From the Innovation Unit Vaults: "'Laughing at Shakespeare in the right places' - intellectual impoverishment in California" (February 10,2010)

This summer, I'm re-posting some of the blog posts I wrote while I was working at the Innovation Unit in London, which disappeared when the Innovation Unit discontinued its blog: 

I’ve just finished reading Caitlin Flanagan’s deeply misguided article, ‘Cultivating Failure’, in the Atlantic. The article is one long warning against the evils of ‘The Edible Schoolyard’, a California project spearheaded by the chef and gardener Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Foundation, which supports schools in developing gardens and connecting them to the curriculum. According to Flanagan, this is what happened in the pilot school: ‘In English class students composed recipes, in math they measured the garden beds, and in history they ground corn as a way of studying pre-Columbian civilizations.’ The result of this nefarious scheme was, Flanagan explains, that ‘students’ grades quickly improved.’

Those trying to grasp what, exactly, Flanagan’s problem with ‘The Edible Schoolyard’ is will grasp in vain. Her evidence amounts to this: in California, there is a huge achievement gap between Black and Latino students and their white peers. And she reasons that if students spend 1.5 hours per week in a garden (yes, that’s the amount of time we’re talking about here), that’s 1.5 hours that the Black and Latino students are spending doing the sort of manual labour that their forbears have been trying to escape. There’s a deep vein of snobbery here, thinly disguised as concern for the underprivileged. Contrary to what Flanagan seems to think, agriculture is a complex, multidisciplinary business. It requires careful planning, complex calculation, precise implementation, and continuing observation. If she thinks working in a garden is a waste of time because she doesn’t see how it will help performance on standardised tests (which she regards as the only educational outcome worth anyone’s attention), she might as well demand to know why chemistry students are larking about with test tubes when their laboratory experience will never be reflected in their performance on paper-based exams. But Flanagan won’t ask this question, because mixing chemicals in a lab is ‘real’ learning, while measuring the PH of a soil sample in order to grow food is what farmers do. It’s tempting to laugh at an association this facile, and I recommend you do so. It’s utterly preposterous. The subject of laughter brings me to Flanagan’s vision for education – or rather, the vision that she hears when she speaks to Michael Piscal, founder and CEO of the Inner City Education Foundation Public Schools, the White Knight that she sets against the ‘dowager queen’ (her phrase) Alice Waters:

“Look,” he said, when pressed, “there’s nothing wrong with kids getting together after school and working on a garden that’s very nice. But when it becomes the center of everything—as it usually does—it’s absurd. The only question in education reform that’s worth anything is this: What are you doing to prepare these kids for college? If I can get a kid to read Shakespeare and laugh at the right places, I can get him to college. That’s all that matters to me.”

This is as intellectually impoverished a vision for education as I have ever encountered. It’s straight out of My Fair Lady: 'let’s not teach kids to engage critically with literature, just make sure they can blend in with high society by laughing at the right spots.' The idea that we must choose between a generation of graduates who can grow food and a generation who can recognise an Elizabethan double-entendre is a false dichotomy – but if I had to choose, I know which skill I'd want them to have.

This post received one comment, posted by my brother, Andrew:

Excellent analysis. Looking at it from an outside perspective, I am amazed that Flanagan could interview Piscal, get that quote ("laughing at Shakespeare in the right places"), and not have the critical capacity to give more than a cursory glance to his '25 words or less' vision of what pre-collegiate education should be. Did she just hear the name 'Shakespeare' and figure that's what learning really should be? I can barely begin to express my frustration with Flanagan's thesis. And it's hard to know where to begin in breaking it down. When the foundation is built of paint, bread sticks, and shellac (Fat Tony's construction material of choice for Springfield Elementary), is their any point in trying to look at what was piled on top? It all topples down regardless. Even so, let me just point to one example of her rhetorical slight of hand. She puts the "Edible Schoolyard" educational program into perspective thusly: "If this patronizing agenda were promulgated in the Jim Crow South by a white man who was espousing a sharecropping curriculum for African American students, we would see it for what it is: a way of bestowing field work and low expectations on a giant population of students who might become troublesome if they actually got an education." Maintaining a garden of your own, then, is roughly equivalent to sharecropping in the Jim Crow South (i.e., "an economic arrangement that largely maintained the status quo between black and white through legal means" following emancipation, according to Wikipedia). Is that a fair comparison? Because it is, in fact, the basis of her entire thesis. Namely, that engaging in all of the activities involved in maintaining a small food garden at school (including 1.5 hours of manual labor a week) is roughly equivalent to working as a low-paid immigrant picking fruits on an industrial farm. If anything, that assertion trivializes the back- breaking labour illegal immigrants are forced to engage in to survive. Mostly, however, it is simply a false analogy. Flanagan's lack of self-awareness is breathtaking. She purports to be attacking those who would patronize, while simultaneously taking this view on what comprises proper education: "hours...spent reading important books or learning higher math" are hours spent "attaining the cultural achievements, in other words, that have lifted uncounted generations of human beings out of the desperate daily scrabble to wrest sustenance from dirt." We must 'lift' these immigrants (though of course 'lifting' them in a totally non-patronizing way) out of the desperate struggle of agriculture, because obviously everyone knows that the only worthwhile life is one of reading and letters or math and science. This is the goal we should all be striving for. Flanagan clearly knows what is best for you, but that is not because she is being patronizing or condescending. I am happy to see that the "Edible Schoolyard" program is still alive and strong, and delighted to think that the children at those schools, aside from the many educational benefits of that kind of a program often enumerated in this blog, are getting at least an extra hour or two a week outdoors, working with the earth, getting exercise, being in nature. I just hope Flanagan's attack doesn't threaten that.

Cultures of Complaint in high school: FOGS (possibly the first in a series)

In my younger and more vulnerable years, I performed a private ritual whenever I went to a show or movie, and found myself in a less-than-ideal seat: I would furtively look around until I found somebody in a seat that was unequivocally worse than my own. Then I would relax, knowing I didn't have the worst seat in the house. 

I don't remember when I stopped doing this, but at some point it just didn't matter so much anymore. I also don't remember when it peaked, but I now suspect it was tenth grade. This phenomenon probably has a name already, but since I regard it as the defensive sibling of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), I'm calling it Fear of Getting Shafted (FOGS). 

FOMO is a phenomenon that, at its best, drives discovery and adventure. At its worst, it leads people to take stupid risks ("If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump to?" is a question about FOMO). My favorite story about FOMO comes from cultural critic, university teacher and Vietnam Vet Henry Allen, who told me that he always felt like he missed out on the sixties because he was in Vietnam, but a friend of his who was a radical activist told him the thing about the sixties was that even in the midst of a riot, he'd be wondering if there was a better riot a few blocks away. Fundamentally, FOMO puts you on the offense - it sends you down the street searching for a better riot. 

FOGS, on the other hand, is a protective instinct. Ponzi schemes are driven by FOMO, and FOGS is what tells you that they're probably too good to be true. But at its worst, it leads to a joyless life of endless suspicion of other people's motives. 

My favorite illustration of FOGS is an economic exercise called the "ultimatum game". Here's how HowStuffWorks summarizes it:

You're standing on the sidewalk with a friend, minding your own business, when a man approaches with a proposition. He offers you $20 in one-dollar bills and says you can keep the money, under one condition: You have to share some of it with your friend. You can offer your friend as much or as little as you like, but if your friend rejects your offer, neither of you get to keep any of the money. What do you do?
According to the "rational actor" assumptions of classical economics that no-one ever follows, you give your friend $1.00 and your friend grudgingly accepts it. But what tends to happen (at least according to HowStuffWorks, Wikipedia, and this article I found on Stanford's website) is that people tend to offer about $8.00 to their friends, and that offers below $3.00 tend to get rejected, leaving nobody with any money. 

Now, there's a lot going on here, but I think FOGS operates both in the offer of $8.00 ("I don't want to be a jerk, but I don't want to be the chump who walks away with less money") and the rejection of low offers ("I'd rather both of us walk away with nothing, than me be the only chump here").

FOGS is also one of the most powerful weapons in the Trump campaign - Trump constantly claims not just that Americans aren't well off, but that other people are giving us the shaft and laughing at us (in fact, as this Washington Post article shows, he's been doing this since the '80s, and getting great results).

Where I'm going with all this is that while FOMO tends to be the frame of mind most often associated with teenagers, I think FOGS is much more powerful, especially in large heterogenous groups (such as, just to pull an example out of the air, classrooms). 

FOGS is the ingredient that gets left out in discussions about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, because even if I feel intrinsically motivated to do something, a grade (or, even better, extra credit) is insurance that I'm not getting shafted, as well as (equally importantly) evidence to everyone around me that I'm no chump. 

A quote about coaching

At some point I attended a round-table, or panel, or training about coaching. It's probably obvious to you already that most of it didn't make much of an impression.

But I liked this quote a lot: "Coaching is giving a chance to examine what they are doing in light of their intentions", which appears to have been said by James Flaherty.

Some notes from the Project Zero workshop I attended months ago

I'm going through an old notebook, which included my notes from the project zero workshop. My awesome, heavily-annotated packet is lost forever (I took somebody else's packet with me) but the stuff that remains seems useful.

First, The Artful Thinking Palette

I haven't given any thought to this since the workshop, but I remember thinking that the thinking skills (or whatever one might call them) on the artful thinking palette seem useful, and (at least at the time) were coherent and instantly understandable in a way that I've never found our Habits of Heart and Mind to be. 

Here's a screenshot of the palette:

I feel the absence of a usable, easy-to-remember set of thinking skills in my teaching. My suspicion is that using something like this in my class (or, even better, across the school) would help kids to be able to identify how they are learning and growing, which would in turn make them both more confident that they are becoming more skilled over time (which I think is a frequent source of anxiety across the HTH schools) and more able to assess their own development and focus on areas where they most want to improve.

Next, and finally, the Triadic Model of Dispositions

The big insight here is that if you know how to do something, and are willing to do it, your mastery of that skill is incomplete until you are "alert to the opportunity" to use the skill. 

Track Exchange: "The Headmaster Ritual" by The Smiths

Wow, a song about Manchester schools! This is dear to my heart - when my dad was in high school he spent a year studying at Manchester Grammar School. His experience seemed to have been much better than Morrissey's, though. And he made a very good friend who became my honorary "English dad" when I studied abroad in England decades later. 

I know England has a history of institutionalized brutality in its schools (see Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall", and lots and lots of novels for more on this - I have a personal theory that Lord of the Flies would have turned out very differently if the kids stranded on the island had come from, say, HTHCV). But what really strikes me about this song is that it isn't about getting angry and fighting authority, it's about getting scared and wanting "to go home" (which, incidentally, pairs neatly with the line "Driving in your car, I never never want to go home", from another Smiths song, "There is a Light that Never Goes Out"). I can't think of a lot of rock songs written from the perspective of a scared, homesick kid. 

And, on the subject of the music - first of all, I love the ululating, and I want to point out a distinctive Morrissey vocal habit - starting a straight out of the previous line, as if it just occurred to him as he was singing - for example, "He does the military two-step down the length of my neck/I wanna go home." Finally, this has got me thinking about the outrageously clean, processed sound of eighties rock - the way the drums are recorded, they sound almost digital. I remember hating this in the nineties, a time when it seemed like every song was recorded entirely in the red, but I've come to love it. 

My Track for this Week:

"Waiting for the Man", as performed by David Bowie, live at Nassau. The reasons for choosing a Bowie song at the moment are obvious, but I also wanted to share this because it's such a great example of a cover song teasing out something from a great song that the composer himself probably doesn't realize was there. In this case, this is partly due to a chord substitution that gives it a kind of "Twist and Shout" build-up. When my band plays "Waiting for the Man" I normally advocate for these changes (and normally get shut down) but man, I love this tune. 

My track for next week:

I advise listening without the video first. 

Track Exchange: "The Age of Consent", by New Order

All right, a track from New Order - the band whose relationship to Joy Division I can never QUITE remember. I hadn't knowingly heard this song before, which is surprising since it's number two in Spotify's New Order Top 5, nestled between "Blue Monday" and "Bizarre Love Triangle." 

First Response:

First impression is that "Age of Consent" is vastly more human-sounding than either of those songs. When it opens with that guitar riff, it could be an Allman Brothers song. When the drum kicks in with that twitchy hi-hat it becomes clear that we're not listening to country-rock, but even so, the song's "electronic" elements are subtle - except for one singularly un-subtle synth line which sounds extremely 1980s - and the processing on that The processing on the "Oh-oh!" at about 3:20. Other than that, though, the song is electronic in form (it's structured in layers that come in and out rather than verse-chorus) rather than instrumentation. 

Now, I want to make it clear that I'm not trying to criticize the "music for robots" style that I associate with New Order - I love that stuff. But the "humaneness" of "Age of Consent" is striking, especially because for much of the song the singer is audibly at the top of his range. I love this sound (when it works). The Four Tops used this to brilliant effect, pushing Levi Stubbs' voice absolutely to the top of its range (you can read about it here). Also, that distorted, slightly out-of-time guitar that drifts in and out at about 2:45. 

Next listen (the following morning).

As I type this, I'm listening to this again the following morning, and maybe it's because it's Friday, but all I'm thinking is "road trip." Or, more specifically, "road trip movie montage." 

Why I chose my song:

So my song was "Village Ghetto Land" by Stevie Wonder. I chose it because the end of "The Drugs Don't Work" reminded me of it. But there was no question that I'd be offering a Stevie Wonder song to Track Exchange before too long, because he's incredible. My brother pointed out years ago that it's a great instance of form and content clashing with each other really effectively - because it's such a pretty, delicate melody. But it's understated enough that it doesn't fall into what I think of as the "creepy nursery rhyme" cliche beloved of scary movies. The song is genuinely disquieting, because it's genuinely beautiful.

This week's track: David Bowie's cover of "Waiting for the Man", live at the Nassau Coliseum

Jose, I want to applaud you for writing a tribute to Bowie in which you acknowledged your uncertainty about Bowie's music. I personally find that with a lot of his music, I respect it more than I viscerally love it - though he's written some of my favorite songs of all time.

So, I'm choosing a Bowie cover of a Velvet Underground song. If you don't know it, you should probably listen to the original first.. It's here.

Track Exchange: "The Drugs don't Work", by the Verve

This is a weekly exchange of music between Jose and me. You can read Jose's response to my track (and find out why he chose this one) here

First Response

This week, Jose has taken a trip back to my adolescence, with "The Drugs Don't Work", by the Verve. I have to admit, I missed this song the first time around, though I definitely didn't miss "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (I don't think it would have been possible to miss Bittersweet Symphony as a fan of rock music in the nineties). However I definitely read a piece in a British music magazine declaring "The Drugs Don't Work" to be an anthem for its particular, rather brief era. 

Anyway, enough about that. On to the song itself:


The first thing I noticed was the strings - real strings, not like the Rolling Stones sample that cost The Verve their royalties on "Bitter Sweet Symphony."

Interestingly, my own memories of the Verve made it a lot harder to listen to THIS song "fresh" than it was to listen to Mac Demarco. For example, that article I said I wasn't going to talk about anymore, and don't really member, (almost) definitely said that the Verve's lead singer said the song was about his father's illness, not (as one might naturally assume) about substance abuse. Remembering that, and remembering my own father being in the hospital, meant that the line "The drugs don't work/they just make it work" hit me like a punch in the gut. But then, as the song went on, I started thinking "y'know, this really does sound like it's probably about substance abuse after all." So my relationship to the song was complicated. 

Enough subtext - on to the music:

The basic chord pattern of the song, though not groundbreaking, is extremely effective (it's a tiny little emotional journey - it reminds me of Leonard Cohen's description of "the minor turn and the major lift" in "Hallelujah").

Then there's the two extremely country-sounding guitars which are, in the best possible way, "noodling" in the background. A warm, reverby sound from one, the other one sounding like it's it's being played in an empty concert hall, a long way from the mic. I'm showing my limited guitar knowledge here, but is there pedal steel going on there?

Now, everything sounds like the Beatles if you listen hard enough, but the "Oooh, la la la la  - la  - la - la la la" backup vocals definitely reminded me of those great falsetto "ooh la la las" on "You Won't See Me."

My last, rather odd musical reference point is the final stab by the strings that ends the song reminds me profoundly of "VIllage Ghetto Land" by Stevie Wonder. And Jose, you should listen to that, so I'm choosing it as my next track exchange.

Why I chose my song

For reasons I can't explain, as soon as we started Track Exchange I thought "I've got to choose a song by Love. I wasn't even a fan of Love until my twenties, and I've never listened to any of their stuff besides Forever Changes, but that album is just fantastic. Even when it's ridiculous it's fantastic (and it's often ridiculous, just look at the track list). The reason I chose this track is the trumpet solo that the singer sings along to. That's one of my all-time favorite moments in popular music.

Next week's pick:

Track Exchange: "Robson Girl", by Mac Demarco

This is the first in a series in which my mentee, Jose, and I exchange tracks that are worth hearing, and write up our immediate responses upon hearing them. You can read Jose's first post here.

Jose's first entry is "Robson Girl", by Mac Demarco.

First response:

This song is definitely somebody's summer jam, meaning this is the first time since I moved to San Diego that it feels kind of unseasonable, but it provides its own warmth. 

It starts out with a jangly guitar riff that feels to me like driving to the beach. I was immediately reminded of "Steady as She Goes" by the Raconteurs. Most of the track stays mellow, but the guitar is shimmery enough, and Demarco's voice rough enough, that it avoids the soporific levels of mellowness that you get from, say, Jack Johnson or Jason Mraz. 

Then, after meandering through the chords for a couple minutes, Demarco takes it to the bridge, with what sounds to me like a heavily distorted slide guitar. Without this break, the main riff would get pretty old, but with it, it's a shimmery, summery treat. 

I don't know anything about Mac Demarco, but the whole thing has a very British feel - I'd go so far as to say a very "britpop" feel - as if Blur had stayed cheerful when they went lo-fi -which is no bad thing

Further research:

Well I'll be, he's Canadian! Wikipedia wasn't especially forthcoming about him, except to say that he's been critically acclaimed, toured with the Japandroids (who I've been meaning to listen to for a while) and has been on Conan. I'll have to listen to more of his stuff!

An inspection of the lyrics on Genius didn't give me any insight into what a "Robson girl" is, but it did make it obvious that the song has hardly any lyrics.

Why I chose MY track this week.

My contribution to Track Exchange this week was "Drive", by REM. I felt obliged to start with something from the nineties, since that's when I went to high school. I never became a huge REM fan, but there most atmospheric songs are some of my favorite songs ever, and it doesn't get any more atmospheric than "Drive". Also, the song's posture towards music (and life in general) could not be more nineties. I mean, it's got Michael Stype deadpanning "Hey, kids, Rock n' Roll, nobody tells you where to go" with about as much inflection as Daria (look her up, Jose), but the song builds to totally sincere, lighters-in-the-air emotional climax (it's got STRINGS, for goodness' sake). And if nineties rock is about ANYTHING, it's about pretending not to care, while actually caring SO MUCH it hurts. The video matches this perfectly, with Stype staring dead-eyed into the camera and singing while crowd-surfing. 

You can read Jose's response to my track here.

My next track: "Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale" by Love

The Tribes Project: Pictures from an Exhibition

On Monday, September 8th, the Tribes Project's final performance took place, in the Commons of High Tech High Chula Vista.

For our finale, students joined the stage saying "I belong to the tribe of ______". At the end, after I hit the cajón three times, the whole group said "We belong to the tribe of the new generation" (a phrase suggested by a student, and generally agreed on by the group - I think I was the only one who associates it with Pepsi). 

I like the dynamic of everyone streaming onstage, but one thing we never got right was the pace - a few people would trickle onstage, then EVERYBODY else came on at once, all talking. Getting a slow build (the "drizzle to rainstorm" effect) would have taken more rehearsal. And the final shouted phrase punctuated the show effectively, but I don't think anyone understood what they were saying. Maybe if we'd used a phrase that we'd introduced at the start of the show, and continued to return to at different times, the phrase would have been recognizable enough for the audience to understand it. Here are photos from the finale:

The Silent Teacher and the last day before showtime

Today was a first: I taught the entire day, and hardly ever spoke. This came at the end of a week of illness, and I'd been afraid it was coming for a while. I made a tag for myself that said "I've Lost My Voice" and hung it on a lanyard. Then I made a second tag that said "This Is Not A Metaphor" and put it in my pocket. 

It was a beautiful day. I started both classes with fifteen minutes of silent reading (I heard kids walk into the classroom and shout "Yes!" unironically. Giving kids time in class to silently read books of their own choosing is the one gift I would like to bestow on every new teacher. A room full of people engrossed in books feels like a sacred space. It's beautiful. It's also really easy to scan around and note who seems to be picking a new book at random every day, and who is making no progress through their book of choice, and schedule some time to give that kid the support they need. 

My first slide explained that I couldn't talk, and asked the kids for their help, and they were awesome. I got their attention by clapping twice and snapping twice in rhythm, which kids started picking up on and following, then I pointed to kids to read the next slides. I realized how often I add little asides when I'm explaining something and how unnecessary these are. There's nothing like communicating solely through pre-prepared slides and a mini-whiteboard to make you think about your words! Then we watched a spoken word piece about being an introvert (by Kevin Yang - it's very good). Then I had everyone come into the circle. I silently lifted my arms and inhaled, and dropped them slowly while exhaling, for five breaths (I'd done this yesterday, so kids knew what to do). Then rolled out my neck, and then put up a slide that said explained we were playing "Secret Leader". I quickly chose a detective and a leader, and we played. 

At this point, in the first group I put up a slide explaining they should rehearse until we did a run through, and they dispersed immediately (reasonably). 

For the second group, I explained in advance (on my whiteboard) that there were a few slides, and I would signal when we were done. 

Here are some photos (from today and yesterday) of what we've been doing (all taken by a phenomenal student photographer):

These two guys took the poems they wrote about each other based on dialogical interviews in week 1, and combined them into a single spoken-word piece. They've made this their rehearsal spot. 

 This is one of our two web designers. They're in different pods, and I've never seen them speak to each other, but they're collaborating on a site where visitors can see all our poems and self-portraits, searching either by the author of the poem, or the person the poem is about. It's still a work in progress at the time of writing, but you can see it here.

This group has written a piece enumerating the "rules" of being a girl at ages 5, 11, and right now. Lying on the floor is part of the choreography.

This is a rehearsal for a tightly-structured piece about the "tribes" of Mexico and the USA - a theme they chose. I love this photo for two reasons: first of all, they strategically write their script on whiteboards so when they perform, they seem to have them memorized - as if they've had cue cards. This is really smart, but I'm making sure they are memorizing their lines since they won't have whiteboards in the performance space! Also, I love how this picture captures one of the many odd things about high school - where else would part of a theatre company come back to rehearsals after lunch in sports uniforms?

These two are figuring out which photos are missing, as they create a slideshow of self-portraits, with live musical accompaniment. They tested this today. The group is split regarding the music. Yann Tiersen's "Comptine D'un Autre Éte" turned out to make the slideshow look a bit like, in one student's words, "a memorial". The other option we tried was Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'", but the pianist only knows the first four chords, so while he did a lot with those four chords, it did feel a little too repetitive. We'll be leaving that decision until the day of the performance.

Here are students composing a song for the performance - if the song isn't ready, the back-up option (for reasons I don't fully grasp) is Cake's "The Distance". 

Group building a popsicle-stick house the outer layer of which will be popsicle sticks used for the popsicle stick poems we wrote using the prompts "Home looks like/Home smells like/Home sounds like/Home feels like/Home tastes like" (credit to Zoe Randall for realizing the only sensible thing to do was build a house). I'm a little concerned that they built all the walls without using glue (I haven't asked, but I'm confident the reason for that is that "it's cool"), but it's quite a feat of engineering. 

These guys are rehearsing "the unspoken rules of the bathroom". Did you know that if all urinals but one are occupied, it's known as "checkmate"? 

This is notable because it demonstrates an ongoing issue - a strong preference for planning and arguing, rather than getting work on its feet. It's really scary to get up and try something, but if you do it, it normally takes 30 seconds to determine whether it's worth pursuing! Where as you can argue it for HOURS.

Finally, these four photos come from devising our opening. The text comes directly from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (liberally modified by us - sorry Alexie). I begin by welcoming everyone, and then I say that I’m going to read the portion of the text that inspired the project. I begin “I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to that tribe.” But then, before I can continue, a student stands on her chair to say the next line: “But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants.” Then, different students stand up on their chairs around the space, saying the next lines in the sequence. I start the final line - “And that’s when I realized…” and the entire team finishes in unison: “that I was going to be OK”. 

If I were doing this again,I wouldn’t have taken volunteers to read on the spot, with 56 kids all in the same (big, noisy) room. And this may have been a big contributing factor in my current voicelessness. But when we did the scene, it was electrifying.

Can you tell I’m excited for the performance on Monday?