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Personal Update, Flag Day, and Rushmore

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The months of my blogging at Education Week go on; yesterday I posted my 52nd entry, which has me two-thirds of the way through the current plan. But I miss spending time here.

One thing about blogging at someone else’s place is that there is a certain matter of figuring out what I am supposed to say, and who is listening. I had half expected that EdWeek would introduce me to eager audiences beyond the independent school world, but I think my origins and my interests have largely confined my readership to independent school folks, even when my posts have been pretty much sector-agnostic.

This has been fine, because it’s meant that I can be myself and write from the stance and in the voice to which I am accustomed and with which I am most familiar.
I get to continue the explorations I have begun here, speculating and exhorting and examining issues through my own lens, whose convexities and scratches and likely distortions are all rooted in my independent school experience.

I’ve also been busy sorting out my future plans, which now include a half-time of involvement at my school doing something pretty exciting: I’m gonna be looking at data and trying to help us build a dashboard to measure some effects of our programs. It should be really interesting, and I’m planning on learning a whole lot (starting with something about statistics, about which I’m enrolled in a (so-far) very congenial Udacity MOOC taught by Sebastian Thrun himself). In the next week or so I will have more to say–shamelessly self-promoting, I don’t doubt–about the other half of my life.

Rushmore: Friday night has been family pizza and movie night at our house since forever, and last night we had a rare summer Friday when both of the younger boys were around; one came home for the weekend from his summer as a student tech at his university and the other has been up to his eyeballs working for a Massachusetts senate candidate for the special election in a couple of weeks before he goes off to Poland for a summer studying Polish (don’t ask; we don’t quite understand ourselves). We went to the

Nothing says Flag Day like kids, a cigar store, and a tank. It’s pretty fun in Our Town.

Flag Day parade, an extravaganza as always, then came home with a couple of the local House of Pizza’s very best. Somehow Rushmore was the chosen flick.

I’ve been hearing for years about Rushmore but manage to have missed it. I was expecting more juicy prep school stuff (corruption, hypocrisy) but pleasantly surprised when these had little to do with the plot. The film is solidly and weirdly Wes Anderson, and Bill Murray is corrupt and noble all at once (just mostly confused, I’d say), but the school head is a pretty genial and likable man and even the teachers surprisingly rational and human. The film’s kids are also human, and the two teachers and and teachers’ children watching all agreed that the school’s mistakes were, if not minimal, at least benign.

My young politico was particularly impressed that the school–both schools, actually, the prep and the public–seem to recognize the importance of extracurricular activities as learning experiences. He also found himself marveling that the Murray character is able to admit that his kids were less than stellar human beings. I don’t think either of my kids (who were both, as it happens, theater kids and fencing captains like the protagonist) regretted not having started a bee-keeping club in school.

It’s not a “prep school movie,” despite the name, but it’s another Andersonian exploration of the world of strangeness that separates childhood and adulthood; if you liked Moonrise Kingdom, you get the idea. Definitely worth watching.

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