Sunday, August 30, 2009

Over 50 workout

I realize that I've given a lot of thought to my workouts. I also realize that one of the benefits of getting older should be the ability to simplify. It's not a question of "not being that guy" anymore. While still competitive, I don't have to pay as much attention to linear versus undulating periodization; alactic versus lactic versus aerobic systems; converting max strength into power etc. These are interesting things for study and important to know for the teenagers I'm coaching. For myself, I need to be relatively pain free, to move with grace and power, to be able to fight or run when I have to, to play with my children, to hike, and maybe dod some cool bodyweight stuff that my students can't do. To do these things I need light plyometrics like low squat jumps or rope jumping, medicine ball throws, calisthenics, yoga, kettlebells for the posterior chain, occasional sprints, and isometrics. A lot of my programming is now random, like a lot of life.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Liberal Arts education and bullies

I'm glad I never looked on my education as an opportunity to specialize. As Robert Heinlein said: "Specialization is for insects." I had the benefit of a strong liberal arts education. My education, along with my parents' examples, allowed me to figure out who I wanted to be and not just what I wanted to do. I developed an understanding of my responsibilities as a citizen and a passion for social justice.

In the past couple of weeks I have come to the realization that I won't be saving the world but I am glad for the tools I have been given for fighting what Dr. Paul Farmer calls "The Long Defeat." I am currently dealing with people who maintain their arrogance in the face of complexity. They criticize my successful efforts at providing under-served teens with an education. They form their opinions on the basis of unexamined assumptions, whim, delusions, and lies.

My education has armed me against manipulation, coercion, demagogues, and bullies. I am grateful and I will be moving on.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Real conversations about education

I am finding it increasingly hard not to believe that there really is a conspiracy around public education in this country. I spend time around very wealthy people who extol the virtues of this or that charter school. They talk about standardized test scores, how quiet and cute the kids are, and how nice the halls look. It is clear that none of them would ever consider sending their child to one of these schools. I, too, as the fortunate beneficiary of an elite education have never considered the choices offered by the public system as real choices for my own children.

Tests can be used for feedback and a more reflective teaching practice but the more I do this, the more I believe these tests are used to weed out the drones from the oligarchy.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Combat sports should be a part of the school curriculum. Things like wrestling and boxing can build character and they do an even better job revealing it. There is a connection between moral and physical courage. I have been witness to an amazing inability on the part of some of the people in my professional world to make decisions. This is more a result of cowardice than a lack of information.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Living Well

Robert Heinlein was correct when he stated that "specialization is for insects." I am distilling my educational philosophy more and more. I want my students to learn how to "live well." That will mean they need to gain education that is useful. They will need to develop the "barbarian virtues" at the same time they acquire the civilized ones. They must become servant leaders who cultivate self-discipline, accountability, frugality, good manners, curiosity, a sense of the possible, and the ability to be dangerous in pursuit of the good.

Developing a school culture that teaches these things has been/will be difficult in a culture that looks to imposed discipline, nice hall displays, and standardized test scores as the measure of a good school. It's not popular to point out that academic achievement often does not correlate to happy and successful living.