Students are determined to show that they are working hard, the high school teacher concluded, but they do not recognize the need for working carefully.

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The first time I recall being viewed as “good at writing” was in high school when I submitted a parody of my friends and teachers for a short story assignment; this was probably my junior year of high school during Mr. Harrill’s American literature class, and I am quite certain that I would be mortified by the story if I could read it now.

A couple years later, however, my “writer epiphany” came the spring of my first year of college. I very clearly mark the beginning of my life as a writer with a poem I wrote from my…

Right. It is a traditional concept that I also take issue with. I happen to use my work in many places *but* I always acknowledge that. In the case of the 1776 work, there is no attribution.

Often associated with Winston Churchill, the adage “history is written by the victors” seems to repeat itself in times of great upheaval.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

For over 40 years, George Graham Vest served first as a Missouri state Representative, next as a state Senator in the Confederacy, and finally as a U.S. Senator for Missouri from 1879 to 1903.

In a speech from August 21, 1891, Vest included a claim about history that has been echoed by many: “In all revolutions the vanquished are the ones who are guilty of treason, even by the historians, for history is written by the victors and framed according to the prejudices and bias existing on their side.”

Considering Vest’s complicated relationship with the state and country that he…

While this may not be uniquely American, it is certainly true of Americans that we have a fatal lack of community and empathy.

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[D]espite overwhelmingly good intentions, most of what passes for intercultural education practice, particularly in the US,
accentuates rather than undermines existing social and political hierarchies.


A split second of awareness kept me from stepping into my apartment’s elevator, the floor covered in vomit, recently.

I thought about this moment yesterday while standing in that same elevator filled with an unpleasant smell as I also noticed a new orange-brown stain on the floor.

A week or so ago, I was unloading two bicycles from my car rack, going up and…

What’s wrong with the high school research paper? It creates for students a number of bad habits that they must unlearn in order to write well and credibly in college.

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In my foundations of education course, we discussed the role of evidence and research in education, highlighting the problem with experimental/quasi-experimental research and its use in the so-called real world of day-to-day teaching. I always use medicine as an analogy — such as the recently development of the Covid-19 vaccine.

What I hope to accomplish is to offer students a more nuanced understanding of evidence and research. I stress that based on my nearly 40 years of teaching, gold-standard research matters, but it rarely matters in teaching (versus medicine) the way that many people think.

Teaching and learning, I explain…

Students often struggle with evaluating sources for bias, and honestly, they are not well equipped to recognize flawed or ideologically skewed reports that appear to be in credible journals and are themselves well cited.

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In my three courses this fall, students are now all working on scholarly essays that incorporate high-quality sources (focusing on peer-reviewed journal articles). Since the work lies primarily in the field of education, students are using APA style guides.

Often when teaching students citation, we focus our lessons on (the drudgery of) formatting and idiosyncratic citation structures (APA’s annoying lowercase/upper case peculiarities, for example, in bibliographies) as well as the challenges of finding and evaluating a reasonable amount of valid sources to support the claims of the essay.

Students often struggle with evaluating sources for bias, and honestly, they are…

“All life” and “all guns” are fundamentalism at its core — both in the lack of logic and lack of ethical consistency between the two.

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March is a harbinger of spring.

March 2021 has also been an harbinger for some sort of return to normal after a year of living through a pandemic in the U.S. and across the world.

Mid-March now may force us to reconsider what we have wished for since the return to normal in U.S. includes two mass shootings in a week — 8 murdered around Atlanta, GA followed by a mass shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, CO leaving 10 dead.

Mass shootings are so normal in the U.S. that they very much define what it means to be…

To say that Allen v. Farrow (HBO) is damning for Allen is an understatement.

Allen v. Farrow (HBO)

I should have never read E. E. Cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever, but I did.

My doctoral dissertation was a biography of English educator Lou LaBrant so much of my scholarly work while in that program was focused on biography, specifically guided by feminism as a lens because I was a man writing a woman’s life.

During the mid-1990s, I read dozens of biographies, often on writers I loved. One notable reading was Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings by Richard Kennedy (who had edited one of my favorite collections of poems by cummings).

My doctoral…

“No excuses” ultimately fails for many reasons — being trapped in “blame the victim” approaches that normalize an unspoken white and affluent standard against which marginalized populations of students are judged, and harmed.

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Sarah Karp offers a long overdue and somewhat surprising opening lede for WBEZ Chicago, home to a number of charter school chains:

Chicago’s largest charter school network sent a letter to alumni this week admitting that its past discipline and promotion policies were racist and apologizing for them. The apology is notable not just as an acknowledgment of misguided policies, but as a repudiation of the “no-excuses” philosophy adopted by many charter schools during the 2000s.


“No excuses” ideologies and practices have been a foundational staple of charter schools disproportionately serving…

What is the job of poetry? I have been wondering. My poetry of pain next to my poetry of hope.

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When I posted my newest poem yesterday, we weathered winter (silence & shouting), I realized this is my first poem of 2021. It is unusual since it is mostly a poem of hope, a poem uniquely set in the Covid-19 pandemic.

As I looked back, I also realized that the last poem of 2020 was about my aunt’s suicide, a human throat (ineffable), a poem of pain anchored to the frailties of being human — although this poem too cannot avoid the ghost of the pandemic lingering there.

My newest poem feels out of character for me, a person prone…

Paul Thomas

P. L. Thomas, Professor of Education Furman University, taught high school English before moving to teacher education.

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