Is that all there is?

Do you recall the Peggy Lee song, “Is That All There Is?”

This is an educational meditation on that song. Listen to it on YouTube at


“If that’s all there is my friend, then lets keep dancing. “

Not that I have anything against dancing.
How much time do you spend trying to knock into your students’ heads the names of the nation’s founding documents, the steps involved in doing long division or the difference between an adverbial phrase and a adverbial clause?
I’ve got bad news for you. In the middle of summer, after the tests all done, while lying down in the back yard watching clouds, chasing a wave at the beach or noodling on the sofa with a Gameboy, your kids probably won’t remember any of it.
But that’s not all there is, so don’t start dancing just yet.
You can teach them something that will transform their lives. Something that will ensure they thrive in the twenty first century. Something that will enable them to see more in the clouds, ride a wave with even greater skill and exhilaration and win games. You can teach them how to think.
Our foundation of knowledge is increasing exponentially and the skill sets for jobs twenty years from now haven’t even been determined yet. There is only one profound tool we can provide our young people with that we know for sure they will need – the ability to think creatively, innovatively and effectively.
It’s an exciting and bewildering world they face. Every time they turn around they will bump into a problem whose solution isn’t immediately apparent. Those facts and routines you’ve been hammering into their heads won’t help much then. What they will need are the thinking tools and the behaviors and dispositions that enable them to think through and solve those problems.
Effective thinking is the foundation on which everything else rests. It deserves priority in every curriculum and planning document that is written. Without it, if the facts and routines are all there is, then let’s keep dancing,a slow, sad dance without form or grand finale.

But teach them how to think, and we can leap into a celebratory tarantella together.


1 Comment

Filed under Thinking

One response to “Is that all there is?

  1. Like the idea of a celebratory tarantella! And here’s another book worth pondering: Ethics 101, Conversations to Have with Your Kids,
    Author: Michael Parker

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