We’ll Be Counting Stars

starry night

“…said no more counting dollars,

we’ll be counting stars.”

While these words were taken from One Republic’s hit song “Counting Stars,” I could just as easily imagine them being the battle cry of children all across the country.

We are given star-gazers and we are making them into bankers! Children come to us at age 4 and 5 and they are absolutely in awe of what we have for them. We introduce them to books with fantastic stories and many pictures that jump off of the pages. We give them scissors and glue and paper and say “go create something magical”. They have no problem with this open-endedness because they can still dream with their eyes wide open.

“They are asleep in there, or if they are not asleep they are yawning. Only the children are flattening their noses against the window panes. Only the children know what they are looking for,” said the little prince.

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

But gradually. Bit by bit. We take this freedom away. The books begin to have fewer pictures. We start to tell them what they have to read. We start tell them what have to write. The assignments begin to be more prescriptive. And just like that the ability to dream with their eyes wide-open is gone.


We have begun redirecting them away from their dreams and steering them towards ones that we’ve created for them. We believe that they are one in the same. But are they really?


Not often.

Are we actually listening to what our children are saying? Or are we getting them ready for that mythical state we have begun to call college and career readiness?

In all of my years I have never seen more disinterested, apathetic and unmotivated students. School has become a place that children go in between the “fun stuff” in their lives.

This is not to say that there aren’t pockets of greatness out there where children aren’t busting to get in. The innovation alone at New Milford High School makes me want to be 17 again. And oh to be a kid at Warner Elementary in Michigan. Have you seen the joy on the kids’ faces at one of their many events? It’s infectious. That is what it is all about!

There are too many incredible teachers to mention, but to be in elementary school and have Todd Nesloney, Paul Solarz, Barry Saide or Pernille Ripp as your teacher would be an absolute dream.

Next you go on to middle and high school and you get to spend the day being challenged and motivated and inspired by the likes of Jim Cordery, Brian Cook, Star Sackstein and Oliver Schinkten.

I mention just a few of the incredible schools and teachers out there not to name-drop, but to acknowledge that I realize that great things on going on out there. These schools and these teachers are allowing kids to continue to star-gaze. They are teaching them what they need to know along the way, but not at the expense of joy and the wonder that they still possess.

“All grown-ups were children first.

 But few remember it.”

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery


  1. Another great post! I agree 110%. One of my biggest frustrations is that school doesn’t embrace creativity. Students are taught to believe (as Ken Robinson said) that “there is one right answer, and it is at the back of the book”. So sad!

    Good Stuff…..again & thank you for the shout-out. I am honored you would put me in that category!

  2. Excellent post! I am slammed with this realization every day as a high school teacher and a mom of two below the age of six. I want to bottle what my daughter says and thinks and does at school and bring it into my classroom. By the time they get to 11th and 12th grade, students sometimes have this learned helplessness. All these fantastic educators you mention are the ones I’m listening to on Twitter and blogs, you included, so I can help get my students back to being star-gazers. Thank you for this post, and thanks for all you write on this blog.

  3. Jon, really enjoyed your post. I appreciate the kind words as well.

    My belief is that schools need to create a “Love of Learning”. The goal should not be rigor and high test scores. The goal should be to foster students that WANT to be life long learners.

    In some ways I see this shift occurring. Examples like, #GeniusHour, #PBL, #iCreate, #MakerMovement are all examples of empowering students to take a lead part in their learning. The unfortunate thing is, legislators and some others are all about the numbers.

    You’ve touched upon a major topic…Love of Learning, how important is it?

  4. Though it is true I enjoy your writing style, I don’t agree with your main point of view about this one. I do delight in your website nevertheless. bfgfcbefceeg

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