Peter Berger


Columnist

Peter Berger

Peter Berger teaches English in Weathersfield, Vermont. Poor Elijah would be pleased to answer letters addressed to him in care of the editor.

Recent articles

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Feelings 101

    Like most Great Ideas in Education, the self-esteem movement was one part common sense, one part nonsense, and one part irrelevancy. And like most it laid waste to a generation.

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Flashcards and comics

    Poor Elijah was a Superman fan. He devoured D.C. Comics and raced full tilt through the neighborhood with his arms out in front of him and a makeshift cape flapping from his neck. He also had a serious crush on Supergirl’s secret identity.

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Voice and choice

    I’ve been a middle school teacher for over thirty years. I’ve known a lot of students, and I’ve been fortunate to be visited by many while they’re in high school. I was also once a student myself, and my memories of high school and of me are clear.

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Leges sine moribus vanae

    Mark Zuckerberg returned to address this year’s Harvard grads, Oprah enlightened the diplomates at Smith, and Poor Elijah is again, for lack of invitations, delivering his commencement remarks on my porch.

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Inner drive and pocket change

    When asked by a reporter why some of his school’s students scored poorly on standardized tests, a sheepish official apologized that his school does better educating “kids who have the inner drive and the family support.”

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Class and culture

    Reformers always rank problem-solving high on their list of skills schools should teach. Unfortunately, it’s never been something reformers themselves have been good at.

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: the age of unreason

    Several years ago, AT&T ran a commercial where a marathon spelling bee ended in a draw because no one made any mistakes. Under the slogan, “Rethink possible,” the ad declared that “the Internet makes us smarter,” inviting us to imagine how smart we’ll all be when “everyone has it.”

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Middle schools are in middle of nowhere

    If you’re ever looking for sympathy, try telling someone you’re a middle school teacher. Finding out I teach eighth grade can bring tears to a hardened carpenter’s eye.

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: Moment by moment

    A few years back The Washington Post spotlighted a math teacher’s dilemma. During class “one of his students casually used an ethnic slur.” The teacher had to decide whether to “let it pass or change the lesson from mathematics to tolerance.”

  • Opinion

    Poor Elijah’s Almanack: The new old lie

    Midway through the First World War a soldier on the western front wrote a poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est.” He said it was neither sweet nor fitting to die for your country. He didn’t mean it wasn’t sometimes necessary. The poet himself died as a volunteer in combat. His point was that there is nothing sweet about drowning in a sea of chlorine gas, and that people should stop telling children the “old lie” that there is.