All the nonsense that’s fit to print, brother

madness
Photo by Thiébaud Faix on Unsplash

Greetings Starfighters,

It’s Friday in America, and Hulk Hogan showed up last night at the Republican National Convention.

If you haven’t seen his appearance, it’s everything you think it could be and so much more. I didn’t watch it live (trust me, there are far better things to do) but I’ve seen plenty of clips this morning.

What in the actual nonsense is going on?

Anyways, on to other topics. As I said, it’s Friday, and my dog is sleeping next to my desk in his favorite sunspot, warming up after a moderately chilly morning jaunt. I say moderately chilly since it’s below 70 in Kentucky for the first morning in a couple of weeks (thank the gods).

Right now, I long for the day when I can walk outside, feel that first bite in the morning air, and say, “It smells like marching band…”

I’m still waiting for those 76 trombones to catch the morning sun and have no desire to hear just how loud 110 cornets would be (although this is probably pretty close to the awesome it might be)

Fall will be here soon enough and, along with it, far more bearable temperatures and breathable air. At least, if we don’t all melt from the effects of another record-breaking hot year.

Quote of the Day

Because there’s a large portion of the population who needs to use their brain…

“You have a mind? —Yes. Well, why not use it? Isn’t that all you want—for it to do its job?” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

"You have a mind? —Yes. Well, why not use it? Isn’t that all you want—for it to do its job?" (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

Musical Interlude

I’m a shameless Oasis fan, and I’m also a shameless Noel Gallagher fan. (Liam is, by far, the more evil brother. I mean, they’re both evil. I’ve just accepted Noel’s evil to enjoy his music.)

Here’s a live performance from 2023 of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Long Read of the Day

Madeline Dore has some great thoughts on finding things that make time pass unnoticed. This essentially comes down to doing things you love and getting into a flow.

madeline dore quote

Of course, my thoughts turn to, “How do we make schools a place where kids can find the things they love and help them experience enough of them to decide what they want to keep pursuing?”

Read more

Video of the Day

Folks, Papa Elf left us yesterday. Bob Newhart was one of the funniest “straight men” in comic history. Growing up in the 80s, I watched his magic on “Newhart” and reruns of “The Bob Newhart Show.” He was hilarious.

Here’s a short documentary from Judd Apatow on the lifelong friendship of Newhart and Don Rickles (another one of the funniest comedians ever).

Final Thoughts

If you didn’t know, last week, the NY Times published their list of the 100 best books of the 21st century so far (yes, even though we’re not technically 25 years in yet), and there have been any number of hot takes on the validity of the list. Here’s Ted Gioia’s take on the top 10.

But, never fear, true believers. The Times published the reader’s list of the top 100 books yesterday.

Maybe that list is more your speed. If not, try this one from Lit Hub.

Or, just make your own. You do you, booboo.



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Power comes from authenticity

power

Greetings Starfighters,

I’m certain that the only way we can change our schools is to focus on creating authentic student learning experiences. The more I read and watch in the education world only solidifies that belief.

If we’re not focused on authentic learning, we betray the sacred trust given to us by families when they give us their very best every day. They want more for their kids.

They want more than scripted learning stuck in an industrial design that stifles creativity and individuality.

They want their kids to be their authentic selves. And that must be our commitment, our moral and ethical duty as educators.

If it’s not, we’re wasting our time.

Quote of the Day

“Habit is a mighty ally, my young friend. The habit of fear and anger, or the habit of self-composure and courage.” (Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire)

“Habit is a mighty ally, my young friend. The habit of fear and anger, or the habit of self-composure and courage.” (Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire)

Musical Interlude

Foxes and Fossils, one of my favorite YouTube cover bands, published a cover of Paul Simon’s “America,” and it is everything.

Have I mentioned that Paul Simon is one of my favorite musicians? No?

Long Read of the Day

I’m going to guess that most of us aren’t too worried about having clean clothes to wear when we leave the house (we’re not going to talk about summertime teacher lounging around the house wear…). However, clean clothes are a luxury for some students, and not having them can keep them away from school.

For most students, having clean clothes to wear to school is not a problem.

But for many families at 112th St. S.T.E.A.M. Academy in Watts, a pair of clean pants and a shirt is such a struggle that it has become one of the main contributors to chronic absenteeism, which is when students miss 15 or more days or classes…

In May, the school received a new washing machine and [dryer from the Rams NFL football team](https://abc7.com/post/la-rams-donate-washers-dryers-schools-resourced-communities/14867499/#:~:text=The Rams and Pacsun will,to 20 under-resourced schools.) and the Think Watts Foundation; along with $2 million in clothing to schools serving low income students. Earlier this year, LAUSD also announced a mobile laundry service for homeless students as part of the district’s attempt to combat chronic absenteeism.

Hernandez hopes the machines will ease the pressure on parents and make it easier for students to return to school.

Read more

Video of the Day

In this webinar, experts discussed what whole child design looks like and what it means for broader systems change. Local education leaders provided lessons learned from their whole child design efforts and discussed how state policy can accelerate or impede these efforts.

Final Thoughts

I talk about authentic learning experiences all the time—maybe too much, but it’s kind of my thing. We don’t have enough authentic learning experiences in our schools, but what is more concerning is that we don’t let our students be their authentic selves very much.

We put them in boxes of grade levels, achievement, lunch groups, pathways, etc., and fully expect them to thrive. There’s nothing authentic or personal about much of what we deem important in education.

Before we can see better outcomes for our students, we have to let them be authentic to what is inside them. I’m stuck on Steven Pressfield’s idea that the artistic journey is the “passage by which we re-invent ourselves as ourselves.

We need to give our students a passage to reinvent themselves by discovering who they really are. It wouldn’t hurt to give our teachers the same experience, either.



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

The End of the Experiment

Greetings Starfighters,

It’s mid-July, and the sun is beating down on my old Kentucky home with an intensity that I don’t have the words to describe. The new school year is coming, and already, the calendar fills with meetings, conferences, and all the usual trappings.

The past weekend provided what may prove to be the turning point in the 2024 US presidential election.

I still don’t know how to describe my religious upbringing. While I’m not sure it was a full-blown cult, it certainly echoed many of the telltale signs of Christian cults. And those groups have only grown in size and number in the past twenty years, especially since a black man was elected president.

I am disturbed by the growing number of people who are assigning former President Trump almost godlike status, emphasizing that he is untouchable and ordained to lead.

It sounds an awful lot like what good Christians are supposed to be on watch for to know the arrival of the Antichrist, if you believe such things.

All I know is that, after this weekend’s assassination attempt, I’m inclined to agree with John Naughton’s assessment that the American experiment with democracy is ending.

A dark cloud hangs over this country, and my mind turns to my daughter and all the students I serve. What will happen next, and how will it affect their future?

Quote of the Day

“But most of the terrible things that happen in this land don’t happen because of evil men, not really. They happen because of people who just don’t know any better.” (Sebastien de Castell, Traitor’s Blade)

"But most of the terrible things that happen in this land don’t happen because of evil men, not really. They happen because of people who just don’t know any better." (Sebastien de Castell, Traitor's Blade)

Musical Interlude

This summer’s Dave Matthews Band tour has seen the resurrection of several older songs from the band’s catalog. One of those making regular appearances is one of my favorites, The Last Stop.

Here’s a live version from this past May:

Long Read of the Day

Last week at a conference, an interesting session asked two teachers to dribble a basketball for 30 seconds without stopping. When they failed, the only feedback given was “try harder.”

How many times have we heard that? How many times have we been the ones telling students that? Does it really work? Can’t they just be more resilient and try harder?

They can, but trying harder doesn’t always accomplish the goal, and, more often than not, it just frustrates you. Resiliency isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Soraya Chemaly talks more about The Resilience Myth

Over years I had really absorbed the idea that resilience was 9/10th the ability to persevere, be gritty, try to stay optimistic, etc. and 1/10th having a supportive social circle. When my family was thrown into the deep end of a crisis, it became clear that nothing I could do as an individual could compare to what we all needed, which was a combination of love, friendship, compassionate listeners, and actual material resources, such as access to good health care and medicine.

Read more

Video of the Day

Can AI create a documentary film? Maybe…

Artistic legend Brian Eno is featured in a unique documentary that changes every time it’s watched. The film uses special software to create countless versions of Eno’s story, a story that the producers are constantly adding more content to. I’m sure it’s a trip, as most anything associated with Eno always has been. But, the ideas behind the film’s creation echo much of Eno’s own ideas about the constantly changing nature of the world around us.

Final Thoughts

Maybe we should rethink our facts of life…



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Creating Creative Creations

colorful toothed wheels
Photo by Digital Buggu on Pexels.com

Greetings Starfighters,

I crossed an auspicious milestone this week. I’ve been using Readwise to collect highlights and notes from almost everything I read, whether a book, an ebook, a research article, or an online article. I get a recap daily of 10 different highlights to review.

Of course, I can review more, but that daily reminder is a nice way to remember things I’ve read and thought were important – heck, many blog posts and articles are inspired by those passages.

More in this week’s newsletter…

Magicians on a mountaintop

junk journal collage

Greetings starfighters,

With Spring Break this week, I’ve taken some time to practice being creative, even if that meant creativity in the form of some home improvement projects. I even put in a new lighting fixture and bathroom mirror and painted. Extremely productive.

However, as with all creative endeavors, something happens to screw things up. In my case, something’s going on with our dishwasher. Same old story, check some things off the list and add a few more. Our creative work follows the same pattern as we complete one task and then, invariably, find something else to work on or revise old work, whether in our personal or professional lives.

More in this week’s newsletter…



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Jukebox heroes and $20 fiddles

boy wearing black shirt on teal machine
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Greetings Starfighters,

Faster than the fleetest hoof ever struck the pavement or a wheel ever turned upon an axle, the magnificence of Spring Break lies upon us in the Bluegrass State. There is, perhaps, no better time for a break than right now, as many of our schools haven’t had a long break since January 2, baseball makes its annual return from the doldrums of winter, and the sun shines ever brighter each day.

I digress…

Yes, I’m in a good mood, partially because I’m off work for a few days and have a chance to catch up on my doctoral work (which never seems to end), but also to spend a few days with my kiddo (my apologies to all spouses who don’t get a break when their teacher partners do), do some reading (I’m so far behind on my yearly challenge), do some housework, and overall get ready to wrap up another school year with gusto.

Also, my virtual learning academy students just finished recording season one of their podcast, which I’ll be sharing very soon. They did a great job, even if they were freaking out the entire time they recorded.

So now, dear travelers, I present you with 10 things I thought were worth sharing with you this week…

10 Things Worth Sharing

  • I see more reasons to keep arts programs in our schools every day. When we involve students in the arts, we give them a chance to tap into the creative realm and expand their imagination. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll get a $20 violin that will take them everywhere…
  • I read Ron Berger’s excellent An Ethic of Excellence this week after staring at it on my bookshelf since last summer. I should have read it sooner. Hat tip to good friend Scott McCleod for the recommendation. Here’s a video of Ron from PBLWorks a few years ago. He starts with his philosophy that “we vastly underestimate the capacity of kids to do beautiful work.”
  • When you have ideas, put them down on paper. Share them. Get them out in the open and let them breathe. Get feedback from others and then, get to work on those ideas. If you let them, ideas rot.
  • Admittedly, I’m a huge Carl Sagan fan. I mean, why shouldn’t I be? His Cosmos TV series was an instrumental part of my childhood-yes, I was raised on public television-and his ideas still grip my brain today. However, I’m not sure I could handle his undergrad reading list from the 50s. It’s pretty stacked.
  • I love movies. Always have, always will. However, I will admit that I have not always taken the time to view artistic and important films. Yes, friends, I have been a populist movie watcher and enjoyed every minute of it. But, I’m doing my best to expand my horizons and, as such, have apparently become part of the cult of Criterion.
  • I’ve heard of some school districts adding student members to their school boards but I’d love to see more of it. Students need someone to speak directly about their experiences in schools and stop relying solely on the opinions of us old folk to make decisions.
  • Can art help people? I hope so…
  • Radiohead’s Creep serves as an anthem for anyone who has ever felt self-conscious or suffered from imposter syndrome. Or maybe that’s just how the song makes me feel. Regardless, I shed a tear or two every time I hear Creep, and if I’m alone in my car, I’ll likely scream much of the lyrics as I weep. Maybe you do, too. I’m not sure, but perhaps there are a few folks in this crowd of 1,600 doing the same as they sing Creep together.
  • Oklahoma is adding more virtual charter schools for the coming school year, even as some in the state believe that virtual schools have reached a ‘saturation point.’ Working with and researching virtual schools, I’m interested anytime news like this shows up as I hope that we are able to maintain virtual learning as an option for many students who haven’t found success in the traditional classroom.
  • Finally, did you know that KOOP radio in Austin, TX, has a Sunday afternoon Joystick Jukebox show? And that they have an archive online? Yes, you, too, can enjoy an hour of video game music spanning over 50 years of the genre every Sunday. It’s wicked cool and, you know, for kids!


The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

PS: Next week, I’ll talk about the importance of this book and my thoughts about the stories inside.

dangerous visions book

Presenting the Presentations…

woman in black suit
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Greetings Starfighters,

Normally in this space, you’d find 10 things I found this week that I think are awesome.

This week, I’m at the KySTE Conference in Louisville, KY, leaving me with a shortened list of things to share. Next week, I’ll be back with a full set of 10.

If you’re interested, I’m giving two presentations at KySTE, one on some ideas for integrating the science of learning and development in a virtual academy and another on how we started a Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) in our virtual academy this year (the themes in this one are specific to KY, but I’m sure there’s a version you can implement where you are).

You can find the slides and resources for both those sessions right here.

Yesterday, during my session, I looked at my watch and remembered that four years prior, I was at the same conference in a meeting to figure out how we would get learning materials to kids since we were closing in-person schooling due to COVID-19.

Of course, that was only supposed to be for two weeks…

In other news:

  1. Adobe is getting into the digital badging game. This seems like a late move, with so many edtech providers offering badges and “ambassador” programs for years now. As someone who once chased these credentials, I always worry that the mindset is more about becoming an unpaid salesman for a company rather than focusing on great outcomes for kids. Still, there is value in earning these badges.
  2. From the “We Can’t Avoid It, So We’ll Embrace It” Department – Pearson is expanding AI within its Pearson+ e-textbooks in the coming school year.
  3. If you work in education (or really any industry) and share your thoughts and work online as I do, Christy Tucker has some great advice on setting realistic boundaries for sharing freely (face it, folks, we gotta get paid somehow).
  4. In other news involving money, Accenture is buying Udacity to build a learning platform for AI.
  5. Educators are increasingly adopting the concept of play theory, which argues that play and learning are fundamentally intertwined and that children benefit from a healthy balance of both.

OK, that’s 5 awesome things to share. Have a great weekend, gang. Mine will be spent watching T-Swift on repeat with my pre-teen daughter. I’d appreciate your thoughts and prayers 😉



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Does A Machine Like Yourself Ever Experience Fear?

super saiyan

It’s rainy here in the Bluegrass State as another Friday rolls around. Spring Break is right around the corner for many of us, but not before we complete the last barrage of testing leading up to our end-of-year assessments—and my, aren’t those fun?

Still, there are so many things happening and more cool stuff than ever to share, so here are 10 Things worth sharing with you this week.

10 Things Worth Sharing



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Winter breaks…

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley
low angle photo of snow field

There are only a few days left before Winter Break for most schools here in the US, and the holiday feelings are already very strong. I’m wrapping up a couple of projects (and another semester of doctoral work) before settling in for a long winter’s nap.

At least, I hope I’m able to get a few naps in 😉

Anyway, here are 10 things I think you might enjoy…

10 Things Worth Sharing

That’s all, folks. Thanks again for hanging out with me on another Friday. I hope you continue to find value in this weekly newsletter.



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!

Safe places and dark spaces

dark library

Hey gang, here are 10 things worth sharing with you this week:

10 Things Worth Sharing

  1. Wil Wheaton spoke in Kentucky in March, and I missed it. However, he kindly posted his remarks on why “The library is a safe space.”
  2. We need more trust and vulnerability in schools.
  3. The 2023 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced this week; one of the winning fiction books is a retelling of Dickens’ “David Copperfield.”
  4. Why sing a song when you can just sing a note and do some crazy stuff?
  5. Cool use of AI: Midjourney recreates ancient battles.
  6. Would AIs make better professionals (or teachers) than humans?
  7. Testing season is in full swing, and we need easier edtech integrations to service the nonsense.
  8. The Oppenheimer trailer dropped this week, and it looks amazing… and disturbing.
  9. First, Chegg took a hit from AI, and now the popular Stack Overflow loses traffic to ChatGPT. AI is here to stay, and it is disruptive.
  10. Lastly, there is no shame in getting help when you need it.



The Eclectic Educator is a free resource for all who are passionate about education and creativity. If you enjoy the content and want to support the newsletter, consider becoming a paid subscriber. Your support helps keep the insights and inspiration coming!