I put large poster portraits of great men of History and Literature on the walls of my classroom: Ernest Hemingway, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare. These men changed the world! Of course, I also have an equal number of great women who changed the world: Maria Sharapanova, Miley Cyrus, Megan Fox, Kim Kardashian. My goal is that someday my old mug will hang on classroom walls or perhaps the walls of a virtual classroom because my vision is to tear down walls and replace our outmoded Education model with a completely new idea, an idea where everyone is a giant in his or her own mind. My posters remind me that revolutionary reform is inevitable and that my efforts to end Education as we know it will triumph!
It’s Christmas Eve, 2014. Today I’m not going to think about school. Instead I want to reflect on my year–the ups and downs, the magnificent achievements and dismal failures. On the magnificent achievement side I would have to count every day. Maybe I didn’t bring my A game every day, but I did bring heart and intention and compassion and high expectations! Every day I said to students: Currently you are down here, but in order for you to be successful you will need to be up here (standing on my tiptoes, raising my arms). Now jump! Jump over this bar!… And often times they would fail and perhaps if indeed I am honest with myself I should call these moments my failure. But I never dropped the bar. I just held it out of reach and barked: “Jump!…Jump!, you cur!” because sometimes you need to call children out on their failing behaviors. Looking back I can’t say that I had many kids jump over the bar–and that is probably because that when they got close to achieving their goal I would move it higher, away from them. But even if they never accomplished the ever-changing standard that I set for them, I know that my students experienced growth. They know what it feels like to fight through frustration and hopelessness to pursue an elusive, delusional dream. Merry Christmas, everyone!