This past week was Homecoming at the high school where I teach. My students who were sophomores when I first started are now seniors, and since the first week in September I’ve repeatedly heard from them, “I can’t believe this is my last [fill in the blank].” Some say it with great relief, others with … Continue reading Coming Home Will Sustain You (or, how a 50-year-old embarrassingly crashed a Homecoming dance)
I'm astounded at the level of ignorance people numbly accept. Never have we lived in an age with so much knowledge and data so easily accessible, yet we want very little of it. For hundreds of years--no, for thousands of years, education was the coveted goal of nearly all people. To learn to read? Have … Continue reading There is always hope and options; bizarrely, we don’t seem to want them.
In the coming weeks, many of my graduating seniors will be heading off to college, and as I've chatted with a few of them, it's clear that the reality of what they're doing--leaving rural Maine and heading out in the real, nasty world--is settling on their shoulders as easily as a Ford truck. Questions of, … Continue reading You don’t know what’s down that road, but since even wrong roads can become right, take that road already!
This is my mantra, because I am a coward, always have been. Yet I recently found myself sitting in Logan Airport in Boston, MA and realized I’d gotten there all by myself which, just a few years ago, would have been impossible. I’m scared of traveling because too many things can go wrong. I hate … Continue reading I know it’s scary; do it anyway.
This week in school I taught about the rescuers during the Holocaust and WWII. (We're reading a Holocaust memoir and I like to give my students historical context.) We learned about Irena Sendler, who smuggled out 2,500 babies and children from the Warsaw Ghetto, and about Oskar Schindler whose list preserved the lives of 1,200 … Continue reading Quit protesting and start doing; it’s not the government’s job but ours
Students raising their hands during class? I used to think that was a good thing . . . for the first week of teaching. Since then I've discovered that what they say will be as relevant as dandruff shampoo is to Medusa. We may be in the middle of comparing propaganda during WWII to modern … Continue reading A student is raising a hand: brace yourself!
["Lit," by the way, is the trendy way to say "cool," or "neato, daddio." Just typing that last one is totally not "lit".] These lines are what I hope none of my students will ever say about my class: These lines are also why I often read out loud to them, because even though they're 10th graders, … Continue reading Books? Thinking? Are those “lit”?
When the incomparable composer John Williams was shown a cut of "Schindler's List," and Steven Spielberg asked to him to compose the score, Williams was so moved that he humbly said, "You need a better composer." To which Spielberg replied, "I know, but they're all dead." Spielberg himself had put off directing the movie for … Continue reading “I’m not good enough.” “No, you’re not. But there’s no one else to do it.”
In my experience, those who become defensive and angry in a discussion are those who aren't sure their position is correct. They respond with anger when they're afraid of being found out, when they're afraid they might be wrong. That's always been a good reminder for me when I find my ire raising: something's not … Continue reading Defensiveness arises when we suspect we may be wrong
“You’re sophomores now,” I told my new batch of high school students last week, “which means you’re realizing that there’s more going on than you used to think. For example, you’ve been lied to since kindergarten. Answer me this: what color is the sky?” I’ve written about this debate in my first books, and carry the … Continue reading “The sky is blue.” We’ve been giving our kids fake news since kindergarten, and why that’s a growing problem