Talking Pop Culture in Education on HuffPostLive! [Video]

Talking Pop Culture in Education on HuffPostLive! [Video]

A producer from HuffPostLive contacted me the other night to join a segment on Dr. Anthony Tobia, a professor of psychiatry at Rutgers who uses Seinfeld to teach third and fourth year students. The class is called Psy-Feld. Clever stuff. The conversation moves from Seinfeld specifically to whether or not pop culture is an effective or even appropriate tool for education. I joined the segment midway through and really enjoyed the conversation. I’ve done television segments before but this was my first live experience. I was at lunch with Blake Leath who runs the consulting firm I work for, so he set me up in his awesome studio space for the remote interview. Everything went off without a glitch, and I hope to join HuffPostLive again for a future...
I’m Moving to Dallas! Can We Stay In Touch?

I’m Moving to Dallas! Can We Stay In Touch?

Super short version: I’m moving to Texas and want to keep in contact with everyone I know, or anyone who’s interested, through a simple “Friends of Clay” letter I’ll send out every couple months. I also wish I had a Christmas card list every winter to send holiday greetings to everyone, so this will accomplish that. May I add you to my address list? Yes, let’s keep in touch ~*~*~ More detailed version: I’ve spent my entire life in Pittsburgh, and never thought I would leave. I love my home, and less than one year ago did not see any major changes in the works. But working as an adjunct teacher at a handful of colleges for a decade is a tough way to go, and 2014 became the year I could no longer count on the tenuous work I’ve been blessed with for years. After a lot of thought, prayer, and conversations with good people, I began looking for opportunities beyond the Burgh. As I brushed up my resume I realized it’s looking pretty sharp these days, one of the advantages of giving away so much work for so many years. In the end, I decided to take an opportunity to go to Dallas and pursue full-time work as a freelancer and consultant. I’ve got some ongoing work as well as a variety of projects in development. Certainly planning to publish more books, and I may even do some teaching now that I can do it as a supplemental thing and not something I rely on to pay bills. Saying goodbye to so many people is tough. Most...
Teaching Chinese Students About America

Teaching Chinese Students About America

In the summer of 2012, I received a message at one of the colleges I teach at telling me about an international group of students who would soon be visiting from China’s Zhejiang University. Their stay in Pittsburgh was part of a three week English practicum course in America during which they would visit many schools like Harvard, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, Pitt etc… They would visit Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. Basically I was super jealous. What an amazing trip! The issue was that they were scheduled to hear a lecture at Carnegie Mellon on July 5th, and normal history professors were on vacation. But not me. So since a) I haven’t had a break from teaching in nearly a decade, b) I used to never turn down an opportunity (and still would never pass on one this great), and c) I don’t exactly go out and party hard on the Fourth of July, I said I would LOVE to speak that morning. I was asked to teach the students about American culture/history/political systems/religion and about what makes America such a great country. For one hour I did my thing, flashing visuals, moving around energetically as I tend to do, making jokes, posing as George Washington. Then we took a break. “How am I doing?” I asked Jasmine, the wonderful woman who brought me in. She asked Gaoying, the main organizer of the trip, to take a quick poll. After a minute of conferring they came back and said, “The students say they understand about 70% of what you say. This is very good!” Thumbs...
Realm Makers Conference 2014

Realm Makers Conference 2014

Here’s the thing for anyone who wants to be a published author: You basically have to go to a writer’s conference at some point. Everything changed for me in 2011 when I made the decision to invest in the cost of traveling and attending conferences. Once I landed an agent and book contract, I didn’t return to another conference for a couple years, but man am I thrilled about the one I attended recently. Realm Makers 2014 took place at Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In its second year, Realm Makers focuses on speculative fiction for the Christian market. If you want to know what that means check out this interview I did with agent and publisher Steve Laube as the conference was winding down. Conferences always offer talks on the craft and business of writing, but Realm Makers was also straight up fun. They host a costume dinner ala Comic Con during which we were able to get our geek on. My friends from Splickety Magazine play a big role at the conference and represented well. You’ll be hearing lots more from me in the future about this awesome group. The tall vampire there is my friend Andrew Winch. He and I have been working on a novel together for the past few months. Unbeknownst to each other, we both arrived ready to rock the undead look. One of the real highlights of our time was getting to know New York Times best-selling author Tosca Lee. In addition to being a brilliant author, her talks were fab. I was all like, “Hey there, don’t be afraid.” But had to...
Welcome to the Brand Spankin’ New ClayWrites.com!

Welcome to the Brand Spankin’ New ClayWrites.com!

This spring marked five years since I first Googled “what is a blog” before starting one. At that point in 2009 I hadn’t written much for far too long and was going to burst if I didn’t start laying words down somewhere. It’s amazing how lost we can get in life at times, how little we can know about ourselves. I can’t even fathom my life without writing, yet there I was not so many years ago tied up in a different kind of existence with the truest part of myself turned off, unplugged like the plug to a buzz saw lying limp on the floor. I’m so glad I started writing those first posts, most of them not good for months, all of them scattered as I tried to figure out my niche, style, and voice. Once the saw is turned on you have to spend loads of time sharpening the blade. Then one day in 2010 WordPress made one of my posts go viral, and everything changed. Because of blogging. How cool is that? These days I’ve joined forces with fun friends over at NorvilleRogers.com where we ponder pop culture, life, and other internet ridiculousness. We’d love for you to check it out. But I’m still here too. This site will serve as my central internet hub but still has a blog component. My life as a writer and speaker will be featured here as well as some other parts of this journey as a career freelancer. I’ve gone a decade now without a full-time employer and find many people interested in hearing how that works and...

Are Schools Killing Student Potential?

The world is changing fast, so much so that many of us can barely keep up. The reality is that your job and lifestyle will continue to change regardless of what industry you work in. But buckle up because it goes much deeper than just changes in the workplace. As a writer and teacher I’m acutely aware of these changes. The reinvention/death of publishers is well chronicled, but I rarely write as an educator on this site because it’s usually outside what I think the focus is here. But today I have something relevant to anyone, regardless of vocation. I’ve been speaking at academic conferences now for the past three years. At the end of a session on internet resources for teachers the other day I showed the following video, an animated version of a talk given to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) by Sir Ken Robinson. The RSA talks are great, especially if you already enjoy TED Talks. It remains one of the best explanations of how outdated many of our traditional models are, particularly in education, but the implications go beyond just what teachers should do about it. Check this out. There’s so many fascinating things to talk about there. If you watched the video I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. The main reason I bring this up now is because Robinson is delivering his long anticipated follow up to this talk, and that event is happening on July 1st at 1 p.m. In this talk he will pick up where he left off and “argue that education should...