Peninsular Thinking

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Archive for the ‘Parents and Children’ Category

Walking the Bud Hawk walk

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

The Central Kitsap School Board has not scheduled a conversation on the question of renaming Brownsville Elementary School after John D. “Bud” Hawk. It will likely be on the agenda for the March 26 meeting, but I have heard from a couple of sources that some will be at Wednesday’s meeting this week to air their thoughts. In preparation for that conversation, in an attempt to understand views on both sides of the question I asked the district to see all the responses to the online survey the district conducted about the question, particularly the spaces where people could weigh in with comments.

I should say up front that all three of my children went to Brownsville. One was there a few months, another a year and the other all seven elementary school years. Given that, we do have a sense of gratitude for the work that goes on inside the school. But I get paid to keep my feelings about an issue to myself, so if I had an opinion I wouldn’t tell you what it is. Besides, we don’t live in that area anymore and my youngest goes to Silver Ridge, so I don’t have a dog, or a bear, in that discussion.

So I leave it to the survey respondents to make the arguments. Here are a few samples:

John “Bud” Hawk was a great man who accomplished more in his lifetime than most people I know. He has also been recognized and memorialized in many ways as a tribute of thanks for his many years of service. For me personally, I feel strongly that Brownsville Elementary should remain, and a portion of the school should be named after Bud. Brownsville is a school with a wonderful family vibe and supportive community. Many of our families attended Brownsville as children and now watch their own children roam the halls of a school they love, one that has been called Brownsville for almost 60 years. In a time where everything moves so fast, information is shared so quickly, names and trends come and go at a rate most of us don’t remember them. I feel that offering some consistency, an anchor of sorts to our youth is crucial. Let Brownsville be that constant, that place where our children will look back and smile, that tangible memory that lets them know that not all things disappear … that some, very special places are kept as they are because of the powerful and positive impact they’ve had on so many.

—————

When my family moved here our three grade school sons were among the largest number of students ever to attend Brownsville at one time. Within months Esquire Hills and Cottonwood opened, reducing the head count to one third. Through it all Bud Hawk kept his cool, maintained order, got to know the children and even cooked Thanksgiving turkeys for the Thanksgiving feast. He was phenomenal under tremendous pressure. He dealt with parents, students and teachers in a way each was heard and respected. For all that Bud did before he came to Brownsville and for his exemplary leadership as principal, John “Bud” Hawk deserves to be remembered in a lasting way. Please don’t flub this. Please name the entire school after a man whose shoes can never be filled by another person. Let this be his legacy.

—————

He was an eyewitness to some of the most horrible things man can do his fellow man. And his reaction to that was to embrace the nurturing of children. He was motivated to make education his career because he knew it was important to help children., that the key to a peaceful world was happy children. His understanding of what was really important in life and his insight into how to change the world is at the heart of knowledge. And the heart of knowledge in any school is the library. I think the library should be named after him.

—————

I attended Brownsville Elementary in the 1970s and remember Mr. Hawk fondly. Of all my school principals, he is the one I remember the most. What he did for our country in WWII is certainly deserving of renaming the elementary school where he dedicated many years of his professional life in his honor.

Nearly everyone supported naming at least a part of the school after Hawk, so it seems clear there is large support for honoring Hawk somehow.

Now, allow me to put on my best pinstriped suit to play advocate for the devil.

Many who opposed renaming the school spoke of how it could harm Brownsville’s “storied history” and “legacy.” Those are kind of big words to attach to an elementary school. What historic moment happened at Brownsville? What legacy at Brownsville is so unique that it couldn’t be found at other schools?

I was especially struck by the people who said renaming the school would be harmful to the memories of people who went there, to which I ask, “Why?” Would your memories be any less beautiful if the school you once attended wasn’t called Brownsville anymore? Did new people move into the house you grew up in? Did that make you sad? Did you get over it? How do the people who went to East High School feel about their old campus being turned into something else? How do Seabeck and Tracyton alums feel today? If they change the name of your school, it doesn’t change your memories.

On the flipside, let me still represent the devil in arguing the other case. A few brought up that the school is actually in Gilberton, some saying that calling it “Brownsville” was a compromise to appease people who really did live in Brownsville and were disappointed the school was not located there. I haven’t verified that. Despite all that, even though Brownsville Elementary School is in Gilberton, that argument ended a long time ago. The school has been there for years with that name, and renaming it Hawk isn’t going to right an old wrong.

Let me tell you a little of my history. Forty years ago I graduated from an elementary school named after a street. That much I knew then. What I didn’t know was the street was named after a former whiskey maker and rancher who helped settle the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. That’s something I found out about an hour ago, thanks to Wikipedia. The school’s website didn’t have any info on it. Nor did the high school named after John A. Rowland. I still don’t know who my junior high school was named after. This request is coming at a time when the emotions about and the memories of Bud Hawk are fresh. Years from now as more people pass through the class-picture-lined halls of the school there is the threat that the passion to remember the school’s namesake will diminish.

Naming a school after a hero is the most a school district can do, but it’s not nearly enough for what John D. “Bud” Hawk did. There have been principals, few of them maybe, who can match his impact on students. But as CK’s Superintendent Hazel Bauman said at a previous board meeting, there are not that many principals who were previous Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. When I read Hawk’s World War II story I was legitimately flabbergasted. Ed Friedrich, explained Hawk’s wartime exploits well in the story he wrote when Hawk died.

“On Aug. 20, 1944, German tanks and infantry attacked Hawk’s position near Chamois, France. He fought off the foot soldiers with his light machine gun before an artillery shell destroyed it and wounded him in the right thigh. He found a bazooka and, with another man, stalked the tanks and forced them to retreat into the woods. He regrouped two machine gun squads and made one working gun out of two damaged ones.

“Hawk’s group was joined by two tank destroyers, but they couldn’t see where to shoot. So he climbed to the top of a knoll with bullets flying around him to show them where to aim. The destroyer crews couldn’t hear his directions, so he ran back and forth several times to correct their range until two of the tanks were knocked out and a third was driven off. He continued to direct the destroyers against the enemy in the woods until the Germans, 500 strong, surrendered. He would receive four Purple Hearts.”

Then he came home and became a teacher and a principal. Or as the survey respondent quoted above said, “He was an eyewitness to some of the most horrible things man can do his fellow man. And his reaction to that was to embrace the nurturing of children.”

Whatever decision the district makes, this conversation should spark one commitment out of anyone interested in the question. No matter what decision is made about the renaming of the school, the students who go to school there should know well the story of what John D. “Bud” Hawk did in war, and then what he did in peace. For all the distinction and symbolism there is in naming a school or a part within the school after a hero, the greatest way to honor someone is to emulate someone. Whatever the district decides to do, the decision should be made answering the question that as students walk the halls Bud Hawk walked, what decision will more influence them to walk the life he walked, too.


An ‘Elise and Joey’ fundraiser update

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

On Sunday night dozens of Elise Fulton’s closest friends met at a South Kitsap church to raise funds for Elise and her son Joey to get a trip to Disneyland. The event was sparked by Elise’s wish that before she died that she and Joey, who is 2, would get some time together in the Magic Kingdom.

Elise, as we wrote in a story last week, has leukemia and doctors had recently told her she had no more than a few months left. Her final wish, in fact, was that Joey get to go to Disneyland and additionally to gather with relatives he’d yet to meet.

Phil Daubenspeck, associate pastor of the South Kitsap Family Worship Center said Sunday night’s event raised $18,500, more than enough to get Joey and his accompanying family to Southern California and to Montana for the chance to meet relatives.

Elise’s mother, Linda Fulton, said Elise in recent weeks became aware that she might not be around long enough to make the trip with Joey, but she wanted to make sure he got to go.

Elise was too ill to make it to Sunday’s event. She and her mom witnessed it via Skype. On Monday afternoon Linda Fulton said Elise was hanging in there. Cancer, and chemotherapy, has a way of making someone fragile, less able to battle off infections and the like.

For anyone still wishing to contribute, donations can be made at the Family Worship Center website at http://www.fwclive.com/#!elise–joey-miracle-fund/c1o7c, or to the “Elise & Joey Miracle Fund” at any Wells Fargo Bank. Account No.: 3773077320.


Our conversation about a word that starts with ‘N’

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

If I call my wife “Babe” I get no criticism.
If my wife’s former boyfriend, (Let’s name one: Monty) calls her “Babe,” well I kind of have a problem with it.

Our stories last week about the Poulsbo Elementary School principal placed on paid leave for using the “N” word, version one and version two, sparked quite the outcry about our PC culture, ways of educating, equivalent words and whether it’s fair that black people can use that word and no one else can.

There are a handful of things about this particular incident that are worth pulling out in ways that are easier here than they are in a news story. And to be clear, I won’t use the word in this piece or any of the stories. I see the point that when I write “the N-word” I’m making you think it. I get that. Louis C.K. does a comedy bit about that and the reason comedy is often so effective is because of how much truth there is to it. But, at the risk of taking a comedian literally, there are parts of his argument I do not agree with. And I feel better not saying it, just letting you think it. Or, if you don’t know what it is, causing you to go ask someone. I’m OK with that.

So, back to the point.

1. No one has said anything negative to me about Claudia Alves, the principal who is on paid leave. No one, that I know of, ever asked for her to be disciplined. I can even see where what has happened is technically not a disciplinary action, although I’m sure it feels like it. Parents have understandably come to her defense, and the parents at the center of this issue said they never asked for any disciplinary action to be taken.

2. The issue for the district, the way I understand it, was in the word’s repeated use. In fact, a North Kitsap Herald editorial makes that case clear as well:

“The school district’s director of elementary education said it was not necessary for Alves to use the N-word in explaining that difference. And it wasn’t necessary for her to use the actual word again, and again in discussing the issue with the student’s parents.”

What Patty Page, North Kitsap School District superintendent, confirmed to me, as well, is that Alves used the word even after the district talked to her about it. The district did not place Alves on leave after her first use of the word. The way Shawna Smith tells it, Alves used the word four times, at least once after she had been advised not to. After the fourth instance, Smith called district officials again. She did not ask for disciplinary action. Smith told district officials, “She’s not getting it,” Smith said.

3. Some were confused by what word caused the problem. It was not “negro,” though that word was troubling to kids in the class asked to use it several times in the play “Martin Luther King, Jr. 10-minute mini: Overcoming Segregation.” In the play the kids were asked to sing lines pulled verbatim from actual Jim Crow laws. Here’s a snippet of the script:

NARRATOR #7: On living and dying:
CHORUS A: All marriages between a white person and a negro are forever
prohibited.
CHORUS B: It is unlawful for anyone to rent an apartment to a negro person
when the building has white people living there.
CHORUS A: Every hospital will have separate entrances for white and colored
patients and visitors.
CHORUS B: At a cemetery, no colored persons may be buried in ground set
apart for white persons.

Neither “negro” or the other “N-word” are considered acceptable anymore, but one was never neutral. The Leonard Pitts Jr. column referenced in the Herald editorial addresses the N-word.

“The N-word is unique. It was present at the act of mass kidnap that created “black America,” it drove the ship to get here, signed the contracts at flesh auctions on Southern ports as mother was torn from child, love from love and self from self. It had a front row center seat for the acts of blood, rape, castration, exclusion and psychological destruction by which the created people was kept down and in its place. The whole weight of our history dictates that word cannot be used except as an expression of contempt for African Americans.”

“Negro” was for many little more than a description of race, but in the late 1960s began, and “began” is important, to fall out of fashion. Slate’s Explainer column offers this history:

The turning point came when Stokely Carmichael coined the phrase black power at a 1966 rally in Mississippi. Until then, Negro was how most black Americans described themselves. But in Carmichael’s speeches and in his landmark 1967 book, Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America, he persuasively argued that the term implied black inferiority. Among black activists, Negro soon became shorthand for a member of the establishment. Prominent black publications like Ebony switched from Negro to black at the end of the decade, and the masses soon followed. According to a 1968 Newsweek poll, more than two-thirds of black Americans still preferred Negro, but black had become the majority preference by 1974. Both the Associated Press and the New York Times abandoned Negro in the 1970s, and by the mid-1980s, even the most hidebound institutions, like the U.S. Supreme Court, had largely stopped using Negro.

In the North Kitsap incident it was the lesser word that launched the use of the worse one, but it was the repeated use of the worse one that led to the paid leave.

4. It might seem a small point to many, but Alves was not “suspended.” She was placed on paid leave.

5. Answering why it’s OK for blacks to say the word and not other races skips over one point and deserves expansion on another. The first point is that many blacks argue against its use. Pitts did in his piece. “How can we require others to respect us when this word suggests we don’t respect ourselves?” he wrote.

Neal Lester, an English professor at Arizona State University, taught a course devoted to the N-word, and said this in a Southern Poverty Law Center Teaching Tolerance intervew:

“The poison is still there. The word is inextricably linked with violence and brutality on black psyches and derogatory aspersions cast on black bodies. No degree of appropriating can rid it of that bloodsoaked history.”

In addressing why there are different rules for non-blacks, I go to the first two sentences of this blog post. I have permission to say things to my wife that other people don’t. I mean, they can say it, but they shouldn’t expect there to be no consequences. If my wife and her sisters each called each other the B-word (not “Babe”), that wouldn’t give me permission to say that to my wife. I might not want my wife and her sisters to say that to each other, but I would also not argue that I should have the right, too. Nor would it mean the same thing. Her relationship with her sisters is different than the one she has with me.

The N-word, when said from a white person to a black person, carries a history with it that is different from the history when one black person says it to another. Perhaps you agree with Pitts that it still carries an oppressive energy no matter who says it, but you can’t deny that it’s different depending on who’s saying it.

And I like this answer, which is technically a question: Why do you want the right to say it anyway? Just don’t.

The video below comes from CNN and I think offers a pretty good treatment of the word, as good as you can get in 10 minutes. It addresses something we didn’t, the fact that there is no word you can use for white people that has anywhere near the meaning the N-word does. A word of warning: The N-word, the real one, is used several times.

Following the first story I got a call from a woman who said she was 92. She had no idea “negro” was no longer a word we use. She also said “I never say (the N-word),” only she used the real word. Later on in our conversation she said it again. Maybe that’s what we should be talking about, the act of saying what we “never” say.


Update on Kitsap County Coroner’s crib for kids program

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Brynn writes:

At the end of July I wrote about Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom and his involvement in a national program targeting families that need a safe place for their children to sleep.

At the time Sandstrom had five Graco Pack ‘n Play portable cribs to give away. Shortly after my article was published all the cribs were spoken for, but the list of people needing the portable cribs was growing. It wasn’t long after the article ran that Sandstrom was contacted by the national nonprofit organization Cribs for Kids — the agency he partnered with to help combat the high number of accidental baby deaths — who let him know if he could raise $2,500 from the community the organization would match that amount and send him more cribs.

Last week Sandstrom sent me an email saying he’d met the financial match thanks to generous donations from the community. That means 75 more cribs are headed to Kitsap County for low-income families that otherwise do not have a safe place for their babies to sleep. If a family is given a crib they also receive education about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe sleep guidelines for infants that include always placing a baby on its back to sleep and keeping things like blankets, pillows and toys out of the crib to reduce a baby’s chance of suffocation.

Sandstrom credits donations from individuals, the East Bremerton Kiwanis Club, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Bremerton fire fighters and the Boilermakers Local 290 for helping reach the $2,500 goal.

“For several years now, our office has been providing public education to schools and the Navy, participated in high school mock crashes (which are sponsored by MADD) and instructed other agencies on the proper way in investigate infant deaths.  This gives us an opportunity to provide a tool along with the training that will aid in safe sleeping,” Sandstrom said in a news release.

Once the cribs arrive, Sandstrom will work with Kitsap Community Resources to identify families in need. KCR will distribute the cribs, he said.


Kitsap County Coroner needs more cribs

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Brynn writes:
Last week I wrote about a program Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom is implementing locally that gives cribs to families in need of a safe place for their baby to sleep. Sandstrom is doing this as part of a national Cribs for Kids program that works with law enforcement and first responders to reduce the number of infant deaths from suffocation or other, unexplained reasons.So far Sandstrom is the only coroner in the Northwest to join the program.My story ran online July 31 and in the Aug. 1 print edition of the Kitsap Sun. At the time it was published, Sandstrom had five portable Graco Pack ‘n Play cribs to give to parents, or caregivers, who called and requested them.By 2:20 p.m. on Aug. 1 I received this email from Sandstrom:

Just as a follow-up, I had had several requests come in for the cribs, so I need to order more in a hurry!  (Not a bad problem to have.)  I also just found out that the headquarters for the “Cribs for Kids” Program will send me 100 cribs for $2,500.00, because of a matching grant they have. I didn’t know it would be too late to put that information out to your subscribers or not, but that comes to just $25.00 a crib!  It would be wonderful to provide that information to someone wanting to donate to this life saving need.

I assumed the story would appeal to parents who want their baby to have a safe place to sleep, but I didn’t think Sandstrom would see the cribs snatched up so fast. Sandstrom just started this program, so he hasn’t yet had a chance to appeal to the community to help raise the money needed to buy more cribs. He makes sure before buying them that they are safe and not on any recall lists. Sandstrom also provides educational information with the crib reminding parents about safe sleep environments for children, including placing infants and babies on their backs to sleep in a crib that hasn’t nothing else in it — no blankets, no stuffed animals, no toys, etc.
If you’re interested in donating money to help Sandstrom meet the $2,500 needed to buy 100 cribs from the national program, contact Sandstrom’s office at 360-337-7077.


With skatepark open, a word on helmets

Friday, June 21st, 2013

South Kitsap Skatepark opened today, after six years of planning and nearly eight months of construction. Immediately the place was filled with jubilent skateboarders and trick bike riders, according to Kitsap Sun reporter Brynn Grimley, who passed the park on her way home earlier.

Tomorrow (Saturday) there will be a grand opening celebration.

As work on the park was under way in January, I heard from James Gates, a local resident concerned with personal safety. More than one member of Gates’ family has had head injuries related to skateboarding.

“I am in favor of a park, but not in favor of accidents that are preventable,” Gates said.

The county, which owns the skatepark at South Kitsap Regional Park, does not require helmets. Signs are posted recommending use of helmets and knee pads. Those signs confer “recreational immunity” on the county from anyone who would sue over injuries from use of the skatepark, according to Ric Catron, the county’s parks project manager.

Catron is from Oregon, where helmets are required by law for bike riders and skateboarders under 16. Earlier this year a bill, now dead, proposed to raise the age to 18.

Catron was surprised by Washington’s lack of a similar helmet law. In Oregon, where Catron also worked in parks development, violators could be fined, heftily. Some jurisdictions confiscated skateboards from those who neglected the law.

Gates thinks South Kitsap Skatepark Association, a major donor to the skatepark, should take the lead in educating young skateboarders about the importance of helmets, and, Gates said, they should lead by example. Mike VanDenBergh one of the SKSPSA’s leaders said he always wears a helmet and has his children, Ethan, 13, and Sophie, 11, do so as well.

At the event Saturday, professional skateboarders will be giving tips. It will be interesting to see if safety is emphasized in their lessons.

Parents, do you make your children wear helmets? Do you wear them yourself?


Local Catholic parish among first in the nation to cut ties with Boy Scouts over its decision to allow gay Scouts

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

KING-5 TV got the story first about Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church ending its sponsorship of a local Boy Scouts of America troop, because of the organization’s change in policy regarding gay Boy Scouts. The BSA’s National Council voted to end the ban on gay scouts a week ago, but did not lift a ban on gay scout leaders.

Father Derek Lappe posted his detailed decision on the church’s website and on its Facebook page.

Much of Lappe’s reasoning comes from research conducted by the Catholic Medical Association in questioning whether homosexuality is something people are born with. From Lappe’s statement:

“Our parish cannot be involved with a group that has decided to ratify or approve the self-identification of a 10-18 year old boy as ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’. To me it is cruel, and abusive and absolutely contrary to the Gospel to in any way confirm a teenager in the confusion of same-sex attraction, which is what the New Boy Scout policy will do.”

The BSA, in its official statement following the National Council’s vote, did not step back from its moral stance on sexuality generally, emphasizing that “any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.” What it seemed to be doing, however, was allowing that kids who believe they are gay can still benefit from what scouting teaches. From the official statement:

“While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.”

Our Lady Star of the Sea won’t be the last organization to abandon scouting following the ruling. ABC is reporting many organizations are likely to withdraw their sponsorships of the organization in the coming weeks and months.

We will have more on the local story here. There is more going on than just this one church. Kudos to KING for breaking it. We will attempt to add to what KING provided.


Hawkins students testify in favor of sex ed bill

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

I visited a class of Hawkins Middle School students in March to find out what they thought of SHB 1397, that would add information on statutory rape to sex education classes.

The bill requires public schools that offer sexual health education “to include age-appropriate information about the legal elements of sexual offenses where a minor is a victim and the consequences upon conviction.”

(Scroll down to see a video of some of the Hawkins students’ comments about the sex education bill.)

The 13- and 14-year-olds in Julie Sullivan’s humanities class already were immersed in improving information that gets out to their peers and students at the high school. They had conducted a survey at the high school that found only 20 percent of respondents knew the legal age of consent in this state.

The class is participating in Project Citizen, a national civics competition, with the goal of reducing teen pregnancy. The students are pushing to replace the old sack of flour exercise with use of realistic baby mannequins programmed to make demands on their “parents” just like a real infant.

Given that level of activism, I wasn’t surprised to hear that three students from the class recently testified on SHB 1397 before the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. The students — Sophia Daley, Adin Welander and Morgan Young — showed poise and persuasiveness in their statements. All three are in favor of the bill.

Their testimony at the March 22 hearing can be viewed at 46:55 minutes into the taping, which included other bills.

“I strongly believe in this bill, because it will change so many people’s lives,” said Sophia Daley.

Daley knows a 14-year-old who was involved with a 17-year-old. The older teen is now branded “a sex offender for life.”

State law protects individuals under 18 years old by prohibiting sexual contact and sexual intercourse with partners who are significantly older. The designated age gap varies from five years or more for second degree sexual misconduct with a minor victim who is at least 16 but under 18, to the far more serious crime of first degree rape of a child, which applies when the victim is under 12 years old and the perpetrator is at least two years older.

“In reality, no one really wants to hire a sex offender,” Welander said. “It could have just been one mistake, but it’s kind of a really bad label, and they could’ve avoided that really easily.”

Young also focused on the long-term consequences. “What boss is going to hire a sex offender, and if they’re labeled a sex offender, their career is going to go down the toilet,” she said.

Christyn Daley, Sophia’s mother, has an 18-year-old son who is dating a 15-year-old girl. They’ve talked openly about what’s acceptable and potential consequences, but that’s probably not happening in every family, she told the commission. Daley is also a registered nurse concerned about the trend of younger students becoming sexually active.

Michael Young, Morgan’s dad, said, “As parents, we want to protect our children. We want to pretend things aren’t happening, but they are.”

Students these days are worldly but not not always well-informed, Young said. “We need to get out of the snow globe. We need to teach our children what’s going on so they can recognize and take power over their lives.”

The students later took a tour of the state Capitol and posed with Gov. Jay Inslee, as you can see from this photo sent in by Michael Young.

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 5.56.16 PM
Gov. Jay Inslee and Morgan Young


What makes us move

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Maybe it was the fact that the students at PineCrest Elementary School were attending an assembly in which they were told nothing but how wonderful they were. Whatever it was, ever since I attended that Feb. 28 celebration I have been telling people how cool it was to be around kid energy. I was never that psyched after a Bremerton City Council meeting, which is no knock on anyone there.

The PineCrest recognition story, detailing how the school goes out of its way to recognize good behavior, is a story wholly about motivation. Our Feb. 18 story on Central Kitsap and North Kitsap schools considering a program that pays students and teachers for better pass rates on AP tests is another.

Sunday’s story, the one about state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, includes some discussion of motivation. He referred to the book Drive by Daniel H. Pink. In the book Pink says businesses have been going about encouraging creativity all wrong.

I watched Pink’s TED Talk (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) on motivation and then checked the book out at the library. I was influenced enough by it that I made wholesale changes in how I approach some of my side projects, and to some degree the work at my day job. This blog post is Exhibit A.

The bottom line message is that in tasks with clear-cut processes, where the “how-to” is clearly defined, money is an effective motivator. Where the tasks requires problem solving or creativity, it can hurt.

As an example of how our common perception of money = motivation is wrong, Pink points to Microsoft Encarta vs. Wikipedia.

Sure, that ragtag band of volunteers might produce something. But there was no way its product could compete with an offering from a powerful profit-driven company. The incentives were all wrong. Microsoft stood to gain from the success of its product; everyone involved in the other project knew from the outset that success would earn them nothing. Most important, Microsoft’s writers, editors, and managers were paid. The other project’s contributors were not. In fact, it probably cost them money each time they performed free work instead of remunerative labor. The question was such a no-brainer that our economist wouldn’t even have considered putting it on an exam for her MBA class. It was too easy.

But you know how things turned out.

Let’s consider another example. If I ask you to build a car and I promise you your pay will be higher the faster you do it, money will improve your performance. If I ask you to design a car, you might come back to me with a design quicker if I don’t offer you any money. Now, I don’t know anyone who creates cars for free, so the object would be to make it so money is not the factor driving performance. That could mean paying someone a salary and saying, “Go create a car.”

Schlicher, who graduated from high school at age 14, said it was his decision to skip grade levels each time the option was available. He performed well because he had a level of autonomy in the decision making and he was excited to learn what he was learning. He never mentioned the possibility of reaching payday sooner, though that certainly was one result. He sees that as the model to follow in crafting legislation. He wants to set parameters, but let those who deal with the issues daily create the detailed solutions.

In the CK/NK Advanced Placement story Franklyn MacKenzie, director of secondary teaching and learning in the CK district, said he didn’t think students would be all that motivated by $100 six months down the road. Following Pink’s thesis, MacKenzie is probably right. The extra money for the educators carries with it an obligation/opportunity to be trained in better teaching, so it isn’t exactly free money. Those teachers are actually working more hours to get that extra money. National Math and Science Initiative officials say the incentives they offer are creating higher pass rates for AP students, and more AP students to begin with. Assuming that is true, NMSI’s method for handing out money is either a factor in the success or a nice side benefit.

At PineCrest, the reward is recognition. Pink refers to a study in which researchers asked three groups of children if they wanted to draw. To the first group they promised a blue ribbon if they did it. To the second they didn’t say anything about a reward, but gave one after time was up. To the third group they didn’t promise or give any award. Two weeks later they gave all the same kids the opportunity to draw, without mentioning awards to any of them. There was no difference in behavior between the second and third group, but the first group drew with much less enthusiasm and spent much less time drawing than the other groups.

At PineCrest there is no “if-then” promise associated with good behavior. I’m sure the students have figured out by now that they might get a certificate or a Panther Paw for doing good deeds, but there is no guarantee. And if there isn’t an award, the only reward is the act itself. And we all want our kids to believe that doing good is its own reward.

Enjoy the 20-minute TED talk by Daniel H. Pink.


Poulsbo restaurant makes national news for well-behaved child discount

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Brynn writes:

It was brought to our attention this morning that Poulsbo’s Sogno di Vino restaurant has been making national news lately. Although it largely hasn’t been named beyond being called a “small restaurant in Poulsbo, Wash.”

As the story goes a picture of a receipt from an evening out at the restaurant has made its way to the Internet and as a result national news organizations jumped at the chance to opine about the story (see Fox News, Huffington Post, Reddit, Babble, et. all.)

A local woman, who goes by the name LauraInk on the Reddit site, wrote on her “beer after tea” blog about the dinning experience where she and her husband, along with their three children (ages 2, 3 and 8), received a “well-behaved child” discount. It sounds like this is the first time the restaurant has offered the $4 discount for well-behaved “mini diners”.

Here’s excerpts from Laura’s blog post explaining what happened and her response to all the national attention about the discount:

“We were seated at one of the last available tables around 6pm and were greeted happily with menus and bread. We sat and discussed planets, racecars, zebra jokes and “Freckle Juice” until we ate our pizzas, pasta and aforementioned ragu. The food was lovely, our oldest, who is clearly in a growth spurt, ate her share and mine, and our littles munched happily while periodically stopping to notice the small fireplace in the corner and the window paintings on the wall of grapevines in Italy.

Near the end of our meal, our server visits our table to tell us how impressed the staff was with our kids’ behavior and that many of them didn’t even realize we had little ones eating with us. She then brought us a bowl of ice cream to share. When we received our tab, it had a discount listed for “Well Behaved Kids”. A pleasant surprise after a lovely meal.

We, as parents, lead by example and if we have to spell out what and how we’re doing something, we will. We don’t expect handouts for acting respectful of the folks who bring us our food. But it certainly makes you feel good when someone else notices your kids in a positive light.

It’s interesting to read some of the comments from other people who have heard this story — note the link to the Reddit and Babble sites offer more adult language than wet use here — the responses are mixed on whether a family should get a discount because their kids behave well, or as some argue “the way they should”, when they’re in public.

Regardless of where you stand on the decision to give the discount, the bottom line is a local family of five was the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness from a local business. That’s something that should make you smile.


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