Saturday, January 05, 2013


Photo by Arshia Khan for Arkansas Life
This morning when I was awake at 3AM, it occurred to me that students learn best then they are awake. And it is part of the teacher's job to keep them that way, at least during class. And yet, regardless of a teacher's best efforts and intentions, he or she faces a near impossible task. As I was awake (only briefly) at 3 AM, I knew that children across America and the world were just getting to bed after sitting at screens, gaming and investing their attention heavily in their distractions so that the teacher's job on Monday morning will be an even greater challenge. The difficulties are then made worse by the structure of schooling.

We have a new public high school in Eureka Springs, and it is built ready for security lockdown and complete isolation from life. And yet learning is best when it transcends the artificial barriers of education--when it crosses the lines between disciplines, and erases the boundaries separating education from real life.

Long-time WOH blog reader Reuben wrote:
"I may have told you, when in college (Utah State), I was in the fisheries biology program. I got far more from field sessions with grad students and doing a brown trout redd (nest) study (factors affecting nest numbers and locations) than I got from lecture after lecture. My adviser liked the latter so much (I did it as I was bored...and curious) that he incorporated it in his class and wrote a paper on it. I was offered a Masters program, which I turned down after getting a job. I should have done it."
How much more interesting is real life than some artificial construct? Can it be that students are awake at 3AM in their virtual gaming worlds because we have bored them and held them at arm's length from real learning?
Wakefulness is the way to life
The fool sleeps
As if he were already dead
But the Master is awake
And he lives forever.--Dhammapadada (translation by Thomas Byrom)
Today I will be cleaning the wood shop and preparing for Monday wood shop lessons. When one's hands are engaged, there is no choice but that the mind be awakened. The photo above is from the Arkansas Life Magazine article "Wise Hands," about my program at the Clear Spring School.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Doug-

    2 things. First, that was a very nice article written about you and your work. I am happy to have developed my own program based on your model. Second, I am writing this as I prepare to go to sleep because I am one tired fool!

    All the best,

    Chris Sagnella

  2. Chris, I am pleased that my program has served as a model for yours. Keep up the good work, but only after a good night's sleep.