Listen up, all ye kids

Listen up, all ye kids, in the prime of your youth

You look into that mirror and tell it the truth

Say it and mean it lest ye be uncouth

Yes! I made a difference today!

A difference, a difference, today!

Yes, I made a difference today!

I. Am. The future.

 

Find something that’s bigger than you or than me

And act out your convictions with pure bravery

Fight they who attack you, that’s pure jealousy

Because you made a difference today!

A difference, a difference, today!

Yes, you made a difference today!

You. Are. The future.

 

When they come to arrest you, there’s no blathering!

Keep quiet and know, you’re in the company of kings!

Jesus and Bin Laden, together both sing:

Yes! We made a difference today!

A difference, a difference, today!

Yes, we made a difference today!

We. Are. The future.

(credit to Kipling)

Lesson Three: Nobody Likes a Liar

The Things They Carried

by Tim O’Brien

Lesson: Nobody likes a liar.

The first time I read this book it was 2003. I was at Ft. Drum, training for Iraq. I didn’t particularly like it – I thought the main character, who may or may not be O’Brien himself, was cowardly. My thinking was he had to “man up” – either stand by your beliefs and be arrested for draft-dodging, or else go to war and stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other poor souls who were conscripted against their will. The choice between fleeing to Canada and half-hearted compliance with the (albeit unjust) law was a profoundly anti-climatic conflict on which to build the story. And as someone who was on the precipice of taking his place amongst generations of American war-fighters, I couldn’t understand O’Brien’s inability to summon his courage, one way or another.

I appreciated the book much more when I returned from Iraq, and even more when I started teaching it. It acted as a springboard to discuss my own experiences, which many students appreciated, and I better understood the whole story-truth vs. truth-truth that O’Brien pushes throughout the novel (collection of short stories…whatever it is). It’s almost as if the truth of war can only be taught through fiction…strangely, I’d make the same claim of most things divine.

But there’s a thin line between story-truth, truth-truth, and just a load of shit. And many of my students thought O’Brien was full of shit. They didn’t trust his “story-truth.” O’Brien’s mistake, as my students saw it, was he put too much of his experiences into the book, so that it closely resembled a memoir, but then admits to lying, and justifies it in the name of “story-truth,” e.g. in the chapter “Good Form”:

It’s time to be blunt.
I’m forty-three years old, true, and I’m a writer now, and a long time ago I walked through Quang Ngai Province as a foot soldier.
Almost everything else is invented.
But it’s not a game. It’s a form. Right here, now, as I invent myself, I’m thinking of all I want to tell you about why this book is written as it is. For instance, I want to tell you this: twenty years ago I watched a man die on a trail near the village of My Khe. I did not kill him. But I was present, you see, and my presence was guilt enough. I remember his face, which was not a pretty face, because his jaw was in his throat, and I remember feeling the burden of responsibility and grief. I blamed myself. And rightly so, because I was present.
But listen. Even that story is made up.

And then, the last lines of the chapter:

“Daddy, tell the truth,” Kathleen can say, “did you ever kill anybody?”
And I can say, honestly, “Of course not.”
Or I can say, honestly, “Yes.”

“Well fuck you, dude, you don’t even have a daughter,” a girl in my class had said. Which is a shame because I think O’Brien has a lot of important things to say – or maybe this is The Emperor’s New Clothes, and us English teachers just keep rattling on about how important this book is.

The “truth-truth” is many of my students consider O’Brien nothing more than a liar with the writerly penchant for pretension, and they aren’t buying his fancy-schmancy “but it’s metafiction” bullshit.

Lesson Two: Ben Franklin’s Autobiography

Autobiography

by Benjamin Franklin

Lesson: A conversation yields more than an argument.

 

There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by name, with whom I was intimately acquainted. We sometimes disputed, and very fond we were of argument, and very desirous of confuting one another, which disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit, making people often extremely disagreeable in company by the contradiction that is necessary to bring it into practice; and thence, besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for friendship. I had caught it by reading my father’s books of dispute about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinborough.

A conversation that is oriented towards seeking the truth of something is like working a vegetable garden; an argument is like a war. There is much more utility in tomatoes than in destruction, but if war must be fought (as sometimes it must), understand that the point isn’t to discover, uncover, or create. The point is to annihilate or become annihilated.

It’s easier to argue than discuss, because it’s easy to stake out an identity and perceive any contradictory evidence or opinion as a slight against that identity. It’s also kind of fun to fight, in the same way winning a football game is fun. But winning football games is not how you get better at football. Lifting weights, eating appropriately, running, studying the game, and practicing with the team makes you better at football.

Both metaphors work, but the stakes are different. Arguing over which flavor ice cream tastes better falls along the lines of winning or losing a backyard football game. The real important stuff is subsistence farming at its purest, and world war at its most corrupt.

It’s very important for me to create an environment where conversation is valued. That isn’t the same as agreeing with everything you hear, or not speaking up when you hear something you perceive as wrong. It means having the courage, humility, discipline, and self-control to act rather than react, to be able to stand where the earth is firm, and to take the pain of death and rebirth that creating a new self entails.

Lesson One: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Lesson: You can learn something about life from everyone…even mean, old, racist people.

To Kill a Mockingbird was the first book I “taught” in a public school. I had never read it. It was my second week student teaching, my cooperating teacher was working on her administrative degree, so she just smiled and left me alone with a dozen black teenagers to talk about how a black man was falsely accused of raping a white woman, and (spoiler) was eventually killed by the police.

Except I didn’t actually know that was what we’d be talking about, because I had never read the book, because when I was in high school I didn’t like teachers telling me what to read and learn. This is when I synthesized what I learned playing Texas Hold ’em (bluffing) and “invented” a teaching strategy that I still employ today: “So…what did you think of chapter one? Don’t be shy, no wrong answers.”

Of course nobody else had read the book either, so I started reading out loud to them. But the first half of TKAM is long and nobody cares about Scout running around in cabbage patches. So we watched the movie, and I learned about the Scottsboro Boys and showed a documentary on them, all the while buying time to read the book at home and plan something useful to do.

I was still student teaching, so I didn’t know much about conventional school, much less alternative education, so I approached the book pretty traditionally – that is, as Billy Collins would say, we tied it to a chair and beat it with a hose until we found out what the thing was up to. I tried to make it fun, but I can’t remember if students found my attempts successful. I think they liked me, and I liked them, but we had different opinions on TKAM – I liked it, and they thought it was too long and slow.

I especially loved the character Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, and I think I tried to explain why to the class, but I honestly can’t remember. It was a long time ago, and I was pretty sleep deprived at the time. Dubose was the racist old lady who disapproved of Atticus Finch (the narrator Scout’s father) defending a black man for allegedly raping a white woman. Dubose had an old Confederate pistol and a bad morphine addiction. Scout vandalizes Dubose’s property, so Atticus makes Scout go read to Dubose everyday, as punishment. Unbeknownst to Scout, Dubose is using that time as a distraction to little-by-little come off of the morphine, even though she knows she has a terminal illness and will be dead soon. Dubose says she wants to die beholden to nobody and nothing, so she puts herself through hell for her beliefs, and then dies.

It’s as easy to hate Dubose as it is to love Atticus. But loving Atticus means nothing. It’s like having Superman as your favorite superhero – the guy who has every amazing power imaginable, never tells a lie, has perfect hair, is always a gentleman, etc.? Really? When I was a freshman in college there was some dude who would walk around with a “I Hate Nazis” patch sewn on his backpack. Really sticking your neck out on that one, bubba.

Dubose is deeply flawed. She’s racist and besides that, generally mean. Scout is even grossed out by how she looks. But if you want to limit your exposure to only people who are as perfect as Atticus and Superman, then you’re going to be about as rough-and-tumble in your views as the “I Hate Nazis” guy. You’re going to end up understanding people the same way you understand anatomy by studying stick figures. Dubose kicked morphine for no other reason than her duty to herself. That’s a powerful lesson from a mean old racist.

 

*EDIT: It was Jem who destroyed Mrs. Dubose’s plants and had to read to her as punishment. Scout tagged along. Told you I didn’t read the book  😉

Sixteen Lessons I’ve Learned Teaching Literature

When I was in high school, I asked my English teacher, “What’s the point of English class? How is “reading stories” a subject?” Her answer was lame: we read stories to build our vocabulary and so we have something to write or speak about. This helps prepare us for college.

I wasn’t sure how to articulate the question, and I honestly didn’t know the answer; but English class seemed really out of place, and besides, I was confused how one might “teach” something as personal and subjective as literature. That isn’t to say that every answer is a right answer, or that because there may be multiple ways of receiving a story that any way of receiving a story is valid. It is to say that, as far as I can tell, the only true way to discuss and write about literature and to arrive at a single grade for students, that is perceived as fair, is to test on structural elements, such as literary terms and vocabulary, or to construct detailed writing rubrics, which necessarily narrows the diversity of thought and expression.

This is probably why English classes are gravitating towards nonfiction writing. First, it’s easier to create meaningful and fair assessments using nonfiction text (although some of the same problems exist). Second, there is a gross underestimation as to the purpose of literature. I think most people would say that reading fiction or narrative nonfiction is for entertainment, or to build the kind of vocabulary that better prepares you for the SATs. Those are both true statements, but statements that vastly understates the significance of literature.

Most learning comes from experience, but there are things that we literally can’t, or wouldn’t want to, experience. Stories act as vicarious experience. We can’t go back and experience the 17th century, and most of us don’t have the experience of being a double amputee. This we could roughly categorize as “experiences of the physical realm.” Stories, like art and performance in general, also work as apertures into the nonphysical realm. It’s the closest thing to prayer that you’ll get in a public school. Or, if the idea of prayer makes you feel icky, it’s the closest thing to drawing a personal connection to the collective consciousness of all humanity, and humanity’s place within the physical and nonphysical world, both today and for all of history. Stories are peepholes that allow you to catch a glimpse of divinity. Fiction isn’t “fake.” Stories aren’t “made up.” They get to the root of who we are and the possibilities of what we may be.

It’s also overly simplistic to reduce books to a series of “lessons learned” but I’m going to do it anyway. For one, it’s fun. For another, I’ve learned a lot by “teaching” stories – way more than I ever did reading them, which is a lesson in itself. Enjoy!

How do recent graduates perceive high school – commentary

Here are three conclusions that I have come to based on a survey I gave which aimed to answer the question “How do recent high school graduates perceive high school?” (some caveats, along with the raw data, here):

 

Respondents’ feelings towards high school are inconsistent.

When asked what the first three words are that come to mind when thinking about high school, 41% of the words were positively connotated (e.g. fun, friends, exciting, informative), 24% were negatively connotated (e.g. boring, isolating, cruel, torture), and 35% had a neutral connotation (e.g. homework, class, rugby, ESL). In terms of this question, as well as viewing the survey as a whole, about a third of respondents gave contradicting answers in their responses. Examples include:

 

Fun; isolating

Hard; Easy; Fulfilling; Unnecessary

Fun; fear

[What I loved most was] teachers; [the worst thing about school was my] teacher was rude to me

 

Again, referring to the question that asked what the first three words are that come to mind when thinking about high school, one respondent answered boring, boring, boring; that same person claimed that gym class was the only thing they loved about school. Another respondent, who loved being able to take AP/IB classes and participate in after-school clubs, cited gym class as the thing they most hated about high school. Several people mentioned how unnecessarily long and tedious school is, both in terms of the school day and the full four years, and (I believe related) most valued human relationships and control over the curriculum – even as the second most common thread, it still was only true that 72% of respondents cited friends or teachers as the most valued aspect of their high school experience, and for some of them, those were also their most hated aspect of high school. For example, one respondent cited friends and being social as the aspects of high school that they loved the most, but also resented having to be forced into contact with people: many times you had to be in a group whether or not you fit in as the aspect they hated the most.

 

Most respondents see more value in human relationships than in curriculum.

Of all the respondents, 72% reported relationships with people (usually friends, sometimes teachers or teachers and friends) as a valuable aspect of high school. One respondent, who described high school as intense, amazing, growth, wrote that she loved:

The opportunity to travel, the chance to make friends from around the world, the people (especially the staff)

although she also admitted:

[What I hated the most about high school was] the ‘culture’ surrounding the things I participated in. When I think about the things I did, it was very inaccessible to many of the students in my high school. A lot of the extracurriculars were expensive, the classes were advertised as elite and for ‘smart kids’. Therefore the representation within these classes was limited. (Mind you, my school was very ‘diverse’)

and two out of three changes she would make are curricular:

First, I would have more practical class options (how to file your taxes, current affairs, math for entrepreneurship etc); Second, I would give more money to the debate program (I think all students should have access to activities that allow them to critically thinking about given subjects and topics from two different perspectives…and clearly articulate this)

Many of the 72% simply wrote friends or teachers as things they loved the most about school. It was fairly typical for respondents to be more critical of the actual school programming, more so than of peer socialization or relationships with teachers:

I didn’t learn practical skills that I could use today. I still don’t really know how to do my taxes.

and

[I loved] the friendships and relationships I made; [I hated] how unnecessary a lot of [high school is]

and

A lot of classes that I took were useless to me.

and

lots of busy work and not much respect for ambition

and

High school hardly exposed me to any career options, or to what the real world was going to be like. Also, every class lacked substance. I felt like I was taught to memorize and spit back a lot of information, but I was never asked to think about life or values or any other serious conversation. [I hated being] stressed out by things that were really inconsequential.

Respondents generally prefer freedom to choose what to learn and which classes to take, and are happier when they exercise the limited power that they do have over their curriculum.

When asked the question, “Should students have the freedom to decide how to spend their time while in school?”, 78% (n=25) answered yes and 22% (n=7) answered no. Also, respondents who stated or implied that they were in ESL, AP, IB, or explorations programs, which are all classes that have (at least the perception) of student choice, were also more likely to have a favorable view of school, overall (ESL isn’t always “voluntary”, but if you’re responding to this survey in English, my assumption is at some point you wanted to learn English, and would have elected to take ESL classes. I admit this is an inference, not hard data). Many respondents mentioned a lack of curricular choice as a negative aspect of school throughout the survey, not just in the final few questions that directly addressed this topic. 

Below is a fairly representative sample of reasons respondents gave for answering no:

A respondent, who revealed that she is going to school to be a teacher, had concerns about social media addiction:

Knowing students at this point in time, even including myself, we are all attached to our phones, laptops or any other device. By giving students the freedom to decide what they do with their time, I won’t deny that some of them would study, but some other, they would be all day in their phones.

Another respondent was more direct:

You go to school to study not to have a good time.

One respondent admitted (which I found incredibly interesting, in light of the over 5,000 hours one spends in high school):

It really doesn’t matter either way.

 

A fairly representative sample of respondents who answered yes:

teachers should be there to help students navigate school – not to personally drive them through it. Students are fully capable of driving themselves to answers and revelations; they may just need a little push in the right direction.

One respondent, who wrote that being stuck in class was the aspect of high school that she hated the most, that school didn’t prepare her for a good life, and that every year was the same as the last, also said:

Explorations [an off-campus apprenticeship program] senior year in an architecture firm. I worked on one project the whole year with 3 other students. And two of the employees there were our mentors. We then presented our project to a bunch of professionals at the company who critiqued us. It taught me teamwork, presentations skills, and a bit about what I do and don’t enjoy professionally, and also made for good recommendation letters.

[High school] needs to cater more to individual students and their different abilities and ways of learning. For example, I always had good grades in all my classes. I was always in AP and honors and did well. But I skipped classes a lot because being tied down for four years to the same thing was so boring. If I had more of a choice I think I wouldn’t have done that. Skipping class made me feel like I had more control – and I didn’t care that I skipped because I was still able to get the grades I wanted. Some people learn great by reading a book and listening to a teacher and taking an exam, but some students get bored of sitting still and doing the same thing for four years. There should be an option. I could have learned and passed with flying colors everything I did in high school in two years instead of four. The other two years should have been spent with something hands on, more active, and more interesting. It would definitely have done a lot more to help with the real world and college.

High school does not teach enough critical thinking skills – if it did it would have more of an impact on people.

Another student, who had previously described high school as trash and limiting, reported:

I think if we let students explore more via electives at the high school level, it will save them time and money in college

I hated reading in school, but now I LOVE it, books are the only windows into finding a better future. I would have kids read more personal development books and less “literature”. Authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Cal Newport will have more of an impact at a developmental stage than Shakespeare.

 

Conclusion

It’s ironic to me that so many respondents found personal relationships with friends the most rewarding part of high school, considering it has been my observation that teachers spend a considerable amount of time and energy keeping students from socializing and instead, focused on the very important task of learning those things that respondents largely found irrelevant.

Perhaps the best way to transform high school into something more universally and consistently valuable would be to allow students to define the terms of their own graduation. The median age of the respondents was 22 years old – enough time had gone by for them to think about the impact of high school, but not so long that they forgot many details. Many of them reflected that control over what goes into their brain and freedom of association with friends and adults would add considerable value to their high school experience, and that the majority of actual instruction is mostly a waste.

A second, more practical option, is described in great detail in the second half of my book. In a nutshell – even in the state of New York, with its draconian public school requirements, it is possible to offer much more freedom and choice to students and staff, while still meeting state and union requirements. It would take considerable trust between administrators, teachers, the school board, and the community, as well as a deeply held belief that the student is the most important aspect of the learning process…but it can be done.

 

How do recent graduates perceive high school – data

I give my thoughts on the data here – this post is the data without comment, except for three quick items:

  1. I received 32 responses (n=32) – it’s a starting point, but nowhere near a number where I’d feel comfortable generalizing results. I reached out to over 60 former students, and I also shared the request on facebook and twitter – therefore, it is probable that most (and plausible that all) respondents know me, personally. Also, 72% of respondents were female. These things may skew the data one way or another.
  2. At least one respondent was from India (my cousin-in-law reported that she had taken the survey) and a certain number of respondents were English Learners who had gone to school in the United States. My (albeit informal) research question was, “How do recent high school graduates perceive high school?” It’s likely that these different groups could have different perceptions of high school. I can infer, roughly, the number of respondents who were English Learners etc., but there is no way to know for certain, and so it was a mistake for me not to include that question in the survey.
  3. The only edits I made were to redact the names of specific places and people, and to compile data into graphs where I felt graphs made sense.

How old are you?

 Are you…

Quickly, without thinking about it, what are the FIRST THREE WORDS that pop into your head when you think about high school? First three only!

  1. Fun, isolating, structured
  2. Boring, Boring & Boring
  3. Hard, easy, fulfilling
  4. Do your best
  5. fun boring long
  6. Informative, long, dramatic.
  7. Fun
  8. Intense, amazing, growth
  9. Teachers, classes, tests
  10. Class, drama, sweeps
  11. Fun, young, Madison Ave
  12. I miss it
  13. Great experience:)
  14. Helpful Educational system
  15. Stress, acceptances,  fun
  16. Exhausting, rugby, uniforms
  17. Sports, faith, family
  18. Trash, limiting, draining
  19. Loud, cruel, torture
  20. tedious, green, academics
  21. [principal’s name], friends, falcons
  22. ESL, big,  students
  23. Fun
  24. Fun, friends and soccer
  25. Opportunity, friendship, unequal
  26. Friends, good teachers and a lot of homework
  27. Friends, class, work
  28. Lots of homework
  29. Idk , good , love
  30. Fun exciting fear
  31. easy, fun, memorable
  32. Class Math Homework

What did you love most about high school?

  1. I took interesting and challenging classes
  2. Gym
  3. The friendships and relationships I made
  4. The classes that I took and the clubs that were available to students. For example, theatre club and key club just to name a few.
  5. I enjoyed certain classes and activities…
  6. The socialization.
  7. Teacher
  8. The opportunity to travel, the chance to make friends from around the world, the people (especially the staff).
  9. Theres not really one thing you love most about high school. You usually remember moments you loved most, those moments are usually things you did with your friends.
  10. The memories made with friends
  11. The Teachers
  12. Learning new things everyday
  13. No stress learning
  14. Teachers
  15. No real responsibilities
  16. My best friend
  17. How small and close everyone was.
  18. [specific English teacher]
  19. Good teachers, ski club, getting good grades
  20. lots more opportunities than middle school
  21. My friends and teachers. It was a very comfortable environment for me. Lots of freedom for the smart kids.
  22. Teachers and friends
  23. Teachers
  24. Friends
  25. The opportunity to take AP and IB classes because they made me more ready for college. The teachers are also wonderful and very knowledgeable in their field and were  great sources for anything I needed.
  26. Esl classes
  27. Making friends
  28. Making friends
  29. Teachers and their ways of teaching
  30. Friends teachers social
  31. friends, teachers, extracurriculars
  32. The friends I made! Obviously

What did you hate most about high school?

  1. Nothing
  2. Every Subject
  3. How unnecessary a lot of it it
  4. Waking up at 6 a.m. and wasting my time at the gym. There’s no point in having gym if 3/4th of your time is spent changing.
  5. …but I did not enjoy all classes, and the day was very long.
  6. Being unable to choose classes that appealed to me.
  7. Bathroom
  8. The ‘culture’ surrounding the things I participated in. When I think about the things I did, it was very inaccessible to many of the students in my high school. A lot of the extracurriculars were expensive, the classes were advertised as elite and for ‘smart kids’. Therefore the representation within these classes was limited. (Mind you, my school was very ‘diverse’)
  9. Being stuck in class.
  10. Math
  11. The teenage experiences that came with it
  12. People being rude and judgy to refugees
  13. Cafeteria
  14. The administration system
  15. Social  pressures
  16. Listening to revisionist history classes
  17. At times how small and close everyone was, if something went wrong everyone would know so quickly.
  18. Being lied to about career prospects from guidance counselors and teachers, being advertised that school after hs was the only option, not having full freedom over schedule.
  19. Sitting still for at least 40 minutes at a time and adhering to rules about where I could go.
  20. lots of busy work and not much respect for ambition
  21. Math classes because I struggled with math. Also studying for and taking AP tests.
  22. Packed hallways
  23. Homework
  24. Homeworka
  25. The administration’s inability to handle students’ conflicts effectively.
  26. Geometry class lol
  27. Not being challenged
  28. Math
  29. Nun , it was  awesome  experience for me
  30. Lack of perspective
  31. lack of choice for classes
  32. Being stressed out by things that were really inconsequential.

What, if anything, about high school helped you in any part of your life (e.g. personally, professionally, spiritually, financially, etc.)?

  1. My courses prepared me for success in college- note-taking skills, writing skills, exposing me to topics of interest, time management
  2. Nothing
  3. I learned to have conversations with people. I learned that no matter what my initial thoughts were, that I could overcome anything that I put my mind to
  4. Being in the IB program definitely helped me a lot with my academic work. Because of it I’m able to ease my way into college. Taking those AP and IB classes at the high helped a lot in writing research papers and how to cite them.
  5. I gained at least a couple of mentors through high school. I also began tk develop as more of a social person.
  6. My HS was diverse – I was well-prepared for the diversity in the ‘real world’ and the cultural sensitivity I would need.
  7. How to write
  8. Personally and professionally; I believe I found my voice in high school.
  9. Explorations senior year in an architecture firm. I worked on one project the whole year with 3 other students. And two of the employees there were our mentors. We then presented our project to a bunch of professionals at the company who critiqued us. It taught me teamwork, presentations skills, and a bit about what I do and don’t enjoy professionally, and also made for good recommendation letters.
  10. Nothing
  11. Being able to see your closest friends so regularly
  12. It helped me grow as a person
  13. Communication skills
  14. Personally and educationally
  15. Networking, access to AP and IB curses; these allowed me to graduate college in 3 years and earn my masters by the time I was 22.
  16. My junior year English teacher and job shadowing opportunities
  17. My HS helped me build my faith, by introducing me to the right people, who really helped me build my faith when I had doubts.
  18. Interactions with people form a variety of backgrounds.
  19. English – improved my writing dramatically. AP classes trained me for the rigor of college classes.
  20. AP classes
  21. High school taught me a lot about the real world in terms of diversity, poverty, racism. I also built really strong interpersonal relationships.
  22. Having the opportunity to have a really good counselor such as [specific name] that helped me so much with college applications and making sure to have the necessary financial aid
  23. “Personally: I met great people that are still my friends and helped me always.
  24. Professionally: I decided to be a teacher because of great role models in HS “
  25. Professionally
  26. ***** High’s diversity has influenced my personality in many ways. My teachers and friends I have made have taught me so much during my time at *****. I have learned to be more open about others ideas, beliefs and customs.
  27. More self confidence
  28. Teachers who invested their time in their work
  29. Learning
  30. Spiritually and professionally
  31. High School help me spiritually
  32. Exposed me to a diverse group of people, Made a lot of positive connections
  33. I made a lot of great friends in high school, and got a lot of inspiration from a couple of my teachers

What, if anything, about high school hurt you in any part of your life (e.g. personally, professionally, spiritually, financially, etc.)?

  1. I was isolated and didn’t have friends. That wasn’t high school’s fault though
  2. Nothing
  3. Initially balancing sports with my heavy course load caused me to have minor anxiety attacks. Somewhat stressful
  4. I didn’t talk to a lot of people in high school. I felt intimated to approach the people in class so that hindered me from making new friends. I can say that I’ve carried that part of me through college.
  5. It, along with middle and even elementary school, pushed me too hard to try to be ‘the best’ and Im only just unlearning this.
  6. My high school career was during the same upswing as the social media craze we currently live in. I think that screwed it up because we were all concerned about likes, followers, and sharing stories online.
  7. Some bad teachers
  8. Socially; I went to a really big high school, but took classes with the same ~10 people for 2 years. It makes no sense to me when I think about it now. I wouldn’t say it hurt me per-se, but it has contributed to the way I interact with people and who I chose to interact with. I am thankful that this is something I am conscious of and willing to unlearn.
  9. Writing Skills. It doesn’t teach you writing skills. Maybe if your in AP classes, but thats only because the people who take AP classes already have better writing and reading skills then most. Not having good writing skills hurts a lot more in college and later on in life ( Even if your majoring in science or math) because you don’t know how to articulate your thoughts well. Thats a life skill that is really helpful and needs to be taught early on.
  10. Nothing
  11. I can’t think of anything
  12. None
  13. Limited choices made me fall behind
  14. None
  15. Body image was a huge deal, it took me so long to get over the “accepted and coveted” body type.
  16. Bullying- body image issues.
  17. I really had a positive experience in Hs.
  18. Teachers telling me that computer science was stupid and that ” I would never find a job” with it, having my worth being based only on the amount of aps I took, just in general being lied to about the world
  19. Too much sensory stimulation overwhelmed me and made my sensory processing disorder and depression worse.
  20. busy work took time
  21. I didn’t learn practical skills that I could use today. I still don’t really know how to do my taxes.
  22. N/a
  23. Personally, sometimes bullying
  24. I failed 2 classed
  25. The only thing I had a problem with at ***** High was administration. They could not handle certain issues students faced in a timely and effective manner.
  26. Math teacher was being rude to me
  27. Nothing that I can think of
  28. Feeling confused
  29. Non it did not hurt me at all
  30. High School was not brought enough many times you had to be in a group whether or not you fit in
  31. N/A
  32. High school hardly exposed me to any career options, or to what the real world was going to be like. Also, every class lacked substance. I felt like I was taught to memorize and spit back a lot of information, but I was never asked to think about life or values or any other serious conversation.

In what ways did high school prepare you to lead a good life?

  1. Same as before, set me up for career success, and I met my husband!
  2. Nothing I Was Prepared Since Middle School
  3. I learned a lot of life lessons that I learned from my teachers that were not part of any curriculum
  4. To be quite honest, it didn’t really teach me a lot about leading a good life. For the most part, I learned that through my own mistakes and trials. To a certain extent though, health class in high school does have an influence on some of the decisions I make here at college.
  5. I’m really not sure. I’m inclined to say the social skills thing again but I’m not sure that’s what this question is looking for.
  6. It’s where I cultivated the life-long friendships that I currently have.
  7. Teach how to become good human being
  8. I’m not quite sure yet. Considering that I’m still in school, I can’t really say.
  9. It didn’t.
  10. In no way that I can think of
  11. IB prepared me for college; the teachers prepared me for life
  12. It taught me how to work hard
  13. In a way that I feel more prepared. It gets you into another level in your life.
  14. I met  my life partner and best friends in h.s who all continue to be a strong  support system  for me.
  15. Professional development and interpersonal skills.
  16. When I left HS I left with a strong faith, which really helped me lead a good life.
  17. I learned how to learn things quickly, apply pareto principle to diff aspects of life.
  18. Actually, high school prepared me to lead a hard life. I was pleasantly surprised when i discovered it gets better.
  19. AP classes
  20. It made me a very well rounded student and person. It also kept me from being sheltered from the negative aspects of the real world.
  21. With college courses
  22. By giving me experience, and knowledge about our world.
  23. Edu
  24. *****‘s diversity has opened my eyes to a variety of cultures and types of people. Taking AP classes has prepared me for the rigor of college courses. Friends and  teachers’ advice are ones I’ll hold for the rest of my life.
  25. The education and help I got in high school from all the teachers especially the ESL teachers made me have more knowledge and experience and made me strong to face the real life
  26. Taught me to be open-minded
  27.  Getting me prepared for the next step college.
  28. Prepare me for college improvement in my language and life experience
  29. The groups that I was a part of in the service that I was allowed to conduct made me into a better person
  30. Pathway to college
  31. Mostly, high school prepared me for college.

If high school could change in any way, what changes would you make?

  1. No standardized tests! I didn’t think that then, but I do now
  2. Everything
  3. To focus more on subjects and ideals that will actually benefit a young adult once they graduate. For example, filing taxes. Or the reality of applying to college and the trials and tribulations that come with that stressful journey.
  4. The environment needs to be more welcoming. By this I mean that the teachers and the staff needs to be more open minded. ***** high is a diverse place and if you’re going to be a close minded person, then don’t teach there at all. It takes patience and kindness to teach students who are abused at home or students who are still assimilating to this country. Teachers need to realize that not all students are the same. Overall, I just wish there was that one teacher that you can trust and be able to talk to.
  5. Cut the day shorter. Less homework. More time devoted to challenging students to think differently.
  6. The focus on testing would subside.
  7. Help students and understand more
  8. First, I would have more practical class options (how to file your taxes, current affairs, math for entrepreneurship etc); Second, I would give more money to the debate program (I think all students should have access to activities that allow them to critically thinking about given subjects and topics from two different perspectives…and clearly articulate this); Third, I would have more community events and programming to have people surrounding involved and invested (Keeping in mind that parents/guardians work for long hours, I would therefore provide passive ways for them to be involved).
  9. Not make it so repetitive each year. Students are there for four years. You go from being a pre-pubescent kid to being an adult in one place. Its such a significant amount of time and every year should not be the same.
  10. Let the students make more choices of their classes and what they want to learn, instead of being forced into a certain curriculum
  11. If there was a way to make more students succeed, id want that
  12. The way students look at the refugees
  13. Making students pick what they want to learn
  14. They should put more attention on students needs.
  15. Uniforms! Haha This would alleviate some of the stigmas/ sefl-sonsciouness, and bullying for poor, overweight, underweight, less fashionable students.
  16. Standardized testing as a measurement for aptitude or knowledge.
  17. I wish that there wouldn’t be such a stigma for going and getting extra help. I remember I would never get extra help ( even when I needed it) because I was scared of how that would look to my peers.
  18. I hated reading in school, but now I LOVE it, books are the only windows into finding a better future. I would have kids read more personal development books and less “literature”. Authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Cal Newport will have more of an impact at a developmental stage than Shakespeare.
  19. Not requiring students to sit still for 40 minutes. School not starting so early in the morning
  20. earlier support for ambitious academic students
  21. More practical classes to help students post graduation.
  22. More space, smaller classrooms
  23. Making acomodations for students with disabilities and also by having more cultural sharing between students, this way it won’t be any stereotyping about any culture.
  24. Way to teach
  25. – Better administration -more AP/IB or college credit courses
  26. I think it would be better if all high schools have school uniforms.
  27. Teach kids to be more responsible
  28. More options for subjects that will help us With our everyday.
  29. Changes in the   Regents exams I think it is hard for the people who speaks second language even tho the school do offer   Translator  in person , maybe as an small idea could make different exams for ENL Students
  30. More opportunities to give back to the community and have the older students teach younger students
  31. More academic freedom/ open curriculum
  32. I would make sure that there was more of an emphasis on having students discuss values and how to be a good citizen/human being. I think the emphasis here should be on discuss; I don’t want schools to be teaching that, but students should get the chance to develop their beliefs and ideas, not just be taught facts.

Should students have the freedom to decide how to spend their time while in school?

(OPTIONAL) If you’d like, explain your answer to the previous question.

  1. I’m not exactly sure what you mean. I think students should be given choice in their studies and that classes should be cover more current events and real world issues
  2. We Shouldn’t Have 2 Learn What We Are Told We Should Learn About What We Are Going To Be In The Future
  3. Students sometimes aren’t able to focus in class due to a variety of reasons. But I feel as though once given the opportunity a student can definitely push forward. Also having someone in their corner that they know they can always turn to for advice and consolation.
  4. By yes I mean to a certain extent. If you let them decide how to spend their time, of course they’re going to decide not to learn. With modern technology, they’re likely to be ok their phone all day. I mean take study halls for example, some students study but for the majority, they either go on their phone or talk. If you give them the freedom completely, might as well cancel school and let them stay at home. So for the most part, no students should not have the freedom in deciding how to spend their time. They should be there to learn materials that will help them later in life or in college. However we do need to let them choose their way of learning. It’s also pointless to lecture in front of a class if the students aren’t learning anything. The resources are just wasted. Learning should be more innovative and fun for students. So students should have the freedom to decide the way they want to learn. We already have study halls to let them decide how to spend their time so we don’t need more of that.
  5. I think there’s much to be said here, and I’m not sure I’ve thought about it enough to meet that challenge. My inclination, though, if abstract, is that teachers should be there to help students navigate school – not to personally drive them through it. Students are fully capable of driving themselves to answers and revelations; they may just need a little push in the right direction.
  6. With limitations – some students have a very clear idea of what they want in life. We should let them follow those threads within reason.
  7. It definitely should not be a free for all. But, it needs to cater more to individual students and their different abilities and ways of learning. For example, I always had good grades in all my classes. I was always in AP and honors and did well. But I skipped classes a lot because being tied down for four years to the same thing was so boring. If I had more of a choice I think I wouldn’t have done that. Skipping class made me feel like I had more control – and I didn’t care that I skipped because I was still able to get the grades I wanted. Some people learn great by reading a book and listening to a teacher and taking an exam, but some students get bored of sitting still and doing the same thing for four years. There should be an option. I could have learned and passed with flying colors everything I did in high school in two years instead of four. The other two years should have been spent with something hands on, more active, and more interesting. It would definitely have done a lot more to help with the real world and college. (Especially because most kids only have half a day of classes their senior year and waste that year away.) In short, High school DOES NOT need to be four years.
  8. If kids had the option to focus on subjects and matters that interest then, less time would be spent in the hallways or bathroom. School would be more enjoyable for everyone.
  9. It really doesn’t matter either way. I only said no so that students can be introduced and baseline educated in most subjects in high school so that they can get a feel of what they want to pursue in college. They’ll be making their own decisions for classes then anyway. But there will always be those students who are so psstionate about a subject- science for example- and would’ve been better off in high school if they could’ve spent a few hours a day in a lab.
  10. A lot of classes that I took were useless to me and I wish I had more freedom to pick what I really needed to learn.
  11. No, simply because the majority of the students they don’t really see high school as a way of getting more esucated and success in life they see it as a choice. Meaning they go there and hope to pass just because everyone does it and that’s it not because they understand that might be helpful for themselves in a future.
  12. Within reason. Students should be given some form of autonomy to choose what to do with their down time. This gives them practice for real life decisions and a sense of self. Choice is immensely important in life.
  13. Not everyone is set on one path and to funnel kids into thinking they have to go one way or another (into business, into stem) really discourages. Let kids find what they love and equip them to make it into a career.
  14. I think if we let students explore more via electives at the high school level, it will save them time and money in college
  15. it makes sense to still offer structured classes, but offering greater flexibility in choosing classes – like college – would have been better
  16. Some students at my high school would take advantage of this freedom and would not use it wisely. Ideally, I think that freedom should start in elementary school.
  17. You go to school to study not to have free time
  18. Knowing students at this point in time, even including myself, we are all attached to our phones, laptops or any other device. By giving students the freedom to decide what they do with their time, I won’t deny that some of them would study, but some other, they would be all day in their phones.
  19. If students didn’t care about their education, they wouldn’t show up to school. Sometimes giving a little more freedom (like allowing students to leave campus during lunch and free periods) might solve a few problems like truancy.
  20. A lot of students will choose to play and have fun rather than studying and doing what they should do. Giving them the freedom to choose how they will spend their time in school will make them choose the wrong decisions
  21. Yes within limits. They should given options that will benefit them
  22. They should have the freedom to study what they like starting from high school.
  23. ! Student should be able to do independent studies and truly do critical thinking for themselves and pray and I left it where they’re doing self learning and project-based learning yet the learning they’re doing cannot be done in the classroom
  24. My only caveat would be that there should be some standard/limit on how students spend their time while in school. If a student can’t read, do basic math, or know basic facts about history and how the government works, that might be problematic. That said, the model of having 4 totally structured years like we currently do is pretty bad.

 (OPTIONAL) Is there anything else you’d like to add about your high school experience?

  1. I believe that having a structured school experience is beneficial, but the burden of standardized testing is what makes it go wrong
  2. I loved high school. But I can’t decide if i miss it. College is a lot different and I don’t know if I was fully prepared. I feel like I walked in blind, especially because I am a first generation and I feel as though I am a point of reference for anything college related for my younger brother who is now sending out applications and filling out FAFSA
  3. Overall my high school experience was like a roller coaster. There were ups and downs and mistakes to learn from. I just wish I had taken the opportunities that I had at the high. If I could go back, I would try to join every club possible and maybe even convince my teachers to open up a new club. But overall, high school was fun. It’s like weaving yourself through a forest. Some of us make it out alive and some of us stray from the path and give into the wolves. There is no right or wrong. It’s how much you’re willing to fight to see the best of yourself.
  4. Not directly related to the question but I’ll take this opportunity to recommend you read, or at least look into, Jacques Ranciere’s *The Ignorant Schoolmaster*. I’m not certain you’ll agree with Ranciere’s politics, but I think you’ll find fascinating his discussion of teaching methods, and scathing critique of rote explication.
  5. IT WAS AMAZING! I don’t think I would trade it in for anything in the world. Even though somethings make me really upset (I’m pretty sure my high school has been the most clear example of systemic racism).
  6. High school does not teach enough critical thinking skills – if it did it would have more of an impact on people.
  7. ” My ESL teachers did a great job with students like me and myself personally. Most of their students are enrolled in college right now and some of them are already graduates.
  8. So, that talks for itself. Also, my advisor was one of the greatest person I had ever met in High School. I have to thank her so much for the support professional and personally. “
  9. I wouldn’t change a thing! Some of the best years of my life and so grateful to my teachers for having helped shaped me into the person I am today.
  10. N/a
  11. It’s was a great stage of life, here you learn and choose your future.
  12. It was great experience I really loved it and won’t forget the teachers there, i felt really bad because they moved some teachers to a different school and they separate the new ENL or ESL Student . I think they should keep them all at the same place and try to communicate with the other student it will help them better than just separating them all of them Together with different languages and cultures they will be better if some one  encourage  them to communicate.
  13. Teachers really don’t understand the impact they have on students. If you don’t like your job or you’re just there for a job it’s so important that you give it up and allow somebody who truly wants to change the world be able to have that opportunity
  14. Was general very positive. I am grateful for a lot of the opportunities ***** High provided me.

 

Voluntary Socialism

Here is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I’m not sure I have a handle on it, so I welcome your thoughts.

On one hand, for virtually everybody, the world is the safest and most comfortable its ever been. It is less violent than it was a thousand or a hundred or fifty years ago. There’s more food, technically enough to feed the world, despite there being 7.6 billion of us. Virtually everyone has electricity and electronics. Houses with heating and cooling technology. Cars and planes. Flush toilets and running water. Despite all the doom-and-gloom rhetoric (which one might scribe on their ipad, connected to Starbuck’s wifi, whilst sipping a soy latte), this is objectively, in a real measurable way, the easiest time for a person to be alive on this planet.

On the other hand, so many of us are miserable, lonely, and living without purpose. The rates of suicide and depression are up. A third of us are obese. We think nothing of giving our children up to agents of the state from ages five to eighteen, and if they resist too much, we tell them that they have School Refusal Disorder. Then we think nothing of sequestering our elderly away in geriatric daycare centers, effectively sweeping under the rug our past and our future.

Take the phenomenon of mass shootings, and especially school shootings (this is related, so bear with me). I’m not interested in arguing about guns or gun laws or SSRIs/mental health at this moment – try, if you can, to clear your mind of such things, and just think about why mass shootings have such a profound effect on our collective psyche. Many other shootings besides mass shootings happen all over the country. Today is January twelfth – so far, in the month of January, seventy-seven people have been shot and eighteen killed in Chicago alone (there were 675 homicides in Chicago in 2017). Or, even more mundane, the US dropped a 500 pound bomb meant to kill two ISIS snipers, and (whoopsie) killed over a hundred civilians.

Mass shootings of the type that have most grip our imagination – I’m talking of the Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Columbine variety – do not compute. That’s why we talk about everything else – access to firearms, mental illness, pharmaceuticals, bullying, etc., because what else do we say? What do you say about the level of nihilism it takes for a person to coldly kill as many unarmed people as possible, sometimes children, before killing themselves? We understand gang wars and ISIS snipers. We don’t like it, but we understand it.

And how do we reconcile that nihilism with the unbelievable, unprecedented comfort and prosperity that nearly everyone on earth enjoys? And especially the ones doing the mass shootings? Look at the top twenty deadliest mass shootings in the United States – nearly all of them were committed by middle class or wealthy people, a bit more than half of them white, all of them men, and most of them born in America. It doesn’t get much more comfortable than that.

This planet is more safe and comfortable compared to any other point in history because technology has rendered tribalism obsolete. We don’t need our children or our elderly around us for survival, and they don’t need us. We literally could live to a hundred and go our entire life without a meaningful relationship with anyone. Not only is it possible, it’s probable, since we don’t need anyone to get the things we need for comfortable survival, there is no incentive to build these relationships. A return to tribalism isn’t the answer, either. Where great violence and genocide still exist, it is made possible by unyielding allegiance to some religious, or political, or social, or some other ideology.

A policy of individualism makes the world a safer, more just place. The choice of living only for yourself absolves you of responsibility and gives life little purpose. It leads to anxiety and depression, in many cases leads people to medicate (or self-medicate), and in extreme cases ends in suicide. Which is why I’m playing with the idea of “voluntary socialism”, with the understanding that I’m not using the word “socialism” in a precise way (“collectivism” sounds worse, and “tribalism” might connote violence). Pick a different word, if you’d like.

I think this could only work with a relatively small group – forty-ish people, maximum. An extreme manifestation of “voluntary socialism” might be some kind of communal living with extended family, or several extended families, all on the same farm or in the same apartment complex. A few simpler, more practical suggestions might be:

  • A community lawnmower/snowblower. Have one set of these common items in a centralized shed that everyone on the block uses and is responsible for maintaining.
  • Monthly gatherings of people in the neighborhood: parties, barbecues, work groups, semi-social self-betterment clubs, book clubs, etc.
  • Homeschool cooperatives.
  • Community gardens.
  • Neighborhood sports clubs.
  • Maybe monthly dues, or an emergency fund, that goes towards a community member in the event of a fire, car-emergency, caved in roof, etc. Not exactly sure the most equitable way of running something like that, but the idea of the group taking on responsibility for a member in trouble, particularly with their home or transportation, is appealing.

I’ll conclude with an emphasis on voluntary. If someone doesn’t want to join, it is not ethical to force them. If someone wants to leave the group, you have to let them. This is why “socialism” isn’t a precise word – coercion is built into socialist systems. However, choosing a community to take responsibility for, who reciprocates by taking responsibility for you, is making the choice to build strong relationships with a relatively small group of people, and to live for something bigger than yourself. It gives life joy and meaning. The great thing about a free society that focuses on the importance of the individual is that it gives us the opportunity to make choices that are good for ourselves and our family. Choosing to live for something bigger than yourself is a smart choice.

The culmination of these seemingly insignificant choices will define you

I believe it’s the culmination of life’s seemingly insignificant choices that will define me as a person. This strikes me as significant, in terms of being the primary male role model for my sons. Here are choices that I have decided are simple to understand, rewarding though difficult to live by, and are worthy of putting out into the universe:

  1. I can control what I can control, and I can discern that which is within my control. I can control my attitude towards that which I cannot control, so therefore, everything is to an extent within my control.
  2. I know when to go with the flow, and when to swim against the current. Stillness and action are both virtues, when timed correctly.
  3. I am a seeker. I understand that my perception of truth is not truth, but even still, that is not an excuse for ignorance. I discriminate value from rubbish. I am principled, but am willing to test those principles against anything. I am not scared to listen to either irreverent or mainstream ideas. Virtually nothing offends me.

The five things that I will explicitly teach my boys

My wife Ramita and I don’t “unschool” our five- and seven-year-old boys in the strictest sense, but I’d say our family has the spirit of self-direction. With the exception of violin, we don’t go out of our way to give them structured lessons in anything that they don’t ask for. We read to them almost every day, we try to get outside as much as we can, and we put them in sports and swimming lessons, all of which they look forward to and love. They do math worksheets, puzzles, writing, science, and lately a ton of sewing and embroidering, all on their own.

That said, there are five things I’m going to explicitly teach my boys, with or without their consent – and not just a single lesson, but many sneaky little lessons. I’ll slip into their psyche like a ninja and calibrate their sense of normalcy, without their permission, even if I have to give up my Self-Directed-Educator’s-Card to do it.

For ease of understanding, I’ve put the lessons’ content objective in red.

War Memorials & War Movies

The first time I ever really noticed how many statues commemorating war there are in our area was two summers ago. My oldest was in an art class, so I took my youngest on a walk around the city. There were at least six in a half mile radius. Now that I’m paying attention, there are war memorials everywhere.

I’m not hating on veterans (I am one). I’m just saying – is there any other possible thing in our community we could commemorate? A philanthropist? An explorer? An inventor? A self-made millionaire? A poet? Anything?

I know boys crave adventure, excitement, and risk. I know I did, and I know my boys do. They are already asking me about war, and telling me that they can’t wait to go themselves, and I’ve literally told them nothing about my experience. I’m firmly against this country’s never-ending aggression and occupation of countries that have no means of attacking us; however, the military often is a valuable experience for young people. It was for me. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be the only option on the table. There are dozens of ways that a boy can become a man besides military service, but that’s hard to see when you’re raised in the shadow of thirty foot tall war memorials.

Social Media & Dopamine

It is very possible that I am wrong on this one. I say that because there are many people in the SDE world, who I consider to be extremely intelligent and well-read, who believe that the dangers of screen time for kids is overblown, and that most kids will learn to self-regulate after a few days or weeks of over-indulging. Maybe that’s more true of video games than it is of social media (Peter Gray argues for the cognitive benefits of playing video games). I don’t play video games anymore, but I played plenty as a kid, and I doubt as though they are tearing away the fabric of society. However, if the argument is that social media is completely innocuous, then I disagree – that is, it may be true that some kids can do that, but I don’t think most can (many adults struggle, too). I can boil it down to two points:

  1. There are people who are being paid millions of dollars whose expressed job is to get you to stay on social media for as long as possible. They are exploiting dopamine loops and literally rewiring your brain. These are brilliant people whose job it is to alter your chemistry to make it more difficult to put down your device. I don’t think kids have a realistic chance at resisting this
  2. Many of the top paid tech people do not allow their kids to have devices, do not use social media themselves, and send their kids to Waldorf schools. Don’t trust a skinny chef.

 

“We compound the problem. We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in these short-term signals – hearts, likes, thumbs-up – and we conflate that with value and we conflate it with truth. And instead what it really is is fake, brittle popularity, that’s short-term, and that leaves you – admit it – more vacant and empty than before you did it. Because then it forces you into this vicious cycle of ‘what’s the next thing I have to do now?’…You don’t realize it, but you are being programmed.” ~Chamath Palihapitiya

College Loans & Credit Cards

You sign on for a hundred grand or more in student loans and you are agreeing to serfdom. Credit cards are poisonous. I don’t feel like I need to explain these points further.

Fast Food & Other Garbage

Similar to the screen time/dopamine argument – a young kid or a teenager has no defense against sugar. We are programmed genetically to like sweet and salty, but that was never a problem because in our evolutionary past we could never get our hands on too much of it. Now they dump forty grams of sugar or so in a soda, which is basically just water and carbonation, and charge a couple bucks for it. How are you supposed to fight that as a seven year old? You can’t, and that’s not an accident. They want you hooked. According to the .gov, a third of Americans are obese. BMI is unreliable, so call it a quarter of us, if you’d like. Fast food and other manufacturers of garbage food care about how much of their product you buy, not about your health.

Automotive Safety

OK, so not as sexy as war memorials, but a huge concern. When I let my kids outside by themselves, which I think is important, I’m not worried about sexual predators or kidnappers even a hundredth of how much I worry about them getting hit by a car. When they get older, odds are that they or a friend will have the urge to drive recklessly. When I was fifteen, I told my parents I was going one place and I wound up going another. I got into a car with a sixteen-year-old who, long story short, flipped the car over twice. My hand got caught between the roof of the car and the road, although somehow all I lost was a fingernail. We were both extremely fortunate, however, nothing can change your life quicker, and more permanently, than a bad car accident.

Please wait...

Huskies Heroes Biweekly Newsletter!

Anything else would be uncivilized!