Schools

It’s like ”playing a game of 3D chess while standing on one leg in the middle of a hurricane.”

These were the words Richmond Superintendent of Schools and former recipient of the National Teacher of the Year, Jason Kamras, used to describe the process of planning for the opening of schools.

This vivid simile captures the complexity (3D chess), dexterity (standing on one leg) and danger (hurricane), that is inherent in what seems like a near impossible task.…


Results

I find “results” to be a perplexing word.  

When you see “results’ in print is your instinct to read it as a noun?  As in “I want results.”  Or do you read it as a verb — “when I do this, it results in that?”

Its origins date back to the French “resilire” which means “to rebound” and is the root word for resilience.  There is a looseness and flexibility in its original meaning that I admire.…


Thinking

Inside Bill’s Brain is a documentary series that invites us to see how Bill Gates thinks. Among the more remarkable practices is his long standing “think weeks,” where perplexed by a particular problem, he loads up a bag of books on that topic and takes off to a secluded cabin where he just thinks about that issue. Returning hopefully with a deeper understanding, a plan of action, perhaps even some solutions worthy of exploration.…


Tears

It happened as the parade of cars drove through our town, our children’s teachers beeping and beaming as we waved.

It happened as I attended the virtual graduation ceremony at City College and read the students and parents’ supportive and proud comments and emojis scroll down the Youtube Live chat box for an hour.

It happened as I watched each episode of Some Good News, as each story chronicled one beautiful act of appreciation after another.…


Feeling/Doing

“In one word, write down how you are feeling right now.”  

This was how I started each class over the last month at the two different universities where I teach.   

Students were encouraged not to use terms already added to the zoom chat by another student. Some results were predictable.  Anxious, tired, afraid, nervous, unsure – always made the list. More practical needs were also expressed – allergic, hungry – as were, albeit more rarely,  the aspirational – hopeful, grateful.…


Insufficient?

In the face of our current challenges, I’ve heard many echo my own feelings that our personal actions have been insufficient. This is especially true when we compare ourselves to others whose roles are deemed essential and actions heroic.

This sentiment at times comes when people reflect on their relative good fortune or privilege. But it is not limited to the lucky.

I’ve also spoken to those directly impacted by events.…


“A true genius….”

In the the film, And Justice for All, Al Pacino gives an impassioned speech about the meaning of justice and its pursuit. He is defending a judge he knows to be guilty of a heinous crime and is part of a system he knows to be imperfect if not corrupt.  He laments that justice is not the aim of a court proceeding, winning is.  

Ultimately he must choose whether to pursue this objective or to sacrifice ego and reward. …


Let’s see how your mind works

In this interview, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, recounted what attributes are common among musicians. One that resonated was the idea of musicians having especially patterned minds. The term refers to the ability to remember and think in patterns. In music this comes in especially handy in remembering chord progressions, lyrics etc. For an average person, we might be able to recite the words to a song we know only if we begin at a familiar place, like the beginning or at the chorus.…


Cats & Dogs: Two stories about kids and culture

As I walked my dog on a blistery January morning, I noticed that every block or two, bundled up children were being dutifully escorted to their street corner. Waiting for the bus to take them to elementary school.

It would be impossible to know the exact political orientation of the parents and grandparents who had risen early and braved the cold that morning.  But given that particular Pennsylvania town’s voting history, one might surmise that it was divided politically. …


What does a child feel?

We’ve all been there. Seemingly out of nowhere, a child just loses it.  These meltdowns have an almost surreal beginning, leaving us wondering, “Where the hell is this coming from? “  They quickly escalate into an exorcist-like demonic possession. What else can possibly explain what is being spewed from the mouths of babes?  The litany of complaints, grievances, and injustices fly out like one speaking in tongues.…