Things that Made My Brain Explode: December 21, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-12-20 at 10.53.38 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:

  • “As Americans, we’re exposed to a pathological mythology, one that quietly insists – despite all evidence – that the injury of racism isn’t really real or happened so long ago as not to matter. That the cause of our disparities is actually the fault of those black and brown people; those ignorant, lazy immigrants; those conniving females; those dangerous others. This mythology protects the powerful and lulls the rest of us toward complacency. This mythology inspires some among us to brandish torches, or careen a car into a crowd.” One of the most beautiful and painful pieces I’ve read recently, and a reminder that I still have so much to learn. Absolutely worth your time. Facing Charlottesville’s savage, racist history has the power to save us.
  • Hold the Line is a digital magazine focused on parenting, education, activism, social justice, and coming together to create good humans who care about the world around them. It doesn’t get much better than that. As an added bonus, it’s run by a fierce and lovely friend of mine, the kind of person who inspires you to be better and smarter just by being in the room. Head on over and check it out.
  • Teachers can’t take things personally. If we do, it’ll just about kill us – there’s just too many interactions, infractions, and “I hate you!”‘s thrown around when you’re working so closely with kids. But what happens when educators can’t control their personal reactions? Teachers who have experienced trauma can’t always detach and step back. Teaching with Trauma.
  • I love the Raising Luminaries community. Wordless Picture Books to Buy You a Few Minutes of Quiet IS about entertaining your kiddos without having to plop them in front of a screen. But it’s also about helping almost-readers find independence and confidence with literacy through wordless picture books. Win, win! (I especially love when kiddos tell their own story inspired by a wordless picture book – the opportunities for imagination and creativity are unbelievable!)
  • Books destigmatizing diversity give us a chance to catch prejudice before it begins.All kids form generalizations – we need to lump things into abstract groups so our brains don’t go dizzy with detail. The trouble is that we group humans according to what they look like. So, when we fail to explicitly discuss diversity with our children, they create their own stereotypes. Unless we expose children to stories featuring people of different races, abilities, sizes, and genders, we will miss the messed-up theories they come up with on their own.” Does your kid ask questions that make you feel super uncomfortable? GOOD. THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO. Check out some of of the assumptions this author’s child shared with her, and the wonderful way she turned them into a conversation. Talking about Differences.
  • Helping My Kids Make Sense of my Protest and Arrest. “How we raise our kids to understand race and racism matters deeply. Shielding my children from the harsh and racist realities of our society preserves the status quo; it preserves white supremacy. I can raise brave and bold children who think critically about race and learn to advocate for racial justice. I already am.” The mom’s powerful conversation with her little ones took my breath away.
  • Many teachers hide the physical and emotional abuse that they withstand at work from their spouses, partners, and families. I’m a Teacher Not a Boxer, and I’m Tired of Being Beat Up by My Students. “I don’t want people to say, ‘You’re a saint for putting up with that.’ I want them to say, ‘How can we change the system so you are safer?’ ” Hits the nail on the head about the incredible amount of shame: both the shame of sharing and the shame of feeling the need to get out.
  • It has been an honor working with the Cville OneBook team this year. Together we purchased 2,500 copies of The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, for local readers. Because of this, the book was taught in local high schools, and programming was available all over the city for readers to come together for discussion, reflection, and growth. The first week in December, we hosted the final piece of programming, a Skype conversation with Ms. Thomas herself, followed by a panel of local students. The Daily Progress was there: Book on Police Shooting Stirs Deep Conversations at Local Schools.
  • Why do some people capitalize the “B” in Black, while others don’t? (Spoiler alert: We all should.) Learn the fascinating history – and share it with your friends – via this Facebook post from The Conscious Kid.
  • Alabama 9-year-old kills herself after racist bullying. “ ‘She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black b-tch,’ ‘just die’,’ Harris said.Harris described her niece as a bright and outgoing girl who loved math and science and wanted to be a scientist.” Horrifying. So many thoughts. No words.
  • Consumers want “real” interactions online, and social media feeds are making most marketing seem overwrought and disingenuous. So companies are looking past influencers (who I swear were cutting edge like 5 minutes ago) to microinfluencers. I’m pretty sure that, at this point, I’m too old to tell what’s an ad and what’s not. Anyone with me?
  • How to Turn a Bad Day Around. Great for kids, and the young at heart.
  • ‘Mum this is me!’: the pop-up bookshop that only sells diverse children’s books. I have long had a dream of opening a shop like this in Charlottesville someday; it gives me hope that it’s happening in the UK. (I hope publishers are paying attention – they sold out stock in 2 days! That old “people don’t buy books with black and brown characters” excuse is looking pretty thin…)

  • The only effective way to reward reading is with more reading (sound familiar? You heard me say it here). So this reading vending machine, which students earn tokens to by reaching their reading goals, is genius. School Installs Vending Machine That Dispenses Free Books to Kids Who Read.

  • “This is what women walk around with, all day, every day. These are the stories replaying in women’s heads, stories of rape and harassment and lechery and violence and condescension and the understanding that our lives do not belong to us. That we are object, never subject. In board rooms and classrooms and at childcare. […] I started to ask myself: Who would I be if I didn’t live in a world that hated women?” Reevaluating the ‘Romantic’ Hit Songs of Pop Music’s Patriarchy.
  • A few weeks ago, I shared Bill Konigsberg’s response to an NCTE panel gone wrong. Since then, things have gotten even more complicated and heated. Follow the fallout from author Sarah Cortez’s racist and homophobic language here, thanks to Kid Lit Women. I haven’t listened to the podcast, but read through the letters that have been flying back and forth. How do you think NCTE is handling the situation? What should they do next?
  • Looking for ways to support communities of color and small businesses this holiday season? 8 great ways to put your money where your mouth is.
  • Bennett’s Village is working to create a universally accessible playground in Charlottesville where all children can learn and play together. Students at Frost Montessori created possible designs for Bennett’s Village, and they are wonderful – but the real beauty here is in hearing these middle schoolers talk about how Bennett’s story has inspired them to be more thoughtful and inclusive. Bennett’s legacy is just as big and loving as his heart was.
  • Learning to Argue.Seminars allow students to enter into a shared space with their peers even as they disagree. There is no sarcasm, no withholding of oneself or one’s efforts from the group, which means that two people can disagree on almost every point of interpretation about a text while still sharing something fundamental: common and equal investment in the discussion.” Although the specific seminar pedagogy discussed here isn’t widely taught, I believe that teachers all over the country are making respectful debate and room for disagreement cornerstones in their classrooms. When teachers see a need, they do everything they can to fill it – whether they’re provided proper training (and compensation) or not.
  • Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your Mighty Girl? Look no further.
  • Speaking of gifts… I knew Mr. Fitz was the one for me when he happily agreed to a No-Gift Christmas, years and years ago. I didn’t know that this was a “thing” or that other people did it – we always get crazy looks when we admit that we don’t exchange presents. But according to The Atlantic, we’re not the only ones. The Joy of a No-Gift Christmas.

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