Martin Luther King, Jr and the Misuse of Facts
education Martin Luther King, Jr and the Misuse of Facts Every year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this year on January 20th, we rightfully celebrate the man. We pull out our favorite quotes—there are so many, almost everything he said was memorable—we tell the stories of his heroic activities to gain respect for people of all colors and backgrounds. We admire his dedication to the Gandhian idea of peaceful resistance. We acknowledge his morality of righteousness rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic of his upbringing as a Baptist minister and theologian. The man stands as one of the handful of truly positive role models of the 20th century. However, recently, while lauding MLK’s accomplishments to a class of wide-eyed students, one of them questioned the received knowledge. continue reading January 15, 2020
education What I Learned in Israel I spent the two weeks of winter break in Israel, visiting my son in a special language and culture program based in Jerusalem. One of the amazing understandings that came out of this experience is that history is very much alive in Israel. continue reading January 13, 2020
What I Learned in Israel
An Adulterated Education, Part 2: Ray Bradbury: “We’ll be reading Huckleberry Finn on Mars.”
authors An Adulterated Education, Part 2: Ray Bradbury: “We’ll be reading Huckleberry Finn on Mars.” A hero of mine, as well as a favorite writer, Ray Bradbury wrote some of the greatest, most imaginative works in our culture, including, “The Sound of Thunder,” “I Sing the Body Electric,” The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and the screenplay for John Houston’s version of Moby-Dick, a classic in its own right. It was my good fortune to spend a lively morning with him in his Pasadena office, so chock full of science fiction chachkas it was like attending a ComicCon convention for two, me and Ray. (From time to time, I’ll mine the many interviews I’ve done with accomplished people to bring you their views on education, reading, and writing.) continue reading January 8, 2020
authors An Adulterated Education, Part 1: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: “No kid ever learned anything from Sesame Street.” A bit back in my personal timeline, I had an opportunity to spend the better part of an afternoon with one of my favorite writers/human beings, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. When I was in college, having read Slaughterhouse Five, Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Hocus Pocus, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, et. al, I considered him a prophet, if not a deity. Still do. We ate orange slices that he peeled as we sat in the expansive kitchen of his Manhattan townhouse watching the sun dapple through the leaves of his backyard and cast prismatic rainbows onto the wooden table through the stained glass ornaments in the windows. (From time to time, I’ll mine the many interviews I’ve done with accomplished people to bring you their views on education, reading, and writing.) continue reading January 7, 2020
An Adulterated Education, Part 1: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: “No kid ever learned anything from Sesame Street.”
The Best of 2020: Resolutions, Predictions, and Apprehensions for the Coming Year
education The Best of 2020: Resolutions, Predictions, and Apprehensions for the Coming Year First of all, let’s make a resolution not to hate on each other during this inevitably divisive presidential election year. It has become fashionable to be partisan and to claim that the “other side” does not have an equal say and should not be treated respectfully or even listened to at all. Nothing could be further from the ideals of the American experiment. Historically, we have lived through much disparity and inequity, but that doesn’t mean we have to continue that way and make civil discourse worse than it already is. A pluralistic society means listening to people whose views you despise and for whom you have no patience. That’s called democracy. It’s why the founders were so nervous about democracy—it “normalizes” the opposition. It doesn’t mean you have to agree. We have the power of voting; let’s use it to speak our minds. It’s more powerful than shouting. Here’s what we predict (hope, wish, pray) for 2020: continue reading December 27, 2019
education 2019 HIGHLIGHTS: Five Historically Impactful Moments of the Year Today is the last day of the year! How does that happen? Here are a handful of highlights from the last twelve months, a review of a preview of history. Of course, this is highly subjective—and limited by a handful. If you have any burning items that we somehow did not include, please send them along and we’ll do a follow up on everything we missed. continue reading December 27, 2019
2019 HIGHLIGHTS: Five Historically Impactful Moments of the Year
Happy Boxing Day, America: We Need a Day to Detox from Christmas
Boxing Day Happy Boxing Day, America: We Need a Day to Detox from Christmas During me days as a street urchin in London, I loved Boxing Day because that’s when the Lords of the Manor would toss off a shilling or two to us ’ungry lads. Actually, I’m from Brooklyn. But I like the idea of Boxing Day. It’s a legal holiday in most of the English speaking world, and celebrated as St. Stephen’s Day in many countries, and I suggest we adopt it here, too. continue reading December 26, 2019
Christmas Christmas is Cool: Why Christmas Goes Beyond Religion School’s out today, but a big lesson is in front of us everywhere we turn. It’s not the Christmas trees or Hanukah menorahs or Kwanza candles or any of the pagan ceremonial rituals that punctuate our culture at the end of the year with a big exclamation mark! They are all beautiful, meaningful, and we wish you and yours the happiest and the merriest (and the safest and the most convivial) of holiday cheer. But Christmas is more than that. continue reading December 24, 2019
Christmas is Cool: Why Christmas Goes Beyond Religion
Five Reasons to Read Even Though It’s Hard
education Five Reasons to Read Even Though It’s Hard Reading is hard. No matter what age, the act of deciphering squiggles on a page or a screen is not intuitive and takes a lot of cognitive juice. It is not natural. Human beings have only been producing symbols to stand for the sounds of words for five thousand years, that’s about one quarter of one percent of the span of identifiably human beings on Earth. Just to read this much, your brain had to take several dozen snapshots (saccades). Once the images are sent from the eye to the brain, the brain has to put them together using its reference of images. We’re lucky we have brains instead of computers. The fastest computer in the world, the Tianhe-2 in China, operates a million billion calculations per second. That’s strictly remedial compared to the human brain which runs a billion billion calculations per second. If this was a race, the human brain would finish a calculation in one second that the world’s fastest computer would take forty minutes. continue reading December 18, 2019
education Holiday Book Recommendation: The American Story, Second Best Gift on U.S. History We’re getting into the red zone of holiday present panic. You’re going down your check list. What do you get for a 15 year-old girl? Does Uncle Harry need socks? Grandma says she’s done buying gifts—but says that every year and gives them out anyway. continue reading December 17, 2019
Holiday Book Recommendation: The American Story, Second Best Gift on U.S. History
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