RE@L's Response To NYTimes David Brooks Column: Yes, Caring Helps Kids Learn and The Rest Of Us, Too!


     Last week we reprinted David Brooks fine column in the New York Times© about learning and caring.

We also left our RE@LBlog readers with two photos that show our many readers what “caring about our students” demands of us, no matter our adult roles in life.   

Both teaching and parenting have much to do with the passing on of our culture.

The photo on the left shows where are challenges start; the photo at the right is where we want our students to go.

-Click on each photo-


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RE@L also believes in “Caring”.

Caring is the catalyst to make more learning happen.

Here’s our RE@L “Page-Two Commentary” on Mr. Brooks’ Column:

RE@L believes that David Brooks’ insights made a major contribution to our better understanding of how learning happens. Even better, he suggests what needs to be done to keep it happening.

Tom JMM MathJackie+Robinson+health+fair+2-300x117Once teachers ourselves, your two RE@L BlogMeisters know that there is a great difference between someone being ignorant and one remaining unlearned. We’ve all been ignorant, but we don’t have to remain unlearned. We can learn…

As math teachers many moons ago, we tried to make our teaching more engaging, from Tom’s teaching right triangles (photo on the left), to Dale’s students finding old tires to measure and discover the meaning of π (see photo of other students at the right).

Each learner has a choice to either leave ignorance behind and replace it with learning more, or choose to remain unlearned. RE@L  believes that, for too many reasons today, too many students choose to remain unlearned. But, many other students have long ago left ignorance behind. They are known as lifelong learners!

Students can choose to learn with teachers’ and parents’ help. They reach all goals their talents and perseverance will allow. Sad to say, other young K12 students may conclude that what they already know is enough. This decision on their part results in a loss of future leaders, visionaries and contributors to the culture that must be passed on to the next generation. RE@L believes that’s what we’re here for!

Dale60sWhen teaching back in the early 60′s, we noted that poverty was a major motivator for our students to learn. A better future required more educated graduates. Teachers worked hard to motivate their students. Their common goal was a high-school diploma. Many achieved it. But, but far too many did not.

UnknownWe had an old saying way back then that “You could lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Fortunately, we had another saying: “If your horse doesn’t drink, you can salt their hay!” Yes, salt makes them thirsty and want to drink.

It’s true what they say about salt when it comes to more student learning, too. 

In response, we teachers often tried “salting their hay.” Loosely translated, it meant using our own “salt” to make students “thirsty” for more learning.

Teachers’ “salt” was meant to stimulate young minds.  We did understand that salt does not work for all horses or all students. But, we never gave up. 

As caring teachers we showed we cared about each and every one of our students, no matter their skills or previous performance.

Teachers cared and brought to students their own unique passions for learning.  We told stories about how important learning was to us and others we knew. We gave examples.

We also listened more carefully to students’ many dreams and discontents. We still believed in the saying, “Never give up” and “You can do it!”

Many of our basic survival needs are met today. Learning is key among them. There’s constantly more to learn. Re-direction of student goals is essential.

david-brooks-thumbLarge-v2Brooks Aspen

We were pleased to see David Brooks’ “call to caring” in his closing comments at the Aspen Institute recently. (Click on the graphic to the right to hear his thoughtful commentary.) His photo on the left also provides other videos.

Listen carefully for new ways to care about and share with one another.

Here’s one of his comments to ponder: “Think of all the emotions that are involved in mastering a hard subject…. curiosity, excitement, frustration, confusion, dread, delight, worry and, hopefully, perseverance and joy.”

These are the building blocks needed to build “A Nation of Hope.” Click on the graphic to the right for more information.)


The Power of Positivity

report_cover-1If you, an educator, can stand up and share your dreams, then your students can one day stand and share theirs. We will need new dreams and answers.

RE@L found a related video worth viewing on the Facebook site “The Power of Positivity.” (Click on the graphic to the left to view it.


So get their interest and salt their hay with what you say. Change your classrooms into occasional Team-Rooms. Let them team and work together.

Yes, we did just that some years back. Yes, it made a difference then and it can make a difference now.

Tom&SaturnW copyListen to our former Saturn School students tell their own stories about their school and their learning. (Click the graphic at the right). Those young learners have showed thousands of visitors their own way to pass on their own culture. Students today are telling an even more powerful story with their new EdTech tools.

Keep passing it on!

Keep passing on your own comments and questions below!


Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.

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