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will, you're in Japan, correct?


I spent a few months over there (futile attempt at the ultimate in long distance relationships) and was shocked at the amount of importance that was placed on testing. Youth were stressed beyond belief that they wouldn't get into the right program and would be failures.


(Hello, by the way, long time lurker, newbie poster)

Oct 23, 13 10:48 am
Sarah Hamilton

Will, did you read the article about Japan's focus on academics is creating a lack of creative thinkers?  It was something that was posted on Facebook, so I don't have the link anymore.  Do you see this as an issue?  I feel, with my students at least, that there is a lack of free-thinking and creativity that I don't understand, and wonder if it isn't due to the stress on testing and doing something only one way,

Oct 23, 13 11:08 am
Sarah Hamilton

And Hi, Pete!

Oct 23, 13 11:08 am
Tinbeary There there

Sarah, Are you giving them a question to answer? To the parent who didn't like having her student turn to her peers, can you send her a research article on social learning?

I am in the business of the psychology of learning, which is not education, but obviously related. We bridge the gap between education and healthcare, providing direct targeted instruction with multi-sensory methods to develop underlying skills like symbol processing, phonemic awareness, auditory processing, visualizing, speech, and comprehension so that students can gain confidence and perform better in any situation - classroom or other. We teach students how to learn and we instill a love of learning. We mostly attract learning and behavior disabled students for remediation but everything we do is individualized and we have worked with pre-schoolers and even adults (we had a teacher and an engineer twice). Some of our kids have autism or Asperger's, some have physical disabilities like apraxia, some have emotional disorders. Others with anxiety, developmental delays, FAS, speech impairments, and any kind of learning and communication disorder really. Many have ADD/ADHD. Some are ESL. We work to boost unlabled (regular) kids too, we helped a few get into exclusive schools like the one I helped get into the IB program that I wrote about. We have open enrollment here and many types of schools, sometimes we can also help advise what schools that are best for our students, and there are SOOO many like we haven't even talked about Twice Exceptional or Montessori yet and here there are many, many private schools with different programs. In fact Temple Grandin just opened a school down the road from us for highly functioning autistic students and it is a dream of mine to meet her, it is only a matter of time! We work as a supplement to home school or catch-up for kids who have been out of school for whatever reason, like international travel. I dabble a bit in advocacy too by becoming familiar with special ed laws in order to support the parents who are fighting that battle. We also train teachers and we have student-teachers from the university come observe us for their classes. The principal of a nearby school who makes referrals to us says we "teach therapeutically", which I really like. There is such a thing called education therapy that you can get a degree for it and it is similar to what we do. But not quite, we are a cross-disciplinary boutique start-up, growing and redefining in so many ways, responding to what our community is asking of us by applying the science of learning and the art of therapy to education. I feel like I'm flying 9 miles above the earth when I talk about it because I love it so much. I couldn't dream of a better way to spend my efforts. Thanks for listening... since I am now our marketing and PR person, which is not one of my strengths, I need experience talking about what we do and seeing it across larger contexts, so please feel free to comment or question.

We have been asked to start a charter school by a few of our parents... sigh. Gives me mixed feelings. I am intrigued, but am risk shy right now. Maybe in 5-10 years.

Oct 23, 13 11:58 am

Well, if we paid our teachers the way Finland does we'd get a lot more competition from the brightest of our society (well, and the greedy) -but we'd certainly have a better shot at getting some sweet teachers (I recall being in a magnet school in StL where the kids were far ahead of the teachers in their subjects, not sure how that happened).

I hate the Japanese model - I'd blame the US occupation policy of trying to minimize potential aggressive behavior and dangerous outside-the-box thinking.  One study showed that a majority of 1st graders asked answered they wanted to be a salaryman when they grew up (a salaried company man).  They didn't want to be a fireman or policeman b/c it was too dangerous nor doctors and engineers b/c it looked too difficult.  Beating no risk into kids that young. Shudder. 

Pete: the testing has gotten absurd (preschool entrance exams, b/c a preschool could dictate which elementary school a child might get into; with a murder case of a mother who killed her friend's kid who got into a school her's didn't).  College admissions is based on 1 exam at that school and the score can limit your options for a major.  Overall it's very restrictive.  Very sad to see the country that produced Sony/Toyota/Honda/Fujitsu/Mitsubishi has virtually eliminated opportunities for thinkers to grow.  The desperate firms/government smart enough to realize the problem have turned to foreign educated expats to turn things around (albeit slowly).  The current cabinet and parliament has a few that are stirring the pot.

Oct 23, 13 12:00 pm
Sarah Hamilton

Wonder what the education is like in Santa Marta.

Oct 23, 13 12:32 pm

Thanks for explaining all that, tint.  So here's the question, and I have no motive here except to learn: you're offering the kinds of services I feel should be available to everyone, at no cost, in a school.  Could your business be a contractor to a public school system? Should what you offer be offered IN a school at all, or is it better as a separate entity? 

Basically, how do we get the individualized services you offer to EVERYONE?


Eeek, Japan sounds scary, though as you say Will sounds like it's overall better than US.

Welcome Pete!

Oct 23, 13 12:34 pm

haha LOL Sarah! Flag that spam, everyone, please.

Oct 23, 13 12:35 pm

In Japan, social conformity is a cultural principle. 

In capitalist society you are entitled to the best education you can afford. 

Oct 23, 13 12:40 pm
Tinbeary There there

Donna, I'm really glad you asked. Entities such as ours (we are not the only business of our type) have paired with schools before many times, with mixed results. There is a school district directly adjacent to ours that had an in-house center run by an outside contractor and while the results were good, it was expensive, I don't think they do it anymore. There have been many instances locally and across the country where entities like ours come in and train teachers in how to do what we do but the results are very mixed. Too many variables. So it works best as a stand alone entity. Works moderately well as a stand-alone but in-house center in a school, and doesn't work very well to try to get schools and teachers to do it.

So how do kids get access to it? Well I say we fill the gap between education and healthcare because the education system is NOT doing it and the healthcare system is NOT doing it. Sometimes the public schools do pay for us, but they hate it. The parent must be super savvy and even then it takes too long and for a kid that hates school and is fighting everyday, a mess of paperwork and committees takes way too long. Schools are required by law to provide a FAPE (free appropriate education), but are NOT required to provide a specialist with an individualized program, it is just far above and beyond what the schools are willing to do, it costs them money. In a typical school district the speech therapists and occupational therapists that work on staff are completely overwhelmed. It is a structural issue with the way schools work.

Sometimes health insurance pays for us, if it is recommended by a doctor. FSA money can pay for us too. Some of our parents are employed by companies that have to work hard to attract top talent and they offer educational reimbursements as part of their benefits package. Aerospace engineers and astrophysicists have kids too. I wish I could serve my inner city kids. I live in the inner city, work in a wealthy suburb. BTW, my kid might go to the local inner city school. We'll see. I'd love to get her into that IB program.

Oct 23, 13 1:00 pm
Tinbeary There there

Another reason why we don't work well in a school is paperwork. There was money in TARP that we could have signed up to get, but we chose not to because we didn't want to change the way we do things. Right now we have very little paperwork. We need to be flexible and creative for it to work. Can't do that in a school. If we worked in a school we would have to work much more rigidly, there are processes and approvals that must take place. Like for example we might have to write a report that said that Jose's reading is too low and we are going to do A, B and C strategies for an hour a day, 3 times a week... yada yada. And then if you wanted to change it, well it is like making changes after a CD set is issued. It is harder, there are that many more people and schedules involved. And when a kids is falling behind, you don't have a month or three to call a meeting with the school to change a plan or report a finding. We spontaneously re-write lesson plans mid-lesson. We respond to the student.  

Oct 23, 13 1:29 pm

It's really interesting that you frame it as related to healthcare, which it totally is, but I had not thought of it that way.  But it really is a public health issue, isn't it?

Sigh. It's all so exhausting.  But it's great you're able to do good work for specific people and know you are improving their chances.

Oct 23, 13 1:29 pm
Tinbeary There there

Yes, it is SOCIAL issue too.

Oct 23, 13 1:30 pm
Tinbeary There there

We look at a student's bio-psycho-social profile when designing a program for them. Bio-psycho-social is language from addiction therapy.

Oct 23, 13 1:43 pm
Sarah Hamilton

bio-psycho sounds so mean.  Wonder how long until that is renamed.

I understand on the paperwork side of things.  In a public school, I have to deal with too much of it.  It definitely gets in the way.  And much of it is insulting.  You know I have to bring my jury duty summons to school so I can get the day off to attend?!  I'm a mature professional, for god's sake!

Oct 23, 13 2:01 pm
Tinbeary There there

^ conformity

Oct 23, 13 2:07 pm
Tinbeary There there

I guess we don't say the word bio-psycho-social it is weird, but that is our model.

Oct 23, 13 2:09 pm
Sounds like the point is to be flexible not ideological.

I don't mean to give a bad impression of Japanese education. My kids had drums instead of desks in music class and did dance in gym class instead of running laps. Their music teacher composed her own music and the art teacher was awesome. The emphasis was on building mind and body. And access is universal. There are very few shite schools here. The system is very advanced that way. If you want to teach you have to learn how. And that includes being able to play a musical instrument and knowing how to swim. Because life is mind and body not just facts and figures. Teachers all get that, as far as I can tell.

The myth of conformity in Japan has some truth to it but most kids say they want to be professional soccer players or run a nice cream shop. Work at Google and your still a salary man so that trope is just weird. The schools definitely are not teaching to the tests but the kids still have to do well on them in order to get to the high school that will make it easier to get into the university I teach at for example. It's like a parallel world rather than the core of the education. That particular disconnect is what bugs me. If it was just teaching to tests I could manage things. But teaching AND tests is just too much work to figure out. I think its bullshit but on the other hand I want my kids to have opportunity so it becomes necessary to ask them to learn this ridiculous system.

While we are on the topic of education and it's purpose... Creativity is not suppressed here so much as it is unrewarded. That is changing but in general I would say kids are more bored than trod upon. It's ennui that is worrying. In America I think the lack of risk taking is about fear. Here they just don't give a fuck.

To be frank America is much more conformist, and waaay more fascist and controlling, than Japan. The rules here are goal oriented not prescriptive etcetera. Culture is also totally mind-fucking open to whatever anyone can come up with.

What interests me most is that somehow the culture does not use that freedom to create in the way America does. Which is still quite confusing. Maybe USA uses all that nonsense to create the right kind of atmosphere needed to spit out rebels or something ? Here rebellion would be fine, but for what? Egalitarian society and basic affluence leaves not so much to argue about really.

It's the striving that makes cultures move and create. We have crazy awesome people like Sejima and sou fujimoto, both of whom could never have emerged in USA or Europe. But we don't have other leaders somehow. Google's founders could not have come from here. That gap is really fascinating. I am very curious why the lines are drawn that way. Possibly it is education. Or it may be culture. It is definitely not because all Japanese are drones (this is some kind of racist concept or something?) and Americans are all crazy creatives. That's just not the reality in front of us.

Anyway this is fascinating trip for thread central. It makes all the trolls less offensive even.
Oct 23, 13 8:29 pm

Interesting, Will.  And yes, yesterday was a fun day on the forum, even with the trolls. SneakyPete, you keep popping off good one-liners on the trolls!

Seems the US was *much* more socially conformist in the 50s and 60s when we were doing things like going to the moon and exploring weaponry and making huge infrastructure advances. I think you're right that Americans are afraid of risk due to fear - but we also don't seem to have any safety net in this country any longer.  So if you screw up you seriously have nothing.

Although for middle class America these days even if you *don't* take a risk, you do everything right according to the "rules", you can still through no fault of your own end up with nothing.

I've read news articles that Japan seems to be losing interest in having sex lately, too.

What a world.

Oct 24, 13 7:59 am
Sarah Hamilton
A friend just posted this article on Facebook, and it seemed relevant.

Still, it reminded me of all the puppy training manuals I've been reading lately.
Oct 24, 13 8:03 am

I'm pretty good at snark. It's during the serious discussions that I tend to say things that are incoherent.

Oct 24, 13 8:59 am
Sarah Hamilton

Should've made your name SnarkyPete.

Oct 24, 13 9:08 am

Dang, I guess I'm not as good at being clever as I thought. 

Oct 24, 13 9:51 am

I hated the way conformity is enforced in Japanese culture - it's not so much the schools but an overall desire to be 'safe'.  I would argue that it is about fear - fear of not belonging, fear of being bullied (suicides due to bullying long predated the internet social media over there), fear of success.  My relatives that 'thought outside the box' were constantly being ridiculed by neighbors, bullied in school and never given a chance to work in an environment such as google.  The 1st graders didn't care about the work as a salaryman, they just wanted a safe paycheck from a 'normal' job like everyone else; not all kids are like that, but my experiences in Tokyo did point to an underlying problem.  I remember getting constantly harassed by neighborhood kids and parents because I went to a 'special school' (international school, b/c I spoke english despite being one them).  

The underlying trend reminds me of the de-motivation poster: the grass that grows tallest/quickest gets mowed first.  This isn't to say there are successful rebels (art/music/architecture/engineering) but there seems to be less tolerance for individual success - this is a long standing cultural trend, but I do wonder if WWII and post war occupational educational policies affect this.  There's an old saying in Japan that when the US president sneezes the Japanese PM catches the cold.

Donna- There was a strata of Japanese males that holed themselves up in their rooms to play video games and couldn't talk to women (unless they were dressed up like video game characters - and hence a subset of cafes that did that).  They often married to replace moms, not having sex w/ the wives and the women then had to get that elsewhere... on the other hand there is a rather a large escort/brothel/massage parlor world around major train stations (similar to any large cities in the world) and they only allow natives, so...

Oct 24, 13 10:09 am
Tinbeary There there

I agree with the French point of view of ADHD in that article, Sara. While it can be biological, it is very, very rare. Security is mentioned in that article. That is what we see that causes ADHD, lack of security.

This is a video about conformity they showed in American schools in the 1950's. I love Harvey's walk at 3:20. Reminds me of my dad somehow :)

Oct 24, 13 10:17 am

that video seemed to primarily stress working together and thinking ahead before you do stuff.

those are good things, right?  more can be accomplished if you work together as a team.  if you're going to tell your kids they're all special snowflakes, wouldn't you get a bunch of self-absorbed narcissists that expect everyone else to take care of them?  "rugged individualism" doesn't really exist.  we all rely on help from others.  because of that, we kind of need to learn how to think about other people, walk a mile in their shoes so to speak, help them out when we can, and work together.

i guess i'm not sure if you're saying conformity is good or bad with that video.

Oct 24, 13 10:32 am
Tinbeary There there

Some conformity is good. I like that video. Maybe I can elaborate on what I mean by conformity. Stop lights are good. We need them so that everyone can get around safely. But when we walk down a crowded sidewalk, we don't need a super-coordinator. It would be a disaster to externally coordinate that movement, the individuals can spontaneously coordinate not running others over. The unuseful kinds of conformity is rampant in schools. Like when Sarah has to turn in her jury summons. That doesn't serve anyone or anything but the paperwork.

Oct 24, 13 10:34 am
Sarah Hamilton

I have a classroom full of narcissistic snowflakes.

Have you guys seen where some elementary schools are bringing infants into classrooms to teach/instill empathy?  It's fascinating.  Apparently, we connect with the needs of an infant better than those of people our own age, and the schools that have this program have fewer reports of bullying, ect.  Here's the link.

Oct 24, 13 10:37 am

lol.  bring in an infant as a pet?  i've heard of school hamsters, where kids can take it home for a weekend or stuff like that, but i would not be comfortable bringing an infant into a classroom as a pet.  that just sort of seems unethical.  i would suggest getting a fish instead.  did you see in tint's video where big brother taught little brother how to drop fish flakes in the bowl?  hopefully he also taught his kid brother how the nitrogen cycle works.

Oct 24, 13 10:40 am
Sarah Hamilton

Curt, the parents come in with the child, and then take the baby home with them.

Oct 24, 13 11:01 am
Tinbeary There there

Dr. Gabor Mate on attachment, ADHD, bullying, and brain development. I think he has it right.

Oct 24, 13 11:06 am

I don't think we should be teaching teenagers that babies are cute and giggly and adorable and pliable.  Now if the infant-pet is all screams and burp-ups and diaper blowouts, that's a good lesson.

Oct 24, 13 12:21 pm
Sarah Hamilton

Donna, they do this in Elementary schools, like Kindergarten through 2nd grade.  High schoolers have enough babies as it is.

Oct 24, 13 12:27 pm
Tinbeary There there

I take my baby to work and to a nearby school where I have students. Not often, kids love it but it can be distracting. But I think that babies teaching empathy is a cool idea. I surmise it is because babies are non-verbal, you have to know what they need or are thinking by looking at non-verbal cues like behavior, facial expression and body language. When you engage with that kind of stimulus, your brain mimics all of it in order to understand it. Hence, building empathy.  

Our teaching is multi-sensory. Since learning is through the senses, when you teach that way it makes more of an impact. Some of our kids are deficient in auditory processing, they HAVE to learn by sight, movement and touch. How did Hellen Keller learn?

Oct 24, 13 12:48 pm

Jeezus, what the hell is going on wiht radiation in Indianapolis, why are we at DEFCON 3?!?!?  I'm dealing with an imminent 100 year flood zone panic right now, I can't face  radioactive fallout too!

Oct 24, 13 3:01 pm


wait, that's not something to cheer is it?

they are going to start removing some of the fuel rods next month.  if it goes bad, like worst case scenario, which i think means they drop the building (or a structural collapse since it's already damaged, or another earthquake), it could result in billions of deaths.  the current round of removing rods should take about a year.  they are planning on about 40 years to get them all.

might be a good time to join valut-tec.

Oct 24, 13 3:12 pm

indy is fine.  that dot was for cleveland.  you can zoom in on the map here:

Oct 24, 13 3:15 pm

OMG curt thank you for finding that.

Now as long as I don't have to drive past a Buca di Beppo on the way home* I should be fine.




*That's a reference you can find on my Where'd You Go, Bernadette thread here. I find it a helpful gauge of my frustration-with-life level.

Oct 24, 13 3:24 pm
Sarah Hamilton

What the hell is wrong with San Antone?  I mean, Houston I get.  

Oct 24, 13 3:42 pm
Tinbeary There there

There's an archinect book club?!?!

Oct 24, 13 5:53 pm

No, tint, I'm trying to start one. I want EVERY architect to read Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

Oct 24, 13 6:22 pm

On a related note, I just sent a series of emails to a surveying firm I've hired that I'm sure have been printed out and posted on the office bulletin board with a big red sign saying  "ALL ARCHITECTS ARE CRAZY AND HERE'S PROOF!!".  The surveyor double-reiterated to me that he does not believe I need to be present while they do the survey - I'm sure he's scared to meet me in person in case the crazy rubs off. I'm somewhat proud.

Oct 24, 13 6:25 pm

Yeah, the news from Fukushima is bad. Really bad. The "decommissioning" of the spent fuel pool is beyond difficult, it will take a series of absolute miracles to pull off. The estimates I've read are > Chernobyl x85 if they drop a rod, the cooling fails, the structure fails, if there's more seismic damage, if someone sneezes, etc., etc. Which doesn't even consider the difficulty of working in a area where a fatal dose of radiation can be received within a few hours.

Another source says that is less problematic (if you can imagine anything less problematic than that) than the vast quantities of water streaming straight into the pacific after passing through the 3 (count 'em, three) still fissioning 100-ton core meltdowns.

That this isn't front page, top headline news in every media outlet around the world is a impossible to understand. Even Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers can't hide from radiation.

Get you radiation-proof underwear here.

Oct 24, 13 6:46 pm

I haven't trusted a survey  in several years.  It is all smoke and mirrors.  Let me tell you how it all started on the East Coast....   Corner of property  Large Oak Tree (died over a hundred years ago)  to  large stone ( there are a lot of frickiing large stones in New England).  to adjoining property  monument (which was removed cause he hated neighbor).  I can go on  and on but this is my general feeling about surveys.  I have on several occasions tried to close old surveys on properties and have found them to be missing closure by over ten feet.   On of my recent project  was in the other direction Topographic  data was all wrong. Oh well... we scratched our heads a lot and our butts... and finally got everything worked out.  The solution was not in accord with either the survey or the Civil Engineers  design.  Just a bunch of  contractors and myself saying, water has to flow this hold that elevation and that elevation...

Oct 24, 13 7:32 pm

I have my iodine..under the pillow miles.

Oct 24, 13 7:33 pm

On the subject of school (K-12):

reported 1,168,354 homeless students as enrolled in school, a 10 percent increase from SY 2010-11 (1,065,794), and a 24 percent increase over the three-year period SY 2009-10 (939,903) to SY 2011-12

A national disgrace. One of far, far too many. It's time to tear the system down.

Oct 24, 13 10:27 pm

Donna, my experience is that the engineers know their business. But of course, if something looks out of wack to you, as an architect, it probably is. I'm always amazed that the number of dumb questions that pop into my head, that when I ask the engineers, it turns out that I'm right. For example - hey Mr. Electrical engineer, did you, by any chance, take the time to contact the utility company and find out if they can actually supply the power to that mo-fikkin monster transformer you designed for our building? Cuz you've been working on this design for 6 months and it'd be a real drag if the utility company wanted to charge some massive fee to run new wire some 10s of miles to our site. Oh, you haven't contacted the utility company yet? You might want to. 

So, you're not crazy. 

Oct 24, 13 10:36 pm

The issue is we are - from what I can tell - very, very close to being right at the Base Flood Elevation for the flood zone we are in.  If we are below the BFE, even by 1/10 of a foot (that's the accuracy they require), we get bumped to a significantly higher flood insurance cost.  So my questions all revolved around exactly what the definitions of deck, grade, etc. mean, since we have a patio slab that sits 2" below the house slab and the garage sits 8" below.  Also our garage is either attached or detached depending on the one piece of flashing that wraps from the roof of the porch to the garage - the structures are totally separate - so that 18 inch long 1/16" thick piece of aluminum with two screws in it *could* cost me $6k per year if not handled right.

I'm not trying to break any rules, but I think architects can easily see creative ways to make sure we *fit* the rules as required, where engineers (especially civil engineers) tend to not think about creative ways to handle situations that aren't black and white.

Miles, serious question: that statistic *is* a national disgrace, one among thousands. How do you stay positive and not just give up in the face of this kind of crap? It seriously seems like nothing is going right these days, either on a national scale, locally, or personally. Outside of having an amazing child and husband and family and friends, I just don't see anything good in the world.  Which might be depression, might be menopause, or might be accurate.

Oct 25, 13 8:54 am

Donna, the only thing I can see to do is make an example in your own life and try to create the world you want to live in. For each of us that is different but in general reduce tax liability (easy for an architect) so as not to support a corrupt government and war for corporate profit, vote with your wallet (it's the only vote that actually counts, imagine what would happen if nobody bought health insurance or tuna fish or Verizon service), use alternative medicine, etc. Beyond that it means being active in your own community, recognizing that enlightened self-interest (where we all take care of each other) is the only alternative to the psychotic behavior of personal self-interest most accurately described as greed. 

Oct 25, 13 10:14 am

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