ABOUT THIS SITE
When you talk in front of an audience, when you type in a forum that includes strangers, what's the point? Why are you doing it? What's your purpose?
Are you just a flamethrower making noise? Are you a troll stirring up fear and outrage? If so, you should go away now.
Go away, little trolls. Go be on cable television “news," where you belong. There's nothing for you here.
Now that they're gone, the rest of us can have a conversation.
If you're interested in understanding how others are trying to influence you, and if you're interested in improving your ability to impact how others see the world, you're in the right place. Welcome to Truth Dog.
It's pretty simple:
LISTEN UNDERSTAND RESPOND CONVINCE
listen — Are you just waiting for your turn to talk?
understand — Can you explain, honestly, what the other person just said?
respond — Are you responding with a purpose other than to “win" or Be Right?
convince — How do you know you impacted someone else's viewpoint?
THE RULES AROUND HERE
We're talking about communication and persuasion, so we must insist on a few rules—the kinds of rules increasingly absent from much public political discourse in the twenty-first century social media jungle.
Trolls and flamethrowers, beware:
1. REFRAIN FROM PERSONAL ATTACKS
Challenge the idea rather than attacking the speaker. If you see something inappropriate, we somehow missed it. Alert us.
2. REFRAIN FROM LABELING
This is our challenge to everyone out there, and to ourselves: can we converse without labeling each other? Can we make a stronger effort to see others as individuals rather than as members of groups? This isn't about being Nice. This is about eschewing lazy stereotyping.
We all make mistakes. If someone misspeaks, they must be permitted an opportunity to clarify or retract. If they don't—even then—a shame label isn't appropriate. Just say, “That's not okay."
3. THICKEN YOUR SKIN—DISAGREEMENT IS NOT A PERSONAL ATTACK
Expect to be challenged. We assume you're here because you want to improve your ability to persuade. One of the ways you improve is by seeing your logical errors called out. Eventually all of us will throw out a double standard, or an ad hominem attack, or an oversimplification. Be receptive to these challenges; it's how you'll improve.
Disagreement is not a personal attack. Opinions with which we disagree must be welcomed, if expressed appropriately. So toughen up.
4. PROFANITY IS LAZY
You can't shock us with that. It's not about morality; it's about laziness in the way we express ourselves. At home, on the street, and with your friends, by all means lower your register.
If we who run the site break one of the rules, call us out.
5. IF ANY OF THESE DESCRIBE YOUR BELIEF SYSTEM, THERE IS NOTHING FOR YOU HERE AND YOU SHOULD GO AWAY NOW
If you believe:
constitutional freedoms (example: the First Amendment) should only be guaranteed to people who agree with you, and should be denied to others;
experts in their fields should only be trusted if we agree with them politically;
skin color ought to determine status;
gender ought to determine status; OR
vigilantism solves problems
...there is nothing for you here and you should go away. None of those things are American values today—if they ever were.
We needed a picture of a dog for the front cover of the Truth Dog site, so we picked the most beautiful one in the world. Yeah, yeah, everyone's baby is the most beautiful.
Diego lived a long, happy life. His passing in 2017 didn't inspire the creation of the site, but it did inspire Jake to get off his duff and get it rolling.
Time is truly short.
And this guy will always be missed.
Teaching English is more than a career for me, as it is for many teachers. We help students be successful in life, and we hope they will contribute as citizens.
Students need communication skills, no matter what future path they choose. I have devoted myself to this end.
Other patriotic Americans make different valuable contributions. This one's mine. Each successful teacher reflects a large investment by taxpayers, probably the best, most impactful investment tax money can make. Each unsuccessful teacher represents wasted resources and a missed opportunity.
It's not just about teaching teens. I'm happy to help other teachers, thinkers, and citizens working in other industries, if I can, with the art of effective communication.
I graduated with a Master in Teaching from the University of Washington in 2000, and I've served the public as a classroom teacher every year since then. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Montana in 1993, and although my major was history and I am certified to teach history, and I have experience teaching history, I am an English teacher first, and the bulk of my experience involves teaching young adults how to read and write.
I have published one book for teachers, Write More, Grade Less: The Pipeline System of Essay Scoring (2008, 2018), and one for students, Truth is a Dog(2018 hopefully!), a book about the art of persuasion.
For more about how I believe my view of the world impacts my teaching, check out this blog post.
Here is my contact page.