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Of Chuck Norris' Prepper Box And Education

I don't know how I came across it, but I did. While cruising the ol' interweb the other day I saw a headline about what Chuck Norris has in his "emergency food supply bucket." From the article:

"The Norris-approved Roundhouse food supply comes by the bucket, with each holding 76 pre-packaged meals — enough to comfortably sustain an adult for a week. With a shelf-life of 25 years, the supply buckets are meant to be stashed and taken out in case of emergency..."

The first thought that crossed my mind when I read the article was that I am not sure what a mediocre actor (on a good day) from the 1980's has to say about "prepping" for an emergency. I gather from reading the article that he is getting paid to hock these "buckets" and I say "Good for him!" American capitalism at its best...make money while you can.

The second thought that crossed my mind was more subdued. "Prepping" is becoming a "thing" in America. People prepping for the next war, revolution, presidential election...the list goes on and on. It seems like we Americans have just given up trying to figure things out collectively and we are just retreating to our own little worlds. 

Americans used to tackle big, important issues. We put men on the moon for crying out loud! It seems like the last 20 years have seen a movement away from even attempting to solve big problems and solidification of an "I'll think only about me and to heck with you" attitude. Just see the response of people to the Covid pandemic as a case in point. We (as a society) have stopped thinking about the collective good and only think about "what's in it for me." Let’s stop this way of thinking right now!

I know the people that read this newsletter do not fall into the trap of thinking only about themselves. Furthermore, I know that you want to solve big, important, complicated problems. So, here is a short list of big problems we need to address in education...right now. These are hard to solve and may upset some people you know for even mentioning them, but that tells me they are with solving!

First Important Problem: Mass Shootings in Schools. Okay, people, let's start on what I hope we all can agree on...people walking into schools and murdering kids and staff is the most horrific act in our society. Let's get together in your community and figure out how not to let it happen anymore. I am not going to offer solutions, but I do know that every community has leaders who can sit down and work on a solution. Go do it!

Second Important Problem: The Teacher Shortage. There are decisions that have been made by policymakers over the last 25 years that have led inexorably to this point. We have to start undoing these horrendous policy decisions. Teachers have also been placed squarely in the culture wars between the Left and Right in American politics. Let's all agree to not allow schools to be a pawn in some stupid politician's game. Figure out how to solve the problem in your local community. Maybe offer a teacher pipeline for non-traditional teachers. Simply encouraging kids to go to college to become a teacher is another great place to start. Go figure it out!

Third Important Problem: Dismantle the Education Testing Complex. High-stakes, standardized testing is child abuse. Let’s all just sit down and figure out how we are going to dismantle it. On the flip side, my dear educator friends, we have to create an accountability system that puts your community at ease that you are providing the best education possible to the children of the community.  Go do it...and don't let anyone tell you that high-stakes testing has been good for kids, schools, or communities.

It will take courage to tackle any of these. We live in such a polarized country that any topic can be turned into a "controversy.” However, when you think collectively and not individualistically, solutions can be created.


Let’s consider what we can do differently in education and schooling. Maybe our obsession with test scores is the end of a long, incorrect rabbit hole we went down for 30 years. Are there other ways to frame what we should “do” in education? How about placing the importance and teaching of imagination at the forefront of everything we do. 

I read a great article that has me thinking.

From the article:
A chasm divides our view of human knowledge and human nature. According to the logic of the chasm, facts are the province of experimental science, while values are the domain of religion and art; the body (and brain) is the machinery studied by scientists, while the mind is a quasi-mystical reality to be understood by direct subjective experience; reason is the faculty that produces knowledge, while emotion generates art; STEM is one kind of education, and the liberal arts are wholly other.

I am not going to regurgitate the article for you (you can read it in the link below) but here is what we need to consider.

1. Imagination plays a significantly more important role in how humans interact than we know. Since life is about human interactions, it seems reasonable to think about how we can encourage imagination more in schools.

2. There was a time in the mid-20th century when there was a middle ground between the sciences and art...before there was a chasm. But the middle ground was overpowered by outside forces...think Sputnik and the drive to "improve" science instruction in schools in the 1950s and 1960s.

3. Neuroscience is understanding the importance of imagination that helps in a broad area of a person's life.

So, what can you do to encourage a systemic change in your school to cultivate a learner's imagination? This is a big, important problem that needs to be solved!
Read The Article
Styles of Listening
1. An analytical listener aims to analyze a problem from a neutral starting point.

2. A relational listener aims to build connection and understand the emotions underlying a message.

3. A critical listener aims to judge both the content of the conversation and the reliability of the speaker themselves.

4. A task-focused listener shapes a conversation towards efficient transfer of important information.

You can read the article linked below. I stopped awhile to ponder these different styles of listening. Most of my listening vacillates between analytical and relational. I am going to pay more attention to HOW I am listening in the future. How about you? Are there times when you should put on a different "listening style" hat?

The article talks about 5 ways to improve your listening.

1. Establish why you are listening

2. Recognize how you usually listen

3. Be aware of who is the focus of attention. This is important and an area that I constantly have to monitor myself. By interjecting your stories and your emotions, the focus of the conversation shifts to you. Do you think that is what the other person wanted? Do you think that is what you need to learn the most from the conversation? I have a rule I use when listening. In most cases (and I am not perfect) I try to only say every 10th thing that comes to mind. I figure if something is important, I will remember it after the 10th time.

4. Adapt the listening style to achieve conversational goals

5. Ask: Am I missing something?
Read The Article
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