Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 

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The most important questions we ask

Just before Thanksgiving, an article at once depressing and hopeful went viral among parents at DA. In “The Three Most Important Questions You Can Ask Your Teenager,” author Michael Mulligan begins:

“According to the social scientists, the last of the millennials are now gracing our high school campuses. The Pew Research Center report on this cohort describes them as "confident, connected, and open to change." I agree. Technology is their metier. They embrace diversity like no generation before them. They seek to serve the dispossessed and the disadvantaged. They work to find green solutions to the environmental mess we have bequeathed them. In this regard, they are focused and unrelenting: a good thing for all of us.

“Beneath their energy and commitment to …

Posted by mulkus on Sunday March 29, 2015
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Friends, foes, wins, losses, and striving WITH

The etymology of the word competition offers clues about how we ought to engage in it. To com-pete is, literally, to strive with.

Thus we love interscholastic athletics, debate, chess, Science Olympiad and many other frames that help us strive with teammates and competitors toward our better selves.

This morning I was copied on an email that reminded me about competition at its best. The fact that Durham Academy found itself on the losing side of a pair of basketball games with well-coached Greensboro Day School teams this winter made the reminder especially poignant.

Win or lose, our students almost always recognize that learning, progress, and joy come from striving with friends and foes alike.

Dear Steve [Engebretsen, Durham Academy's Athletic Director]: 

I wanted to send a …

Posted by Michael Ulku-Steiner on Wednesday March 25, 2015
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The end of spring break and work worth doing

Amidst some delightful family adventures and plentiful sunshine, I tweeted the following a few days ago:

"The best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

(Theodore Roosevelt).

Also, spring break is nice.

Indeed it’s tough for students and teachers alike to leave the joys of vacation and recommence with regular school days. Luckily, we have work worth doing.

Which reminds me of the weekend missives of Upper School Dean of Students Lanis Wilson. Every Sunday, as our students feel the looming pressure of undone homework, Lanis emails to every student his YO LA TENGO – brief reflections on life and the week ahead. The tone and topics vary, but Lanis seems always to strike a happy, moral, productive balance.

Below is an example. And …

Posted by mulkus on Sunday March 15, 2015
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Learning marches on

As cold rains wash the ice from our roads, we all look forward to beginning a regular week of school tomorrow. As one Lower School parent posted on Friday (next to the picture at right): " we have done it all and need school now."

Another DA Parent was pleasantly surprised on Friday. Below is his exchange with Lower School Director Carolyn Ronco. At the request of the humble teacher involved, I have redacted some names and identifying info. Thanks to parents and teachers alike for making the best of our icy week. 

Dear Carolyn and Michael,

This is certainly not something I thought I was going to be saying when I woke up, but I am so grateful for today's snow day. It gave me the chance to witness first hand all the reasons I feel so fortunate to have [my children] at …

Posted by mulkus on Sunday March 1, 2015 at 05:04PM
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