Thoughts, links & ideas from the 2008 National Teacher of the Year

Each time I've taken off in a plane since May (which is a lot), I've been writing in my journal, then adding these journal entries on this blog.

Check in often, or subscribe to get headlines fed to you! Oh, and the views expressed here are not those of anyone but me.  And anyone who happens to share the same views, I guess.

(Note: the blue posted dates are actually the dates I wrote the journal entries, not when I posted them online.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

This is Your New York

New York, NY

I Heart New York.  But I don't heart this airport.  Jen and I went to check in and the lady - without a hint of emotion in her face - told us to use the self-service kiosk.  Which took us about 10 minutes (ah, modern technology.)  She sat behind the empty counter and watched us look for every possible combination of letters and numbers that might identify us.  Emotionless.  Then we checked in with her.  Odd process.  The pre-check show (grumpy driver) and post-check show were equally devoid of humanity.  Sort of depressing.  I'm looking forward to our little airport again.

But I Hearted New York.  In a city so enormous and busy, I was surprised by the humanity of it.  And it was the whole range of humanity.  In the faces of it's people, I saw my human heritage, my extended family.  (I'm not sure they saw that in my face, they were all probably wondering if I missed a spot shaving, or whether that was just a diminutive soul patch.)  People are beautiful, for the most part.

Our first night in New York we decided to head up to the top of the Empire State Building to get an overview of the city.  From up there at night, NY is rather magical, and with a map we were able to get familiar with Manhattan island.  But we didn't really know the city.  At some point you've got to huck the map and just explore on your own.

There were open-top double-decker tour buses all over the city with the slogan "This is your New York!" plastered on the side.  I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but no... it's really not.

Are we doing the same thing in education?  Putting all the kids on a bus together with the slogan "This is your education!" plastered on it, then quickly driving past all the major landmarks and pointing them out... "Conservation of momentum on your left... World War II on your right..."

Wouldn't most students experience their education more fully if they actually participated in it?  Perhaps huck the map and just let them explore what was important to them.  Probably not feasible or even recommendable on a large scale, but what about a balance of approaches?  Give kids a skeleton map - a framework - and let them fill it in with the details that fit, but are actually important to their unique way of experiencing the world.  Give them a few big ideas to search for, but then let them discover "their New York."

Here's my New York:


  1. That is a great video! I love your approach to things.

  2. Hi there NTOY - as a loyal fan of your blog, I have a question for you. Why are posts from June just popping up now? Am I logged in wrong?

    Also, I totally agree with your perspective. It's so much easier to hand out worksheets and assess if they got what we want them to get vs allowing space for them to "get" what they are creatively pursuing.

    Let's seek to facilitate an environment that creates individuals, not mini-data regurgitating robots!

  3. Yeah, the date thing is kind of weird. I've been modifying the date to match when I actually wrote it in my journal, so the dates won't actually match up until I catch up. Hopefully I'll get caught up sometime later this fall.

    Thanks for the kind words, Beth and RunningGal. It was a powerful analogy to me while we were in NY.


Feel free to question, disagree, challenge, or make suggestions! I'm a big boy. I can take it.