Things that Made My Brain Explode – October 19, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 9.01.18 AMArticles and news stories are constantly pushing me to consider something new, broaden my perspective, or change the way I look at an issue. My husband likes to joke that my brain explodes with something new on a daily basis. These articles – and the brain explosions that result from them – are so beneficial for me that I wanted to create a place where I could share them, in case you might want to read them, too. Learn more about Things that Made My Brain Explode – and see past posts – here


Here’s a recent batch of Things that Made my Brain Explode:

  • First, the piece that has weighed heaviest on my mind and heart this week. Leaving Charlottesville’s public schools to come and work at St. Anne’s-Belfield School was one of the hardest choices I have ever made. I love working at STAB, but I still struggle with the reality of that choice every day. This week, the New York Times published a piece called ‘You Are Still Black’: Charlottesville’s Racial Divide Hinders Black Students that had me in tears. Whether you’re local to Central Virginia or not, this piece is worth the read.
  • Neil Gaiman is one of the coolest people on the planet. Recently on The Guardian, he teamed up with Chris Riddell on an essay in pictures titled Why We Need Libraries. It’s lovely and moving and I want to print it out and tape it to my desk for those rare days that I forget why my job is the most important thing in the world.
  • Speaking of reasons that libraries are incredibly important, author Renee Watson touched briefly on the power of libraries in her powerful acceptance speech for the 2018 CSK Author Award. Here’s the most library-centered snippet, although you should definitely go read the rest: “Thank you to every librarian and educator who handpicks a book for that one reader you know needs to read it. […] Please keep handing young people books that will challenge them, heal them. Stories that will make them laugh and cry and ask questions and take action. Let them travel the world in the stanzas of poems. Let them tell their own stories and discover what it means to be recorders, responders, rebukers, rejoicers, and rebuilders of their world.”
  • When your campus, office, or team is a home for a diversity of viewpoints, everyone benefits. This belief, and the importance of truth over opinion, have become cornerstones of my identity in my adult years. I love sharing resources about viewpoint diversity and heterodoxy. To learn more, check out In Defense of Viewpoint Diversity, from Inside Higher Ed. (For a basic intro to viewpoint diversity and Heterodox Academy, check out this video.)
  • How do we create spaces that feel comfortable and accepting for everyone? It’s an incredibly difficult and complex discussion, especially in education. I always have more to learn, and was so inspired by this article from The National Association of Independent schools. They shared one example of a proactive librarian that empowered her students to ask questions and learn in a friendly, safe way. Learn more about the “hair board” in  The Science of Hair: A Lower School Lens for Exploring Diversity.
  • “In 2009, a global study of the academic performance of 15-year-olds found that, in all but one of the 65 participating countries, more girls than boys said they read for pleasure. On average across the countries, only about half of boys said they read for enjoyment, compared to roughly three-quarters of girls.” The assumptions here drove me nuts – that reading is a “feminine trait”, that graphic novels and nonfiction only appeal to male readers, that girls have better self control and intrinsic motivation. How much of it is bias, and how much of it is science? I’m not sure. Read more in The Atlantic’s recent Boys Don’t Read Enough.
  • “Tonight, about one out of every 10 students in New York City will sleep in a homeless shelter or in the homes of relatives. That’s more children than at any other time since city records have been kept. In the morning, those same children will fan out across the city to go to school, some crossing multiple boroughs to get there.” Another heartbreaker from the New York Times this week: Homelessness in New York Public Schools Is at a Record High: 114,659 Students.. I appreciated that the author included background information about the issue and current practices and programs in place (the good, the bad, and the ugly).

3 thoughts on “Things that Made My Brain Explode – October 19, 2018

  1. Right with you on the City Schools piece. And with the City v. STAB feels. The implementation of Quest (and the systemic, embedded racism) was one of our big sticking points and something I’ve been talking about for years. Too much to sum up in a blog comment, though. I was worried about lack of diversity when we moved Z, but at the same time didn’t realize how much she had been witness to and that “the black boys always get in trouble” was not just her overzealous categorical perceptions but her lived reality.

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    1. Wow, what an impossible decision. Thank you for sharing. It’s hard to admit, but even as an adult, I lived a similar reality and came to the same overzealous categorical perceptions. I’m not proud of it, but do see it more clearly now. I know how hard CCS teachers work, how much they love their students, and just how much they want them to succeed. I wish I had more answers instead of more questions.

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      1. All the love for all of the educators. Some of my very favorites are at both places. Asking questions may not always feel like the best way forward, but it is something, and it’s not stagnation.

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