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.

What Every Student Should Learn from Ronda Rousey

If you’re familiar with fighters, you know all about Ronda Rousey. If you’re not, all you need to know is that she’s the baddest woman alive. And she’s attractive. That killer combination is making her a lot of money. Ronda Rousey, The ESPY awards Which is nice to know because, for a time, she was living out of her car. Now she’s on top of her world, winning the 2015 “Best Female Athlete” ESPY. So, along with fortune and fame, Rousey also has a platform. When she speaks, people pay attention. They should because she speaks honestly and without filters. She dropped out of high school (later earning her GED), but don’t sell her short with regard to her education. There are lots of ways to lea

Drew Henson Lesson #2: Teachers as Scouts

When Drew Henson’s professional football and baseball careers didn’t blow up (more like blew up), he became a scout for the Yankees. He’s learning the trade and, apparently, he likes it and he’s good at it. Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel wrote, “Henson embraced the scout’s life and the challenge of projecting what a 17-year-old prospect might develop into at 25.” Isn’t that what teachers do, too? At least, isn’t that what we should be doing? Shouldn’t part of every teacher’s job description be to embrace the challenge of projecting what a seven, twelve or seventeen-year-old might develop into at 25? Or 35, 45 or 75. It’s not easy to do. It’s hard to look at a kid and not see just a kid.

Drew Henson Lesson #1: Diversify or Specialize?

In this summer’s Sports Illustrated “Where Are They Now?” edition, Drew Henson was featured. Unless you’re a huge sport fan or lived in Michigan 15 years ago, I’m betting you don’t know who Drew Henson is. Henson was a huge two-sport star. In high school, he threw 52 touchdown passes and hit 70 home runs. And that was the problem. When you’re exceptionally interested in and talented at two things, which one do you choose? Wait a minute; should you choose? Do you have to choose? At first, Henson chose baseball. He signed with the Yankees. But when he didn’t have the kind of success he expected, he switched to football. He played briefly for Dallas, Minnesota and Detroit, but was ultimately wa

Coolest African Proverbs

I found them on Pinterest. Should that matter? Will people judge the quality of the content by the source of the content? Perhaps, but so what? Why should it matter where you find something that makes you think? Anyway, I was searching for this quote my friend, Dr. Jan Fry, told me about: Don’t you love that? So, by happenstance, I found this very cool site. https://www.pinterest.com/africare/african-proverbs/ Makes me want to go get an education in Africa. My four favorites: The axe forgets; The tree remembers. The lion doesn’t turn around when a small dog barks. Life is full of questions. Idiots are full of answers. Don’t set sail on someone else’s star. I feel like I could write a book

Clipped Wings and Scanners

The parrot's name is Barco. She lives in a dimly lit, dirt-floored house in an isolated Nicaraguan community called El Progreso. I met her while learning how to prepare tortillas on a skillet over a wood fire. "Why doesn't she fly away?" someone from our visiting Bay Area group wondered. "Her wings are clipped." Pitiably, they were. She'd flap them furiously, but she wasn't going anywhere. It hurt my heart. There's something terribly sad about a bird that can't fly. Barco, I thought, is a metaphor for the people of El Progreso. Their wings, too, had been clipped. I looked around at the economic poverty that engulfs the region. Just like Barco, the students enrolled at Escuela El Progreso ca


If I asked myself one of my favorite questions to ask other teachers – If you had one period to teach one lesson to one class, what lesson would it be? – I'd answer "immerse." It's arguably the most important lesson we can learn and teach. So much so, that it's the primary purpose of this website. What we read, listen to and watch is vital to our happiness and success. Where we place ourselves and with whom we spend our time is the primary determinant of the quality of our lives. But we have to work for it. Unless we're born into extraordinarily fortunate circumstances, we won't be be magically immersed in quality. We have to go look for it. Recently, I did. It was far from easy, but with he