At DMAI, we celebrate great dads and the enduring lessons they teach.
With the coming of summer and the arrival of Father’s Day, we find ourselves reflecting upon the crucial role dads play in their children’s education. With his famous quip of one father being worth “more than a hundred schoolmasters,” metaphysical poet George Herbert understood the tremendous influence fathers hold when it comes to their children. And rightly so. Children who grow up without fathers are, on average, nine times more likely to drop out of school and five times more likely to live in poverty, thereby diminishing their prospects of financial stability and overall wellness. Engaged fathers, all told, are vital when it comes to the healthy cognitive and emotional development of their children.
“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”
– George Herbert, poet
In our hometown of Los Angeles, all-time Lakers great Kobe Bryant (1978-2020) is memorialized in over a hundred murals across our city. His reach extended far beyond hoop dreams. When speaking about what he termed “Mamba mentality,” Kobe was inviting, and continues to invite, each of us to rise to the occasion of our best self with each new day. Kobe’s unwavering commitment to excellence continues to inform and to inspire our efforts to lift humanity.
And when the ball’s in his court, President Barack Obama has proven himself a stalwart leader. In terms of empathy, wit, and intelligence, few have soared to such lofty heights attained by President Obama while leading his nation upon the world’s stage for two presidential terms. Being a father comes down to promoting growth, not for ourselves alone, but also for our family or for our broader communities.
In his June 2008 Fatherhood Speech, President Barack Obama shared with the world his thoughts on the enduring significance of fathers. “It’s up to us — as fathers and parents —,” he said, “to instill this ethic of excellence in our children. It’s up to us to say to our daughters, don’t ever let images on TV tell you what you are worth, because I expect you to dream without limit and reach for those goals. It’s up to us to tell our sons, those songs on the radio may glorify violence, but in my house we give glory to achievement, self-respect and hard work. It’s up to us to set these high expectations. And that means meeting those expectations ourselves. That means setting examples of excellence in our own lives.” In this passage, President Obama shows us that, despite the abundance of media available to adolescents, a father’s voice can silence the noise and amplify what’s essential — dreaming without limits, glorifying hard work and achievement, setting a good example through our actions.
Let us not forget our star-gazing dads. Whether powering our transition to renewable energy or launching us into the starry heavens, Elon Musk teaches us how dreams and ambitions can be harnessed to lift humanity. Yet exalted dreams are attained only through solidarity, as the world witnessed on May 30, 2020 when astronauts and fathers Robert Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley launched to orbit, ushering in a new era for space travel.
Each one of our celebrated dads has triumphed during times of extraordinary challenge. They have been role models for their families while lifting humanity upon their broad shoulders. In their pursuit of excellence, they have brought others with them along their journey, both metaphorically and literally, to the stars. Each one of our celebrated dads reminds us that auspicious journeys begin with a single step.
For astronaut Douglas Hurley, his journey to the stars began when he was a boy watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. “Growing up,” Hurley said, “I remember always having interest in space and airplanes.” Yet it takes more than a dream to succeed. “Obviously it takes perseverance,” Hurley added, “It takes an incredible amount of discipline and you’ve got to work hard. I mean, no one’s going to give it to you.” In his reflections on his own path towards becoming an astronaut, Douglas Hurley reminds us that childhood is a vibrant launching pad for our future aspirations. “It’s funny how,” Hurley said, “things that interest you as a young child kind of never leave you.”2
2 Preflight interview with Douglas G. Hurley, astronaut, on the Fortieth Anniversary of the Apollo 11 and the first human steps on the moon. 28 May 2009.
How does the AILA Sit & Play work?
First, we offer early learners a three-layered curriculum. We begin with the basics — numbers, letters, and core vocabulary. We teach preschool skills through engaging games, songs, and storybooks. Next, social emotional skills are interwoven across the curriculum. In each lesson, the characters on Animal Island model joyful problem solving by using the 4C’s (communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking). The third layer of our curriculum reinforces learning through an interdisciplinary approach. For instance, in a vocabulary lesson, a toddler will gain exposure to the name of a shape or a color. To help reinforce the concept, it will appear in a different context. So, what is introduced during a vocabulary session will also appear as part of a future STEAM learning session. In this way, early learners gain confidence and cognitive flexibility through frequent exposure to key concepts across a variety of contexts over the course of eighteen months — a true learning adventure.
In all, attentive, supportive, and responsive fathers empower their children to take healthy risks and to discover solutions to the problems of their day. By raising resilient and confident children, fathers conduct the noble work of lifting the next generation of learners and leaders. And we at DMAI are here to support dad in his work.
Happy Father’s Day!
Dr. Delano Copprue