If you’re having an existential crisis, that probably means you’re privileged

Today I put together my seniors’ final essay assignment. Here’s the prompt: Although burdened with the monotony and pain of life, Sisyphus remained joyful as he rolled the boulder up the hill every day. Night’s Elie Wiesel has had a joyful existence despite suffering through the Holocaust. Hamlet constantly questioned if life was worth living,... Read more »

Teenagers and lying: why we should pay attention to classic literature

My students lie to me. A lot. It’s scary what they’ll do to get away with something as simple as charging their phones. Today, during eighth period, a student asked me to help him block his scene from Hamlet, and I immediately found it suspicious. He asked if he, Claudius, should take Gertrude’s hand. And... Read more »

Louder Than A Bomb: How words inspire compassion

As I stood at the back of the auditorium, watching 300 high school students dance and sing along to hip-hop music at the fifteenth annual Louder Than A Bomb opening, I thought, I do not belong here. The speakers pulsed with thunderous drumbeats and a rapper’s voice passionately wove words over them. When the event... Read more »

Quotes of the Week

Hello long-time-no-read NOACB readers, Here are the quotes from this (short) week. Let me know what you think in the comments! Week of January 5 Boy student raises hand in the middle of my lecture about writing essays to sheepishly ask, “Can you tell me the brand you use to whiten your teeth?” He looks... Read more »

I have a new blog about feminism, and I subscribed you!

Hello loyal readers. Nails on a Chalkboard is not dead, but spawning a spin-off blog: The Traditional Feminist. I’ve subscribed all of my current Nails on a Chalkboard readers to my new blog, The Traditional Feminist. I know this was gutsy of me–I’m sorry. I figured that you read my blog because either one or... Read more »

Women in Celtic legend were equal to men, so what happened?

When my students found out that Igraine, King Arthur’s mother, was deceived by Uther, King Arthur’s father, the night of Arthur’s conception, their first response was not, “Wow, that’s rape,” but instead, “What a thot!” (Look up “thot” in UrbanDictionary.com.) Uther wanted Igraine so desperately that he allowed Merlin to transform him to look, sound,... Read more »

Why did our ancestors choose Chicago?

A rather unconventional post for Nails On A Chalkboard, but an important thought nonetheless as a Chicago winter creeps up on us… *** I said I need the Oregon coast. Or Northern California. Lush, green ferns sprawled across a forest floor, giant redwoods stretching to the foggy clouds, sprinkled with ocean mist. That’s what I... Read more »

5 Inspirational quotes that will change your life

1) “Holding a grudge is like letting someone live in your head rent-free.”   When I said this to one of my students who is known for her angry outbursts, she said, “Dang! That just about changed my life.” You’re the one who burns when you keep the flame of anger lit. 2) “Most people... Read more »

Why Autumn is the best season

Autumn. The sun is high in the sky, and although it is glowing strong, the wind is too crisp and chilly to let the sun warm the earth. Ginger leaves fall softly along brittle breezes against the dying green grass. The air smells like candy corn; it intertwines with the balding tree branches, which shake... Read more »

If life is a classroom, what kind of student are you?

Life is a classroom and we are all students. What kind of student do you want to be? Do you want to be that student who complains about everything? Who groans every time a project is assigned? Do you want to be the student who cheats and then makes excuses for his behavior? Do you... Read more »