Tag Archives: education

Thank You Mister Reagan

If you are one of those good Americans who is concerned that the educational standards of today are lower than those of yesteryear, let me present Exhibit A to the contrary.


Yes.  That is my name, along with the words “Outstanding Academic Achievement” (and the signatures of William Bennett and Ronald Reagan so you know this is tots legit). The fact that yours truly received an award for academic achievement at some point in the 1980s, is as good an argument for some sort of parallel universe as any. It’s possible that the words “outstanding” or “academic” or “achievement” meant something different in the 1980’s than they do now, but I don’t remember any sort of definitional shift in the past decades. The most logical explanation is that kids are smarter now than they were back in the day. Occam’s Razor and all that.  So feel better America.  If this trend continues, today’s academic achievers will be tomorrow’s knot heads.  Hmmm. I wonder if the corollary is that today’s knot heads will be tomorrow’s raving idiots.  I can’t wait.  (Yes friends and family, it could be argued that tomorrow may already be here.)

Staying Inside the Lines

happy grumpy

I’m not sure what it is about high school girls and coloring.  If you don’t spend a lot of time with high school girls, you might be surprised.  They do it a lot.  I don’t usually keep coloring book pages from my students.  I’m not sure why I did these.  Part of me thinks it’s a harmless way for these kids to express themselves “artistically” while experiencing a bit of nostalgia for the good old days.  Another part of me sees high school kids coloring the same way you might view a high school kid riding a bike with training wheels.  Move on buddy.  I hear a lot whenever an assignment involves any kind of art element.  “I can’t draw.” “Can I draw stick people?”  “I’m afraid of doing anything that I might not be good at, something that others will see and make fun of.” Ok, they don’t say that last one, but I think that’s mostly what it’s all about. Somewhere we’ve so devalued the process of making or writing or drawing something, and we’ve so focused on the correct outcome, that kids are afraid to try, to put themselves out there.  I know part of being a teenager is not wanting to look dumb or draw the wrong kind of attention to oneself, but I think there’s more going on here than just that. I wish I had focused more on that in my teaching, more on putting yourself out there, on taking chances and failing.  I will try to make that more of a priority for my kids in the future. I know that there are times when it’s important to know the right answer or to know how to do something correctly.  But in this day and age, most of that information is a google search away. It’s the doing, the trying, that’s important. And girls (who do most of the coloring) are in an even greater danger of this fear which leads to the safety of staying inside the lines rather than the boldness of making their own way, taking their own chances, of drawing their own lines in the world.

This Bud’s for You


I think it was my first senior trip as a senior sponsor. The trip was to St. Louis, and one of our stops was the brewery tour. Maybe that doesn’t seem that appropriate for a high school trip, but it’s pretty educational, and it’s free. After the tour everyone is treated to drinks in the hospitality room. I declined beer, I was partially in charge of some high school kids after all, and opted for an orange energy drink which the guy served up in a half pint beer glass. Back at a table full of kids, a boy asked me what I got. “I don’t know,” I said, “something orange.” I slid it across the table to him. “Want to try it?” I could immediately read the faces of the kids at my table and the nearby tables. They thought I’d returned with a beer and offered it to a student. Apparently the kids weren’t the only ones that thought I was enjoying a refreshing orange colored beer. The other sponsors did too. . .