The educational materials found herein are organized around two things: history and Ideas Worth Teaching.

Like the idea of freedom.


What’s so special about ideas?

Rather than launch into a lengthy discourse, I will offer up an example from my own teaching experience.  A parable.

One afternoon while teaching a social skills class on the inside, I asked my students, “What’s the one thing you want more than anything else?”

After listening to sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll for ten minutes, I asked them, “What do you need in order to get all of these things?”

Nothing.  Crickets.

I even tried to provide a hint by staring out the window at the outside world – the outs.

Freedom.  In order to get what they wanted, they needed their freedom.  And yet, not a single soul uttered a word about freedom.

It was an illuminating moment for me as a teacher – and for them as institutionalized criminal offenders.  I realized that I needed to be more explicit in my instruction about the importance of freedom, and some of my students realized that they needed to do the work in order to earn their freedom.


My third question was, “What is the significance of July 4, 1776?”

I was met, again, with blank stares.

At the end of the day, as I stood in the sallyport and waited for the officer behind the Plexiglass window to push a button and release me out into into the free world, I thought about the importance of ideas such a freedom, justice, mercy, humanity, and more.

And how I might teach them.

Just as I used my own teaching experience to illustrate the importance of teaching ideas (as opposed to standards), I think students should learn about these ideas through the study of history.  Specifically, through historical fiction.