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Making a Changemaker: Five Ways to Help Kids Find Their Cause

NPR’s Planet Money recently ran a story about Madeline Messer, a 12 year old girl who wrote an op ed piece for the Washington Post about how unfair it was that she had to pay extra to play her favorite video game with a female character. She researched more than 50 games and found that very few of them had female characters available as the free starter character. In conducting her research and writing her letter, Madeline actively engaged in the public discourse about gender and equity.

I remember being about the same age and writing to my US Senator about the lack of movies being made for children. I think that year there were no G rated movies. Senator Lugar’s office wrote back to me. I remember thinking at that moment that what I thought mattered.

These early experiences small, like mine, or larger like Madeline’s provide first forays into our civic spaces. There are easy things we can do to help our children find their voice and follow their interests into the public sphere.


How to Recognize a Successful Math Program

No other subject seems to create as much anxiety as math. You may not like history or English, but few of us ever say “I couldn’t do English” or “I didn’t have a history mind.”  As math students, we all have stories about teachers who failed us and teachers who inspired us. Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Kelso encouraged me to stretch beyond my peers and take math with the grades ahead of me. On the other hand, Mrs. Culp didn’t see any need (or feel any responsibility) for me to succeed in Algebra II. As parents we bring our own experiences — good and not so good — with us when we approach our own children’s relationship with math. Our children will have their own experiences; our task is to provide the best program with the most qualified teachers possible in which they will thrive.

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