Back to school musings | Troy Podell


Back to School is upon us. For students, teachers, parents, administrators, and all stakeholders in public education, we’re about to embark on yet another amazing journey of growth and discovery. In what I hope will be an annual tradition, and in homage to my favorite columnist of all time Dr. Thomas Sowell, I offer my random thoughts on the passing scene. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Sowell’s work, these columns will feature short and (more) disjointed musings than my typical fare.

  1. Starting with back to school time. I’m teaching a brand new course and looking forward to the challenge of navigating it with my students. There are new professional challenges at this time of year, concurrent with the changing of the seasons. It feels like a turning of the page in line with my biorhythm.
  2. I always chuckle when someone says something to the effect of, “We’ve never been more politically divided!” If you run into this person (and we all have), please remind them of the small conflagration we had in the 1860s. I think they’ll agree we were more divided when we were shooting at each other over slavery and preserving the union than we are right now.
  3. I was recently asked by a friend to give him the benefit of the doubt. Isn’t it one of life’s bizarre ironies that the only people worthy of your dispensation of the benefit of the doubt would never dare ask for it?
  4. Following preseason football is like doing the laundry. It takes too long, and it’s too complicated. But the reward of the actual football season starting is as rejuvenating and familiar as putting on your favorite pair of jeans. As a Jets fan, in my case, it’s like putting on a comfortable pair of jeans that will just never be good enough.
  5. While we’re on the subject of sports, why do we bother to televise coach press conferences? And why do fans allow themselves to be moved emotionally by the boilerplate statements the coaches make?
  6. With word of a potential longer-term truce between the Israelis and Palestinians being brokered by Egypt, we should all be hopeful that all concerned will know and experience peace. Here’s hoping for Shalom/Salaam.
  7. ‘Shadow-banning’ is my new favorite word from our zeitgeist. Also, the passive-aggressive/cowardly action it represents to suppress speech with which a company disagrees, rather than simply coming out and defending their platform as under proprietary control, is emblematic of how we seem to handle our problems as a society.
  8. RIP Aretha Franklin.