Dear ISHCMC Parents,
I am often asked why we record the pollutions levels, stop outdoor play, bring the swimmers out of the pool, spend so much on air filtering machinery when other schools aren't doing the same, and it doesn't look as bad as China. Well the answer is very easy; we care about your sons and daughters health and the type of pollution in HCMC is the smallest particle pollution at PM 2.5 and is very dangerous. We are fortunate that the sun usually burns off this pollution by 10:00 am and the pollution figures drop to reasonable levels. However, ignoring the early morning pollution levels would be doing you a dis-service and research, such as that reported in this article from the UK , clearly shows that we should not be ignoring this threat to the health and well being of our children. Hence we are fortunate at ISHCMC that a large proportion of our school is now protected from this type of pollution.
"Tiny particles of air pollution can damage the inner lining of veins and arteries in young and healthy people, putting them at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, according to new research.
Air pollution is thought to cause the premature deaths of about 40,000 people a year in the UK, with children and older people with medical conditions thought to be the most at risk.But the new study suggests that healthy people in their twenties are also being harmed by the particles.The World Health Organisation has warned that air pollution is “wreaking havoc on human health” amid rising scientific evidence about the dangers."
that my kids are grown adults, I feel more comfortable teaching both parents
and faculty the art of leading young people into healthy maturity. Like many
parents, my experience raising my first child enabled me to relax a bit on my
second child. We tend to obsess at the tiniest quirk in our first baby, and by
child number three, we’re not as stressed. In fact, I just read this sequence
and chuckled at its familiarity:
child eats dirt. Parent calls the doctor immediately.
child eats dirt. Parent cleans out his mouth.
child eats dirt. Parents wonder if they really need to feed him lunch.
careful reflection and gathering data, I now offer some recommendations on some
common parental or faculty behaviors we must replace. I learned these over the
years and these shifts have made all the difference in the world as I lead
1. Motivation: We must replace FEAR with WISDOM.
generation of parents are riddled with fear. We’re scared our kids won’t make
the honor roll; they’ll get pregnant; they’ll get abducted, you name it. Even
shows that “stranger abduction” only represents one-hundredth of
one percent of all missing children, we fret like it happens in our town
every day. School shootings scare us into keeping our kids close and in view at
all times. Imagine the message this sends to our young: The world is evil!
Don’t take any risks. Never trust anyone. It’s enough to produce the most
anxious population of American teens to date. So here’s my question: what if we
replaced motivating kids with feelings of fear with encouraging them
by using words of wisdom. Simply offering logical wisdom for each
decision completely reframes their attitude and stifles their inner fear. Let’s
be rational, not emotional.
Parent: You can’t
walk to the mall! The traffic is horrible; you might get hit by a car and
Parent: You can
walk to the mall if you’re with Ben or Collin. Be sure to look both ways before
crossing the street. Text me when you get there.
Evaluation: We must replace a focus on GRADES with a focus on GROWTH.
changed the way I spoke to my kids about their report cards when my daughter
turned 12. Prior to that time, I was like most parents. If she made three A’s,
two B’s and a D . . . I focused on the D. I talked to her about her weaknesses.
It was not fun. Once I began gazing at her high grades and talking about what
she liked about those classes, we both had a better attitude with which to
conquer the D. Too often, we’re misguided and create stress in our children. We
measure the wrong things. Our focus should be on strengths, not struggles:
where are they growing and thriving? This is where they’ll likely spend time in
their careers. Let’s obsess over growth, not grades.
Parent: Why didn’t
you make all A’s? What’s this C doing on your report card? You’re not going to
get that scholarship!
explore the subjects where you were strong. Wow—look how you’ve grown! I love
how you’ve improved in science.
Schedules: We must replace CLUTTER with SIMPLICITY.
to Dr. Robert Leahy, the average teen today has the same level
of anxiety as a psychiatric patient did in the early 1950s. Stress levels have
continued to climb for more than seventy years. This is absurd. Part of our
problem is the complications we face daily. Noise. Screens. Busyness.
Information. Pings. I believe humans are not hardwired to consume the volume of
data we do each day. We need margins for our mental and emotional health. What
if you became more intentional about clearing the calendar and creating space
for unsupervised play or relaxation? What if you made your students choose one
or two activities and not do them all? Research tells us that when our days
have margins we actually develop empathy and creativity.
suit up or we’ll be late for your soccer practice, piano lesson and karate
match. Hurry, we don’t have time to mess around.
Parent: Let’s plan
to participate in just one extra-curricular activity this fall. It will leave
time for family, house chores and unscheduled fun.
Identity: We must replace UNCONTROLLABLES with CONTROLLABLES.
psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck taught me this. In her book, Mindset, she
suggests we naturally tend to have a “fixed mindset.” We assume if we make a
bad grade in math, we’re just not good at math. It’s a fixed fact. Or, we just
aren’t good readers, or good communicators. She says we must cultivate a
“growth mindset” in our students. We must treat our brains like a muscle that
can grow. Then, parents and instructors must focus on encouraging variables
that are in their control, not out of their control. Instead
of flattering them for their beauty, we affirm their integrity, which is much
more in their control. When we encourage controllable qualities, we empower our
young to grow and encourage good priorities. What gets rewarded gets repeated.
just not good at math; you just aren’t a natural student. Your sister is the
smart one in the family.
Parent: You may
not be good at math . . . yet, but one day you will be. And I do appreciate
your honesty and I love the empathy you show your friends.
Feedback: We must replace emphasizing BEHAVIOR with emphasizing BELIEF.
recently met with a focus group of parents. While they were all very engaged in
their role as moms and dads, one reality surfaced that surprised me. It was the
level of anger they expressed toward their kids—short tempers, bursts of
emotion, sometimes loud yelling. This tends to equate to punishing our
children when they misbehave instead of disciplining them. We look
backward and retaliate instead of looking forward and incentivizing better
behavior. When offering feedback, my kids respond far better when I speak from
“belief” in them. This means I convey the thought: “I know you’re better
than what you just did.” When I correct students because I’m convinced
they’re capable of more, I call out the best in them, rather than the worst.
Too many kids are fragile and need us to get this one right.
Parent: I can’t
believe you did that. What is wrong with you? You never get that task right!
Parent: I’m giving
you this feedback because I know you’re capable of exceeding my expectations.
I’ve seen what you can do.