Author Archives

I am entering my 21st year as a math teacher at Weston High School, the sole public high school in Weston, MA. It’s also my 44th year as a teacher altogether. In addition to my day job, I taught for 20 years at the Saturday Course in Milton, MA. I also teach at Harvard’s Crimson Summer Academy each summer; 2017 was our 14th consecutive summer.

Sometimes I work on educational software. I also read, cook, and continue building my model railroad whenever I can. For some reason I'm left with less so-called free time than would be ideal. Nevertheless, I manage to devote time to my wife, Barbara, and to our excessive number of cats as well.

  • The War Room

    How I miss Bill Clinton! Yes, he certainly wasn’t a perfect president — and yes, he wasn’t Obama — but… [You can finish the rest of the sentence yourself.] The War Room is a documentary about Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign… Read More ›

  • Morning glories

    I do love our purple morning glories!

  • Ben X (a film about Asperger’s)

    Grim. Much too grim. I’m talking about Ben X, a subtitled 2007 Dutch-language movie from Belgium — a work of fiction, based on a real story. I don’t have any problem with serious films, but I just had to stop watching Ben X half-way through…. Read More ›

  • Hillbilly Elegy

    What an irritating book! Even if you haven’t read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, you’ve probably at least heard of it, as it made quite a splash when it came out last year and stayed on the best-seller list for weeks… Read More ›

  • Unseen World

    Unseen World, a fascinating and complicated novel, will capture and maintain your attention — if you’re the right sort of reader. Right for this book, I mean of course. You probably are if you’re interested in computational linguistics, artificial intelligence, online virtual worlds (as… Read More ›

  • Todd Graff’s Camp

    “A flawed movie about flawed characters,” as one reviewer put it. But that’s OK; even flawed movies can be worth watching, if you’re willing to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. This film from 2003 is definitely one… Read More ›

  • Curiosity and conformity

    Continuing some of the themes that have been lurking just below the surface of my past three posts, I turn to an essay by Joel Wagner. Most of his essay actually springs from a blog post by a different author,… Read More ›

  • Turning problems into solutions

    Constraints are good. Sometimes. They certainly made Houdini more creative. Actually, we impose constraints on ourselves and our students all the time, paradoxically increasing creativity by doing so. Often, for instance, we give a two-part test, one part of which… Read More ›

  • The power of the feedback loop?

    Take a look at the estimable Sam Shah’s post about his colleague’s method of grading classwork. The colleague, a French teacher, has some admirable objectives: When I adopted a no-homework model for my classes several years ago, my role as… Read More ›

  • What about those cell phones?

    A recent question on Quora: If you are a teacher, is there a way to tell students to put away their cell phones that creates willingness in them rather than just annoyance? This is an interesting twist on an all-too-common… Read More ›