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Although the current issues in our country and in our world seem overwhelming, Dr. Grauer puts everything into perspective by reminding us what is really important.

A Small Calm Thing of Terrifying Beauty

Sometimes I act as though my computer screen were an actual window. Yes, it is tempting to stay in my filter bubble and to fix my vision on the view from my computer: half the world is out of their minds! And yet, and yet, I know almost nothing about that half. 

I know almost nothing about way more than I know a lot about. “And so we find ourselves immersed, once again, in the terrifying beauty of a world that exceeds all our knowing,” says the cultural ecologist and philosopher David Abram. 

From this screen, I understand we are cutting, clearing, burning, trashing, plasticizing and polluting a whole lot of the world, and that our human activity is contrary to the needs of practically all other species. I can see this right in my bubble, locally. I can read the news of the meaner, more reckless, angrier, druggier people punching flight attendants and school board members and buying 2 million more guns. 

Grauer Middle School Girls Soccer team members listening to a lesson from Coach Paulina Davis-Fisher during practice - January 7, 2022

Sometimes it seems we don’t we like much, including one another, and not much likes us back. One species of life absolutely attracted to human activity is SARS-CoV-2, which causes what we call COVID-19. This has taken 800,000 human lives in the US, 10% of those here in California. One of every 100 senior citizens has perished from COVID since it came to town.

What COVID does to us, so we do to butterflies, coyotes, and sand hill cranes, who are losing ground. I don’t know why all humans can’t agree with me on this. From my filter bubble, COVID is the force of nature that is finally standing up to us, and I in my bubble have a kind of poetic admiration. 

Apollo isn’t always drawing his bow;
There are times when he takes up his lyre and plays,
And awakens the music sleeping upon the strings.
—Horace, Odes II, 10

In his book “Politics Is For Power”, Eitan Hersh notes that a third of Americans say they spend two or more hours a day on politics, and four out of five get their political information completely by reading or watching the news on TV, social media, radio, etc. 

Hey, Hersh: that’s not politics. Politics is who gets what. Politics is providing lunch for teachers or nurses and doctors. Politics is helping out at the lagoon. Okay, maybe it is punching school board members.

Sam Yarabek teaching his 8th grade English class outdoors in the gazebo - January 4, 2022

Walking through the San Elijo Lagoon last weekend, I noticed that a striking number of donors who preserved that pristine beach view southwest parcel, the Harbaugh Corridor, from development are also Grauer Foundation donors. Preserving ecosystems is politics. If you watch a congressional hearing for two hours and complain to your family about it, that is not politics. Watching is not politics, it is just going deeper into your filter bubble. Politics is doing and relating.

Being in my filter bubble seems like a trap. We may think we are trapped in here, but there is a way out of this bubble. The way out is here: perspective.

I am done saving the world, done worrying about how insane Marjory Taylor Green is, done trying to persuade anyone rather than trying to understand them. The way out is in our community, and on our campus. I might never explain this better than this: 

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one should can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Grauer Geometry students measuring out the distances between planets while learning about scaling objects and distances - January 7, 2022

I don’t have to be a pundit—there are too many pundits. Who are these pundits in my screen, anyway?

What I need is within my reach. What is within my reach is what I need. I think small. The answers are in my community. 

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Photos for Dr. Grauer's Column

Grauer Middle School Girls Soccer team members listening to a lesson from Coach Paulina Davis-Fisher during practice - January 7, 2022

Sam Yarabek teaching his 8th grade English class outdoors in the gazebo - January 4, 2022

Grauer Geometry students measuring out the distances between planets while learning about scaling objects and distances - January 7, 2022

Fearless Teaching® Book
by Dr. Stuart Grauer


Fearless Teaching® is a stirring and audacious jaunt around the world that peeks—with the eyes of one of America’s most seasoned educators–into places you will surely never see on your own. Some are disappearing. It is a bit like playing hooky from school. You will travel to the Swiss Alps, Korea, Navajo, an abandoned factory in Missouri, the Holy Land, the Great Rift Valley, the schools of Cuba, the ocean waves, and the human subconscious—oh, and Disneyland.

There you will find colorful stories for the encouragement, inspiration, and courage needed by educators and parents. Fearless Teaching is not a fix-it book—it is more a way of seeing the world and the school so that you can stay in your work and focus on what matters most to you.

"Grauer’s writing reminds us that Great Teaching, singular, rare, unusual, is something that should be sought after and found. Thank you.”
Richard Dreyfuss, Actor, Oxford scholar, founder of The Dreyfuss Initiative

Click here to order Fearless Teaching® today

Dr. Grauer's Column: Archive of Past Columns

Dr. Grauer's Column - Zenbells

Sound impacts our attention. When used in the right way, sound has the ability to shift our perception of the world and ourselves. What role does sound play in a naturalist education?

Dr. Grauer's Column - Good Medicine For Senioritis

Most high school seniors experience “senioritis” as they navigate the pressures of finishing high school and the uncertainty about their future. This week, Dr. Grauer discusses his own feelings of “senioritis” and how he manages it.

Dr. Grauer's Column - How to Fix Your Child

As parents and teachers, naturally we want our kids to tell us about their problems. And it is also completely natural that we want to FIX them, just as we did when they were little. But is that really the best way to help them?