A place for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools
Religious topics have long been a touchy subject in public schools and none of them touchier than atheism.
For young people though, the taboo surrounding unbelief appears to be disappearing. Recent surveys have found that younger Americans are the least likely to be religious. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, 29 percent of 18-29 year olds are religiously unaffiliated, compared with 15 percent of the population as a whole. And a 2006 Pew Research poll found that 1 in 5 young people said they have no religious affiliation, nearly double the proportion of the late 1980s.
We often talk about the teachers who change our lives. We hold them dear in our hearts, conjuring their images and words of wisdom in our dark hours. They continue to guide us throughout our lives, whether they know it or not.
What few talk about is the students who change teachers' lives. Yup. It happens that way, too.
I'm a middle school English teacher. If any of my former teachers are reading this, they will (a) be shocked I'm entrusted with our future generation, (b) question what happened to the character-education movement, or (c) ask how I made it past high school.
When I was a student in middle school, life seemed to be an endless maze of getting to class on time, getting homework done on time or trying to fit in somewhere. There was the added problem of not wanting to wear my Coke bottle-thick glasses. It didn't help my self-image knowing every night I had to attach my braces to a medieval torture device known as headgear. To this day I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy those awkward middle school years of being laughed at, picked on, and socially lost.
Mr. Franklin changed my son’s life.
Alex used to hate school. He angrily questioned and resented every assignment, no matter how easy or fun it seemed. I dreaded the monumental struggle it took just getting him to do his work. Many parents fight this daily battle. Even those of us who are professional educators are not exempt from it.
Then came Mr. Franklin.
Shrinking there on the stool in the science classroom, I just want to gather my ungraded quizzes and my dignity and flee to freedom. But, I don’t. I sit there, paralyzed by the assault.
“We are not your enemies,” I finally counter. “We are not Blake’s enemies.”
Singer, actor and activist Nick LaTour died Monday.
To many children in Alabama and across the country, LaTour was a consummate storyteller who was able to bring the civil rights movement to life. People who heard him sing will forever be touched by his baritone renditions of spirituals or civil rights anthems.
Walter Sherrill made chemistry cool. He was the sort of refined man who seemed to glide across a room. His voice never rose above a quiet tone, and he wore a mostly stern expression on a peaceful countenance as he explained scientific equations. I cherished the rare times he smiled—or on occasion—chuckled at the ludicrous conclusions of his high school students.
Last week, I had a chance to preview documentary films that showed how a strong arts program—and that could range from mariachi to Shakespeare to poetry slams—could turn struggling schools into powerhouses of energy and promise. Last night, millions of viewers got a chance to see what students from a school that values the arts look like—on the Academy Awards, no less.