April 7 - April 14, 2019

A major feature at the beginning of this issue...

And also:

- A fascinating piece about the politics of history curricula
- Some excellent science writing about black holes
- Good leadership arguments to focusing (including the feature)
- A reminder of the imitative nature of creativity
- A cell phone confiscation policy... by the Texas Tech coach

And more... enjoy!


So, I wrote a one-act musical about boarding school.  Hamilton-inspired, it’s a hip-hop, pop, and classical music fusion that aims to both send up and speak authentically to the bizarre experience of being an adolescent in a boarding school.  

It went up at a school meeting, total surprise to the students.  25 awesome faculty members joined in.  The kids were ecstatic.

Part satire and part tribute, it begins with learning about boarding school for the first time, carries through the first day of classes, and finishes, of course, with a dance number.

While it’s about boarding school holistically, there are good chunks that apply to most any school, like the classes section, in particular.  Here are the time-stamps for different scenes:

00:00 Opening Number
14:04 Sit-down Breakfast
17:30 Classes (US History, Physics I, Math)
28:00 Co-Curriculars
30:30 Walk-Through Dinner
32:11 Epilogue & Dance

Click "Show More" on the YouTube page to jump to a scene.  But it's best from the beginning.

Partnered with my colleague Sam Watson a year ago to write and produce original music, and then the cast of teachers had only two rehearsals to learn staging and put it up (you know how busy teachers are!).  The motivation for writing it was pure joy — what’s more fun than working with colleagues and reflecting on what we do? — and in retrospect, I’m really proud of the effort everyone put in, especially during an already busy time of year.  

This isn't your parents' Gilbert & Sullivan, so put on your headphones or crank up the bass. This is music to move (and learn) to.  


Link: A Boarding School Musical (YouTube)

Photos: Jess Marsh Wissemann for Deerfield Academy


Schools Should Focus Only On Their Academic Mission... Plus One  Howard Gardner
"As one learns about so-called liberal arts institutions today, one swiftly encounters a wide range of aspirations, many of which have little to do with academic or even cognitive aspirations. Colleges are expected to produce good citizens; kind and empathic human beings; happy persons who are self-realized; individuals who want to lead the world, change the world, be good team players, make the world better; individuals who are healthier in mind and body. We admire these aspirations. But it’s clear that no institution can achieve all of these goals."

The Paradoxical Surge In Demand For Humanities, While Majors Decline  NY Review of Books
"People like history—just look at the New York Times bestseller list—but not enough historians actually take the time to try to talk to the interested public… An obvious remedy would be to place more stress on good writing; courses on how to write for the informed laity should be central to all humanities instruction. But the humanities need a more thorough overhaul, drawing on the tools developed by the tech world to capture and convey the complex, tortured, confounding, and inspiring story of human cultures and civilization."


Reminder: The Huge Majority Of Colleges Are Not Selective (And That's OK)  Atlantic


"Only Intrinsic Motivation Lasts" - Highly Paid Engineer Quits  Medium


"Famous Movie Scenes... [That] Were Borrowed From Paintings"  Messy Nessy Chic


The Return Of Cursive  New York Times


"How Well Do Elite Colleges Contribute To The Public Good?"  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Is The US A Democracy Or A Republic? Michigan Debated For 5 Years.  New York Times
"The debate was really about bigger disagreements that transcended party lines: about how to deal with populism and protest, and about whether the United States is a unified entity of citizens or a conglomeration of groups divided by race, class, language and other identities."

Digital Humanities Analysis Of Beowulf Supports Single Authorship  Guardian

Reflections On The Limits Of Computational Analyses Of Literature  UChicago

Should We Create A Field To Study How And Why Disagreement Happens?  Atlantic


On Fostering Digital Transformation In Your Organization  MIT Sloan Mgmt Review
"Here are your jobs, leaders: Create a compelling vision of the digitally powered future. Foster conversations so that people can understand the vision and what it means for them. Clean up legacy situations — information systems, work rules, incentives, management practices, or dysfunctional functions — that slow or prevent change. Start some pilots to build momentum. Create conversations to spur different parts of the company to use, and build on, the innovative work of others. You’ll be creating a capability to transform, not just a set of transformation projects."

3 Questions For Defining Success In Schools  George Couros


Some Reflections On Teaching For Deeper Learning  Harvard GSE

Profs Reflect On Teaching In The Face Of Student Tech Distraction  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Ritual: A Reflection On Reading Print Newspapers  Atlantic


"Astronomers Capture First Ever Image Of A Black Hole"  New York Times
"The image, of a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle deep in the heart of a galaxy known as Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away from Earth, resembled the Eye of Sauron, a reminder yet again of the implacable power of nature. It is a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity."


Texas Tech Coach Confiscated Cell Phones Every Night On The Road  Cal Newport
"The team’s coach, Chris Beard, who had already banned smartphones at team meals, liked this idea and extended it even further: the phone ban held every night while the team was on the road, whether or not there was a game the next day. It worked. Texas Tech went on a 14-1 run after the ban, eventually making it all the way to Monday’s national championship game."


Reflections On When To Hold Walking Meetings  Medium


LeBron James' School In Ohio Is Showing Promise  New York Times