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.


Starting today, Christmas Day, let’s recommit to the life-enhancing power of positive immersion. What are we allowing to affect us? What are we feeding our minds? Step one in positive immersion is to be more conscious about what we read and watch. To what do we listen? Into what environments do we place ourselves? With whom do we associate? Step two is to make excellent choices. When we choose to immerse in high quality, we are more likely to become high quality. The TED Radio Hour with Guy Raz is outstanding. Listening to it will make you feel better, smarter and wiser. There are a number of inspiring TED Radio Hour programs, but “Courage” is my favorite – so far. Want to improve the world?


What about the parents? Or the grandparents. Or the aunts or uncles or “guardians.” What’s their responsibility? What about a report card for the supposed “role models”? Like most educators I’m sick of being blitzed by the barrage of anti-teacher propaganda. CNN’s documentary, IVORY TOWER, hints at it with references to incoming students requiring remedial work. Underprepared first-years? Got to be the teachers’ fault. Marshall Tuck’s push to unseat California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson failed, but not before Tuck turned much of the public against teachers, blaming them for “underperforming schools.” (By the way, how can a SCHOOL underperform? Students underperform.