Why Something to Teach?

Because there is a reason why we build monuments.

To remember – and honor – great figures from our past and the ideas – and ideals – that they stood for.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

The educational materials found herein are organized based upon Ideas Worth Teaching.

Like the idea of freedom.


What’s so special about ideas?

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.  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.

What are the guiding principles of Something to Teach?

Writing = Thinking

“Language is the dress of thought.”

Samuel Johnson

What you write is a reflection of your thoughts.  It is important for students to learn how to use writing as a means of demonstrating their understanding of important ideas.  Ideas such as freedom.

…and you should be using a pen and paper to write.

Reading = Work

Sometimes the reading is the work.  Teachers don’t alway have to ruin a perfectly good story by having students dissect it.  Sometimes it is enough to let students read, experience, and enjoy a piece of literature for its own sake.

…and remember what Twain wrote, ” ‘Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.”

There are some classics found in English/Language Arts/Reading curriculums that are not worth reading – even once.