Recent Writing from This Side of Panther Mountain

The Most Pressing Questions

Love in Relation to Education

The Most Pressing Questions

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"We begin we with big questions as fast as we can, to get moving, as fast as we can, to begin to go far, as far as we can. The first question is: how are you feeling, right now? In this moment, sitting in this room? I have them close their eyes so that they can shut out the many new and dizzying distractions. No reactions of others to gage. Try to be as undefended as you can, so you can know the ground YOU are standing on..." (read more)

Talking About Divinity

Love in Relation to Education

The Most Pressing Questions

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"A few weeks ago we had a visitor, Harry Trask, a graduate student in the Divinity School at Yale University.

One of the kids asked what divinity school is. I sketched it out. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to divinity school in order to become an ordained minister. But Harry was primarily focused on Linguistics of the Old Testament and is studying biblical Hebrew and Greek." (read more)

Love in Relation to Education

Love in Relation to Education

Love in Relation to Education

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"Precious few, if any, administrators, principals, school boards, educational theorists, or department heads talk about love or its place in school curricula. Education debate and policy centers primarily on reform options, assessment, school funding and consolidation, testing, core standards, uniforms, resource officers, mainstreaming versus inclusion, achievement gaps, the effects of poverty on learning, safe schools and bullying, technology, age-grouping, school choice, vouchers..." (read more)

The Living School

The Living School

Love in Relation to Education

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"In the beginning of the North Branch School, we believed, contrary to prevailing theory and practice, that if we gave the students full responsibility and great freedom, they would make a school that was expression of their most vivid dreams and highest ideals. The central pedagogy, if there was one, was simply this: the voices, spirits, and aspirations of the students would be more than enough to create a vibrant, living school."  (read more)

The Play Goes On

The Living School

The Play Goes On

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"One day back in the first year of the North Branch School, back in the Silurian period, I was sitting peacefully at the big room table—which then was three rickety folding plastic tables—when the entire student body, which numbered twelve, approached. Their expressions were serious. They did not speak. They thrust a sheet of paper in front of me.

We, the students of the North Branch School, hereby demand that we be allowed to write our own play. If you, Master Tal Birdsey, do not accede to our demands, you will be attacked by a pitch-fork wielding mob. — Love, the students of the North Branch School." (read more)

The Good School

The Living School

The Play Goes On

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"I have ideas about what a good school is, ideas which should apply to any school, from pre-K to college. Kids should be happy there most of the time. Happy times should be intermixed with measured amounts of tears, doubt, confusion, turmoil, tension, and mystery. A visitor, upon entering the school, should be able to hear shouts, laughter, singing, and conversation. There should be few or no phones; there should be  hammers, saws, brooms, cleaning supplies, pencils, measuring devices, knives, tape, glue, and other building materials readily accessible. Computers should be no more or less or important in the school than a dustpan or duct-tape. People should be moving about, inside and outside." (show more)