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 conversations started.

The Fate of Being a Sports Fan

I'm beginning this essay as the Royals come up in the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series. If they end up winning, I'll feel sad. If Madison Bumgarner writes history and the Giants hold on to their 3-2 lead, I'll be happy. I'm a self-determination guy. I don't like my mood to depend on something utterly out of my control. But sometimes it is. That's the pain and joy of being a sports fan. I hate it, and I love it. It makes me feel alive.


If you look closely into the foreground shadow, you can spot dog poo. You don't have to look closely at the background to see the doggy poop station, complete with trashcan and trash bags. Franz Kafka wrote, "There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness." C.S. Lewis wrote, "Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching." The laziness and absence of integrity depicted here is depressingly obvious. It's baffling how pathetic humans can behave. Or, not behave. As a teacher whose goal is to teach kids how to improve the world, it's a challenge to remain positive and battle on when I see something like this, almost literally, in my own backy


Not that long ago, if you wanted to play in the National Football League, particularly if you were a linemen, you pretty much had to take steroids. It wasn’t always that way. Before some mad scientist envisioned anabolic-androgenic steroids as athletic performance enhancers, if you were big, strong, fast, talented and, most of all, worked hard, you didn’t have to cheat. If you weighed a solid 275 pounds and, without the aid of pharmaceutical supplements, could bench press 400 pounds, you had a shot to make it. Then things changed. Starting in the 1970’s and reaching its peak (we think – we hope) in the 80’s and 90’s if you were honest and clean, you’d find yourself competing for a job agains