Friday, December 27, 2013

Not a Wonderful Life: Education Writer’s Block

The Wave - Published Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 -

Not a Wonderful Life: Education Writer’s Block
By Norm Scott
Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ahhhh, a chance to write an end of the year column. I can sum up all that happened in education over the past year and make predictions or a wish list for the future – class sizes of 15, retroactive pay raises for all. When you are involved in education, as I was from the age of 5 until 57, when I retired, you think of a year ending in June and beginning in September (my Jewish ancestors who established the New Year over 5000 years ago were on to s omething). So from the view from School Scope, this is not really an end-of- the-year column. Or maybe it is.

Kevin Boyle emailed the other day suggesting a column name change from “School Scope” as a way to open up a broader range of issues to write about. I did inherit the column from former Wave editor (and teacher )Howard Schwach who showed a lot of faith by turning his baby over to me when he became Wave editor. I am reluctant to see the franchise totally disappear. Since Sandy I have been doing less writing in this column on education issues. I do enough of that on my blog. So maybe the time is right to use this space to broaden out. I started to throw possible column names out to Kevin. “School Scope Plus” was one idea. After a few others Kevin wrote, “Stop being a kvetch.” It does my heart good when an Irishman demonstrates his knowledge of  Yiddish – though I believe Kevin thinks “Kvetch” means “pain in the ass.”  How about calling the column “The Kvetch”?

But do I really want to continue my usual kvetching if I break out of the education writing mold, allowing my thoughts of dystopian doom to depress everyone? I want  to do a column that will lead to world peace and saving the human population from extinction. Eight hundred words every two weeks should do it.

Well, when presented with this opportunity to write about ANYTHING, I end up sitting here all morning with writer’s block. Too many choices have led me nowhere. What should I write about? The wonderful movie we saw Saturday night, “American Hustle”? Or the equally wonderful novel “How Green Was My Valley” which I read after seeing the 1941 film on TCM? My landscaping project? Robotics? My house a year after Sandy? Damn you, Kevin, you’ve opened up a Pandora’s box and I can’t think of anything to write about.

Well, the good news is that I can spend 3 hours tonight watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the hundredth time, with commercials and all (we need those bathroom breaks now).  One would think that an avowed atheist would not go for that “angel gets his wings” mumbo jumbo. But if you look at the movie from only a religious perspective you are missing key points about the movie’s critique of unfettered capitalism. Jimmie Kimmel did a hilarious riff with his FOX News version, “Mr. Potter and the Commies of Bedford Falls.”

The trailer says it all: This capitalist had a dream: to transform Bedford Falls into a modern entertainment and business mecca, creating hundreds of new jobs. But one man would stand in his way: Draft-dodger George Bailey and his socialist Building and Loan. Will Henry Potter's common sense reforms win the day, or will George Bailey succeed with his scheme to redistribute wealth? How far will Bailey go to destroy free markets and economic progress? How low will he sink? (See it at:

Hey, I know of one guy who can reconcile the dual religious and socio-economic themes of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In the new version of the movie, playing the role of George Bailey:  Pope Francis – except for that wives and kids thing. (Sorry Zuzu).

Norm continues to blog about education every day (sigh) at

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