The Zuck had to retire his Facebook motto of, “move fast and break things” in 2014 but the ethic is still alive and well and encouraged in the tech world. Thinking independently works well unless you develop “moral disengagement” (rationalizing behavior at odds with your own principles, often resulting in wrongdoing).


This is why we break rules we don’t agree with. This is also why there is a 24-foot wooden tennis wall sitting outside my art room. I am a free-range chicken, happily teaching, coaching, touring, fathering, and writing with little direction from others.



I like to move fast and break things. Part of being an engager of minds is to wake people up from their complacency and show them that they can do anything. I don’t care what you think, it’s true, I’ve seen it happen. A little self-confidence, a little direction, a lot of hard work and you can go and do and be anything.


Unfortunately, I’m a free-range chicken in a micromanaged world.


120 Million the hard way


Are you bored with the rhetoric yet? The talking heads, the endless meetings, the rumors, the alliances, the sucking up, the haters, the “passionate community members with their list of demands”.


Yeah, me too.


There was a time (18 years ago) when my students would jump the fence on hot days and swan dive fully clothed into a beautiful blue Olympic size pool at the high school (I’m not condoning this, just telling a story). My alternative students had full access to drama productions and all sports and clubs and 0 period because then principal Bob Kruljak maintained an open access policy with SVHS. Bob was a powerful presence, walking the campus at break and lunch, picking up litter and talking with students. He cared for his school and knew his population because, well, that’s what high school is about, knowing the students.


Today we have no pool but many more rules. My students have no access to drama or sports or any SVHS activities. And when someone tries to improve something as simple as a replacement wall for tennis players, they are smacked down by bureaucracy.


Not that everyone should be able to put up walls (or SONOMAWOOD signs or post semi-offensive blogs, or community proposals) but a little more support for the free-range chickens would help get a few more things done. I tend to act first and ask for permission second (moral disengagement). It’s not my greatest trait but most of the time it gets things done which is why I’m sticking with it.


I was watching my girl’s golf team play our first match with Analy and I realized that we can and should do a better job prioritizing opportunity for students. I have 20 girls on the team and they are not stellar golfers but they are having a stellar time. Golf is not an easy sport to practice in Sonoma as the driving range on Arnold is now a weed field, the three par on Watmaugh is a distant memory, and the membership fee at the Sonoma Golf club is a little out of reach.


But, we make due. Mondays and Tuesdays my team sets up a series of hitting stations in the field around the SVHS track (the track is still in excellent shape, for putting on), Wednesdays we practice at Putters mini-golf and Thursdays we go to the Sonoma Golf Club. I rotate all the girls during matches and reward the ones who show extra interest and work hard.


We make the best of it, we innovate, and we have fun. Most of the girls have never held a club before and we have yet to win a match but so what? High school is a time to try new things, some activities stick, some don’t. The important thing is to keep engaging.


Driving home from Analy the girls are talking about what they like and don’t like about high school. Teachers who don’t listen, too much homework, social media drama, all the expected stuff but they also said there is plenty to like. Teachers who innovate and connect with students, classes that challenge them, electives that expose them to new things and of course the golf team (yes, they have to say this, they are quite aware of my very fragile, childlike ego).


I don’t have all the answers, no one does, but I do know that we need to talk less and build more. Learning to swim should be a requirement for high school graduation on a planet that is 71% water. Access for all should not only be a policy but something all students feel empowered by on the daily. More yes, less no.


Move fast and break things. Support the free-range chickens.