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I remember detention in the high school cafeteria. Father Corrigan sat on a polished, wooden stool behind a tall podium on a raised platform. Beneath a narrow strip of windows covered with iron grating, the permanent structure--a cross between a church lectern and a gallows equipped with a microphone--needed four wooden stairs to be reached.

From our seats at long tables, Father Corrigan (Winston smoke eternally curling around fleshy jowls) looked even higher up. Like a modern William Bradford, Father Corrigan glowered down upon us and growled our names along with the number of days of detention we had left.

Sinner Kelley: two.

Sinner Murphy: zero.

Sinner O'Hara: twen-tee.

My memory of detention is that it was used to punish and threaten. No brainer, right? That is what detention is...a deterrent, discipline. How else would one learn, right? An angry response to an undesired behavior will redirect the sinner towards positive behaviors. But it didn't work. Sinner O'Hara always had dozens of detentions as did many other sinners who didn't quite "get" how to comply.

Sure, we chuckled at being called Sinner Kelley, Sinner Murphy, etc. It was a Catholic all-boys school. It was part of Corrigan's schtick. We knew that. Yet, in my notebook, these memories influenced my sketches of Cathy Vatterott's Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessment for Standards-Based the least history of grading being tied to behaviorism and public education's Puritan traditions.

If adolescents react to anything less than an A in the same way that my little cartoon students recoils in the face of a threatened detention, then is that the classroom we want to be facilitating?

Is that classroom best for kids? I hear that statement a lot: what is best for kids.

Has that become just something we say?

Or is it truly something that we practice?

Social change is painfully, glacially, frustratingly slow.

Tracking the tweets related to social change from #NCTE17, I am drawn back to my notebook. The ideas in the image above are from Ursula M. Franklin's The Real World of Technology (1999)--a brilliant book on processing the slowly-evolving role technology plays (or doesn't play) in education.

However, social change in school is more than technology.

Social change comes one "thing" at a time. One blog post. One more "just right" book in the classroom. One more club leader unafraid of facilitating social change conversations with students. Hats off to my friend (first) and colleague (@Owsley_Lauren) for sharing her passion for social change through books and conversation. Lauren mentors her students in speaking "people" for sure.

In my twenties, I carried On the Road with me to a lot of places. I read passages from it repeatedly and then wrote my thinking on blank pages and in the margins. At the time, I hadn't realized that On the Road was serving as a mentor text. I didn't even know the term mentor text. I didn't know that my trying to copy Kerouac's rhythms and structures would prove to be a good thing--and that this type of practice would go on to serve me as a writer (and teacher) throughout my life.

Anything can be a notebook. We write our ideas on scraps on thought and only a small percentage of those ideas ever make it to a scrap of paper.

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