Lessons from a Veteran, Teacher

National holidays tend to bring out the most annoying personality traits of the mirror-imaged two sides --- the liberals and the conservatives --- that clutter the public discourse of this country. Sadly, I have a tendency to get caught up in that song and dance, too. But this misses the real opportunity that any holiday brings: a chance to recall stories, lives, and lessons, rooted in the person, not the ideological accoutrements. HERE IS A SHORT STORY AND TRIBUTE about my Tio Meme, Manuel R … [Read more...]

Boredom is Laziness

We live in a culture of boredom. It may seem odd that, within the most overstimulated society in human history, there is such rampant boredom, but I am not sure that this is quite as odd as it seems. These apparent --- and delightful --- contradictions are riddled across the flux of  life, in all of its forms.The real question is simpler and more direct. What is boredom and what can be done about it?Here is the situation: My two sons are generally occupied without interruption, but they do … [Read more...]

Update: Thank You, Fall Schedule, Books, and Album

It's been just over a year now that I've been blogging at Patheos. That year has coincided with our relocation to North Dakota. The winters here are long and brutal. Without Patheos --- you the readers, and the beautiful motley crew of writers at the Catholic Channel, Los Patheosi --- I don't know what I would've done.Thank you.I should especially thank Elizabeth Scalia, who gave me my shot and who puts up with my antics and promotes my stuff.*This Fall will be my busiest to date in … [Read more...]

An Aesthetic Critique of Youth Ministry: Miley Cyrus vs. Bonnie Raitt

MARC BARNES' CRITIQUE OF YOUTH MINISTRY has, predictably, gone viral. Today there is a measured and intelligent response posted at Fr. Robert Barron's site, The Word on Fire, written by Fr. Damian J. Ference.This back and forth reveals many studious and sophisticated things: church documents and properly understood Catholic teaching and tradition. The important stuff.The only thing I will add to that discussion is this: there is no reason to assume that, if parents are the primary educators o … [Read more...]

Two Faces of Credibility

There are two competing lines of thought, etched in my mind, oscillating back and forth, affecting the way I feel about myself and my work. When they are separated and speak univocally, they ring true, but too harsh. When they are taken together, as a whole, they verge on being boring and forgettably balanced or, even worse, contradictory.I am allergic to credentialism, clericalism, and all easy appeals to authority. This is a reality I experience internally and externally. The former is the … [Read more...]

Why Serious Catholics Should Hate Catholic Stuff

I love Mexican food.Bordertown street cuisine, Tex-Mex comfort food, and Southwestern red and green chiles and sopapillas...Tacos al pastor, tortas, elote (en vaso), carne guisada, frijoles a la charra, CABRITO AL PASTOR. I love the drinks, the tamarindo, the key lime, cilantro, the salt. Heat that actually isn't too hot.Mariscos, fresh.Una coca bien fria --- a Coca-Cola in an ice-cold glass bottle.The soups: from a clear, crisp fish soup to a beefy sopa de res. Or the spicy balance … [Read more...]

Primer Update and Sneak Peek

My latest book --- A Primer for Philosophy & Education --- was released two weeks ago. Since then, there have been two reviews --- here and here --- posted on Patheos blogs and there are several more to come from Patheos and elsewhere.Entering this crucial third week, I'd like to ask you for your help once again. Anything helps: Facebook liking and sharing, Tweets, and especially personal recommendations to people you think might be interested are all a huge help. In the end, the proof is … [Read more...]

Sex Miseducation: Abstinence Doesn’t Make Sense UPDATED

Calah Alexander has written a powerful essay about the psychological and spiritual violence that is often inflicted on women by abstinence-only sex education.Read it.Since I seem to be in a womanist mood these days, I'd like to fully endorse her argument and bolster it with a very simple addition: teaching fertile females and virile males to abstain from having sex is crazy. It is almost as crazy as instructing trees to abstain from growing leaves in the spring.A student once interviewed me … [Read more...]

Housekeeping, Announcements, Gratitude, Spring

Those who know me also know that I don't keep a calendar, although sometimes I do in one form or another. It's a defensive mechanism. The things I do forget, are simply that. The rest gets done at a regular pace without breathing too heavy down my neck.It's been a long, hard winter. Laura Ingalls Wilder comes to mind. There are no words to describe it properly --- what it does to you. North Dakotans tell me that I got to experience a real winter. I should feel proud or or lucky or something. I … [Read more...]

Constructivism and Its Discontents: An Interview

About a month ago, I was interviewed by one of my doctoral students, Emmanuel Mensah, for his qualitative social science research project on constructivism and teaching. I was shooting from the hip in a casual, coffee-shop environment, but I think I managed to think through some things, and make some distinctions, that I hadn't done before. My comments follow closely to a talk I gave at Wabash College in February, titled "The Teacher-Centered Classroom."For those who find the term … [Read more...]


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