Monday, April 22, 2013


On Wednesday one of my students announced that a suspect had been arrested in the April 15 bombing. I quickly checked my news sources, rapidly cycling through CNN, ABC News, Washington Post, and New York Times, seeing the story only at the first of those. Sure enough, this ended up being the incorrect story that has led to some mocking of CNN in the past week.

It's part of my training as a historian to instinctively look at a few sources to corroborate a statement of fact. I wonder how normal that is for my students, burgeoning consumers of news. Their consumption comes in the form of updates on Apps and updates on what is now being called the fifth news network, Twitter. A challenge we have is teaching that generation how to instinctively double-check.

But I remain to be convinced that I live in exciting times. Kids are digesting a great deal of news, and are eager to discuss what they've found. We have a great opportunity here to capitalize on this trend.

Monday, April 15, 2013

West Side Story

Today's tragedy in Boston defies words. I cannot comment on it at this time. I'm too likely to jump to a conclusion I might later regret. I'm angry. I'm sad. I love my country. 

Yesterday I had the chance to see West Side Story performed at the school where I teach. It might be the 20th time I've seen the production on screen or on stage. It might be the 100th time I've listened to the music. Still, I was moved to tears at the end. Is that a testament to how good of a job the students did? Perhaps. It also meant a lot to me that many of the kids on stage are kids I've come to like and admire in two years of teaching them. 

I found myself viewing the show with a new set of eyes, however. At its core, West Side Story is a tale of kids in over their heads pretending to be older than they really are. The kids fight for turf, hold war councils, marry (in a sense). They're kids playing adult games. As such, they play with forces more powerful than they are ready to handle, and a series of bad decisions fueled by anger and mistrust kill a couple trusted in one another and their peers to a fault. Perhaps what I saw yesterday, was the musical for the first time as a father. And it was a different experience.