I got this email last night from a student. It’s the perfect illustration of everything that’s frustrating and wonderful about teaching highschoolers. Bad grammar and punctuation, finally understanding the point of an exercise eleven months after it happened, but genuine friendliness and sincerity in his delight about learning something new, or confirming something he already suspected, or naming something he was taught long ago, or whatever education is. Enjoy.

Do you remember last year when i wrote the aweful this is water essay map that was less tehn a paragraph and had almost nothing to do with the paper… I wrote in it that scientificly every person is the center of the universe and i found out what i was talking about was called yesterday, its called the cosmological principle.

When you graded my essay you asked where did i get this information so even though its a year late i thought you might like to know.




I came across this while reading T.S. Eliot’s essay, “The Aims of Education.”

I have never worked in a coal mine or a uranium mine, or in a herring trawler; but I know from experience that working in a bank from 9:15 to 5:30, and once in four weeks the whole of Saturday, with two weeks’ holiday a year, was a rest cure compared to teaching in a school.

Preach it.


So this is a retread of a speech I gave a couple of years ago. I reworked some of the analysis and expanded on a couple of ideas, adding Chesterton (of course) but it’s not really anything new (thank goodness).

Before we start, would you all please stand up for a minute? Can you guys make sure you’re squared away and looking sharp? Shirts tucked in and buttoned up, non uniform hoodies off. How’s the balcony? Everyone squared away? Good. Take a seat.

There are numerous people I should probably thank for what I’m going to say, so I’ll just say thanks to Sarah for the work she’s doing on her Senior Practicum. It’s intelligent and careful and genuine, just like Sarah, and I’m delighted to be here while it’s happening. I’m going to speak today about the nature of rules and the consequences that come from mistaking them, and I mean what I say, not as a contradiction, but as an augmentation of the way we normally think of these things. After all, if we learn nothing else from Psalm 119, we learn that God’s rules are important. To start, because I am an English teacher, I have two stories to tell. Continue reading


I just got a present from a student.

Here is the note, with the present below:

In 9th grade you had this quote posted on the side of your white board. You said that this quote by Mark Antony was the most intense battle cry that could in no way be surpassed by any other attempt in any movie… SO I immediately thought, WHY NOT CROSS STITCH IT ON A PILLOW? Well, since a pillow is too difficult for me (a beginner) I hope you treasure this frame instead!

Thanks for everything!



While discussing Pilar Ternera from 100 Years of Solitude, my class had the following exchange.

Student: There should be a limit on how old you can be and still have sex!

Me: Why would you say that? She’s just trying to help people.

Student: This is just wrong! She should stop. Old people should not be doing this. They should be cut off!

Me: (uncomfortable with where the rest of the class may take his imagery) I think we should drop this topic. You should  be grateful your parents don’t agree with you on this.

Student: No, that’s my point. I don’t want to think about them doing it. They should be cut off!

Me: I think you should drop this before I bring something up that you’re going to like even less.

Student: Worse than my parents? … what are you…NOOOOOOOOO!!!

Teaching Win #1

While writing an in-class essay on 100 Years of Solitude, the entire class works in near perfect silence. Then…

Student #1, looking up quickly and raising his hand: Is it acceptable if I refer to Colonel Aureliano Buendia as a “man-whore”?

Student #2, responding across the classroom: Can you support it with the text?

Solo Adventure

A speech I gave last week:

It’s good to see you all. I’m really glad to be here, and I love this school. Chapel has become one of my favorite parts of the week, because I like when we (the school) can do things together. Even when I don’t follow the speaker, or I don’t understand the lyrics of a particular song, I still get the feeling that it’s not just myself doing this. We do chapel together.

It's my adventure now.There are a number of ways we talk about the world, cliches or platitudes, bromides or chestnuts, that we repeat over and over and over and rely upon, which turn out to be completely untrue. The biggest thing I think we misunderstand is time. We talk about time as if it were a series of moments that we inhabit one after the other. We talk about “time flying” or we remember specific moments from long ago, as if they were points on a geometric line, like intersections. We say that moments are brief. But really, when I think about how I experience time, my life is one long moment. I’ve been alive for almost 34 years now, and it’s always now.  Continue reading