Hayden’s soccer team made its annual pilgrimage to AB’s Lower Fields this weekend to compete against one of AB’s 6th grade travel teams. Last year, the Universe took pity on my divided loyalties and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. There was no tie this year and in an effort to not erode any goodwill that I might have with the AB community, I will resist any temptation to use this week’s Grey Matters to provide a play-by-play of Hayden’s and his teammates’ 2-1 victory. I am sharing this moment with all of you for three reasons. First, it’s always an interesting experience for me when my worlds collide a bit, and it was nice hearing parents of Hayden’s teammates comment on what a great facility we have with the Lower Fields. Second, I want to follow up on my recent summary of our school’s concussion protocol with a New York Times article about ongoing research on concussions and new debates about reducing and/or eliminating heading from soccer. My motivation for sharing it is certainly not in an effort to sway other soccer parents one way or another on this particular subject. Instead, it is a topic that (as a “soccer dad”) has given me something to wrestle with, and I wanted to pass along to other soccer-oriented families in AB.
Third, my weekend of chauffeuring children to various activities offers a nice entry point to the larger topic of extracurricular activities and the purpose it can, should, and does serve for our children. For the Shen’s the current extracurricular landscape is centered around soccer and the upcoming youth basketball season. For many of you, this subject may involve sports and might also orbit around music, dance, theatre and/or math and science enrichment programs (as a few examples). A big part of our Challenge Success work will also tackle this topic of how adults and kids view the role that extracurricular activities play in their lives. Is it to reap the benefits that organized peer activities provides? To pursue an area of passion and curiosity? To provide structure to their day? To “keep up with” or “get ahead of” peers in some real or perceived competition to secure an opportunity down the road (in the form of college acceptance, scholarship, or something else)? Or maybe all of the above?
Like most things related to our kids, and the choices that we the adults make for them, our approach to extracurriculars is usually not an either/or situation, and is instead often a both/and scenario. That’s another reason why I’m glad that we’ll have Dr. Denise Pope visiting AB next week to work with families and staff members. During her presentation on the evening of Tuesday, November 8 (7pm, High School auditorium) Dr. Pope will definitely be touching upon this subject and incorporating some of the results of the student survey that was administered last Spring to students in grades 6 through 12. Ahead of this presentation, I wanted to make available to all of you two things. First, here is an article that can be found on the Challenge Success website, entitled “Playing at Sports” which I found to be an interesting analysis of the shape that youth sports culture has taken in recent years. Additionally, I am sharing below an excerpt of the survey results from last Spring. [Side note: there’s a lot of information in the survey results, so the District is working on sharing that information with families in pieces that are more digestible and with appropriate context]. In response to questions about their extracurricular activities, this is how students last year in grades 6, 7 and 8 responded:
To be sure, the data above can be seen through a number of different lenses. Varied, and even competing, conclusions may emerge from each of us as we look more closely at this information. If you want to participate in more discussion about this, then please come to the presentation on November 8 with Dr. Pope.
Here are a few important notes and reminders for the next two weeks. Please take a moment to review each of them:
For our families who observe Diwali, the festival of lights, I hope this weekend proved to be full of joy and celebration with friends and family. I came across this article in the Washington Post, written by someone who uses her family’s celebration of Diwali to reflect on the dynamics that often accompany a bicultural upbringing and formation of identity. To be sure, this is not a subject that is unique to those who observe Diwali, and may speak to many of you who also have some experiences straddling different worlds and cultures.
If you find yourself in the Junior High over the next few weeks, you might come across the bulletin board that is in the photo to the right, and located over by the cafeteria entrance. It is a giant tree branch that 7th grade Art teacher Sara Haskin made, and the different leaves were made students andand teachers who accepted an invitation to draw a leaf, fill it with patterns, and brought it to Ms. Haskin to be added to the board. Thanks to everyone who helped our community tree “grow” and to Ms. Haskin for leading this effort.
Finally, in last week’s Grey Matters I outlined a series of recent experiences that hammered home my being entrenched in a particular stage of life where one feels a bit more removed from popular culture and where memories of one’s youth are feeling a bit more distant. It seems a number of you feel like you’re in a similar place, and we briefly bonded over that. If seeing Luke Perry on the cover of AARP Magazine brought out some mixed feelings, I also wanted to direct your attention to this video of music legend Phil Collins who is currently promoting his new memoir which has the fairly straightforward title, “Not Dead Yet.” His performance of the legendary song In the Air Tonight provided a nice flashback to the 1980s, though watching him completely out of breath at the end of the performance was a reminder that it’s indeed still 2016.
Have a great week, everyone.
Grey Matters >