Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Weighty Consideration

It’s August and I am submitting Blog Light. Light because it’s a short entry, but it's still a weighty consideration.

Several years ago I was at my desk, struggling to find a simple way to explain a complex idea. Frankly I can’t remember what it was, hopefully something terribly hard like gravity or relativity or, worse, the electoral college. I was tired and discouraged and tempted to go “encyclopedic,” just put down the facts in as simple a way as possible and be done with it. But then I had an amazing thought: There was a chance that whatever I wrote could be a child’s first encounter with that fact or idea. If it was presented not only clearly, but interestingly and even magically, it could make a real impact. Needless to say, I worked harder.

Since then I try to keep this realization in mind for almost any subject matter. I think about the possibility that what I’m saying could help a kid understand or put a name to what he is feeling. It could open up a new part of the world or give a child a new way to see a part of the world she already knew. It could create a lifelong interest. It can help someone learn to see the magic in the everyday.

What a responsibility. What an opportunity.

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And here is a notice for teachers and librarians who live close enough to the Boston/Cambridge area. I’m involved in a program you might be interested in.

On September 17th, Lesley University is hosting See How They Run: Teaching the 2008 Election to Growing Voters. I am talking about my book (See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House) and how it can be used in the classroom. Dr. Jo-Anne Hart, who also teaches at Lesley in the School of Education, will discuss the “Growing Voters” curriculum she has designed for grades 1-12. There will also be facilitated breakout sessions for participants to exchange ideas with others who work with similarly aged students.

September 17th, 4:30-8 p.m. at Lesley University, University Hall, 1815 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 (parking in back). Admission is $10, but that includes the cost of handouts and a boxed dinner. Reservations are required and seating limited, so those interested should contact Beth LeBeau at 617-349-8624 or

1 comment:

steve jenkins said...


Thanks for your post. I'm often confronted with the same difficulty: explaining a complex concept -- or even a simple one -- in the clearest, most accurate way without losing sight of what makes it worth talking about in the first place. Thinking about the child that may be encountering something for the first time is a real inducement to try a little harder . . .