WORTH WATCHING: History of Thanksgiving Holiday

Do you know what the Pilgrims really ate at the first Thanksgiving feast? Did you know the idea of making Thanksgiving a national holiday was the idea and obsession of the woman who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb”? Do you know what president picked the day and declared it a holiday?

WORTH WATCHING: The Day JFK was Shot

The assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963, was a turning point for my generation. On this anniversary of this momentous event, I encourage you to take a few minutes to see coverage of this day. It is very disturbing and moves me to tears even today.

COMMENTARY: Making Lives 749.5

A few years ago I came across a video by a very dynamic speaker, a former middle school teacher named Taylor Mali. He is now what’s called a performance poet — someone who delivers poetry as singers deliver songs. The poem that caught my attention was “What Do I Make?” an articulate and aggressive response to a critic who was putting down teachers. …

WORTH WATCHING: Teachers in Action

Great videos about Great Teachers. What Makes Great Teachers? ABC Special The character John Keating (played by Robin Williams) in Dead Poet’s Society   The real Jaime Escalante (the teacher portrayed in the movie Stand and Deliver) on teaching:  

WORTH READING & WATCHING: A Perspective of Service from a P.O.W.

It’s hard for some folks to take off their political glasses with lenses that like or dislike, see or not see, according to political predispositions. I think it’s important to remove these glasses when thinking about the nature of the experience that men and women who serve in the armed forces may be subjected to. This story, oft told by …

Just arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, a few hours ago.

I’m anxious to learn about the people and culture, and to move beyond the stereotype of Internet fraudsters. In researching the country and culture, I came across a fantastic YouTube video of a speech by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, one of Nigeria’s most profound and mesmerizing literary voices. In it, she warned of the dangers in hearing a single story about …

Learning Humanity in the Context of Competition 737.2

Competition often brings out the best performance but it doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Even in the arts, actors, singers, dancers, and musicians must survive and thrive in a competitive community as rude and rough as any. Ambitious parents often introduce toxic gamesmanship and back-biting attitudes very early as their children are judged and ranked by the …

Reveling in the Death of a Villain 721.4

Yesterday I admitted I was glad and grateful to learn of Osama bin Laden’s death, an emotional reaction I’ve had some difficulty connecting to my principles as I became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of reveling in the death of another human being, even though he was a villain. My niece Eliana helped me realize the complexity of the situation …

Mataya’s Coming of Age 719.2

This weekend family and friends gathered to witness our daughter Mataya’s bat mitzvah*, the symbolic transition from childhood to adulthood. It was our fourth bat mitzvah in five years, and frankly, we’re glad we’re done. Anne and I make them major productions. Anne has the hard part. She plans a party equal to a significant wedding and personally creates a …

Hang in There! It Will Get Better 717.1

While researching the bullying issue for a CHARACTER COUNTS! seminar, I came across Vicky Bell’s blog, where she posted a letter to her daughter in college. I think her advice moving and wise. Here’s an abridged version: Hello my girl . . . You may have heard about the NJ college student who killed himself because his roommate posted a …

It’s Okay to Keep Your Elephant Happy 716.4

Yesterday I introduced Jonathan Haidt’s metaphor of our rational self as a Rider sitting atop an Elephant, the larger, more powerful emotional self. Sometimes the Rider is the pilot directing the Elephant, but often the Elephant is in control, making the Rider a passenger. Scientific literature on how people change tells us that unless we motivate the Elephant – arguments …