Engaging tough topics, teacher style

This is an article I wrote over a year ago and decided not to post because it wouldn’t have helped the conversation at the time.   I came across it and decided it was still relevant, sadly.   A lot of things have been said about sexism, but there is also a lot be said about communication.

Outrage is energizing, but it can also alienate potential allies.  At the time, the outrage touched a nerve and I felt compelled to speak.

Here is what I said…

I have been bombarded lately by things with news about the Isla Vista killings.   Article after article after article talking about misogyny, women’s rights, men’s rights, and everything.   I had decided earlier that I wasn’t going to write anything about it.   Not because I don’t have anything relevant to say, but because I’m a guy, and I don’t want to be the guy “speaking from a position of privilege” about “stuff I don’t know.”    The outrage has been palpable, as is evident in a lot of the articles I’ve read.    Something in me finally couldn’t take it anymore.

Let me be perfectly clear:    what happened was horrible, for the victims, for the families, and for the family of the shooter.   I am also a feminist with a resume of action and support.   I sincerely believe that women are still fighting for equality in this society (let alone in other cultures), and that the cultural values that we hand to both men and women are often unhealthy and untenable.   I am WITH women on this fight.

… and many of them are engaging in the discussion wrong.   Not everyone, but enough to put my teeth on edge.

What was being said was true.   And not helpful.   And often engaging in the same things that lead to lousy gender roles and misogyny, only in reverse.   I’ve been writing lately about critical thinking lately, so here is some of mine:

It isn’t men vs. women.   It is human.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual.    Everyone on the planet is trying to figure things out on their own.

Now being human has its own needs:   food, water, shelter,  sex and security.   Notice that I put sex in there?    We are mammals, and whether we like it or not there is a biological imperative to reproduce.   But we immediately follow that up with “security.”   Now, we have communities that have survived the test of time.  But they aren’t perfect…  parents try to give to their offspring a blueprint for roles in life.

Those roles kind of suck.   They are a work in progress.   Please, please, please,  let us keep working on them.

Any culture or institution that gets control of how we think of these things is immensely powerful.   Control how people eat?   Power.   Control peoples sense of security or fear?   Power.   Control or deny sexuality?   Power.

Many people couple thought with action.   To some people, thinking is as bad as doing.   That is the trap.

Men are not the enemy

Let me tell you a personal story.   I grew up with a single mom (and I also hit the mom jackpot…),  and I attribute my love of strong women to her and my family.    When I was growing up, my mom had a nice big circle of friends.   Some of her women friends would get together and talk, and on more than one occasion I heard the phrase “All men are scum.   Except for you, Colin.”   Not from my mother herself, but her friends.   People who were important to her and to me.   I understand the feeling that was behind the statement, I even understand the (attempted) amendment on my behalf.    It was still alienating and offputting to be lumped in with “scum”, and the backpedal felt just like a backpedal.   It took a long time for me to reconcile the hurt that they were obviously feeling with the undeniable fact that I was male.   It took a long time, but I came to like who I am and define for myself what being a man really means.     I recognize that they were pushing back against the horrible expectations that had been put upon them.

I believe that all people, female and male, have inherent worth.   I believe that “no means no”, that stop is an order, and that anyone who tries to make sexual demands on a woman simply because she is female is a sick and dangerous individual.   All women are to be respected.

But nobody every told me that it works both ways.  Ever.

Men are victims of the culture as well.    I never valued being a man.   We hear phrases all the time that supposedly have some meaning, but the context for these things have changed so radically, we need to re-define for ourselves what it means to be a man.    “Man-up”, “Man-handle” or even simply “be a man”.   How degrading is it to have these things pushed at us, without any regard for what are the expectations are for men.

What I have learned about being a man is this:  it is a good thing.   I love my body, its quirks, and the pleasure it gives me.   I value being physically strong, and I know that being physically strong doesn’t detract from my intelligence or sensitivity.   I learned that men can be beautiful and sexy, not just women.  I learned that being a man doesn’t mean having to automatically defer to women, just because she hasn’t spoken up yet.   I’ve learned that it is okay to be a sexual being, and that desiring someone isn’t sick or wrong.   I’ve learned that on dates I’m not simply a wallet with a funny personality attached.    Being hairy doesn’t make me stupid, or unattractive.   That I can receive just as well as give.   For me, being a man means that I enjoy being a warrior, a protector to my friends and family; and that being a protector doesn’t mean that I can’t nurture.
Having a penis does not relegate me to role of a wallet on legs,  to being sexually unappreciative of my partners,  that I don’t have be the provider, or that I’m supposed to stoically hide my feelings.    I get to define what my role is.    My partners get to define what their roles are.   THAT is the way it should be.
Let me be clear:   both genders have horrible roles and expectations, and women clearly have the short end of the stick.   Expectations around appearance, capabilities, and roles for women are still nowhere near equal to men.   The fact that these are improvements from previous roles are terrible, and a world of work needs to be done.
The thing that we need to remember is that whatever your gender, everyone has a story to tell.   And more people need to be on board if we want to make cultural changes stick.

Changing culture and making allies… mostly

Not everyone can be an ally.   When making cultural changes, it doesn’t pay to preach to the fringes.   The feminist side already knows the problems that need fixing, and the chauvinist side would rather return to the 1950’s without Rosie the Riveter.  The people who need to be moved are the center.   The people who are otherwise indifferent or put off by either side.

I’m a teacher at heart.   I believe that change starts with education.   And that the lessons that people learn are those that they teach themselves.

There are men who are so completely off the rails that they believe that they are entitled to sex with women, anytime and anywhere (that was Elliot Rodger’s and his cronies complaint).  Misogyny is a cultural problem, and many men have a false sense of being a victim.     You know what helps the fight?   Let chauvinists talk.   So many of them are self-important, entitled assholes… the best thing that you can do is to poke the bear and stand back.   Let them say what they have to say.  By they time they are done, they will have succeeded in proving that changes need to happen.

That is when reasonable voices can take the stage.   Outrage at this point just would serve to polarize, but the acknowledgement that those men have been speaking the same line of crap for years.  Women can stand up as leaders, as people who don’t deserve to be marginalized.   Men can stand up and ask to be supporters, and can change their own roles as well.   And finally those institutions, religions, and groups that try to use gender and sexuality as a means of social power will either change, or lose their popular approval and into the lunatic fringe where they belong.

Positive change can happen for everyone… but only if we stop vilifying each other and can listen and work together.   Both sides can win only when we can agree to meet in the middle, and keep the discussion alive.

….

Postscript:    In retrospect, I can see why the very polarized discussion can be helpful.   Anger is a useful  emotion, it is an impetus for change and can be very unifying.    But ultimately, setting aside baggage needs to happen before anyone can change.

I’ll step down off my soap box now, and return us to our regularly scheduled Summertime fun.

Now go out there and change the world.   Or change your mind about something.  Same difference.

Finals Week Playlist 13

Summer term is winding to a close.   During my last push of grading, I usually like to listen to music to keep me focused on the task at hand.

In a break from my traditional music, I’m going with a different sort of theme for this term.   Lets see if you like it…

  • Europe – The Final Countdown
  • Queen – Another One Bites the Dust
  • Gloria Gaynor – I will survive
  • Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows
  • Final Fantasy Theme
  • Baz Luhrmann – Sunscreen
  • Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall (pt 2)
  • Van Halen – Hot for Teacher
  • Rolling Stones – Wild Horses
  • Alice Cooper – School’s Out

I will also say that while the (mostly) classic rock theme is different than my usual theme for grading, I also recently got the full Nightmare on Elm Street collection… so I’m set for any virtual violence that I may feel.

And with that… enjoy the summer break.

 

p.s.   A quick note… I know that this post went up over a week late for finals.   I’m okay, just very busy.

Working Hard vs. Working Smart

I like teaching the occasional gifted student, but who I really value in class are students who are willing to work.   Those who are willing to put in the time and effort, and who go over the subject matter is a wonderful thing to have in any class.   There is a big difference between hard work and smart work however.

brain games

With regard to learning mathematics, rote works.   Repeating basic facts and methods is one of the things that cannot be replaced in teaching.   Familiarity helps students get comfortable with specific processes in math, but it has a limited utility.   After a certain point repeated practice is tedious, doesn’t help to convey greater understanding of underlying concepts or help in refining technique.   At times I see students who try to learn every single possible variation of an equation.    Grinding through question after question trying to memorize patterns isn’t the goal.   Students need to apply some critical thinking, and learn broader scopes of methods.

There are some crucial differences between simply working hard, and working smart.   The easiest difference to spot is knowing what steps to skip… and this is where there can be a hand-off between rote work and critical work.   Getting familiar with the basics is one thing, but showing every little detail is just busy-work.   Memorization is a good foundation.  After a certain point critical thinking needs to take over.

The bigger difference between memorization and critical work is play.   When students start noticing differences on their own without prompting, then they start to play with variations.   Curiosity more than need drives students to go off script and expands (or deepens) their understanding of the topic.

Minds at work only examine what is in distinct categories, but minds at play will color outside the lines.

No student is going to perfectly follow a teacher’s script to learning.   That is as it should be!   If a student finds a path by themselves, they will remember it better.   One of the hard things for a teacher to do is to stress the need for discipline to get work done, but also leave enough flexibility so students can grow on their own.   Even in classes with prescribed online work, this is possible.   I like to emphasize looking at off site resources and time spent over working on specific objectives.

Getting into learning mode is one thing – this is one of the hidden uses of rote work.   Starting work with some simple practice, then move on to some simple process questions.   As strange as it sounds, boredom can be helpful.   It is really satisfying to see students start looking for more interesting or more challenging questions.

Discipline and curiosity are not at odds, they are the hallmarks of the best students.   Hard work and play really need to go together.

Snark Week

Some weeks I should get an award for self restraint.    If I can keep this up through the next election cycle, I will call it as one of my miracles on my path to sainthood.

…but I so long to sink my fangs into someone or something stupid from time to time.

One of the things that was going well last quarter was I had very few people making excuses.   Somehow, I seem to be making up for lost time this summer.   I didn’t mean my “Student Excuse Bingo” to be predictive.  What the actual fuck?  I shouldn’t score a bingo until at least two weeks go by.

I can deal with student excuses.  That is one reason why I have a syllabus… “Sorry you forgot there was a class, did you check the website to see what was due?   No?   Then I’m afraid you are out of luck.”  I suppose it make sense that I’m feeling put upon this quarter, since last quarter was so exceptionally good.   Honestly, I’ve got good students this quarter… there is just more drama somehow.  One of the few reasons I like teaching is that there people are trying to make themselves smarter and more capable.

What I have been having more trouble with is people outside of school.

People at bus stops.  People on the buses.  People in the store.   People, people, everywhere!  Seriously, who the hell brings a yapping dog on a standing room only bus?   Why is it so hard to drive down the road without texting and running other drivers off the road?   Is it really necessary to block an entire aisle at the store while you browse types of soup?    Or do you expect me to listen to you while you scream at everyone why you think Obama is responsible for SCOTUS (do you understand there are different branches of government)?

*grumble*mumble*Grump!*stupid*

Evil geniuses, it is time to unite and take over the world!  Join the ranks of my minions for adventure and benefits!  Loose the battle drones!  Set up the education camps.  (I say education, because frankly we are just undoing the damage of apathy and inane media misinformation).  Let the smarter ones live.  If nothing else, a culling the population will make traffic easier.

Okay, deep breath.  I haven’t hurt anyone, despite my general attitude of stabbiness.  I don’t even push the big, shiny, personal buttons that people show me.

 

Don’t think you’re safe yet, though.   Stupidity just makes my fangs itch.

Why I Teach

“It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are.”  e e cummings

I love to teach. *

I love it because I enjoy learning, and I love it because I can pass on what I’ve learned as well as my passion for learning.

Being a teacher is a lot more than being a subject matter expert. You not only need to understand your subject, you need to understand how your students view that subject. You also need to be able to influence their views of it. I find that the barriers that most people have with mathematics aren’t from lack of ability. Most people can grasp math concepts. Instead, people struggle with social or psychological barriers that keep them from learning and enjoying math. My job is to teach math concepts while helping my students get more comfortable with learning. Here is how I typically teach my classes: engage the students, present them with concepts and skills to practice, and reinforce their new skills with feedback and support.

A big part of engaging the students is personality.  My students love my enthusiasm and clarity in the classroom.  I am acutely aware that I can give students information, but they are the ones responsible for learning it.  I am responsible for making the work palatable and outlining their skills and set of knowledge required to succeed.  It requires clear communication and keeping things entertaining and engaging.  My main goals are:  (1) get the students invested by encouraging their intrinsic curiosity and (2) appealing to their self-interest as a drive to learn.   Once they have these traits, they build the habits of independent and lifelong learning.

Inside the classroom, being a good teacher is about giving accessible information and creating a strong classroom community. I like giving students a forgiving place to try out new skills and ask questions.  Patience is more than a virtue, it is an utter necessity! Organized lectures and class discussions are also a necessity. Planned discussions are good, but I also find that the discussions that come out of student questions are equally beneficial. Some students need more challenging material, while others need to focus on basics. It helps that I am able to judge the class’ demeanor, and teach responsively. Are they interested or bored?  Will alternative techniques help them learn?   How quickly can they grasp the skills/concepts that I am teaching?  What changes will keep the class active without being disruptive?

Outside of the classroom, being a good teacher is about preparation and giving useful feedback.   I go to great lengths to provide helpful and positive feedback for the students.   To learn from their mistakes, students first need to know about them, and they need to have tools they can use in the future. Negative feedback isn’t helpful, and I have found that students need both encouragement and empowerment to be able to succeed. The work I assign and the feedback I give not only reinforces the concepts and skills we go over in class, it also encourages the students to be conscientious and responsible.

I love seeing my students learn.

ity in the classroom.   I am acutely aware that I can give students information, but they are the ones responsible for learning it.   With this in mind my job is to make the work palatable and clarify their needed skills and set of knowledge.  This is also why I believe that a necessary part of teaching is keeping things entertaining and engaging.   There are two main goals to this:  get the students invested by encouraging their intrinsic curiosity, and to engage their self-interest (and hopefully additional drive to learn).   Once they have these traits, they can go about fostering the habits of independent (and lifelong) learning.

Within the classroom, being a good instructor is about being engaging and giving accessible information. The difficulties that most people have in learning isn’t lack of information, it is in the presentation and the classroom community.   I like giving students a forgiving place to try out new skills and ask questions.   Patience is more than a virtue, it is an utter necessity!   Organized lectures and class discussions are also a necessity.   I find that the best (guided) discussions are the ones that appear to be spontaneous (but they don’t need to be!).       It also helps to be able to judge the class’ demeanor.   Are they interested or bored?    Will alternative techniques help them learn?   How quickly can they grasp the skills/concepts that you are teaching?    What changes will keep the class engaged without being disruptive?

Outside of the classroom, being a good teacher is about preparation and giving useful feedback.   I go to great lengths to provide helpful and positive feedback for the students.   People learn from their mistakes, but first they need to know about them, and have a better tool or technique to help them in the future.   Negative feedback isn’t helpful, and I have found that students need both encouragement and empowerment to be able to succeed.    The work I assign and the feedback I give not only reinforces the concepts and skills we go over in class, it also encourages the students to be conscientious and responsible.

I love to teach, because I love to see my students learn.

 

 

*  Note:  for those of you who know, this is my semi-official “teaching philosophy”  statement.   But I thought it was possibly worth sharing.   People who have read my blog for a while will recognize all of the pieces of this, but this is my condensed teaching philosophy.

Now, I go to teach the hell out of my Summer quarter class.

Excuse Bingo!

Lets play a game.

Say a student doesn’t show up for class, and you get the email later saying they had a family emergency.   The next class, a student tells you they weren’t able to show up because their childcare cancelled and they weren’t able to get a replacement in time for class.   In your other class, you have a student out for the national guard, and another who is getting surgery.

Congratulations!   You are scoring pieces for Student Excuse Bingo!!!   Scoring a “bingo” means getting an entire line (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) after receiving those excuses for that term.   Excuses may be either sincere or fake, so long as they are covering for an actual absence or late assignment.   The “Lame Excuses” square can include anything that is almost too bizarre to be real, from “my dog ate my homework,”  “it caught on fire,” or “I got bitten by a radioactive spider”.

I will also say, I have collected some of the more interesting excuses already, but send me more!  Send your excuses to:   excuses@evilleagueofteachers.com.

So lets play.     Download the following PDFs for you and your colleagues.

Student Excuse Bingo 1

Student Excuse Bingo 2

Student Excuse Bingo 3

 Let the games begin.

Bang head here

Finals week is a time with a certain amount of expected drama.   All of the courses wind to a close, with projects and tests cranking up the stress of the students.   It is also a time when procrastination comes home to roost.   Students who tell themselves, “it’s okay, I’ll learn it tomorrow” find that they are out of tomorrows, and still need to know things.

This long preamble is just me saying that students get stressed out, and will sometimes act out.  It seems every other quarter there is a student who bursts into tears or has a panic attack during a final exam.   It comes with territory.

This finals week has had some drama.  A few days before there was a spate of emails confirming when we had the final exams, asking about grades, panic over topics, and so on.   Then a few minutes before the final one student tells me that he was due in court shortly.  I couldn’t hold it back, “Really? You should have let me know before today.”  He said he knew, and that he would try to make it back as fast as he could.   And the student who had medical issues the week before, who missed a test.

And… and… and…

The final starts.   Ten minutes into the test the website hosting the final assessment crashed.   I ask the students to be patient, and after about 5 minutes the site comes back up… sort of.   The site is up and down over the next 20 minutes, so I’m busy reassuring them and encouraging them to refresh the site.   Finally, the site is stable, and the students are getting back in the groove.    Nobody is bursting into tears.  Halfway through, a student waves me over and tells me that he just got a text that his wife is going into the emergency room, and needed to step out (“Okay, go be a good husband”).

The test goes on.

After the last person finished, I drop off class material at my desk.   Then I check my mailbox to find a note from another student, and wondered if they could take it at home.

Really?  It seems my students saved up their drama for the final.   I want to bang my head against the wall now.

But I will get to bang my head against grading and stuff.

Send a search party if I don’t regain consciousness by Monday.

Finals Week Playlist 12

Spring quarter is almost done, which means that I get to dive deep into grading for a while.  This has been a great quarter:   good students and minimal classroom drama.    My classes were mellow, which has been nice change.   I did hear that one of my colleague’s students literally tried to get her to reteach an entire lesson (to the whole class) because he was absent.

I can’t make this shit up.  It’s funny in retrospect.

Still, grading takes a toll.   As much as I want all of my students to succeed, some students won’t make it to their next class.   I’m not fond of failing people, but some students haven’t clued in to the fact that I only present the material, I can’t understand it for them.   (Hmmmm… maybe I do still have a little snark leftover after all).   I also get an absurdly short break (a little over a week off) and class prep for the Summer term!

While I’m grading, contemplating my week off, and planning for next quarter I have a nice little set of tunes to occupy and distract me.   This is a little more eclectic than I usually go, but what the hell… here goes!

  • Carl Sagan – A Glorious Dawn
  • Puddles Pity Party – When You Rock and Roll With Me
  • Joan Jett – Bad Reputation
  • Justin Bieber vs Slipknot – Psychosocial Baby
  • Misfits – Angel Fuck
  • CHVRCHES – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
  • Jill Tracy – The Fine Art of Poisoning
  • Joan Jett – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  • Pomplamoose – I’m the S**t
  • Godsmack – Voodoo
  • The Wombats – Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)
  • M.I.A.  – Bad Girls

 

Buckle up, Buttercup.   We’re ready for finals.

Pushing Points

I’m going to share with you a dirty little secret.*    I haven’t always been a teacher.   Once upon a time, I was a professional Tarot reader and Palmist.** ***   Aside from the technical aspects of the job (like knowing how to read Tarot cards well without freaking out your customer) was being able to read your customer.    Getting a feeling for how well the reading was going was a good indication.

That skill is invaluable as a teacher.   I think any performer can tell you when their audience is entertained, bored, or lost.   The same thing should apply to teachers, but anyone with experience as a student knows that this isn’t always the case.   This is one of the reasons that I say at least half of teaching is entertainment.   Once you know what to say, knowing how to say it in a way that it gets across is important.

There is another aspect of keeping a class engaged though, and that is keeping them challenged.   There is a balancing act in every class between keeping the material relevant to students who are struggling with the material as well as keeping the interest of those who are already past it.    If you can’t keep them interested, then no amount of entertainment can keep them studying.

  • Once you have given your general instructions, then you can give more and more difficult examples to show the utility.
  • You can preview future material for those who are already ahead (note:  definitely revisit the material later, because not everyone will be capable of keeping up).
  • Keep it real!     A lot of students get bored in a math class if there isn’t an obvious application.   If you can give them examples of how the math they learn can be used in the world, they will retain the information more and be more interested in other topics.
  • In order to be interesting, you need to be obviously interested.   If you can find the topics that energize the students, talk to those topics.   I find lecturing on zombies is a lot of fun, but I’ve talked on everything from lasers to video games will often keep the student’s attention.
  • One-on-one time.    For students who seem to be getting ahead, I like to ask them if they’re getting bored.   I have a file full of exercises I call “next level,” for students who are ready to work on more challenging topics.

Every class is different, and each class will have it’s own personality.    I have very obedient students this quarter****,  and they have worked faster than I had anticipated.   I’ve had to advance their lecture schedule, and advance it again….  But every class is different.   Keeping them in balance is one of the main challenges we teachers face.

It is important to know when to push them.

I love my job.

 

*   Get your mind out of the gutter.   This isn’t that kind of blog!

**   I quit doing that a long time ago.   Part of the reason is that I became an atheist.    And the tips kind of sucked.

***   Any student who asks me for a reading will immediately fail.   So don’t even try.

**** It is so weird!   And kind of cool too — they listen for the most part, and they do their work.

Responsible vs. Entitled Students

While teaching at a community college I get to witness a rare intersection of cultures:   I get a mix of students who are right out of high school (plus some running start students) as well as non-traditional students returning to school after 10 to 30 years.    Because I teach developmental math, I typically get students who are unpracticed at math (or are convinced that they are bad at it) or who are unpracticed at being a good student.    I enjoy teaching students who are (hopefully) mature enough to appreciate learning, and who know who is to blame if they fail.

No student is tabula rasa (a blank slate), however.  Some students are easier to teach than others.     While intelligence helps, what I really love to see in a student is a student who is conscientious and responsible.   These are the students who will show up, do the work, and who keep working until they have the competencies they need.  Add some intellectual curiosity….  and we have a seriously cool student who adds to the entire class.

Then there are the students who come in and know it all already.   They just need this class as a prerequisite for what they really want.   Then they ask if attendance is necessary, and whether they can test out of the class.  These are the one ones who have lessons other than math to learn.    One phrase that I hear out of some of these students is “I really need to pass this class” as if I were the one who were responsible for making that happen.

Expectations

I’m clear about my expectations for my classes from the get go:   show up, do the work, be respectful of the class, and ask questions!    People will rise (or fall) to the level of expectations put on them.    There have been students who express astonishment at the level of work that I expect (which is actually not that much… 1-2 hours for every hour of class time is pretty standard).   When the class gets going, they realize that I’m not kidding about the amount of work needed to succeed, or even just keep up.

Teaching adults does have it’s drawbacks, because your class won’t be the only responsibilities they have.    The more you can work with these students to help them fit your class into their lives, the more they are willing to work (I have found).*

As for the those who feel that they are above it, failure is always an option.

Consequences and Responsibility

For those who show up and do the work, there is often unexpected consequences (unexpected for them, perhaps).   They often find themselves enjoying math, where they never did before.

And yet every term I find that I have to tell people that I won’t accept late work.   Giving a zero as a grade is often a sobering experience for students who aren’t used to needing to work.   One student, after arguing with me for a while said to me “wow, you really are serious?  Nobody else has cared.”   While I doubt that was actually the case, I’m glad I got through to them.

Showing up (periodically) isn’t enough.   That is a hard lesson for some people to learn.

The Lessons we Teach

Setting the stage (and stacking the deck) for students to be responsible and to learn the concepts and skills they need isn’t always enough.    I am acutely aware of the fact that, no matter how I present the material, they are the ones who need to learn it.   Just as much as that,  they hopefully will learn that failure is an option if they don’t take responsibility.

I’ve been pleased with my classes this quarter.   The students who aren’t doing well have told me that it is because they haven’t put in the necessary time instead of the expectation that I will pass them “because I need to pass this class!”

This is why I love to teach adults.**

 

*  Once upon a time I asked someone whether they would like to have a spectacular career and a mediocre home life or vice-versa?   They blew me away when they said they wouldn’t need to choose – they’d take both.   It was a lesson I took to heart.    Something is wrong when we expect that we need to make sacrifices of the things that are important for us, for no other reason than we think that it is a matter of one thing or another.     It’s all important.

**    That, and I get to have a personality… I’m too weird for corporate America.   But I’m memorable as a teacher.