It seems to me that one of life’s great ironies is that the grass always seems to be greener somewhere else. Don’t get me wrong, the grass is plenty green in my field right now; I love what I do and I’m challenged by my students to be a better teacher. And since I seem to thrive under such pressures, I really couldn’t be happier. However, every once in a while I miss the luxury of thinking for selfish reasons.

Heather, Justin and I have rolled out a new unit for the seniors using Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted as the central text. The goal of the unit isn’t to teach literary analysis, or literary techniques, rather it’s to challenge the students to think about what books do, what they’ve done, how they’ve altered the face of our society and culture and how each of us is influenced and impacted by what we read. The final assessment for the unit is a Howard Gardner styled project that asks students to take action, to do/create/change something as the result of their reading.

Creating the opportunity for them to think in this fashion has reminded me of all the subjects that I’d “do” something with, if only I could find the time. First is to reply formally to David Brooks’ Op-Ed piece in published online today in the New York Times. I’m a fan of David Brooks. He writes about education although it’s not his area of expertise, nor is it his job. As someone who believes fervently in education, I’m grateful for the exposure even though, like many pundits and politicians who dabble in educational criticism, Brooks makes several common mistakes. He (and they) equate test scores with student learning and believes that awarding merit pay to individual teachers will somehow magically solve the problem of troubled schools. So if I had more time, I’d ask the following questions: How did NCLB policies fail? How can those failures instruct our federal government’s next approach at educational reform? What discrepancies exist between the reports and my own, real classroom experience? How can the classroom teacher use this data to shape her own practices?

I’d also research the Facebook phenomena. It has been really weird to “see” people I haven’t spoken with in twenty years. Of course, I’ll see many of them at my twentieth–that’s a tough pill to swallow–high school reunion this summer, but that’s a one-time thing. As someone who deals in high school drama on a daily basis, it’s not a little ironic that I’m once again immersed in the social fabric of my own adolescent years. I’d like to think that we’re all above drama, but are we? Is Facebook really nothing more than a digital record of our place in the social pecking order? I’m sure sociologists are already madly conducting studies on this, so I would like to read their analyses about how it’s changing our social fabric. Does Facebook bring us closer together, or is it a poor substitute for more in-depth person-to-person communication? What human interactions does it replace? What human interactions does it supplant? With the advent of social networking, I assume there are whole host of anthropological implications being rewritten on the fly also. Has the structure of what we call “community” shifted? Because I’m now ostensibly in touch with people I haven’t spoken with in twenty years does this expand my community, or is Facebook little more than window dressing?

Well, I had more to say about that than I thought. I could keep going (technology in education, the gender gap in education, the implications of a flat world), but in the interest of keeping the one reader I have–love you Stan–I’ll call it quits now.

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