Juggling: The surprising answer to the great question of our time.

If you find yourself bored in the company of an educator, wait for a lull in conversation and say the following: “fidget spinner.” You will witness any number of immediate, involuntary responses — perhaps their eye will twitch or a vein will suddenly pulse in their forehead — all of which are the vestiges of the latest earnest attempt and colossal failure to ameliorate the quandary of education today: with a curriculum that demands intense mental focus, what do we do with our most physically active students? Kinesthetic learners need to move around the room. Their energy is not a…


In our media-saturated world in which individuals must manage excessive demands on their time and attention, we praise the skill of “multi-tasking,” which is often metaphorically referred to as “juggling.” It’s an ironic conceit, considering people use the term for when individuals are almost overwhelmed, but actual jugglers are in complete control of their act. Thanks to Cirque du Soleil and the New Circus Movement, cultural perceptions of circus performers have shifted dramatically, and now, too, the modern juggler is at last receiving acknowledgment for their signature blend of athleticism and artistry. The awe a casual audience member feels while…


https://unsplash.com/photos/67L18R4tW_w

Greetings parents and congratulations! You are still alive. There are these two young children commenting on a Twitch stream, and they both happen to read a comment from boomer-millenial-whatever: “How’s the online learning going?” And the two children keep watching the livestream of their favorite gamer until one messages the other: “What the hell is online learning?”

This is a standard requirement of US education administrators trying to comfort their communities as they face a pandemic without any confidence in the current administration’s ability to do anything but make things worse, that they use didactic little parable-ish stories. Of course…


My (mis)adventures with tattoos.

Tattoos and Bullshit

The first tattoo I can remember seeing was a thin, black rose, its ink fading to blue and gray on the aggressively tanned forearm of a classmate’s mom. I think I was four. I loved it. I couldn’t say why I loved it, but I think that must have been when I started drawing art on my own body. My parents never explicitly said that having tattoos made you a bad person, they just suggested that tattoos were “dirty” and undignified. All the same, I always knew I would someday get tattooed.

I…


I grew up in the 90s as the older brother to two younger sisters. We were a soccer household to the point that when my mom thought my dad was putting in a swimming pool, he instead had the field by our house professionally leveled to make a regulation soccer pitch. My sisters teams practiced there for years. I had the honor of mowing the grass, which my dad and I kept smooth as a carpet. Through a series of coincidences and connections that would take several tack boards and half a dozen spools of red thread to explain, the…


A student asked me what made Captain Marvel compelling beyond its “SJW” (social justice warrior*) message, and I was first inclined to try to provide an answer. There is, of course, an implied accusation in that question. I don’t think it was asked in malice, but I do think it reflects an unfortunate double-standard when it comes to films centered around women. I love Captain Marvel precisely for its “message.” …


In October I was diagnosed with ADD and anxiety. Having the diagnosis and a greater understanding of how my brain works has been really helpful and enlightening. Being medicated has transformed my ability to work. The first time I was on my prescription, it was as if the world fell silent. I was calm. I finished my grading. I cleared out my inbox. I finished my lesson plans. The more I learn about ADD, the more I understand myself. I realize now that I have essentially been self-medicating for my entire life with gallons of coffee and energy drinks.

I…


In the beginning of the movie Friday Night Lights, two star high school football players encounter a former player. He’s now a dad and high school is well behind him, but he proudly shows them his state championship ring and warns them, “Don’t sleep. Don’t waste a second of it. ’Cause before you know it, it’s done. Nothin’ but babies and memories.” We’re all well familiar with the tired trope of adults longing to relive high school. The bewildered man in a cubicle who will never manage to find any experience to match the joy of scoring a touchdown. The…


When we consider rape culture, football programs (and athletics generally) and student parties are often lightning rods for our scrutiny. Within school walls, advocates for change seek to update dress codes and sexual health education. All this is vital, but I am an English teacher, and I feel compelled to consider how the texts and approaches to literature I teach reinforce the same rape culture we are hoping to cast out from other areas of school. Despite my best efforts, I feel complicit in the perpetuation of toxic values.

For the past two years I have taught Romeo and Juliet


The film High Fidelity opens with a close-up of a very melancholy Rob Gordon who poses the question, “What came first, the music or the misery?[…] Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” A similar question could easily be asked of scholars of English. I have been asked the question several times each year since I first began teaching: “Why do we read such sad stories? Everything we read is so depressing!” I have done my best in these situations to cobble together a satisfying answer: “the…

Will Arndt

Is an English teacher living in Boston. When not questioning paradigms and systemic oppression, he is cuddling his kittens, Beâ and Freyja.

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