An exchange I had with one of my favorite teachers at Woods, Andy Nelson.

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On Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 1:53 PM, Ryan Adams  wrote:
This is what class made me think of today. Has Joe sent it to you?

-Ryan Adams

Andy Nelson 
Dec 8, 2011, 3:40 PM
to Ryan, me, Camilo

Very nice.  Joe has not shared this with me, so I am glad you did. I have many many Alan Watts recordings on various topics... he is interesting in his own right.  This made me think of a great RSAnimate talk on changing education paradigms.  Check it out:

Or you can go to the RSAnimate website and check this talk out, among many others:

I always feel torn as a teacher because of my awareness of the paradox I am complicit in, especially as an AP teacher.  My historian brain has spent some time studying the growth of the modern state throughout the 17th - 20th centuries, and the role of public and higher education in perpetuating social values that allow for the continuance of the state and its myriad institutions, including the university itself.  What would our society look like if schools taught students to think freely, to love learning, to question deeply, and to not just see the interconnectedness of all things, but to participate in a mode of inquiry that actively integrates thought and understanding rather than compartmentalizing disembodied bits of information?

Joe Puccio 
Thu, Dec 8, 2011, 6:20 PM
to Andy

I'm glad you got a chance to see the video. 

Also, fantastic commentary at the end of the email; I forwarded it to my girlfriend as we commonly discuss such matters but without a teacher's perspective. 

By the way, I just heard back today: I was deferred from Columbia. I'm satisfied with the news as I'm beginning to think that the freedom to choose, granted I'm accepted to other schools, will be more valuable to me than the early assurance of acceptance. 



Andy Nelson 
Dec 8, 2011, 9:50 PM
to me


Thanks for sharing the news on the college front, even if it is seemingly not good.  I also appreciate the openness and maturity in your perspective on it all, and sincerely hope that this will allow options for you to consider as you continue to evaluate your goals and values for a college education.  

Lastly, I am glad to share my perspective on the education system (or most any topic) and would be glad to extrapolate in the future on the historical development of educational institutions and their role in society, especially Western society.  I am not sure if you have listened to this speech or not, but Trocki and I shared this with some of our colleagues last year which prompted some interesting discourse amongst us (Mr. Bryan, Jester, & Herschthal).


Joe Puccio 
Dec 9, 2011, 1:39 PM
to Andy

Mr. Nelson, 

I'm very happy to be open with you about my thoughts on my experience of the college application process; I believe doing so encourages me to be introspective and thus more aware of what is best for me. If you have any questions for me, I'd be more than happy to answer them. 

I would really enjoy hearing more about your perspective on the education system. Do you think that training students to be exceptional at following directions is to some extent necessary for a productive workforce? Certainly not all students should be trained this way, but should none of them be? 

I had not seen that video before; thank you for sharing it with me. I really enjoyed it. Did any of the teachers involved in that discourse consequently alter their approach to teaching? Or did they recognize that the method of evaluating a teacher's performance did not permit a satisfactory alteration?