photo credit: planetschwa via photopin cc August 9, 2014
notebook_feature May 7, 2014

The Incoherence of the School Dance

April 13, 2014



It’s prom season again. Hooray, right? I realize that prom is a near-sacred event in many high schools (including the one where I teach), but I’d like to suggest that we all rethink the whole thing. Not because it’s expensive or risky, but because it’s nonsensical, and schools should be nonsense averse. There are many […]

Posted in: curriculum, opinion, random

More Curated Excerpts from Earl C. Kelley

April 6, 2014


book picture

  This time of year, as we’ve got much more behind us than ahead of us, my mind begins to straddle the adjacent school years. And this is typically when I try to reconnect with ideas that are foundational to my development as a teacher. I begin to ask, What am I doing? So it […]

One Great Truth

November 2, 2013


Getting better schools is way more complicated than anyone seems to want to admit.

The first three paragraphs of an essay called “Education Without Instruction” by Jacques Barzun, from his book The House of Intellect (1959): Clearly, the blame for much that is lacking or painful in our manners can be laid upon our education, individual and collective. The same cause will also explain what is wrong with our […]

On the Thermostatic Function of Schools

August 8, 2013


Thermostatic education is a principle that may guide us toward satisfactory solutions, through education, to the threats of accelerating change.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this time of year, I like to browse back through books that were important to me as I formed my earliest approach to teaching. My approach is always changing, but I’d say I’m generally facing the same direction. The works that resonated with me as a very young […]

On Error

August 4, 2013



 Years ago, I picked up James Moffett’s Teaching the Universe of Discourse (1968), and it changed the way I taught writing–and, well, pretty much everything. Here, in a favorite passage of mine, Moffett discusses the importance of trial-and-error learning. Now, trial and error sounds to many people like a haphazard, time-consuming business, a random behavior […]