What A Night It Was: Evening With Peter Yarrow In Texas

Houston, Texas. Recently Peter Yarrow delivered a concert to approximately 2,500 ASCD members in which, in word and song, he honored and reinforced the importance of ASCD’s commitment to Whole Child Education via Social and Emotional Learning and other educational strategies.  Peter referred to the “black hole of empathy” that he feels is perhaps the greatest challenge to educators today and the imperative of focusing on what Peter calls “education of the heart” as opposed to, simply, education to teach academic skills.

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He asserted that both academic growth and the development of character are essential but that, in our current educational system, the balance of emphases, including a hyper-focus on high stakes tests as the major determinant of ascertaining the success of an educator or a school (resulting in an ever more pervasive loss of the Arts in schools) is heavily weighted towards academics and away from what a child needs emotionally and socially to develop into a healthy citizen and a productive member of a society.

Peter told the teachers that, to him, educators are the front lines of strengthening integrity and healthy values in society and honored all the teachers present with reference to his mother, Vera Yarrow, who taught English Speech and Drama for more that 30 years in the New York City High Schools.

The warm and resonant response, the full hearted singing, the feeling of closeness amongst the attendees that sang songs like “If I Had A Hammer” and Operation Respect’s anthem, “Don’t Laugh At Me”, was remarkable and reprised the response to Peter’s over 600 presentations to approximately 600,000,000 educational advocates and leaders of education during the past 16 years, starting when Operation was first hatched as a humble effort in 1998. During these years, over 22,000 schools in the US and in countries like Israel, Jordan, Ukraine, Croatia, Hong Kong, Canada, and soon Japan have used the “Don’t Laugh at Me” curriculum alone, or in conjunction with other similar programs.

Please go to http://annualconference.ascd.org/attendee/conference-daily/2015/yarrow.aspx to see the brief article entitled “An Evening with Peter Yarrow” in ASCD’s Conference Daily.

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Josh Stauffer is a designer and filmmaker based in New York City. Born in Lansing MI, and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. In the past, has directed commercials & music videos for several companies and national recording artists. He currently works as a self employed designer and is happy to be a recent addition to our Executive Committee.

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