Sunday, October 31, 2010


Luke & Dad's Fifth Year and a Quarter

When I was growing up in the eighties, the American auto industry was under siege by Japanese manufacturers. The press proclaimed the end of U.S. innovation leadership. Japanese cars were cheaper, better made, and after years of comfortable dominance, the U.S. was caught sitting on its hands.

I've since investigated the source of the innovation culture in Japan. I learned Japan's "technical superiority" had little to do with their success. Instead, the Japanese created a novel approach to manufacturing called Kaizen which means “change for the better."

Instead of treating line workers as brainless robots, the empowered them to innovate the manufacturing process. It made all the difference. Core to Kaizen was problem solving method called "5 Whys." Ask "why" to a problem five successive times and you drill down to the root cause.

Children practice Kaizen too. Some, like you, more rigorously. I call it Kaizenathon or "50 Whys." It's sometimes hard to be patient during these intensive interrogations. A line of questioning can last hours and you have a habit of starting these right before bed! Nonetheless, it is a blessing to witness your mind making connections that make up a web of knowledge.

Sometimes I'm stumped.

Not all knowledge is accessed through bridges. Some ideas are islands unto themselves. Those are particularly hard to explain by fathers.

This fall, we made the tough decision to switch from Aiden Montessori to The River School. The reason was simple: Rachel and I felt a smaller class size would better engage Cashy and you. We didn't want the two of you lost in a sea of twenty children. River is also in the Palisades, within walking distance. We like feeling close to you guys! Nonetheless, its was a painful decision because we liked the Montessori approach and our friends there.

At The River School, you are in the "Beaver" class and you have three teachers: Mrs. Insley, Ms. Kim, and Ms. Brown. Your best friend is another blonde boy named Charlie Magruder. Apparently you two tear it up.

To give you a sense of the enthusiasm you have for River School, on Halloween you demanded to dress as a beaver (see roundup above). Rachel and I obliged of course and how could we not? More fun pictures for your wedding day!