Wash the van.


There are three SVHS sports vans, which live beside the tech department and get very dirty because washing them is no one’s direct responsibility. I could complain and blog and tweet and worry about who will wash these vans or I can spend all of 20 minutes washing them as part of my golf and tennis team responsibilities.


Better yet, I could plan a washing day with the teams and have them learn about responsibility and about doing just a little bit more to make the world a better place.  Also when we roll into a match the teams will look as clean and fresh as possible, which is always nice.


This is how we need to approach life. Do a little more simply because it will make the world a little better and maybe make you feel a little better. Call it random acts of kindness, leaving no trace, whatever just see a problem, solve a problem.


We also have to start figuring out who the real enemy is. When kids start arguing in the classroom, I often come back with,


“It’s not you against each other or against me but all of us against illiteracy and ignorance.” Fight the right power.


There is a simple common goal in education-learning stuff. If we are all not working on that goal then what is the point? I have a favorite line during special education IEP meetings that I try and throw in at least once,


“See all these people, this is your team, psychologists, teachers, counselors, principals, we are all here to help you succeed.”


Many students and parents in special education have had bad experiences with the system at least once (kinda like most of my students) and to hear this always makes people smile.


Going macro with this philosophy means that we have to find the real enemies in the world. Namely, the things that will end the world: climate change, nuclear war, pollution, hate- these are the real evils. Leaders who do not intervene in these problems are not helping, they are the kids in class who encourage bad behavior and try anything to disrupt (sound familiar?). We have to redirect these kids back to the real goal.


I don’t really like the traditional model of education (Sit down and quietly do your work trains kids to sit down and quietly do their work in life which is not my jam). There’s a reason I’ve worked for 25 years in alternative environments, I like to keep things active and creative plus I have a freakish patience level and I am pretty OK at motivating the unmotivated. I also like my autonomy and I have a somewhat different agenda that, if you’ve been reading any of these 117 blogs, you already know.


What you don’t know is that I hold a lot back. I might seem like an open book but I am not. I have a filter that can be summed up in three simple words, “Would it help?” That’s it, if I’m creating more hate and anger in the world then I might hold off in talking about politics or religion or bosses or systems. But if my voice leads to a positive impact then I believe it is important to speak up.


I have no clue how anyone could continue to support what is happening in Washington and I’m not just talking about the president. Our country is broken and our leaders don’t seem to care. Could I move to Washington and post up in my little REI tent outside the White House? Sure but would it help? Not so much. Am I blown away daily by the current climate in politics? Heck yes but will continuing to call our president a flaming excrement bag on the doorstep of America while a third of the country supports him do anything but increase hate and separation? Probably not. Better to understand why the situation is as it is and work on changing it.


I ran into an ex-student at Safeway the other day. He was talking fast; making little sense and his dirty clothes reinforced rumors I had heard that he is homeless. Why is there no place for him to get the help that he needs (mental health services, substance abuse counseling, affordable housing)? I am not a fan of giving everyone free everything but I am a fan of taking care of people. Why is this problem being ignored?


Oh, and the power is going out again on Wednesday because of fire-starting winds and failing infrastructure, hope you haven’t done your Thanksgiving food run to Costco like I have.


I’m in the bad behavior business. Currently the N-word is trying to make a comeback in my classes (thank you bad rappers!). If I ignored it students would understand that either I don’t care or it’s not really that big of an issue. Giving a subtle message of acceptance is not what I or education is about so I intervene and explain why there are very few words as offensive as the N-word, why words have power, what the word represents and on and on. But that takes effort and I have to teach a lesson on the Pythagorean Theorem-who has the time?


Not taking the time gets us exactly where we are. Broken systems, an angry, divided population, and growing problems that are not being addressed.


Wash the van.






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