How does Stanley Milgram’s ‘obedience to authority’ experiment inform Classical Education?

Yale University Manuscripts and Archives

We learn so much from our students, though we seldom give them credit for it. Just today, while reviewing their eBook assignment, which required using fonts with ‘personality’ I noticed one of them had figured out how to apply a gradient to a font. I never knew this was possible.

Over the past ten years of teaching, I have come to appreciate even more the idea of how knowledge is not something one pours into people’s minds, but something we transact. The classical education model that places Truth, Beauty and Goodness needs to be probed and unpacked every minute of…


Finding that lede amid the scramble for a story.

She worked in the belly of the beast as a reporter— in Washington DC — covering the Trump White House; a short internship that made Theresa Smith, now a teacher, privy to the frenetic competition for stories amid the clamor in the James Brady briefing room.

Podcast from Benjamin Franklin High School

In this interview, and podcast I asked her what she learned from such an experience — what lessons could I pass on to my students in writing and publishing? After all, she was the proverbial fly-on-the-wall! (Standing by the door, right of the person holding up a camera…


Research links his family right to the man behind the Mayflower

Picture: Kenneth C. Zirkel, Wikimedia Commons

Ancestral research has vastly benefited from our access to databases around the world. Even if there is no database on one’s family line, the Internet helps us connect the dots.

In this podcast, I talk to a Steve DesGeorges, an indefatigable researcher who’s been digging up the past because of a conversation he overheard as a child. His grandfather in a heated moment at the dinner table told his dad, “Don’t you forget we were the first people to set foot on American soil.” To which his dad, who had a Pueblo bloodline retorted, “And we were her to…


We become vectors of a new disease we also loathe.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

D o you find yourself yelling at the evening news on TV because it’s packed with filler stories? I’m sure the bias we have also learned to spot also triggers a similar response. But non-news? A few days ago NBC Nightly News featured a story about an eight-year old girl who broke a record for — get this — selling Girl Scout cookies. …


You never know the unintended consequences of installing a ‘Little Free Library.’ If you’ve never heard of this it’s a tiny box shaped like a little birdhouse outside homes and on street corners, with books for the taking — no library card needed.

The idea was born in a class discussion on reading and research, in 2019. I mentioned the idea and two students took up the gauntlet and said they’d like to start one. Of course I agreed, and so did my school. Let’s face it. A library in schools is not as frequented as, say, the gym…


The US continues to call the country Burma, even while the Associated Press uses the name Myanmar. Why the hesitance? One theory is that the name change from Burma was a change of the nameplate so-to-speak; a linguistic sleight of hand since internally it means the same thing. The other is that it’s inconvenient to acknowledge the name that was changed by a group that isn’t playing by the rules.

Take this bland statement by the US Department of State:

The United States supports a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma that respects the human rights of all its people. …


A Podcast about how we shifted to a brick-and-modem model on the fly.

To call this a huge experiment for many of us teachers is an understatement. With little preparedness, armed with sanitizers, we had to shift gears from in-person classes to online, then to a ‘hybrid’ model, and quickly back to in-person with a ‘remote student’ opt-in feature — all within one semester!

How did we deal with it? Well, like all experiments we were — to use a much worn phrase — building the airplane while flying it. Finding workarounds, messing up, reaching out to anyone, biting our nails and hoping our computers didn’t crash as 50 people updated websites in…


Teaching skills they forget to teach you in teacher training school.

When he’s not teaching Latin, he is an agile outfielder at a AZMSBL, an Arizona league. Or crooning at an open-mic session at coffeehouse in Chandler with his hand-made guitar. Greg Davis, a man of many parts, has a way of making students forget they are learning a language no one speaks.

Before I interviewed him for this podcast, I stopped by his class to pick up some ‘ambience’ and picked up some valuable teaching tips — the kind they don’t tell you about in teacher training academies. Within…


How money works doesn’t have to be boring.

One of the classes students have to take at my school is Consumer Economics. I had heard people say over the years — without any evidence — that schools don’t teach students how to manage money and finance. This soundtrack plays out in political circles, and is frequently uses by those who pillory education as being not in sync with the times.

Photo by Travis Essinger on Unsplash

Yes, student debt is a toxic topic. Yes, banks and financial institutions exploit people’s ignorance of a byzantine tax code and interest rates. …


ZoomH4N in hand, Writing and Publishing Class explores audio publishing.

There are three cameras in my class, thirty-four computers, two microphones, tripods, cameras, sanitizers and a Wifi router among others. That doesn’t account for the three COWS (school jargon for ‘Computers on Wheels’) loaded with Chromebooks. In other words, plenty to talk about about tech in education.

But this class — a zero-hour class — at Benjamin Franklin High School is different. I’ve got budding writers who have manuscripts and other works in progress. One has her own YouTube channel, another is creating a virtual country with volunteer citizens he…

Angelo Fernando

Computer and Technology teacher, author, tech columnist, workshop facilitator, marketing strategist, podcaster, robotics coach.

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