I’ve Been Asking the Wrong Question


As a recovering Tiger Mom, I’m working really hard to unlearn some bad practices. I don’t expect my kids to get straight A’s. I just want to ensure they always do their best. HOWEVER, I’m aware that I often use grades as a default metric. It’s so easy to buy into the hype: competitive college scholarships, high tuition, “name brand” universities, etc.

In my heart, I know it’s wrong. It’s the wrong place to stress priorities with my kids.

A blogger on Huffington Post bragged wrote about how he and his wife ask their daughters 3 questions each night:

  1. How were you brave tonight?
  2. How were you kind today?
  3. How did you fail today?

Aren’t these more important concerns? Won’t these values take them further than a perfect GPA? Their third question, “How did you fail today?” opens the discussion about effort and not achieving the goal. The parents wanted to stress lessons learned from this taboo subject and, to in fact, celebrate failing! The word “fail” is  leaden with negativity in our culture, but it’s really the only way we get stronger. It’s how we get resilient.

I’ve been asking my daughters a question each day, too. I thought I was being positive.  I shared my experience on FB with my friends:


What is school for?

According to Seth Godin, school’s purpose should be to:

  1. teach kids to lead; and
  2. teach kids to try things and to FAIL.

He says, “Fine, getting an A is good. But it’s not the most important thing.”

Personally, I’ve known many “successful” (read: high income) folks who burned the midnight oil to get the excellent grades, get into the perfect college and then obtain the perfect,  high-paying job. They’re still not happy.

Don’t we want our kids to lead happy, productive, creative lives?

If you want the right answers, you need to ask the right questions. Perhaps the right question is not, “How can my kid get into an Ivy League School?” but “How can I raise my child to be a compassionate, productive, happy citizen?”

What do we need to do to be happy? Thoughts?






*photo from unsplash.com









“Pitiful” Passionate Pundits

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I’m sitting here at Mesa Community College (Red Mountain campus) while my daughter takes a reading test for dual enrollment credit (Spanish).

I love college campuses. I love schools. You’re surrounded by people who are trying to do better. Even if you’re a student and you don’t enjoy it, you’re actively working toward a goal. There is a vibrant, energetic, optimistic atmosphere within colleges. Administrators, professors, teachers…everyone is here to help.


The most potent role models in my life were teachers. My father (a professor), my mother (a natural teacher of life) and Ms. Meretta (my 3rd grade teacher).

I want to give a shout out to my fellow teachers.

I’m really proud to be a part of an educational team. Our culture lauds profits and high incomes. But I get to work with people who care, who work hard and feel satisfied just helping kids. Teachers are the hardest working people I have ever known.

Tonight, my eldest daughter said, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I don’t want to be a teacher. They don’t get paid ANYTHING.” That makes me a little sad, but I understand it. We really don’t pay teachers enough. Will this ever change in America? I don’t think so…not in my lifetime, anyway.



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“Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow”



Dear struggling summer school student (about to enter 5th grade),

I was your summer school teacher for 3 weeks, 3 hours each day. Today, I said goodbye to you.

I (hope) you learned from me:

  • the value of working hard;
  • the importance of basic skills (math facts);
  • learning can be fun;
  • you are capable of so much more than you think you are, truly.
  • never, ever give up.


I learned from you:

  • a few of you are wracked with emotional pain (dad is in jail, parents are divorcing, etc.);
  • you like learning to be fun and you’re quick to learn;
  • you have some amazing teachers at your school (!);
  • “arm” in Spanish is brazo;
  • your lack of sleep might have to do with the violence on your street, late at night;
  • you hope to be the first in your family to go to college.


Work hard. Never give up. And you shall make it there.



East Palo Alto’s Potent Transformer

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.*

Eastside College Preparatory School’s Outdoor Education Program

I interviewed the Vice Principal and Co-Founder of Eastside College Preparatory School today (Helen Kim). Trying to write a blog post about the interview in 20 minutes (which is all I have tonight!) would not begin to do her or her school justice. Not even close. But I will write about one very important aspect of her work with low-income students who are college-bound: growth mindset. One of the most critical factors for success in helping her students reach their monumental goals is to have them perform self-assessments and self-reflection. One of the questions they most pose of themselves regularly (each quarter, minimum) is: Do I have a growth mindset?

Asking this question is very powerful. Instead of believing success in certain areas are “fixed,” its premise is that through hard work and focus, one can achieve lofty goals. The question empowers the student.

Eastside College Preparatory School consistently and vigorously trains their students to love learning and to be resilient. THIS is the key to success! Of course, academic basics and content mastery are important, but without love of learning, one is apt to quit when the going gets rough. And believe me, the going is going to get rough.

In a world that seems to be going a bit loco, it is truly heartening to know there are people like Helen and her staff who work tirelessly, selflessly and energetically to help others in need.




“An act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.” Dictionary.com


We don’t hesitate to put a portion of our income into investment vehicles because we have faith that making the sacrifice will pay off in the future.

We don’t hesitate to enroll our children in music or sports because we know that the payoff will be great.

We don’t hesitate to support our spouses by cooking healthy meals, lending an ear and giving words of encouragement.


When it comes to paying tuition, taking the courses for a degree or going for that dream job, mothers tend to look at the cost to the family and consider it too “expensive.” They say, “Not now, it’s not the right time.”  Moms often don’t look at it as investment for the self.

I was talking to a good friend of mine who told me about her “dream job.” This job is just one rung away. She’s hard-working, super smart and talented. She just needs to take a test and pass it. Taking the test costs a fee. “Well, I think I should wait until the job becomes vacant. Then I’ll take the test. I don’t know that it’s a wise use of money right now.”


Have you ever heard a man say that?

Invest in yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s your obligation.