Love of Learning at Riverdale Country School

I love that people are discussing the reasons and ways we educate children. The New York Times magazine on September 18 features Dominic Randolph whom I have loved listening to and talking to at Riverdale Country School about how children can become global citizens and good stewards of their gifts and passions.

I know one purpose of school is to develop a student’s thinking, but what about developing a student’s soul? Is school responsible for that? As we grow up, we all have to hit life’s curveballs. To do that, it’s more important to have resilience and relationships than high test scores and awards.

Don’t get me wrong — I love being an intellectual. But I don’t always love going through life with brainiacs. For example, I have one extended family member who delights in correcting others. He’s not the most fun to be around or the one I turn to when I need encouragement; and he’s not the one my kids run to when they’ve not seen him for a while.

The family member who gets the biggest hug is the one who is human, who listens well, who is quirky and artistic, who acknowledges mistakes, who shares a passion for learning, who lays on the grass and looks up at the sky, exhausted from a family soccer game. (And their grandmother — they love her too. Simply because they know she loves them.)

As a teacher and parent, I have to share with my kids what I consider important — compassion, a passion for learning, a global perspective, and a commitment to hard work.

I have to take the time even when I am busy. Like many New York parents, I am way too in love with the rush of achievement. And I probably convey this to my kids.

I also love being a good citizen, taking out my ear buds; listening to the breeze and shooting the breeze. I think education is about that too.

I’ve written about Dominic Randolph a few times on my blogs —

About what makes for community

And how I was blown away by Randolph’s advice to eighth graders:

I hate to admit it  — because then it would seem I am all about achievement and not simply about sharing my passion — but once again, I have scooped The New York Times. If you read my blogs, Dominic Randolph is old news to you, but if you read the New York Times magazine this weekend, you can discover even more about Randolph’s thinking about a Riverdale education, of which, I am a huge fan.

Check out the article at:

Doubles with People with Parkinson’s

My nephew, YC, and I played doubles with my husband, C, and his brother, J, who both have Parkinson’s Disease. In their day, the brothers had killer shots. But on this summer sunny Sunday morning, it wasn’t their shots that failed, it was their legs.

J was my partner. He fell several times. Even though he landed face first on the clay court, he usually returned the volley within our opponent’s white lines.

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” J said as he struggled to stand. “Keep playing.”

“The point’s over. We won,” I said. He and C’s shots were still, many times, unreturnable.

I glanced across the net at YC, who is about to be a college Senior. We smiled at each other, asking with our knit eyebrows, “Should we keep playing? Is this crazy?”

Just last summer when playing one of these tennis games with my husband, he fell and we landed in the ER. He had dislocated his pinkie.

from creative commons. Tennis balls on a clay court.

That day, C had said to me, “Just pull my finger. It’ll be fine. Then we can keep playing.”

“No, I won’t,” I said. I have my limits and apparently relocating a dislocated pinkie is one of them.

So I knew that tennis with a Parkinson’s partner was fraught with possible negative consequences. But this summer morning we played on. My nephew and I continued smiling, almost laughing, sympathizing with one another. We were trying to take our cue from each other. But neither of us wanted to call off the game. We all wanted to keep playing, to stay competitive, to win.

Fortunately, I had to shower before Sunday chapel service. We didn’t play much longer. There were no serious injuries; although there were minor ones, like scraped knees.

While the people with Parkinson’s may believe they’re “fine, fine, keep playing,” those around them may wonder if that is true or wise.

If you ever do play mixed doubles with two brothers who have Parkinson’s Disease, I advice you to smile a lot. Even laugh. Because life is ridiculous. And everyone wants to keep playing for as long as possible.


My father had a motto, which I think he got from Woody Allen, “Showing up in uniform dressed to play is 99 percent of the game.” Sometimes finding the uniform is tough. But usually, I’m good to go. I show up. And that’s the best I can do. Like showing up to write in one of my blogs every day.

Every new year I vow to get organized, save money, and work out more. And in 2011, I promised myself I’d blog for 66 days and I’m almost there.

I remember a Physics lesson from college (although it was the only class where I got a D). A body in motion stays in motion. And so I stay in motion. I just keep playing, showing up to my life wearing my uniform. I keep going.

For me the tough part of being married to someone with Parkinson’s Disease is that there are times when he is not ready to play. He can’t find his uniform. He’s slow to the game. (I hesitate to ever complain one iota about his disease because yes, I know, it’s tough, yes, worse on him or anyone with a chronic or serious condition. And, hey, what am I complaining about?) But sometimes showing up means telling it like it is. And that’s the way it is tonight.

But tomorrow I’ll get up early. I’ll write in my journal. I’ll get dressed in my work clothes, my uniform. I’ll get ready to play. And I’ll help anyone that needs help. And I’ll try to remember to thank God that I’m on a team.