March, 2015

What if…?

Learning to question is an important part of learning to learn. Children who ask questions are demonstrating an intrinsic motivation to learn. There are all kinds of good questions, but “what if…” questions are really special. They occur at the intersection of imagination and logic and help children practice creative fluency and logical reasoning at the same time. When my daughter was little and we were making long commutes to and from graduate school, we Read More →

Never Give Up!

In the face of constant failure, many of us are tempted to give up—just to save our own sanity. However, we teachers and parents do not have that luxury when it comes to helping a child. We must keep trying—no matter how many times it seems we are not progressing. Some children who come to us are in a state of learned helplessness—their lives have been so miserable that they have given up trying to Read More →

You Have the Power!

As adults, sometimes we do not realize the power we have over a child. We can greatly influence how she feels about herself and consequently her actual success in life. Even if we do not physically abuse a child, we have great power to damage. Thomas Armstrong calls these “paralyzing experiences” that can shut down one or more of a child’s multiple intelligences. For example, as a child, I could not carry a tune and Read More →


Unforgettable lessons are ones that use all the senses, get everyone actively involved, and create personal meaning and deep understanding. An example from Jearnine Wagner’s “Ideas in Motion” classes I attended as a child and assisted throughout my college years: To understand the primitive period, she gathered us children together and told us we were cave people who were about to encounter a strange new animal that we would examine gently and carefully. She then Read More →

Who’s Your Hero?

As we approach Albert Einstein’s birthday, I started thinking about him as one of my inspirational heroes. He was a great mind, to be sure, and changed the way science and the rest of us look at our world. But he’s my hero because of his creativity and attitude toward life. Here are some my favorite quotes (although not everyone agrees he said them all): We believe that creativity and imagination are needed even more Read More →

A Moving Experience

Neuroscience has underlined the importance of movement and learning. Add to our five senses our sense of proprioception; that is, information we gain from our own movement and spatial orientation. The ancient Chinese saying appears to be true: “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I’ll understand.” This is particularly true for individuals who are more kinesthetically inclined. Here are examples of how I have used movement—in the form of Read More →

Why Size Matters

Very large things contrast with the things around them and grab your attention. My mentor, Jearnine Wagner, was a genius in applying this knowledge to create unforgettable lessons. She was my teacher and the director of the Ideas In Motion Program at the Baylor Theatre where I attended afterschool classes from age 9 to 17. To help us understand ancient Greek drama, she would take us to the (huge for a child) Baylor football stadium. Read More →