What Should We Talk About?

My favorite part of teaching was sharing evocative passages, affecting scenes, meaningful lyrics and innovative ideas with my students. We’d read, watch and listen to them, then think, talk and write about them.


It kept me from the curriculum. But then I’d think, Why isn’t this the curriculum? This is what kids need to learn! For example, after watching the scene where Tom Hanks scolds Geena Davis in A League of Their Own,


“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great!”


I’d share it with students and explain why I showed it to them. And now I’m sharing passages, scenes, lyrics and ideas with you with the goal of getting a thought-provoking, life-enhancing conversation going.

February 13, 2020

A small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. So instead of focusing on the assholes who hurt us, let's empower the angels who help us. We probably can't discourage the butt thrower downers, but we can encourage the butt picker uppers.

October 10, 2019

Nothing against Vanna White. She seems sweet.

Like all of us, she’s had her struggles – some devastating. Her fiancé was killed in a plane crash, and she had a very public miscarriage. (Her pregnancy was announced to the world as one of the puzzles on Wheel of Fortune --

V-A-N-N-A-S P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T.)


October 1, 2019

Dante wrote, Non c'è dolore più grande che ricordare nella miseria il momento in cui eravamo felici. (There is no greater sorrow than to recall in misery the time when we were happy.) So true. It's not the sad memories that make us saddest. It's the happy ones that tear us up.

July 18, 2019

In Fighting With My Family, Saraya (Florence Pugh) scolds her pouting brother Zak (Jack Lowden). His dreams of becoming a big-time professional wrestler are gone, and he can't cope. 

What she says to him affected me so much that I spontaneously reevaluated my life, which seems like a ridicu...

June 8, 2019

Recently, one of my former students, Aya Kusumoto, who went on to earn a BFA in Fashion Design from The California College of the Arts in San Francisco, updated me on her life.


May 4, 2019

This is Reshma Gajjar. 

If you saw Academy Award winning film, La La Land, you'll recognize her. She was the first to appear on screen in the opening number, "Another Day of Sun." 

When she was in 8th grade, Reshma was my daughters' babysitter. I asked her partly because I thought she'd be a soli...

March 13, 2019

Every year, every grade, in every class I ever taught, girls out-achieved boys

-- and it wasn't close. 

I'm surrounded by women and girls. I have a wife, two daughters and two granddaughters. No sons. No grandsons. Even my doggie, Kihei, is "my girl." 

So I'm drawn to astute advice for girls and women...

March 4, 2019

90 second read to motivate us to be better. Three people can do that are Jonas Salk, Reshma Saujani and Theodor Geisel.

December 7, 2018

A relatively obscure scene from the original ROCKY changed my life - and it may have the same effect on you.

November 26, 2018

"Nobody ever tells you beforehand how ridiculously hard it's going to be."

That utilitarian line from the late Adriennne Shelly's screenplay, The Waitress (1:14:15), is so much bigger than the context from which it was delivered. It was the only line from a fed-up, disenchanted mother of a bratty tod...

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