The Joy Of Teaching

6 Apr

Badly does an enemy treat his enemy, a foeman his foe: worse is the havoc wrought by a misdirected mind (Buddha)

It was a revelation. As I received my first period as a substitute, I recognized a few of the sophomores I had worked with a year ago. They had an interesting assignment left by their regular teacher in English II, the analysis of a poem written by a concentration camp survivor.

Continue reading

Effective Partnerships

29 Mar

STEM, a common acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is all the rage these days in public schools, as is the tendency to convert high schools into Early College, where students can earn an associate degree when they graduate. In Chicago, on the other hand, an experiment is underway with a six-year high school at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, a joint project between the city and IBM, the school’s sponsor.

Continue reading

Political Football

18 Mar

This Common Core math worksheet offers a glimpse into Kafkaesque third-grade hell
(Read more

Obama math: under new Common Core, 3 x 4 = 11 [VIDEO]) (idem)

First of all, the Common Core curriculum sweeping the nation is not a product of the Obama administration:

While the Common Core has been voluntarily adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, it has stirred controversy (

Adopted by 45 states out of 50; is this fact proof that the common core is an imposition by Washington as some extreme right wingers affirm?

Continue reading

Creating A Good Future

13 Mar


A great man talks to all as equals; a vain man considers himself as superior; a wise man will let the fool speak without passing judgment.

It’s the middle of spring break and the weather is not cooperating; of course, as a recently retired teacher, this week feels the same as every other one, except for much less traffic in town. Still, a part of me misses the relationship with students and staff. I keep wondering whether the special needs teens who were assigned to me are doing well. My natural vanity believed nobody else could make a difference for them. Nonsense of course, but I know some teachers lack the vocational fire needed to do the job.

Continue reading

Short and Sweet: A classic video about income inequality in America

3 Mar


Interesting video for multiple reasons. One of the most important is because it shows us how much we DONT know. The beginning of the video reports the results of a nationwide study that asked 5,000 people about what they ‘thought’ the income distribution was in the United States. They were not even close to being accurate… No matter if you think income inequality is acceptable at current levels, it is important that we at least have a realistic portrayal of the facts. This video is a short step in that direction.

View original post


3 Mar

“There are jobs for burger flippers and Ph.D.s but not much in between..six growing categories are in the $15-an-hour service gigs.” (Ranal Foroohar, Time, February 10, 2014)

This super smart lady is probably the most accurate observer and predictor of economic trends I have had the pleasure to follow. She also mentions a brilliant idea put forth by the President last year when he praised new educational models such as the six-year high school in New York and Chicago; there, giant companies such as IBM and Microsoft help design the curriculum to make kids employable.

Continue reading

A Sacred Task

28 Feb

29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (The Bible)

Is there a more important task for new parents than to prepare their children to become fully functional adults? To grant them emotional stability and humility? To ensure their high level of self-confidence? To teach them to care for their minds as they must care for their bodies?

Quite an assignment for young couples who fervently wish a happy family and healthy children; however, where is the curriculum they must follow to be ready for this most important task?

Continue reading

Stand And Deliver

19 Feb  (Great Toon) 

Observe, Study Evidence, and Establish Goals and Means to achieve them.

Every school administrator is trained in observing and rating teachers, whatever their experience and academic level. Even though there are some criteria established by each district, the actual process is highly subjective. Because of time constraints, the observer spends less than 30 minutes a semester to fill his or her evaluation form. Needless to say, a highly paid employee in the private industry would be offended and rightly irate if the same procedure were applied to decide on promotions and/or salary increase.

Continue reading

Big Questions

13 Feb

The key goals for learning communities are to encourage integration of learning across courses and to involve students with “big questions” that matter beyond the classroom.


This quote from a research paper by George D. Kuh, “High-Impact Educational Practices”, focuses on college students, but his findings apply just as well to all public schools learners.

Continue reading

I, Robot

4 Feb

With bricks, action, and hues as vibrant as tropical sunsets, Lego created a way for novices to learn the basics of structural engineering: bracing, tension, and compression, loading constraints, building to scale.(Smithsonian magazine, May 2013, Block Party)

Remember the old days, 40 years ago, when kids wanted a chemistry set or a primitive microscope for Christmas? They also wanted Lego blocks in that very distant past, but those relics have nothing in common with today’s marvels. Lego, founded in Denmark in 1916 by Ole Kirk (yes, like Captain Kirk of legend) took off when he started making miniature models of larger tools and furniture. The first wooden blocks appeared in 1947 and were an instant hit with kids.

Continue reading