Call for Contributions: Ideas & Articles

Become a Think Tank star! Here are some of the future issue topics we are thinking about. Would you, or anyone you know, like to write about any of these? Or is there another topic you’d like to recommend? Do you have any suggestions for lead-in, or just plain interesting, videos? How about writing a book review? Or sending us a story about your experiences? Contact us.

Relating Deeply: Security Guards & Goddesses

About seven years ago a new security guard started working at one of the several part-time universities I work at and I nodded to her in passing. She nodded back. Then a year later we were still nodding but also smiling and from a distance started to wave now and then. Push a few years forward and we started actually saying a word or two “Otsukaresama” (thanks for your work—a typical Japanese greeting and farewell). Later, I dared to pose a question “Genki?” (healthy?) and we actually exchanged some real words.

The Unique Language of a Child with Learning Difficulties

I was almost brought to tears in front of a class of 10-year-old students recently. While I was teaching a class, a boy with “learning difficulties” (a term Barbara Arrowsmith-Young prefers over “disabilities” ) had an emotional meltdown. Two of his classmates were having a play-fight as they made their way into class after lunch, and he became agitated and ready to cry because he couldn’t understand why they were pretending to hurt each other. I tried to help him cope with the overflow of his emotions, but I also had 25 other kids in the class to look after and I couldn’t leave the room to help him find a quiet place outside to calm down.

The Hidden Role of Teachers of Young Learners

I am going to say something drastic: Of all teachers, those that teach young learners are, by far, the most important. They have the potential to save the world.
This is not a statement I came up with. It came from some economists who produced a National Public Radio Planet Money podcast with the title: Why Preschool Can Save the World. Economists? Preschool? Save the World? Trust me, it all connects.

A Scientific Approach to Early Language Learning

My daughter read her first word on her third birthday. My family was amazed. We thought we had a true genius on our hands. But when I visited her Montessori preschool, I discovered the truth—in Montessori school, they explicitly teach you how to read as soon as you’re interested in it. Not to say that my daughter isn’t a genius (she’s amazing), but she was not the only 3-year-old in her class who was happily sounding out words. How could that even be possible?

An Earnest Investment

Children are without a doubt fascinating in many aspects. They possess many unique features that make teaching them crucial, tricky, and rewarding: their amazing ability to enjoy mundane tasks repeatedly, their never-ending curiosity, and the fact that they are always busy with a task can teach adults a thing or two about life. Children are blessed with some amazing physiological characteristics as well: they make more than 1,000,000 neural connections in a second and at age 3-6 months, they can discriminate all the sounds of all languages of the entire world!