You may be thinking I have stretched a bit to find a way to use Matthew Mcconaughey as the topic for this week's blog. Perhaps it is a bit self-indulgent, but, as I listened to a recent interview with him, I found myself nodding my head to several things he said that mesh with my life and learning beliefs. If you are wondering if next week's blog might be about connections to Brad Pitt, you will just have to wait and see.
Here are my thoughts from Matthew's interview:
1. Differentiation is not only good for student learning, but it also helps adults:
Mcconaughey told the story of getting his role as Wooderson in "Dazed and Confused". It was Matthew's first major role in a movie, and Richard Linklater, director, gave each actor an assignment. He handed each one of them a mix tape containing music he felt each individual character would listen to. Every tape was different, as each character had different musical tastes. The assignment was to listen to the music for the next few days to get into the character. How cool! I thought. What a great way to differentiate the needs of each actor in getting to know his/her character. I couldn't help but think that this would be such an amazing assignment for high school students---when reading classic literature, each student must choose a character and create a tape (did I just date myself, totally?) of three songs that character might listen to, along with justification for each one, complete with references.
2. Get ready to make every day a great day:
Matthew told another story of his dad, who apparently was quite the dreamer. Despite times of being down on his luck, his dad would leave the house every morning, telling his sons, "Boys, today, I'm gonna hit a lick", in reference to making a really big sale. Matthew said that his dad's outlook has stuck with him and he holds a pretty firm belief that we shouldn't do what we don't believe in or love. Whatever your line of work...I know about some of the jobs in education as that has been my experiences in life...it's hard work but it is hopefully something you love. One of my dear friends and colleagues is 74 years old and still more passionate about teaching and learning than some young folks I know. Passion, I believe, is the stuff that gets us up in the morning and ready to go for the next day! It also gets us through the rough patches in life.
I love this quote:
If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. - Katherine Hepburn
3. Know and respect laws, rules, and policies before attempting to change them:
Matthew Mcconaughey grew up in Uvalde, Texas (maybe his Texas roots have something to do with why I love him). He talks about some of his family members fondly, calling them "outlaws". He said, "They all taught me you have to learn and follow the rules so you might be able to break them later on." I loved that. I have a firm belief in learning about the laws, rules, and policies that affect me in my life---personally and professionally. I recently taught an Educational Leadership course on School Law and Policy. One of the main take-aways of the course, in my humble opinion, was that you aren't going to be given a handbook with every answer to every problem, but you can learn the basics of what is expected, first, then be prepared to make decisions with those as your foundation. I remember, as a principal, feeling quite conflicted at times about district policy or state law and how they seemed to be in direct opposition to the right thing to do for kids. I am always so very hopeful that people who are in charge of making difficult decisions and changing policy and law in education are folks who have direct experience in the classroom and have the best interest of public school children at heart.
Just for today, perhaps we can listen for good life lessons in everything we do, even from our favorite celebrities!