Look at any school district’s Mission Statement and you’ll find the term ‘Lifelong Learner’. Education, the thinking goes (correctly), is a universal necessity to all human beings in all walks and stages of life. A school’s job, then, is not merely to impart knowledge or skill but create citizens who never stop learning. It’s not enough to learn to read and write and count; everyone needs to know HOW to learn to read and write and count, so they can go on to learn a zillion other things.
But nothing quite exposes the hypocrisy or contradiction of our education system…
A nation is not an individual; it’s a family. The type of family — patriarchal or matriarchal, multigenerational or single parent — is often neatly captured by a country’s politics. Fiercely patriarchal religious families are ruled by Sheiks and Sultans in the Middle East. Messy multigenerational families bicker and shout and somehow noisily get along in India and other parts of Asia. Democratic communal families muddle through their ill-defined or overlapping roles in Europe. Male-dominated autocracies rule Russia and half of South America.
America has always been what we Americans would call ‘traditional’. That is to say, 2 parents and…
In schools across America, games are treated as secondary to learning, even counterproductive. Unless a game has some utilitarian purpose — a math puzzle, for example — it’s given little value. We do not study games in school, nor do we practice or perfect them in class. We treat games the way we treat a pencil or paper, as a tool. But once the game itself becomes the focal point of an exercise, it’s then considered a violation, a pleasurable indulgence standing in the way of actual academic learning.
As a teacher, I spend a significant amount of time kicking…
It’s not much of an observation to note that schools are communities. Nor is it very insightful to observe that within the larger community of neighborhood, town, state, or nation, schools play an essential role in prosperity, security, and stability. Neither is it surprising to consider how powerful the community aspects of a school are to the students themselves, from their sense of belonging to their academic performance to whatever roles they are trained to take up as adults.
Nor is it much of an insight to observe that schools are also charged with providing an education. …
1. Scale. If you made a thousand dollars a day, you’d have a million in 3 years. A billion? 2,740 years.
To earn a million dollars in a year, you’d have to make about $500 an hour, not including holidays. To get to a billion dollars in a year, you’d have to earn sixty dollars every second of every day, sixty seconds an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days. $3,600 an hour. Most billionaires took about 10 years to get there, amassing wealth at around $6 a second for a decade. Amazon’s Bezos increased his wealth last year from…
I once edited an industry trade magazine.
The first issue I put out misspelled ‘November’ on the cover. ‘Novvember.’
On the cover.
It was a tiny outfit, with half a dozen employees, almost all of them in sales. I was the editor, head writer, and layout artist. Nearly all our stories were culled from press releases or industry announcements. Everything else was me and a couple freelancers. Editing the freelancers and press releases was easy. I could see their errors, shape their writing to the magazine’s audience and purpose and length.
It was my own stuff that was hard, even…
A poverty of meaning and purpose.
A poverty of satisfied desire.
A poverty of desire.
A poverty of ownership.
A poverty of Latin roots for not, nor, against, away.
A poverty of choice.
A poverty of decision.
A poverty of order, structure, design.
A poverty of leadership, control, god.
A poverty of solitude, of silence and sleep and peace.
A poverty of sky and plant, cloud and hill.
A poverty of beauty and youth, of unbridled joy.
A poverty of innocence.
A poverty of wisdom, of earned insight.
A poverty of experience, adventure and adrenaline, victory.
A poverty of defeat.
A poverty of dreams.
In a nutshell, 30 years ago we started focusing on skills in primary and secondary schools. Which left a void, because you can’t teach any skill without content. Hammering nails is a skill. Building a house is content. So is making cabinets and chairs. Hammering nails is something everyone can learn; the same can’t be said of making a decent chair.
But you can’t just teach people how to hammer nails any more than you can simply teach kids how to read and count. They’ve got to read and count something. Which isn’t to say we haven’t tried. The attempt…
The boys walked out one late night.
Two didn’t return.
I was staring at the grass,
the Pakistani weedy grass, flowered, the sky, the hawks wheeling above.
I was thinking about death,
and in my open hands were words.
They are gone now, gone before I could grasp them.
There were a thousand of us, but only a few strangers like me.
At first, outside the mosque, we clumped
in the Lahore heat.
Those few of us in suits choked by our ties,
the rest — the thousands — in black shalwar.
So many foreign things. Not a woman present,
and a thousand men there…
And It Wasn’t a Bad Decision
The crux of it, the hindsight thesis, is that my wife and I took our two young, innocent, American and Americanized children to a place of violence. Did we know? There’s a yes and no answer to that question. But yeah, we knew what was happening in Pakistan before we went.
We’d accepted teaching positions at the Lahore American School, in Lahore, Pakistan. This was January 2007, for jobs beginning in August of 2008. Our children were in 3rd and 6th grades when we left Florida, with everything we owned in nine duffel bags…
just another frustrated teacher