Saturn Rising

“I’d like you to envision your ideal classroom. What are you seeing? What are students doing?”

At Twitter Math Camp this summer, I participated in a 3-day workshop for math teachers, coaches, and administrators. Our facilitator had us begin by working in small groups to write a vision statement for math class. After a minute of quiet jotting, my partners and I turned to one another to share our ideas.

I want to hear students talking to one another, one said.
Another: I want to see students using math to solve challenging problems.
I’d like students to share their strategies and not be embarrassed if their answers are wrong.

These are lovely visions. And given the stasis that pervades math education — students still sitting in rows; students still solving rote problems; teachers still prioritizing answers over reasoning — realizing them would be a major win.

But I don’t think it wouldn’t be a complete win. I think we can win bigger. I think we can envision more.

Free Agents


Spring has sprung! It’s baseball season, the most wonderful time of the year. Football’s fine. March Madness has its moments. But they all just seem like appetizers to me: warm-ups to baseball’s main event.

As you know from living in DC, much of the talk is on Bryce Harper, the 23 year-old wunderkind who’s expected to sign the biggest contract in baseball history. “Forget $400 million,” the Washington Post demands. “Harper should be worth more than $600 million.” I laughed when I read that. $400 million. $600 million. If these numbers sound crazy…

…They’re not.

The Case for Closed


I heard a story on NPR not too long ago about how John Deere has locked down its tractor software, preventing farmers from making tweaks and repairs. I find John Deere green one of the most beautiful colors on the America landscape and am sure the company has its reasons. Still, my overwhelming reaction to the story was, “Screw those guys.”

I enjoyed your recent blog post, then, about the virtues of open resources in education. As important as copyrights and paywalls are for encouraging innovation, I share your concern about how they restrict access and stifle downstream creativity, and I appreciate why you and others so thoughtfully advocate for open content that allows users to engage in the “five Rs:” retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. If our goal as a community is for instructional materials to have maximal impact, it seems reasonable that we’d want them to be as accessible and as flexible as possible.

However, let me push back on that a bit.

Reconciling Privilege


I left Greece in early December and returned stateside on Christmas Eve. I’ve done some more traveling since, but I continue to think about what you asked me when I was still volunteering in the refugee camp:

How do you reconcile being so privileged among such a terrible situation?

Groton. Stanford. UVA. I have an old Land Cruiser and a new bike. I own a nice watch that I gave myself as a gift two years ago. My mom has season tickets to the Nationals, and I’ll fly back for the home opener. You’re right: I am privileged. And your question is a good one: how to reconcile that?

Here at Moria Camp


There’s a strong wind blowing in from the south. This could make the seas choppy for inbound refugees, many of whom don’t know how to swim. In addition to illness and injury, drownings are a big problem here. I attended a burial yesterday of twelve bodies, and evidently there are sixty more at the morgue. Weather like this complicates what is already a difficult situation, and the volunteers on the northern beaches may be in for a long night. I’m further south, where our immediate concern is how the cold and rain will affect conditions in the camps.

You asked about the camps.

How Can I Help?


Thank you for your note on Instagram. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I’m glad that you like my images, and I agree with you that the refugee crisis has been “devastating to watch.”

I’m volunteering on Lesbos, the Greek island where many of the refugees land. I was talking to a journalist who said that the previous week the seas had been rough, and she’d help gather the drowned bodies that had washed up on the shore. A few days ago there was a protest in Mytilene, the main port city here, in which Muslims were demanding space to properly bury their dead. (When a Muslim dies, you’re supposed to bury him with his head facing Mecca.) Imagine fleeing your country, watching your mother or brother or child drown, then having to go through that.

All About Eva

The Simpsons
We need to chill out on the Eva Moskowitz bashing. I understand that the “got-to-go” list is controversial and agree that the question of expulsions is an important one. However, it seems that we’re treating Success as a proxy for much larger issues, and I fear that it’s naively distilling difficult questions into an overly simplistic narrative.