Sunday, June 19, 2011

Graduation Speech, 2011

I had a plan you know, before I got to this school.  
I was to coast passively towards early retirement over the next few years.  
But you kids, your families, and this staff thwarted that complacent plan, and
awakened in me an enthusiasm and exuberance that had been dormant for far too long.  
You see, while I taught at Kennedy, academic excellence was king,
but it was often at the expense of their desire for learning;
and at Peterson, last year, objective detachment had to be king,
and it was certainly at the expense of passion and personality.  

But at DCS, life is based on better values.  
We are governed by common sense rather than complex policy,
and learning emerges naturally from exploration, engagement and enthusiasm.  
Respect is abundant, dignity is the default, and community is king.  

As this class leaves the school that they and their families helped create, I have a new plan -
to honor your legacy, embrace the possibilities that this school empowers,
and live up to its (and my) fullest potential for years to come.

Class of 2011, you have taught others as much as you have learned yourselves,
you have modeled more humanity than has been asked of you,
and you have built healthy habits of mind and solid houses of morality.  

So, what can I offer you as parting words of wisdom?  
None of my own, actually -- I lack the required brevity and poignancy.  
But keep at least one of the following famous quotes at hand -
it may help you put a strange situation into perspective or guide you through a tough decision.

  • Always be a first-rate version of yourself... rather than a second-rate version of somebody else.
  • Those who say it cannot be done... should never interrupt those who are actually doing it.
  • Keep in mind that neither success nor failure... are ever final.
  • If you always know what you are doing... you'll probably just get bored.
  • Common sense is instinct...  and enough of it is pure genius.
  • A slave is a person who waits for someone else to set them free.
  • And my favorite “If the people lead, the leaders will follow”.
Go take the lead.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Frontage Road Meets the Freeway

Education is a journey that can take many paths. An “alternative” education is one that takes the experiential and scenic routes through the varied landscapes of learning as compared to the fast paced straight and narrow freeway thoroughfares of traditional education. The philosophies, passions, and practices of the former are grounded in the belief that students thrive when they have influence over the content, style, and assessment of their own learning. The latter, in drastic contrast usually follows a prescribed one-size-fits-all model where individuality is the exception and conformity is crucial to the efficacy of the system.  Visualize, then, the onramp from the frontage road to the freeway -- where those drivers who are accustomed to the pace and peace of the rural route are merging with the tunnel-visioned drivers who are accustomed to the speed and straight lanes of endless interstate.

About Me

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Teacher of seventh grade life science in Sunnyvale and Director of the MERIT Teacher Technology Training Program at Foothill College..."Making Education Relevant and Interactive through Technology"