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Friday Packet, January 28, 2011

posted Jan 28, 2011, 1:08 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 28, 2011, 1:24 PM ]

Calendar Reminder

Today, Fri…....TAP Applications due

Today, Fri…....Contracts for 2011-2012 ready to be picked up

5 Feb, Sat......Monthly Family Park Play, park TBD, 10am-12noon

14-17 Feb......1st year Families - Parent Teacher Conferences

21 Feb, Mon...Presidents’ Day, School Closed

24 Feb, Thu....Parent Education Evening, Montessori Curriculum

26 Feb, Sat.....Diversity BYOB (Bring Your Own Background) , 6:30 – 8:30 pm, location TBD

11 Mar, Fri......Spring Fundraiser “It’s a Small World”

            Mark your calendars and get a babysitter now!

It’s a Small World

Wine Raffle at The 2011 "It's a Small World" Auction

In addition to fabulous silent and live auctions filled with items and unique events donated by the MCH community and our favorite local businesses, the 2011 "It's a Small World" Auction will feature the 2nd Annual MCH Wine Raffle!

You can participate in two ways:
1. Contribute to the MCH Wine Cellar.  Bring in a favorite bottle of wine that you would enjoy with or give to friends (in the $25-$40 range).  Starting Monday, you can leave the wine in boxes in Curt's office.
2. Buy raffle tickets at the "It's A Small World Auction" on March 11th.  Tickets are $20 each and winner takes all!

Watch the Friday Packet for more details -- and a preview of wines donated -- in the coming weeks. Cheers!

*Please also don't forget to pick up a list of numbers from the board to follow up on solicitations.  If we all take some time to do this we will have even more wonderful items for our auctions.
*Due date for donations is Feb 22nd.  Each family is responsible for a min. $100 donation.

~Thank you from the auction co-chairs

From the Director’s Desk

Washing Hands

We are renewing our efforts to establish good hand washing habits amongst the children and adults at MCH. I would encourage parents to do the same at home. I need not remind you how rapidly communicable disease spread here at the school.  Proper hand washing helps us control that spread.  Our procedure for hand washing is the following:

  1. Turn on the water and wet hands; turn off the water (this conserves water)
  2. Administer soap and scrub vigorously for about 15 seconds; tell children to make bubbles
  3. Turn water on and rinse hands thoroughly
  4. Turn water off
  5. Dry hands thoroughly with towel

Adults should model the same procedure.  Thanks for helping us control the spread of germs.

Enrollment Contracts  

 The re-enrollment contracts for 2011/2012 are on the table in the hallway - each family has an envelope with their name on it. Completed contracts are due on Friday, February 4th. Please talk to Curt or Nina if you have any questions about the contract or which program you should indicate. 


 In your re-enrollment envelope (and in a separate envelope for Pre/K families) is a letter from Curt and from Giuliana announcing her retirement in June.  Please refrain from speaking to your child or around your child about her retirement. It is only January.  Let them enjoy their time with her.  Your children will have a chance to say good-bye in June just prior to her leaving. 

Soccer and Smiles

Wednesday soccer will begin a new session on Wednesday, March 2.  If you would like to enroll your child for soccer please contact Jimmy Rothenberg or the Soccer and Smiles office at 650-592-2398 or www.SoccerAndSmiles.com

Kindergarten Information

Marin Horizon School: Open house Saturday, January 29th 10:00am. Register online at www.marinhorizon.org or call 388-8408 ext. 223

Holy Names School: Open School Day, Wednesday, February 2nd, 8:30-10:30am

St. Thomas the Apostle School:  Open house, Wednesday, February 9th 9:00am

3801 Balboa Street @ 39th, 221-2711 or www.sfsta.org

Community News

Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right:
From Toddlers to Teens, Teaching Children to Think and Act Ethically

A timely lecture and discussion packed with practical advice on how to use everyday life to teach children to act with integrity, civility, responsibility, and compassion. Barbara Coloroso will teach parents, educators, and professionals how to nurture and guide children’s ethical lives from toddlerhood through the teen years using everyday situations at home, at school, in social settings, and in the world at large.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011
7:00 – 9:00 pm


Congregation Beth Sholom
301 14th Avenue, San Francisco


$20 online/advance; $25 at the door  



go to www.parentsplaceonline.org/san-francisco



Questions? Contact Parents Place at 415-359-2454
or ParentsPlaceSF@jfcs.org.

Tim Seldin’s response to an article by Amy Chua titled “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior”.

 “Once we have accepted and established our principles, the abolition of prizes and external forms of punishment will follow naturally. Man, disciplined through liberty, begins to desire the true and only prize which will never belittle or disappoint him,- the birth of human power and liberty within that inner life of his from which his activities must spring.”

-- Dr. Maria Montessori - My System of Education

(A Montessori quick bite from The Center for Guided Montessori Studies)

On January 8th The Wall Street Journal published an upsetting article by author Amy Chua titled “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”. An excerpt from her new book, the article claims that the secret to academic success is tyrannical control over the child. Ms. Chua proudly explains that her two daughters were never allowed to have play dates, choose their own extracurricular activities, or receive any grade other than an A.

Furthermore, she explains what she calls her “Chinese” negative motivation technique – insulting her children by calling them “garbage” and threatening them with the loss of meals, presents, toys and birthday parties. Ms. Chua says, “the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child.” In one particularly abusive example, she recounts denying her daughter the right to eat or use the bathroom for hours until she mastered a piano piece.

Ms. Chua calls this technique of parenting through physical and emotional domination the “Chinese mother” style. In recent television appearances she has defiantly shown an appalling lack of self awareness of the cruelty she has wrought on her children. She will, she says, leave it for “Western” mothers to raise the “losers”.

The invidious stereotypes of Ms. Chua’s article have caused some controversy to be sure. Like many others, I can say that her characterization of Asian families is certainly not backed up in my experience – and I’m married into one. I suspect that Ms. Chua has rationalized her abusive behavior by cloaking it in the generalization that she is, somehow, normal.

Ah, but only if she were that rare! There are many parents of all ethnicities who think any behavior should be excused in the name of raising grades. Children hate working, goes the thinking, therefore the only way to get them to excel is to subjugate their will to their wiser elders.

As Montessorians, we know that cultivating intrinsic motivation is the most effective way to increase the productivity of both children and adults. Ms. Chua was correct in that she could, for a time, force her children to do better in school by dominating and emotionally abusing them. But in her memoir, Ms. Chua herself recounts the dramatic rebellion of her younger daughter.

But perhaps the weakest element of Amy Chua’s reasoning is the assumption that grades will themselves lead to success in life. Even many of the arguments made against her accept the axiom that a high GPA promises wealth, prosperity and happiness. In fact, this is not the case. The tragedy is that she traumatized her daughters for nothing.

What is success? If measured by income, grades at best weakly correlate with success 

Persons who get A’s and B’s generally earn a bit more over their lifetimes than those who received C’s and D’s in high school and college. On the other hand, many studies paint a very different picture. For example, a longitudinal study of valedictorians show that they are no more – and perhaps less – likely than their peers to be successful in any measureable way. This study was described by Sheila Tobias as “An important corrective to the notion that success in high school inevitably prefigures success in college, in life, or in careers.” Another study of success by Richard St. John also concluded that grading does not lead to success and identified 8 traits that were strongly correlated.

“ Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn. ”

-- Dr. Alice Miller

In other words, good grades mean something but not a lot. Richard Branson, Thomas Edison and Isaac Newton were all undistinguished students, and Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade. Both Charles Darwin and Carl Jung were called “stupid” by their teachers, and Louis Pasteur was near the bottom of his class in college. Leo Tolstoy flunked right out. Werner Von Braun failed algebra and Louisa May Alcott was told she would never succeed as a writer.


Academic success is at best an imperfect predictor of success if measured by either income or notoriety.

So, what is the best predictor of success? New York Times science writer Daniel Goleman makes a convincing argument for emotional intelligence

 (EI) – the ability to understand and cooperate well with other human beings. In a study of the outcomes of students who attended Harvard in the 1940s, Goleman

found that those “with the highest test scores in college were not particularly successful compared to their lower-scoring peers in terms of salary, productivity or status in their field, nor did they have the greatest life satisfaction, nor the most happiness with friendships, family and romantic relationships."

On the other hand, Goleman identified a clear connection between emotional intelligence and every other measure of success that he measured. People with a high EI are the ones “who truly succeed in work as well as play, building flourishing careers and lasting, meaningful relationships.” Is it a coincidence that peaceful, cooperative work is at the heart of the Montessori method, rather than grades? Once again, modern science catches up with Dr. Montessori’s prescience.

Certainly doing well in school doesn’t necessitate the abandonment of individuality, nor does it follow that if you receive good marks in school that you must be an unoriginal thinker.

But three things are readily apparent:

  • The traditional school system rewards rote memorization more than creativity, yet the workplace requires creativity more often than rote memorization.
  • The traditional school system pits students against each other in class rankings and measures each child’s work in isolation, yet it is success in navigating the dynamics of group projects that plays a more essential role in the modern workplace.
  • By pressuring a child to do better in school, a parent also pressures a child to become that thing which the school most rewards – a rote memorizer pitted against other rote memorizers.

Integral to the Montessori method is respect for the child. The child is neither a tabula rasa, nor a willful opponent, but a unique and marvelous creation. Dr. Montessori built her method on the bedrock of mutual understanding, cooperative projects and conflict resolution. We hold in our hearts the faith that a more peaceful and joyful world is found in the secrets of childhood Dr. Montessori studied a century ago.

Science now suggests that the very same method could unlock a more productive and wealthier world as well. In economically uncertain times, what are our leaders waiting for?

Tim Seldin

President, The Montessori Foundation
Chair, The International Montessori Council