Professional Learning

Celebrity Q&A: Jamie Lee Curtis on Experiential Learning

Jamie Lee Curtis on making learning fun and engaging.

April 16, 2007

Jamie Lee Curtis has it all going on. The Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-nominated actress, who has appeared in such cinematic blockbusters as True Lies, Trading Places, Halloween, and A Fish Called Wanda, is now a best-selling author of children's books. Where Do Balloons Go? An Uplifting Mystery, released in 2000, was a best seller; her seventh and most recent effort, Is There Really a Human Race?, came out last fall.

Curtis, the daughter of actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, and the wife of actor-director Christopher Guest, may qualify as Hollywood royalty, but she is perhaps most engaged these days as an author and an AIDS activist. She also serves on the board of directors of her son's school in Los Angeles.

What is your idea of a perfect teacher?

One who is patient and makes things -- ideas and history -- come alive in the method they teach it.

What was your most memorable school experience?

I did an oral report on Paul Revere's ride, dressed as a flea from the horse. I got an A+.

What was the low point of your school career?

A constant fear of knowing that I wasn't very smart.

Did you go to public or private school?

Private and public. It really is all about the teacher.

Where did you fit in your schools' social hierarchies?

I was at the smart-aleck bottom.

What was your favorite subject?

I still love history. I love learning about how things were in another time and place.

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

I would make it multimedia, with an emphasis on experiential learning, and I would use audiovisual tools much more. I was not a good book learner. The texts were so dry and uninteresting.

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

Life and the constant changing nature it throws you.

What did you learn today?

I learned that many others feel lost and alone.

What did you teach?

I reinforced the adage "First things first."

What is in your dream lunch box?

Orange chicken and Sugar Babies and fruit punch.

If the prom were tomorrow, whom would you take?

Edward Norton.

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