May 2015

In Defense of the 5-Paragraph Essay

Making BrowniesAlthough it is an imperfect beast and its overuse can be limiting, or even harmful, the “5-Paragraph Essay” should not be so unfairly maligned. It provides useful scaffolding for students learning to support logical arguments rather than ramble about their impressions and feelings, promotes clarity and focus for students as they attempt to formulate and support those arguments, and offers the security of structure and a type of ‘safety net’ for young writers not always certain how to best proceed.

Demolition Man

Demolition ManFor those of you too young to remember, Sylvester Stallone is an old-time thespian best known for films offering social commentary and subtle allegory in the guise of action-adventure – lots of explosions and hitting people in the face, but… profoundly. One such piece is 1993’s Demolition Man, in which he’s joined by Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock to address the ubiquitous challenges of acculturation. Of ‘fitting in’. Of how we deal with one another’s different values and customs – or how we don’t.


Frustrated TeacherThis is not a year I’ve been proud of. I’ve had a few over the past sixteen years that have sucked for reasons largely outside my control, but this is the first time since those first few semesters that I’ve felt almost entirely responsible – not as a cause, but as someone who knew better in terms of MY responses, and didn’t do it.

The Power of Persuasion (To Prove or To Move?)

Measuring TapeSometimes we have to consciously decide whether we’d rather be right or be effective. Standing our ground on moral absolutes is all well and good – and sometimes the only acceptable choice if we’re to live with ourselves. But are there pathways to positive change that don’t require either the complete submission of our adversaries or sacrifice of our own foundational values?