Notes From The Learning Center

December 2014

Season's Readings (Secret Santa)

I love to share books. There is something very satisfying in a successful book recommendation, so I'm suggesting that we have a secret Santa book exchange during the holiday season this year. Here's how it will work:

  1. Find a book: It could be something old that you've had around the house or something you pick up at Goodwill or Half-Price Books (the idea is not to spend money, but to be thoughtful).
  2. Pick your target: a friend, colleague, family member, or someone else.
  3. Write an anonymous note: Let the person know why you chose this book for them. Why anonymous? Why not.
  4. Sneak the book to the target: Put it in their mailbox or on their desk or whatever.
  5. Tweet: If you receive a book tweet about it to the @whslearningctr Twitter account with the hash tag #secretsantabook.

Happy giving and happy reading!
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Top Titles for Students in November

  1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  3. Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth
  4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  6. Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin
  7. Ashfall by Mike Mullin
  8. The Batboy by Mike Lupica
  9. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  10. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Wisdom: The Chief Element of Happiness (apologies to Sophocles)

I know I know. You are probably getting tired of hearing me extol the virtues and sing the praises of J-Stor, but here I go again. Recently, I was browsing for some articles relevant to the AP Seminar class and went down the proverbial rabbit hole reading about the rise and decline of education for leisure (here). This is a topic that had more resonance for me this week when a couple of Mrs. Caulfield's students shared with me the commencement address from David McCullough (you can read it here). They were pretty fired up about it. The speech manages to be inspiring yet at the same time, delivering the bitter pill to students that they are not special. Really? You are not. His words. Not mine... You really have to read it.

The speech summarizes one side of the debate over the purpose of education. McCullough contends that the purpose is not ticking off items on a bucket list to get some reward at the end. In fact, there is no reward. Rather, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is the wisdom that we (hopefully) gain through searching or the happiness that wisdom brings us.

Sometimes it feels that the universe is pointing you in a direction as it did to me this morning when Mr. Oestreich stopped by my desk to show me the video of a guy who calls himself Slomo, a doctor who left his practice after an illness so that he could skate up and down the boulevard in San Diego. Not a conventional guy, but he further illustrates the point that sometimes we allow expectations to cloud our sense of purpose in the world. This a-ha moment sounded the chord again that the purpose of education is not always to get to the "A." What it is about is creating the best possible you. For some of us that might be skating up and down a boulevard and for others it might be becoming a doctor.

The competing point of view says the role of education is not simply to inspire, but it is to prepare a workforce. One does this through building new layers each year onto the scaffold that is put in place previously, eventually resulting in a person ready for the next level - be it work or further education.

I'm eager to see where the AP Seminar students go with their research on these kinds of questions. And, as always, if you are interested in getting students access to the fabulous resource of J-Stor, talk to me, I will be happy to get you off and running. If you need further testimonials about how useful this resource is, I'm sure Mrs. Knight and Mrs. Yoder would be happy to talk with you.

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If you need a little boost stop by and refresh your spirits and your breath with an encourage"mint." Just 25 cents and you get some words of wisdom and a breath mint or butterscotch candy. All proceeds benefit the Learning Center.