Teaching is . . .

Teaching is . . . Teaching is not easy. No matter what some in society may think. Not the commitment to every single child in the individualized way that his/her personality, skill-level, and learning style demand. Not the unlimited reservoir of patience and relationship creativity that being present to young people requires. Not the countless hours planning andContinue reading “Teaching is . . .”

I. Deep beneath, the Fault Line agitates

I. Deep beneath, the Fault Line agitates A Triptych Deep beneath the swiftly changing, ever dangerous political surface of public education, is there a single tremulous fault line causing these hostile currents? Could one such tectonic fault line, tremoring and quaking, cause even the present tsunami of empiricism in education? Deep within the sea of our human consciousness, then reflected in political action, areContinue reading “I. Deep beneath, the Fault Line agitates”

The Tin Man

The Tin Man “Mine is not a story to pass on,” the student offers, resigned, yet knowing full well that I will. How can I, an American educator, not? “Who will listen, anyway?” the perennial American student continues. Plenty. What is this story you don’t want passed on? “Well . . . “ I’m listening.Continue reading “The Tin Man”

An Ode to Teachers

An Ode to Teachers As energies, giving and taking do not dwell well within one special human, a teacher. To teachisTo give.Always. To fight is to want to take.Now.And, as teachers, we will fight. When backed into corners, teachers fight. Class size. Salaries. Pensions. These are things teachers should fight with society’s decision makers about. Teachers in allContinue reading “An Ode to Teachers”


Humanism Recently, two young teachers recently offered me wildly contrasting views on humanist education. You know, humanism, where [1] the individual student’s cognitive, social, and emotional development is the teacher’s and school’s central focus and [2] the curriculum accentuates “an inclusive sensibility for our species, planet, and lives.” One of the teachers sees humanist education more to the right, regrettablyContinue reading “Humanism”

Belmont Avenue

Belmont Avenue Evening. Chicago.Late 80s. Just endedSpring showerSteams the warmPavement.A Big appetiteNeighborhoodWith more walkers thanWheelsAnd moremale walkers than female. Et tu, César. After eating at a Greek diner, Cyrene and I stroll down a busy Belmont Avenue. Cyrene enjoys regaling me with stories of his many summers spent in Montreal. I, recently an undergrad, have little conception ofContinue reading “Belmont Avenue”


Charlie “Youngster, you don’t know shit.” At one point or another, what teacher or parent hasn’t thought something like this about a teenager’s attitude? The thought consoles us in an adolescent’s particular moment of petulance. Programmed by nature, the adolescent is pinging us and, damn, sometimes we want to ping back. Remarkably, I know ofContinue reading “Charlie”

The Forest

The Forest Hiking through the forest, studying the leaves . . . “Forest” learning begins with large wonderings. “Leaf” education focuses on curricular leaves while (unintentionally) disregarding much of the forest. Below are ten examples of rich, forest-based, senior wonderings from North Lawndale College Prep High School in Chicago. As students walk through the interdisciplinaryContinue reading “The Forest”

Large fish

Large fish “Large fish in small bowls…” was how she put it. A junior in a creative writing course, she and her classmates had been tasked with developing a metaphor to describe their own eyes, then somehow to create a poem around that image. Her poem, a lucid and highly imaginative extended metaphor grappling with self-understandingContinue reading “Large fish”

Tidal Arguments

Tidal Arguments “Write the book, will ya!” For a while now, many colleagues and friends have urged me to write a book. You know this type of book. Narratives about my experience as a teacher of so many young people in such vastly different urban contexts: secondary public (charter, magnet, and test-based selective enrollment), Catholic, andContinue reading “Tidal Arguments”

What if

What if . . . …we have had it all wrong? To start, what if we rightly assumed that America’s vitality necessitates a thriving middle class? A sine qua non. Further, what if we have built our society’s basic structures — education, jobs, housing — to edify the vitality of that middle class? But, what if, whileContinue reading “What if”