Mere Philosophy for Better Thesis Writing (Moving from “Whatever!” to “So What?”)

High school and college English teachers frequently admonish their students to get their writing to answer the question: So what? Mere philosophy can help in coaching students to make better thesis connections in their writing. There might even be healthy motivational side-effects for teachers and students as we compose ourselves in the process.

Mere Philosophy for Thoughtful End-of-the-Year Speeches with Juniors and Seniors

Our school is doing a quarter block schedule that I’ve got mixed feelings about. The strangest part of the experience is having some of my seniors do their end-of-the-year graduation speeches at the end of the third quarter, which was last week. This year, I also had my juniors do a reflective speech on how their personal philosophies developed through a year of dealing with COVID. Despite the quarter block scheduling’s weird timing, I was delighted with my juniors and seniors’ content, thoughtfulness, and delivery this year. Here, I follow up with a few reflections.

Monkeying with Productivity Metaphors

I was recently reading part of Cal Newport’s helpful book on A World without Email. In one part, Newport  analyzes our complex, evolutionary relationships to Baboons and productivity while trying to work with our email challenges. I couldn’t help but remember another far less philosophical book on productivity that I read in the 90s: The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Kenneth Blanchard, William Oncken, Jr., and Hall Burrows. The monkey metaphor represents any given project and still helps me think productively and humorously about our work as teachers and students. (No actual monkeys were harmed in the drafting and launching of this blog post.) 

Finished and Unfinished Thinking about Teaching and the Easter Season

With a few days to go until spring break, I’m wrapping up another semester/quarter of teaching on a condensed block schedule. I’m once again realizing how difficult endings can be. The theme of endings got me thinking about my experiences with philosophy, spirituality, and the meaning(s) of life.

For Colorado’s Meat Out Controversy, Here’s Some Helpful Humor from Baxter Black’s “A Vegetarian’s Nightmare”

Recently, our Colorado governor issued a “Meat Out Proclamation” for March 20th, recommending that Colorado residents take a day to abstain from eating meat and consider the potential health benefits of other dietary choices. The proclamation has led to some unintended consequences, instigating a day of special deals on burgers and leading the NY TimesContinue reading “For Colorado’s Meat Out Controversy, Here’s Some Helpful Humor from Baxter Black’s “A Vegetarian’s Nightmare””

Food for Thought with a Better Wisdom Pyramid

Francis Bacon said, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Brett McCracken’s The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World is a good book to chew on, and it’s a good book to help us reflect thoughtfully on our mental, social, spiritual, and experiential dietary habits.

One Year Later, Pensées about COVID, Experience, Education, and Culture

I’m up for my second dose of a vaccine on March 12th, and that date was my last day of in-person learning in the spring of 2020. Looking back, I find myself noticing things about experience, education, and culture that I wouldn’t have if not for the influences of COVID. Here are some assorted thoughts.

Fifty Years Later, John Wooden’s Three Things Still Matter for Good Teamwork (a.k.a. Good Collaboration) in Our Institutions

Just this morning, I heard an excerpt from legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s speech at UCLA in the 1971 NCAA Championship Game. Truly, the three things of his philosophy of coaching work well for good collaboration in schools and classrooms. I found this especially timely after writing about collaboration last week, using somewhat similar connections from about thirty years ago. Wooden’s emphasis on conditioning, fundamentals, and a team spirit helps essentialize our work as educators.

Thirty Years Later, Good Collaboration Still Requires Well-Prepared Individual Students (and Educators)

Just a little short of thirty years ago, I was taught several “cooperative learning” strategies via our small school’s informal yet thoughtful approach to professional development: Have experienced teachers share knowledge, skills, and wisdom. Old timers back then knew that good cooperative learning also requires good individual preparation and accountability. The same can be said for our mostly synonymous notion of collaboration these days.

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