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 Two Lessons Imbedded in Kelly Clarkson’s Heartwrenching American Idol Performance

The first time I watched Kelly’s achingly lovely homage to her devoted husband and concurrent condemnation of her far-from-ideal father, I cried. Then, when I saw it again, my eyes welled up a second time. And I’m not the only one who was so moved. Idol judges Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez’s expressions during Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece” were beautifully empathetic. Anyone not affected by her from-the-soul lyrics has a questionable capacity for compassion. Two tender lyrics are especially evocative and worth analyzing. 1. “But your love isn’t free. It has to be earned.” Kelly felt she had to earn her father’s love. How pitiful is that? No child should have to earn her parents’ love. Parents

Is indoctrination always bad?

All the synonyms for indoctrinate aren’t negative. There’s coach, teach and train. I like those. But then there's brainwash, program and propagandize. I don't like those. For the most part, indoctrinate has a bad rep. Its connotation is negative. I know that at my high school, students will fight it as if it’s the Zika virus. They consider themselves too “educated” to be indoctrinated. Which is good because there is little danger that they’ll end up being one of those bafflingly gullible teenagers whose lives must be so inconceivably hopeless that they’ll submit to the indoctrination of planet poisoning cliques such as ISIS. But it’s not 100% great. When kids reject all coaching, teaching a