BFS Fundraiser: Lenny’s Garage

Introduce yourself to a Brooklyn icon: Lenny Shiller who boasts the largest antique vehicle collection in Brooklyn.


Is Sweden’s Classroom-Free School the Future of Learning?


Jannie Jeppesen, Principal, Vittra Telefonplan

The traditional setup of school classrooms—straight rows of desks with accompanying chairs—doesn’t do much to foster creativity or collaboration. Many experts have proposed redesigning classroom furniture, but a Swedish school system wants to take things a step further. Vittra, which operates 30 schools in Sweden, is seeking to ensure learning takes place everywhere on campus by eliminating classrooms altogether.

The newest Vittra school, Telefonplan, opened its doors last August. Designed by architecture firm Rosan Bosch, the Stockholm-area campus seems more like a creative space you’d find at Google or Pixar than a school at all. Students can work independently on their laptops while lounging on one of the “sitting islands” in the photo above. If they need to collaborate with their peers on a project, they can take advantage of spaces like “the village”—a tiny house for group work—or the more open “organic conversation furniture” pictured below.

Jannie Jeppesen, the principal of Vittra Telefonplan writes on the school’s website that the design is intended to stimulate “children’s curiosity and creativity” and offer them opportunities for both collaborative and independent time. Vittra doesn’t award traditional grades, either—students are taught in groups according to level—so maximizing diverse teaching and learning situations is a priority.

The open nature of the campus and the unusual furniture arrangements reflect the school’s philosophy that “children play and learn on the basis of their needs, curiosity, and inclination.” That’s true for kids all over the world, so let’s hope educators in other countries begin to pay attention.

Originally posted in Good Education

How to Teach Your Child NOT to Be an Atheist

Youth-Led Social Activism

This is from the Freechild Movement which is about students around the globe taking control of their education.


The Freechild Project has found that young people across the nation are leading their communities in activism for social change.

Point to Ponder

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –  Margaret Mead


The following are websites, organizations and publications that share the power and purpose of youth-led social activism. There are several types of resources listed, including organizations, databases, publications, and other resources.  These are all progressive youth-led or youth-focused activism organizations, websites, and resources that conduct or promote youth activism for broad social justice.

Read More…

The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

We have been on a continuous Star Trek binge all winter. One of the many things in the show’s plot lines that have intrigued us are the “Ferengi Rules of Acquisition” which are a set of philosophies run by the ultra-capitalist society of the same name seen on Deep Space Nine. These rules are constantly sited to explain many of the motives of one of the main characters Quark, played by Armin Shimerman.

Giving in to my curiosity, I looked them up on the net and was rewarded with a fairly complete list. Reading them out loud to my wife we found them hilarious, and insightful. They explain many of the unspoken rules that guide our own society. I am happy to share them. Hope you will get a laugh out of them as well.

  1. Once you have their money … never give it back.
  2. Never pay more for an acquisition than you have to.
  3. Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity.
  4. A man is only worth the sum of his possessions.
  5. Keep your ears open.
  6. Small print leads to large risk.
  7. Opportunity plus instinct equals profit.
  8. Greed is eternal.
  9. Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.
  10. A deal is a deal … until a better one comes along.
  11. A contract is a contract is a contract (but only between Ferengi).
  12. A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.
  13. Satisfaction is not guaranteed.
  14. Never place friendship above profit.
  15. A wise man can hear profit in the wind.
  16. Nothing is more important than your health–except for your money.
  17. There’s nothing more dangerous than an honest businessman.
  18. Never make fun of a Ferengi’s mother … insult something he cares about instead.
  19. It never hurts to suck up to the boss.
  20. Peace is good for business.
  21. War is good for business.
  22. She can touch your lobes but never your latinum.
  23. Profit is its own reward.
  24. Never confuse wisdom with luck.
  25. Expand, or die.
  26. Don’t trust a man wearing a better suit than your own.
  27. The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife.
  28. Never ask when you can take.
  29. Good customers are as rare as latinum — treasure them.
  30. There is no substitute for success.
  31. Free advice is seldom cheap.
  32. Keep your lies consistent.
  33. The riskier the road, the greater the profit.
  34. Win or lose, there’s always Hyperian beetle snuff.
  35. Home is where the heart is … but the stars are made of latinum.
  36. Every once in a while, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies.
  37. Beware of the Vulcan greed for knowledge.
  38. The flimsier the product, the higher the price.
  39. Never let the competition know what you’re thinking.
  40. Ask not what your profits can do for you, but what you can do for your profits.
  41. Females and finances don’t mix.
  42. Enough … is never enough.
  43. Trust is the biggest liability of all.
  44. Nature decays, but latinum lasts forever.
  45. Sleep can interfere with profit.
  46. Faith moves mountains … of inventory.
  47. There is no honour in poverty.
  48. Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.
  49. Treat people in your debt like family … exploit them.
  50. Never have sex with the boss’s sister.
  51. Always have sex with the boss.
  52. You can’t free a fish from water.
  53. Everything is for sale, even friendship.
  54. Even a blind man can recognize the glow of latinum.
  55. Wives serve, brothers inherit.
  56. Only fools pay retail.
  57. There’s nothing wrong with charity … as long as it winds up in your pocket.
  58. Even in the worst of times someone turns a profit.
  59. Know your enemies … but do business with them always.
  60. Not even dishonesty can tarnish the shine of profit.
  61. Let others keep their reputation. You keep their money.
  62. Never cheat a Klingon … unless you’re sure you can get away with it.
  63. It’s always good business to know about new customers before they walk in the door.
  64. The justification for profit is profit.
  65. New customers are like razortoothed grubworms. They can be succulent, but sometimes they can bite back.
  66. Employees are rungs on the ladder of success. Don’t hesitate to step on them.
  67. Never begin a negotiation on an empty stomach.
  68. Always know what you’re buying.
  69. Beware the man who doesn’t make time for oo-mox.
  70. Latinum lasts longer than lust.
  71. You can’t buy fate.
  72. Never be afraid to mislabel a product.
  73. More is good … all is better.
  74. A wife is a luxury … a smart accountant is a necessity.
  75. A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience.
  76. Never allow doubt to tarnish your love of latinum.
  77. When in doubt, lie.
  78. Deep down everyone’s a Ferengi.
  79. No good deed ever goes unpunished.
  80. [Quark’s rule] When Morn leaves, it’s all over.

Off Topic-Uncover Church Avenue Mural Project

My submission for the Uncover Church Avenue has been accepted. The image of Roger Maris’s famous swing, painted with the Bonnie Youth Club colors will be up by early spring. The project is an attempt to turn unused, or shuttered store fronts to give a more aesthetic appearance to the avenue. A crew of experience muralists will be assisting me in transferring the image to store grate.

I intend to be like Peter Paul Rubans who had his many students paint his large scale paintings and then with brush in hand, would move around the studio placing finishing touches on all his work. He was one of the first truly wealthy artists.

Hopefully, my drawing will do the neighborhood justice.

Photo Diary-Another Day at Brooklyn Free School

So I spent a day at Brooklyn Free School. Essentially, I was asked to teach a class in the afternoon on Adobe InDesign, a program used for most of the designed layout you see in printed material everywhere. I used the opportunity to document some of the current happenings in the school. Key among them are the “intensives.” These consist of 4 specific classes that the students have agreed to attend daily for the past 3 weeks and which will terminate at the end of this week leading into winter recess.

Given that I had my camera with me, I used the occasion to document life at the school as it is. There has been a lot of development since the days BFS occupied 2 floors of an old church in Park Slope. We now reside in 4 floors of a sprawling brownstone in Clinton Hill. And it seems we are slowly out growing our space. There isn’t a place in the school without activity.

Oren and Noah start their day in the library communing on some game situation or other. There is a “no-screens” rule in effect during the morning hours. These two were circumventing the rule. Later in the morning, Noah taught a class in Animation to some of the boys from the lower school.

Jessica's house.

Ken's House

I got a peak in the art room at some of the current projects. Noah seemed impressed with them, so I had to have a look myself. Jessica. who is one of our newer students having come in from Brooklyn Friends, is a very shy and extremely intelligent young lady. She also shared with me her box of hand made earrings and pendants, all of which she made herself. I was impressed by the quality and commitment she shows to detail. Notice the scale accuracy of the furniture in her house.

Ken’s house shows a talent for architectural detail, and whimsical design.

The Intensives

These classes consist of four selections: Job Readiness, Casino Games, United Nations and Geography. The classes seem designed to allow the students to absorb a great deal of information in core subjects such as Math, History or Social Studies.

Alan Berger teaches “Job Readiness” The students had to come in dressed for an interview. The class was spent going through mock interviews.

Each student was at work either creating their own map of the United States, or going over the agricultural, economic and religions makeup of various regions.

 They spent the first weeks learning some of the rules that govern Casino games. Understanding the math involved in betting and then creating their own versions of the games. Noah created a hybrid of Craps and Roulette which inolves a complicated betting scheme. I need to copyright it ASAP.

In United Nations, each student represented one member country and would have to give a presentation about that country to the other panel members.

There were other activities during this whole process.

Nico practices for the upcoming talent show. The band was rocking out all day.

The Flash considers a wardrobe alternative.

Blu casts her spell.

Some dramatic play in the Gym with Sarah Mercogliano.

I felt it important to share this in order to give our community an idea as to how learning is going on in this school at an intensive and non-coercive level. The atmosphere has become much more focused. Students are being engaged at every level.