Professional Learning

Celebrity Q&A: Ed Begley Jr. on Greening Schools

An environmental-activist actor does his part — and then some.

October 4, 2007

Known for turning up at Hollywood events on his bicycle or in his electric car, actor Ed Begley Jr. has long been considered an environmental leader in the Hollywood community. He lives near Los Angeles in a self-sufficient home powered by solar energy. He is a vegetarian and grows much of the food he eats in his front yard, selling the excess at a local farmers' market.

Recently, he developed Begley's Best -- an all-purpose, nontoxic household cleaner that is environmentally safe, nonpolluting, and 99 percent biodegradable.

Begley's reality show, HGTV's Living with Ed, offers a peek into the life of the environmentalist.

What is your idea of a perfect teacher?

Lots of visual aids, no homework.

What was your most memorable school experience?

Peter Gibbons's cinematography class at Los Angeles Valley College in 1967. He taught the class truly memorable lessons about light, composition, and film chemistry. Lots of hands-on stuff. I still find it useful in every aspect of my life.

What was the low point of your school career?

Being smacked around by the nuns during grade school. It didn't work for me.

Did you go to public or private school?

Private school K-11. Then I graduated from Van Nuys High School. They had girls there. I pestered my dad until I wore him down.

Where did you fit in your schools' social hierarchies?

Only slightly above the kids on the short bus.

What was your favorite subject?


What is impossible to learn in school?

How to slow the hell down.

If you could change one thing about education in America, what would it be?

More art. More science.

What should they teach that they don't teach now?

More practical stuff, like how to run QuickBooks, or put up shelves.

What did you learn today?

How to print UPS shipping labels at home, then drop the parcels off elsewhere to get a really good rate.

What did you teach?

I tried to teach some fellow commuters that bicycles are allowed on the road, too. I don't think I did so well.

What is in your dream lunch box?

Miso soup to start, then vegetable curry and rice.

If you wrote a textbook, what would it be called?

Live Simply, So That Others May Simply Live.

If the prom were tomorrow, whom would you take?

My wife. At least I have a shot at her saying yes.

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