These essays are awesome and I want to try and use in class. Here’s a quote from the profile on Aaron Schwartz that I’m going to process with my students at some point:
As I listened to the tributes to Aaron Swartz in Highland Park and New York and online, this aphorism came to mind. Swartz had skipped out on the lessons taught by the American high school—the lessons in cynical acquiescence, conformity, and obedience to the powers that be. He was right to think these lessons injure people’s innate sense of curiosity and morality and inure them to mediocrity. He was right to credit his “arrogance” for the excellence of the life he lived. But if nothing else, these lessons prepare people for a world that can often be met in no other way; a world whose irrational power must sometimes simply be endured. This was a lesson that he contrived never to learn, which was part of what made him so extraordinary.
Certainly not all high schools. I hope. Or at least not all of the time.
From a definition early in the show:
A library: one of the few places left in America where you can enter without requirements, where you don’t have to buy or believe anything.
It’s an interesting idea, though, one to think about: how rarely or how often does school provide a room of requirement? How do we distinguish between what we think we want, what we think we need, and what we require?
This American Life: The Room of Requirement
I keep trying to have the substance vs. style conversation in circle. I want students thinking about real work, authentic work, work with substance. And I want them thinking about how to maintain a consistent approach to work in all aspects of their lives.
But I have to do it in indirect ways. This week I’m asking them to think about how a person of substance navigates the world.
We began this week by trying to define this…
For me, substance is about follow through, which I worry about, at least for myself, during this time of year when I’m just trying to stay afloat.