Behavior ≠ Meaning

CATEGORY: Everyone knows this but doesn’t KNOW this. People do and say various things they don’t mean. Maybe some people are trying to deceive others. Students in class nod to show the teacher they know when in fact they do not: they lie with their behavior. Maybe someone said something that came out the wrong […]


At a recent department meeting we voted to align our grading scales. That means we decided that to achieve a grade of A, a 93% average of all course work would be required. An 85% average would yield a B, 75% a C, and on down the line. There was not much debate, but some […]

Adding a Preposition

I wait until it’s quite late, for my neighborhood, 11pm or so, to walk my anxiety-ridden dog. I want my walks to be relaxing, and if I go out earlier she will bark at anyone and anything that moves. Incessantly. Shrilly. Irritatingly. There are enough nerves with the pandemic, so I walk late. I try […]

Don’t Worry.

When I was in the fourth grade at a school in Flagstaff, AZ, they played Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” over the loudspeaker EVERY MORNING. Perhaps you surmise from the capital letters that the song did not have its intended effect. I was a worrisome and superstitious 9 year old. I wore a cross […]

Lessons from Elders

Is there any place more indoctrinating than a school? Is there any site of greater resistance than a school? These questions emerge as I read Robert Mcfarlane’s Underland and listen to talks from Robin Wall Kimmerer. McFarland mentions Kimmerer, an indigenous scientist of botany, as a person developing a grammar that can flatten the hierarchy […]

Play-Doh and Philosophy?

Jim Garrison is a philosopher of education that teaches at Virginia Tech. In his book Dewey and Eros, he has a great chapter that describes how he uses Play-Doh to introduce John Dewey’s philosophy. I modified this activity for my Foundations of Education course because it sounded accessible, fun, and out of the ordinary. It’s […]

Meditating Ourselves to Death

In 1985, Neil Postman wrote a book titled Amusing Ourselves to Death, which used a well-known idea from Marshall McLuhan’s media theories, “the medium is the message,” to critique television. The central idea was that TV affected us more through its form than its content. True to the Hiedeggerian roots of McLuhan’s work, Postman expounded […]

The Comish

State representative Rick Staples, with the TN commissioner of education, Penny Schwinn, held an “informal town hall meeting” at the Knoxville Arboretum and Botanical Garden at the end of August (8/28/19). I went because it was called a town hall meeting, but the only people there seemed to be other politicians, the Knox County Board […]