hassle. “Iron Knee” jeans from Lands End really do seem to hold up needing little knee-patching and they also sell “slim” sizes.

Cold winters: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Buy extra pairs of waterproof gloves and mittens. You might need to alternate days when 1 pair is still drying out or a pair is “lost” at school. A boot-dryer is invaluable and knowing the trick of drying-out shoes with newspaper. 2 pairs of smartwool socks can help. Polyester fleece pants. The sturdiest sleds seem to be the foam ones. Most of the hard plastic ones seem to break too quickly compared to the ones I used as a kid. For younger kids: figure out what is easiest jacket for zipping-up themselves without having to ask a staff member.

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Filed under health, obesity, outdoors, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Exercise Prevents Dementia Study Shows Link Between Fitness And Cognitive Abilities

Exercise Prevents Dementia Study Shows Link Between Fitness And Cognitive Abilities

Enough said!

original study:
The Association Between Midlife Cardiorespiratory Fitness Levels and Later-Life Dementia: A Cohort Study

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Filed under health

What if school was like surfing… like life?

“But at Cliffs there was so much room to spread out, so many empty peaks breaking off to the west of the main takeoff—or, if you kept an eye out, perhaps on an inside shelf that had quietly started to work—that I felt free to pursue my explorations of the margins. Nobody bothered me. Nobody vibed me. It was the opposite of my life at school.”

Actually, that sounds like Sudbury Valley School

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

10,000 hours at a Sudbury School

There’s a book about how 10,000 hours is a rough estimate of how many hours it takes to get good at something (Outliers). Well how about getting good at being you? What is better than that?

So let’s say you go to a Sudbury School starting at Pre-K through 12th grade. Well, there are no grades at Sudbury Schools — it’s completely age-mixed — but you get the idea… that’s 14 years.

So let’s assume a low-end of say 5 hours a day in school (that’s where the “900 learning hours” at many public schools comes from. 900 = 180 days * 5 hrs)

So that is 14 years * 180 days/yr * 5 hrs/day = 12,600 hours

That’s right, you’ve got an extra 12,600 hours to be yourself as a kid when you go to a Sudbury School. Wow.

2 childhoods for the price of 1? Priceless.

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Filed under kids are complete people, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Lessons for Slack from an elder… Trello

Ultimately pretty minor nitpicks, but… for the record…

Stange things not explained in Slack (
1. Why is “private group” not just called a “private channel”. It is confusing to have 2 different names for the same thing (besides the privacy).
I know…. channel sounds public. Group sounds *almost* private, but needs “Private” to be clear. So I get that. This is annoying to me. I’ll get over it.

2. Why can you convert a channel to private (a private group), but not the other way around? I suspect it is because it would be awkward to change the privacy to public AFTER people have already been discussing in private, but why not explain that in the UI? The UI makes it seem like it is a technical issue, but I am sure it is just a workflow restraint they are enforcing. Which is fine, but they could be clearer about that.

3. Why when you change a channel to private do the things shared stay public? That makes no sense.

4. Why when you archive a channel (or private group), does the membership need to vanish? That is also extremely annoying. It is important information to know who is/was in a group.

UI says:
“Archive this group… If you don’t think it will be used any more and you want to clean up, archive it. The group can be unarchived later (but everyone will have been removed).”

5. Why is the UI so slow on the website? That is kinda a game-breaker.

Lessons for Slack from Trello
1. Trello is fast
2. Trello list/board Membership maintained even when archiving
3. Can just go to, don’t have to go to [teamname] like in slack (which doesn’t know how to redirect to the subdomain where you are logged in. Annoying!)

Lessons FOR Trello from Slack
1. In Slack you can see stuff in archived channels/groups pretty easily (without un-archiving them).
In Trello, the only way to see archived “lists” is to un-archive them (“Send to Board”). This is highly annoying!

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Filed under computers, work

The Plot Against Trains.

The Plot Against Trains.

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Filed under Uncategorized

In our schools… participatory budgeting?

Well I learned a new term today: “participatory budgeting”

It was being discussed on “Innovation Hub” in a segment about civic engagement

It was mentioned that the city of Cambridge MA does some participatory budgeting for part of it’s budget.
“The City of Cambridge is launching a pilot Participatory Budgeting (PB) process in which community members will directly decide how to spend $500,000 in FY 2016 capital funds.”

Both concepts seem to be alive and well at Sudbury Schools and maybe some other style democratic free schools. But perhaps pretty much at no other schools that I am aware of.

What if you asked the parents or (gasp!) the teachers or (double gasp!) the students how they think the school should spend it’s budget? How reasonable! How obvious!

At Sudbury Valley School there is a Financial Management Committee that is made up School Meeting members (students and staff). Each spring, they prepare and present the budget and it is discussed over several meetings, and approved by School Meeting.

Voila. Participatory Budgeting. No taxation without representation and all that…

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Filed under direct democracy, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

6 degrees of separation, wikipedia style

Maybe someone has already done this, but there should be a “6-degrees of Kevin Bacon” except using various entries on

For instance, it is 2 clicks from Helicopter Parent to Sudbury School

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Boys looking miserable in school photos

Is it me or do schools *in their own literature* often show a classroom setting where the kids (and especially THE BOYS?) are looking either miserable, or at least, bored out of their minds? Doesn’t anyone notice and think “Hmmm, maybe we should pick a better photo to represent our school?”

I might have to start collecting some. But here is an example that came to mind so I’ll just include it here as a start.

Versus here are some typical student photos from a Sudbury School, namely Sudbury Valley School. Let me know if you see any glum, disengaged faces here:

Anyway, just an observation. Maybe I am wrong. But to me this is rather telling.

See also:
Installment 1 of the subtle (and usually not so subtle) mentions of how school is not fun, not supposed to be fun, and everyone knows it and that’s just how it is and has to be

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, systemic problems vs personal problems

Things you shouldn’t have to go through just because you have a daughter

First World Problem I know… but…. When visiting Disney World or going on a Disney Cruise, get ready for employees, crew members, etc to call your daughter “Princess” 10 times a day. Are they calling my sons “Prince”. Uh no. If it were my daughter, I am not sure what I would do… since I am kinda slow with words when caught of guard with such ridiculousness, I would probably have to prepare an answer for “next time”. I know I am not going to change anything, especially since it is probably Disney company policy, but just something to be aware of if you are a parent who is sick of our kids being treated this way. I am not being “PC”… this just actually feels very wrong to me. Like constant “what a pretty dress!” comments to girls and men calling women “girls”. Uh, no. Same thing.

Examples from Google

Especially ridiculous example:
“Q: We are planning a visit to WDW the first week in May. My 4yr old daughter is not a princess. I don’t want her called that all day. It will upset her. What is the best way to handle this?”

See also: benevolent sexism
That seems like a good term for this.

Luckily my boys… 1) are boys 2) go to Sudbury Valley School where this kind of baloney doesn’t go on. And 3) (if I do say so myself) have somewhat enlightened parents who call this kind of crap out at every turn when we are watching TV or out-and-about. So they are probably pretty aware of it rather than it floating around unseen or un-examined in their brains.

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Filed under contrarian, kids are complete people, sexism, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School