Here are some questions I’ve been asking lately: What are the effects of schooling on creativity? How well does schooling foster the uniqueness of each child who passes through? Does schooling make children happier? For that matter, does our culture as a whole engender happy children? What does each new child receive in exchange for the so many hours for years on end that she or he gives to the school system? How does school help to make each child who he or she is?
Another way to say this is that before asking whether I or anyone else has been successful in the classroom, we need to ask what we want to accomplish. And before we can rely on our answer to this second question, we need to ask what we are already doing and what we are currently creating by the process of schooling, because that understanding will help us understand—all rhetoric aside—what we really want, and will also make clear the stakes involved in the formation of students’ characters
“Power. If I’ve got power or authority over someone, it’s my responsibility to use that only to help them. It’s my job to accept and praise them into becoming who they are. But if I see someone misusing power to harm someone else, it’s just as much my responsibility to stop them, using whatever means necessary.”
“Passion, love, hate, fear, hope. The best writing springs from these sources. Life itself springs from these sources, and what is writing without life? Writing and life. Life and writing. One is the stuff of the other, and the other is the stuff of the one. So by definition this is as much a class in life—in passion, love, fear, experience, relation—as it is in writing. Be warned. If you’re here purely for credit, hoping to sleep through yet another quarter of semicolons, diagrammed sentences, and five-paragraph essays, this class will be an incredible drag both for you and for me. If you’re not interested in approaching the ragged edge of control where instinct and euphoria set you free from time and consciousness, you would in all honesty be better off in another class
deconstruction of what I believe and perceive to be the way things are, to continuously break down in my own mind what I believe, and continuously add to my knowledge and understanding. In other words, never to be satisfied that I’m satisfied. That sounds like I’m dissatisfied, but it doesn’t mean that. It means never to be complacent and think I’ve come to a conclusion about things, to always question my own thinking
The foundation of my work in the classroom remains the same for both college and prison, which is to respect and love my students into becoming who they are
“One of the most important things we can do is help young people find their way to be in service to something larger than themselves. Normally the only reason kids go to college or graduate school—and, in Wes Jackson’s words, the only real major offered—is upward mobility. But we fail to teach our children that service to something greater than themselves is far more likely to lead to a joyful and satisfying life, and one that is environmentally rich.
It becomes our task in this world to remember our gifts, our task, and to realize them, with the help of guiding spirits, or daimons. Thus eudaimonia, which literally means “having a good guardian spirit.