Friday 5: Finland, Swim Class, Sod Schoolhouses

The one-room schoolhouse is the stuff of legend in modern-day North America, and in an era when 4,000-student high schools are not uncommon, it’s easy to forget that one-room schools still exist. In “Lessons to be Learned from a One-Room Schoolhouse” from CBS News, we hear about how in some towns across the country, education is still flourishing the old-fashioned way. Continue reading

The Capitol Dome and Its Two Cities

Capitol DomeFor a year after I graduated from college, I worked as an educator in the shadow of one of the weightiest symbols in the world, the embodiment of all of the ideals that make up the great ideological experiment that is America. The Capitol Dome feels omnipresent when one travels around Washington, DC, and the city planners have made sure of that Continue reading

25 Years After Tiananmen, We’re Still Learning

tiananmen-vase-banner

“Don’t be a vase.”

“In darkness dwells a people which knows its annals not.”

                               –Ulrich B Phillips

So much of what happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989 is still unknown to the Chinese people and the rest of the world as a result of the active information suppression and distortion by the Chinese government.

They don’t want their people to know of the atrocities that the government committed there, but they also don’t want their people to know about the 7 weeks of non-violent, student-led demonstrations that preceded the bloodshed. Continue reading

Identity Impacts Education, and Vice Versa

Education and IdentityThere’s a growing body of scholarship around how students’ social identities impact their educational experiences, but it’s so important to consider how education affects their identities as well. In fact, I think it’s entirely possible that identity and education interact with each other as a cycle, or even a series of them, in which identity and our experiences in education feed into each other in different and overlapping ways. For some students and teachers, that cycle plays out every day and in some unexpected (and challenging) ways. Continue reading

Gordie Howe and the Voyageurs Sparked My Love of History

Michigan MapI really liked school when I was a kid, but in 4th grade, I discovered that history was my first great love. It all started with my Michigan state history class, when I learned that my goofy-shaped home was a pretty great place to live.

The textbooks we used—some of the first that I had encountered in my young educational career—had worn-out brown covers and were Continue reading

LeVar Burton Was My First Black Friend

LeVarBurton_headshotYou might say that LeVar Burton is one of the first black people I ever met. And that’s exactly how the producers and executives at PBS wanted it.

I grew up in a very white bread town in Northern Michigan. With the exception of a handful of Native American residents whose families lived on that land long before the voyageurs ever showed up, the vast majority of folks in that town and for hundreds of miles around were white. Despite that, I still felt like I knew people who looked and lived differently than I did, Continue reading

Friday 5: Adult Napping, Diversity, Graduation 2014

I’m not in the habit of throwing around free advertising, but this new Google Search commercial is a fantastic tribute to 2014 graduates. It showcases the terrors of being a freshman to the triumphs of senior year and everything in between. It’s worth your 90 seconds.

Education Week Teacher put out a call a couple of weeks ago Continue reading

“The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever”: A Whole Lotta Wisdom in One Place

Cap and Tassel

According to NPR, I’ve been present for 3 of the best commencement speeches ever given.

Every once in a while, I have a moment when I discover yet another reason why I am exceedingly lucky. It usually sneaks up on me. A good friend sent me this link the other day to an NPR compilation of over 300 of the best commencement speeches ever given in America. It’s so well-indexed that you can search it by name, school, date, and theme. Of course I searched for my Alma mater, the University of Michigan. But I was surprised to find that I’ve attended 3 of the speeches on this list. That’s probably more than almost everyone in America.

Larry Page, the founder of Google, was the commencement speaker of my graduation in 2009. Richard Costolo, the founder of Twitter, was the speaker at my master’s graduation last spring. I believe the University of Michigan was trying to send me a message that pursuing the humanities was the wrong course of action for me. I also got to listen to President Obama’s speech when one of my friends graduated in 2010, which involved a great deal of people laughing hysterically at him chuckling at himself. The man’s got a lot of fans in Ann Arbor.

I have to admit that I didn’t fully appreciate sitting in the stands of the Big House during those speeches, and I suspect the nerves I experienced during those days (and let’s be honest, the several boring minutes involved) have kept me from remembering many of those wise words. For those reasons, I’m really grateful that those moments were recorded and are now available in this impressive list. And I’m glad that other people now have the chance to hear some of the wise words that I’ve heard.

Here are the links to those three speeches, along with my favorite quotes:

Larry Page, 2009

“Find the leverage in the world so you can be truly lazy.”

President Barack Obama, 2010

“Government shouldn’t try to guarantee results but it should guarantee a shot at opportunity for every American who’s willing to work hard.”

Richard Costolo, 2013

“When I was your age, we didn’t have the Internet in our pants. We didn’t even have the Internet not in our pants. That’s how bad it was.”

 

 

 

“The Recyclers”: Music Education–and Hope–for a Community

Watch this clip. You won’t believe your ears. Last night’s episode of 60 Minutes featured a story about a school orchestra in Paraguay. But this is no ordinary group. Their instruments are composed entirely of materials found at the local dump. Continue reading