Something to teach


For those of you who have heard the rumor that I am thinking about running for a state office: Yes, the rumor is true. I am considering running for a state senate seat. It’s possible those plans could change, but right now, that is my intention.

You might ask, why would I want to run for state office? I’m a teacher and a writer and an apron maker. Why would I be remotely interested in running for office?

The first couple of times the idea was suggested to me that I should consider running, my response was a definite “No!”

But it was impressed upon me that the only way for the people of the United States, and Missouri, to regain control of their own government and their own lives is for ordinary citizens to run for office.

And that certainly goes along with the advice my dad always gave me. “Don’t sit back and criticize unless you have better ideas to offer. Don’t expect others to do what you are perfectly capable of doing.”

So, I finally started really thinking about it, and thinking about what a teacher/writer/apron maker could bring to state government. I am always looking for ways to connect the dots of my own life. Basically, everything I have ever done was about teaching.

Writing is about taking information and ideas and trying to put them in a form that other people can understand. It’s about getting people into a conversation.

Teaching is really the same thing. Teachers try to make sense of the world for students, and try to give them the skills to make sense of the world for themselves.

I started thinking about if I were going to actually teach a lesson to lawmakers, either at the national or state level, what would I teach them? What can I take from a lifetime of writing and teaching, and put into the world of government?

One big thought occurred to me.

Venn Diagrams.

I have taught approximately 500 lessons on Venn Diagrams for kids from pre-school through middle school. Most teachers have. After all, it is a BIG objective on the Missouri MAP Test, which is like the Holy Grail of education in Missouri.

Why is it taught so incessantly?

Because the Venn Diagram is a lesson in how to think, and how to problem solve.

It was actually a concept invented by a man by the name of John Venn, who was an English logician and philosopher. He helped develop the fields of set theory, probability, logic, statistics and computer science, and he died in 1923, long before today’s field of computer science. So you can say he was way ahead of his time.

How could this be important for our nation’s leaders?

The Venn Diagram is basically a way of thinking about similarities, and differences. In elementary school, we call it “compare and contrast”.

Basically, you can take any two objects or subjects, and do a Venn Diagram of them. Even things that seem to have NOTHING in common actually do have commonalities if you look at them closely enough.

And this is how our leaders can use Venn Diagrams.

Republicans and Democrats seem to think they have nothing in common. They struggle to find common ground in any subject that comes before them. The result is constant gridlock, and a nation being torn apart because of the resulting stress.

But, if they are both doing their job, they should find lots of common ground. Theoretically, they were all elected to help the American people achieve the kind of life possible that is promised in our Constitutional Preamble: “All Men Are Created Equal” and have the right to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

If they can find no common ground in that, obviously someone is not on the same page. That means they are in fact, serving someone other than the American people. That is where the tension arises.

And that explains the whole feeling of anger in government today.

Really, these people should feel extremely blessed. After all, what could be a better job than helping the American people realize their American dreams? But no one seems to be feeling blessed. Instead, there is constant anger, which by now is spilling over into everyday life of all Americans.

So, if I were teaching a lesson to our leaders, I would say, do like we do in elementary school. Work on Venn Diagrams until you are sick of them. Venn Diagram every piece of legislation, every policy that comes before you. Find that common ground.

And do your job.

I’m hoping they have Smart Boards in Congress, because sometimes it’s good to take a brain break. I personally like “Go Noodle”.

Shake it off, guys. Have a little fun. Shake your booty. Clear your brain.

Then get back to work serving the American people.

You really do have the best job in the whole world.

Just do it with an open heart, and an open mind. The same way we do it in elementary school.

See…I can teach them something.




Venn Diagram!

My favorite gonoodle, for your viewing pleasure:


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