It’s big project time in Social Responsibility class because why not? We’re all going to get old and die, might as well have as much impact on the world as possible. This little habitrail we’re all living in day after day is super important, yes, but let’s think for a moment about the big picture.



I show a clip from Jeff Daniels talking about how America is no longer the greatest country and still they watch. I talk about social change and waking up to problems and still they watch. I write about inequality and solutions and still they watch. Forget North Korea and Syria, the end of the world is happening right here in my classroom.


I see it with my tennis team, they show up for practice every day but don’t have the interest/drive/hard work ethic to practice their sport on their own time. I see it with my own kids who could be learning new skills and creating but choose to watch instead. And, worst of all, I see it with myself justifying spending too many hours a day staring at screens. Watching instead of doing.


I love the Jeff Daniels clip, not because I agree with everything he says, but because it has 12 million views and counting. WE, the big WE, as in homo sapiens WE, need to realize that WE are all on the same team and that the more we separate and hate the less we get done and the worse off we are. Sure I’ve said it before:

But am I doing anything more than screaming into the darkness? 6 months of writing these stories, 24 years of teaching, and a lifetime of talking to anyone who will listen and I am not seeing good things developing in education or society.


I go old school with my curriculum and make copies of a proposal/story from a few months ago. We start by brainstorming solutions. This is my sweet spot, what better way to motivate students than have them develop a proposal for their dream facility. And who knows? Crazy money is out there, why not throw a giant wad our way. I set up meetings with supervisor Susan Gorin and John McCaul (Sonoma Land Trust) then plan a site visit fieldtrip then begin pouring over the 4 gazillion pages of information about the SDC.


Students brainstorm: A high school where students want to learn, job training, drug rehab, homeless outreach, hotel, tennis courts, “a place to take care of kids that can’t be taken care of”, bee farm, performing arts program and center, yoga, apartments, animal shelter, restaurant, teen clinic, art gallery, sports program, mechanic and technology classes, “add more things that teenagers like”, retail shopping, thrift store, bowling alley, drive-in theatre. Do you see the themes? Empathy, caring, promoting WE. It’s a good start. Now if WE can only shift priorities a little bit.

Our new education secretary needs a million dollars per month in security. 20 people at level GS-13 (95k-123k) and 2 at level GS14 (112k-146k). I make about 70k after 24 years in the classroom. Fair? Just? A good use of resources? I’m all for shaking up the system but is this really the direction WE should be headed in? The 2018 budget for Education is 1/10th that of Defense. Does that mean that defending our country is 10 times more important than educating it?


Where do we start? First, let’s take a hard look at where WE are. Why is hate winning? Who is against the concept of WE? The bad news is the answer might be current US policies and Capitalism and the current state of shortsighted leaders: but WE can change that if we want to. That’s the great thing about democracy it’s by the people, for the people.


Next, increase Empathy and decrease Apathy. Prioritizing leisure is secretly turning us into frogs in slowly boiling water. Sure it’s a little dramatic but it’s true, smartphones should be creating a smarter generation but well, uhhhhh, not so much:


Then promote unity over separatism. WE over me. Get out in the world, see things, talk to people, and develop you. Discover what so many people are so damn angry about. Try to understand hate by reading articles like, “The Point of Hate” by Anna Fels:

“Hate converts a sense of helplessness into one of action. It can even be the impetus for the formation of new communities in which people share grievances and plans for retribution, relieving their sense of isolation or powerlessness. As a consequence, though, there’s a loss of empathy, and beliefs become simplified and rigid.”

It’s time to move past hate and dream a little bit. Think of your own big picture. Start small or take on a billion dollar remodel, exit the habitrail and make something real.

Commit to WE.