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I believe that human beings want to learn and that learning is an indispensable, inborn, ever-evolving, and lifelong process. More to the point, learning is most effective when information is ingrained in purposeful and meaningful experiences and interactions. In addition, we all must possess a purpose, such as serving the greater good, in order to lead meaningful lives. And, we must always endeavor to be the best selves that we can be, without fail.


In “The Prince,” Machiavelli describes immoral behavior, such as dishonesty and killing innocents, as being normal, effective and even desirable in politics. Although this sounds nasty and pessimistic, many scholars suggest that he was merely distinguishing between the “facts” of political life and the “values” of moral judgment. It is for this reason that, while at The Field School, I asked my 10th-grade History class to run the class as if they were modern day Machiavellis. The results were exciting, dramatic, and sometimes uproarious. My students often resented or feared the “Machiavelli of the day,” but often acquiesced to his or her demands to avoid negative consequences or harm (or a poor grade). Others revolted. And, quite often, the “Machiavelli of the day” did not get much done. Sound familiar? It was during this simulation that my class, fully engaged, imaginations swirling, grasped the complexities of politics, law, order, and force – as well as powerlessness.

SO, when I sit down with a student, I like to discover where they are coming from, what ideas are informing their opinions, and why. What specific experiences are they drawing from? What makes them think the way they do? Did their teacher mention it in class and did they just automatically accept it as the gospel? Did they read a text that supported their opinion? Which text was it? Where in the text? What were they studying in the class two months ago? How can they "back up" their ideas? Dialogues such as these create independent and creative problem-solvers, ones who will always be in demand.


Why do I even mention the Machiavelli unit? Metacognition, or “reflective self-function,” occurs when a child or student owns his or her inner experience and comes to recognize his or her self as competent in eliciting regulatory assistance, in order to develop an understanding of self and others as intentional agents whose behavior is organized by mental states, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires. As the learner reflects upon his or her individual performance strengths, weaknesses and learning and study strategies, he or she becomes a more independent reader, writer, and communicator. Success breeds success. With greater metacognition comes greater independence, which leads to more confidence, which leads to an increased capacity for leadership. And we all need more leaders!

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can" - Arthur Ashe


  • Assessing and incorporating different viewpoints 

  • Inquiry: Questioning should drive the process throughout

  • Supplying logical reasoning and providing the best textual evidence

  • Making “connections” to previous knowledge and personal experience

  • Uncovering and expressing complexity

  • Seizing the crux of the matter and creating sound conclusions

  • Confidently constructing explanations, interpretations and theories




Jared Kallen

Experienced, Innovative & Results-Oriented Ivy League Educated Coach

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