Archive | November, 2009

Our Many Educations

David Brooks wrote a brilliant column today in the Friday New York Times titled "The Other Education." In short, Brooks talked about those other people, experiences, and factors that make up our education, often in much more powerful ways, than school ever will. For him, it was Bruce Springsteen: his music, his life, his example. […]

What We Did: The Divided Life

Day before Thanksgiving, a few kids gone, all eager to get done and begin the short but much needed vacation (and complete and submit their college applications online!). Also, they are wrapping up a critical theory paper (see assignment below) on Hamlet which is due Monday. So I needed an activity that was related to […]

Can You Recommend Yourself?

I have been working all evening on letters of recommendation for students of mine. While it is not my favorite thing to do, I find some satisfaction in playing my part to recommend them to the world based on their fine work in my class. The one question from the form that intrigues me and […]

Otherwise: Thanksgiving

I have a number of people in my life, though not in my immediate family, whose lives have changed lately, suddenly, utterly–and none for the better. Many of them are teachers or otherwise involved in education. This work, which is so important, demands so much. The coming days offer time to reflect, refresh, rejuvenate before […]

Teaching at the 18-Yard Line

       You come back from four rich days at NCTE to find you have one full period before a mandatory sub-day (to score district writing assessments with all the other English teachers in a cold room on hard chairs with no coffee all day) then a short day before Thanksgiving vacation. On this one […]

Creating a Community, a Conversation

We create many things but the most fragile, though often important, creation is a community and the conversation that sustains that community. Nearly a year ago I created the English Companion Ning, which has grown in a year to ten thousand people who are involved in the English language arts community. Tonight a group of […]


I am blogging this week from Philadelphia, PA where the annual NCTE convention is being held. If I had to identify one concept, one word that ran throughout the day today it would be this: voice. What you hear when you listen to the leaders of the field, to those presenting, even those passionately arguing […]

Of the Many Minds: Talk About Two

There are many minds, many intellectual styles, as people like Gardner and Sternberg have taught us in the last twenty years. Fine. Granted. What if, however, we were educating increasing numbers into a mindset that required a paint-by-numbers mentality versus a creative, generative, innovative mentality that was able to consider problems, texts, topics from multiple […]

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