Crossroads School: The Hardest Written Application Question Ever?

 

Photo: Ed_Needs_A_Bicycle/Flickr
Photo: Ed_Needs_A_Bicycle/Flickr

 

There’s a lot of buzz among parents who are applying to Crossroads about the following question, new this year on the application:

One of Crossroads’ core commitments is to a vibrant, diverse community. Please describe the ways your family would support and contribute to our diverse environment. 1200 characters remaining. 

This is the most difficult written application question I’ve ever seen. And I’m African American with a mixed-race family. It’s not enough for somebody like me to write that my family’s mere presence at Crossroads would contribute to their diversity. So then what? I know! We’ll start an organization at the school for mixed-race families. Yeah, that’s a good one. One already exists? Well, ours will be bigger and better funded. Oh wait, that sounds arrogant and totally presumptuous.

The cynical part of me says this question is a slick way to tout the school’s diversity (although the school is not as diverse as some might think.) The optimistic part of me says its a way to truly find families who will contribute to their diverse environment. But, is this question really going to push that cause forward?

I can guarantee you the school will get all kinds of responses, from wacky, nonsensical answers to the “We’ll contribute $1 million to your financial aid fund for diverse students.”

A few people I’ve talked to laughed out loud at the thought of trying to answer the question, saying, “We’re white so anything we say would seem ridiculous.”

In the end, there’s no right answer to this question. Its just a difficult one, fraught with politically correct minefields along the way. No matter which way you choose to respond.

 

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When Schools Overlook Introverts in “The Atlantic”

Girl Reading by Tjook
Photo by Tjook/Flickr

 

A recent article in The Atlantic, When Schools Overlook Introverts, argues that schools are overlooking introverts with the education trend towards project-based learning and group projects.

“As the focus on group work and collaboration increases, classrooms are neglecting the needs of students who work better in quiet settings.”–The Atlantic

In progressive schools, group projects are a key part of the curriculum. My kids attended The Willows, a progressive school in Culver City, before moving to Viewpoint, a traditional school in Calabasas. I intentionally chose the Willows for my daughter, who is a quiet introvert like me. During her time at The Willows, K-6th, I thought the school’s focus on project-based learning would benefit her tremendously by championing the traits and qualities she was born with, while helping her learn skills that might not come naturally. That turned out to be true. After all, as adults we work in groups in the workplace, when we volunteer and even at home. The ability to learn to work successfully in groups is an important skill, but one that doesn’t always come naturally to young kids.

I learned that introverts play an important role in group projects. My daughter took on roles in group projects that fit her personality. She’d often be asked by her peers or the teacher to lead a project, based on her strong organizational skills, her focus and her ability to listen to input from all group members. She’d edit other kids’ work at their request or quietly help decide which project the group would choose, after the group discussion concluded. The extroverts in the group had skills she didn’t possess. They’d brainstorm project ideas, ask the teacher questions, lead class discussions, use their artistic talents to draw project ideas and debate the merits of a project.

With skilled teachers and just enough structure, progressive schools that incorporate project-based learning in their curriculum can help both introverts and extroverts flourish. Of course, quiet time should be part of the daily schedule. “But cooperative learning doesn’t have to entail excessively social or overstimulating mandates; it can easily involve quiet components that facilitate internal contemplation,” says The Atlantic article. I never felt that there was a lack of quiet time or time for individual work because of the project-based learning. Neither did my daughter. Sometimes, the quiet time occurred in the library, as she and the librarian quietly searched for the right book for her to curl up with at home.

Ultimately, when my daughter started 7th grade at Viewpoint, she was able to apply the skills she’d learned working in groups to the classroom environment at her new school, where group projects are less frequent. Currently, she’s in charge of organizing all the components of a group project for one of her classes.

 

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A Must-Read New Memoir: “Everything You Ever Wanted” by Jillian Lauren

 

Jillian Lauren event 3

Last Friday, I was thrilled to welcome Jillian Lauren to my home for a book reading and discussion of her new memoir, Everything You Ever Wanted. Jillian is a New York Times bestselling author, a mom, a rock wife, a blogger and a storyteller who lives in Silverlake.

Jillian Lauren Book Cover

As about 25 friends gathered in my living room, Jillian read a few pages from her exquisite memoir about infertility, the adoption of her infant son from Ethiopia, touring with her rock guitarist husband and the enormous struggles her family has faced when they discovered her son has early trauma-related special needs. Everything You Ever Wanted is a beautifully written, honest portrayal of parenting with love through the rough times…I mean the really difficult times that bring you to your knees, causing you to question if you’re going to be able to make it through the storm.

Jillian Lauren Event 1

We enjoyed delicious food from my longtime friend, Chef Vanessa Bathfield.

Jillian Lauren 12

As Jillian answered questions from the group of women gathered around her, stories were shared and tears flowed. It was a powerful, inspiring conversation. Hearing Jillian talk about having to use her entire body to restrain her young son as he kicked and screamed, while strangers staring and commented, told us this was the story of a mom who’d do anything to find the right methods (and therapists) to help her adorable son In the book, Jillian also details the arduous journey to find the right preschool.  After being kicked out of several fancy L.A. preschools, she’s found an excellent private elementary school for him. It’s a place that, not surprising to me since I know this school, has helped him flourish socially and academically.  It has both warmth and structure, two qualities he needs. Jillian was honest about his specific needs when they applied and the school stepped up.

Jillian Lauren Event 10

I loved this book. So will you.–Christina

To buy the book, click here.

 

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