Mastery

In the field of education there is an ideal of becoming a “master teacher”. Of course, the notion of becoming a master is not limited to teaching. It is found in nearly all disciplines. But interestingly, it is only in a few that the status of “master” is part of the culture of that discipline….

Making a Difference

If you were a world leader of global influence asked to address a group of high school students, what would you speak about? There would be multiple factors to consider; that you were going to give a speech that many in attendance would remember for the rest of their lives; that these were young people…

“I Was Wrong”

As the summer months cool and the days begin to shorten, there is a group of people who begin to wake up before dawn. As the last of the night holds on to its final moments, stretching time out over the infinite horizon, this group of people sings. The songs they intone are a theme…

A Room with a View

Think about your favorite room. It might be from where you lived growing up. It might be a nook in your current apartment. It might be your front porch. Walk through it in your mind. What is it about this spaces that resonates with you? What does this space tell you and the world about…

Teachers and Kings

A student and I were standing outside on one of the balconies of the school building on an overcast, autumn day. He was going through a tough time and we were talking about a number of things, school, his parents, his favorite video games. Then he said, “you know, you’re one of those teachers that…

Circles and Triangles, Speaking and Listening

In conversations with middle and high school students over the last twelve years, several common threads have emerged. One of them is how important it is to students to feel understood. The truth is, their preoccupation with this feeling is partly a product of where they are at developmentally, but it highlights a truth about…

Your Next Step

A couple of years ago I began taking classes in continental Portuguese in order to be able to translate some historical documents I was working with. It was one of those great moments, as a teacher, to again be in the seat of a student. In the first session of the course, the instructor had…

Life Project

In 16th C. Italy, schools training students of sculpture, architecture and painting began instructing their students to develop progetti, scale models of their ideas. This allowed for delightful moments of creativity, expression, risk taking and learning. Without realizing it, what these schools were doing was creating one of the most powerful tools in education from…

Are We Good Students?

One of the signs of successful education is “transfer of learning”. In short, “transfer of learning” is what happens when a student brings something they’ve learned in the past into current learning or into real world application. The composers of Jewish liturgy understood this and so they utilized phrases from the Tanakh that contained vital…

The Lessons of Sacrifice

We do not just learn from books, lectures or films. Whether or not we realize it, what we learn most profoundly is what we learn from our actions. This insight is what drives ritual performance in many religious traditions. The International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences explains that rituals, at their best, can effect cognitive and…