A new way to give thanks this Thanksgiving

This week provides a welcome respite for many, as we put aside our daily troubles, gather with family and friends, and pause to give thanks for what we have and those who helped make it possible. 
 
It can come in the form a few words over a meal, a phone call or a prayer.  All are valuable practices in gratitude.
 
But often these moments can be fleeting and soon replaced by Black Friday sales, workouts, and holiday movies.


To stay out of the dark, capture the light

Last week, for the first time ever, we saw a picture of a black hole.  In this primer of the experience, the New York Times described a black hole as a region in space that “swallows up everything too close, too slow or too small to fight its gravitational pull.” The edge of a black hole is marked by a ring of light, called the event horizon, represents light about to be drawn into the black hole “never to escape.” …


Small Invisible Acts

A man wrote a short story that he could not get published. So he included it in 200 Christmas cards he sent out to friends and family.
 
One of the cards ended up in the hands of a film director. He made a film based on that story.
 
It lost a fortune and the director never made a successful film again. He ultimately had to sell his production company and with it the rights to the film.


Thank You

As Thanksgiving approaches, I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for all of your support and interest in these weekly notes.

Thank you for taking a few minutes each Monday morning to read these emails.

Thank you for your emails to me filled with kind words and your own personal stories.

Thank you for forwarding these words to your friends and colleagues.

Thank you for posting them on social media.…


What Great Teachers Do

As I walked around my children’s classrooms, the walls were papered with new projects. The collective imagination of each class was surpassed only by the ingenious assignment that inspired it. Poems written by pairs of students describing what they had in common and what made them different, a quilt that showed the individual tastes and interests of each child woven together to make one fabric, an interview series between students discovering the likes and dislikes of a new friend in class.…


Introducing Your American Dream Score: Find Yours Today

Today, I’m excited to announce the release of Your American Dream Score, a simple online tool to find out what factors were working for and against your efforts to achieve the American Dream.
 
The tool was made possible with generous support from the Ford Foundation and is being launched in conjunction with WNET, America’s flagship PBS station, and its’ Chasing the Dream Initiative.

It takes less than five minutes to discover Your American Dream Score.


How To Save Art

During a classroom visit last week, my nine-year-old daughter showed me a project, featuring side-by-side drawings of the same subject – in her case spring. One was a realistic depiction and the second an abstract version. Accompanying the pictures was a biography on the Russian artist Kandinsky whose work they learned had a similar transition from the realistic to abstract.

The most remarkable thing about this lesson in perspective was that it was not part of their art class, but instead central to a social studies unit on Russia.…


Do You Feel Lucky?

On the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day, I wondered about the phrase, “luck of the Irish.”

I had just watched a PBS documentary on Irish history and they didn’t seem very lucky at all.  Considering:

  • The great potato famine took over one million lives and drove another million to emigrate – decreasing the population of Ireland by almost 25%.
  • Their war for independence from England caused a lasting divide between Unionists in Northern Ireland and Nationalists in Southern Ireland.

One Woman’s March

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to be in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards, where white clouds of bloom drifted above the green land. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines.”


Who Is Your “Everyone”?

“Who is your everyone? Chess masters scarcely surround themselves with motocross racers. Do you want aborigines at your birthday party? Or is that yak butter tea you are serving…. Each people know only its own squares in the weave, its wars and instruments and arts, and also perhaps the starry sky.”

In her essay, “This is the Life,” Annie Dillard eloquently writes about our limited worldviews.…