Bending The Arc Newsletter

Bending The Arc is a social justice newsletter developed for colleagues at my school. When I announced my intention on Twitter, the positive response and level of encouragement was huge.

Click the link below to access the full archive:

Bending The Arc Full Archive

Here’s the first edition:

September 11, 2019

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”[64]¬† –¬†Theodore Parker, 19th c. transcendentalist and abolitionist.

Welcome to Bending The Arc!

Like Theodore Parker, whose quote was famously paraphrased by Dr. Martin Luther King, I cannot see or be certain about where we may find ourselves on the arc of the moral universe, but I do see a need for us to do what we can as individuals, communities and institutions to bend that arc towards justice. Hence this newsletter project designed to offer you three social justice resources per month for your own edification and to explore with students and colleagues.
I invite you to take in what you can when you can.
Without further ado, I offer you the first edition of Bending The Arc! Here are three resources to build your social justice library for the classroom and beyond:

Teaching Tolerance Website and Social Justice StandardsTeaching Tolerance is an¬†education initiative¬†of the Southern Poverty Law Center. I will likely refer to the¬†website several times this year because it¬†offers resources for anti-bias education at every level. It makes sense, though, to begin with¬†clearly articulated standards which help us focus our pedagogy effectively. The standards address¬†identity, diversity, justice and action. Last year, our elementary school Diversity Committee used the standards for diversity and identity to guide our whole school read-aloud of¬†Jacqueline Woodson’s¬†Each Kindness.

Image result for 1619 project images
The 1619 Project 
The New York Times Magazine published a special issue dedicated to recognizing the first enslaved people from Africa arriving on American shores in Jamestown, VA in 1619. Conceived and curated by education journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the collection includes work by some of the most celebrated contemporary Black writers. I want to draw your attention, however, to the podcast series which may be of special interest for using with students. There are also full companion lesson resources available through the Pulitzer Center.

Virtual Conference on Humanizing Mathematics #VConHM
This virtual conference was hosted by math educators Sam Shah and Hema Khodai through their blogs and on Twitter. If you click on the link you’ll find 4 weeks’¬†worth (!) of excellent writing by math teachers at various levels addressing two fundamental questions:

How do you highlight that the doing of mathematics is a human endeavor?

How do you express your identity as a doer of mathematics to, and share your ‚Äúwhy‚ÄĚ for doing mathematics with, kids?

In this closing keynote blog, Rochelle Guitierrez talks about recognizing the ways in which math is often deployed to dehumanize people and here advocates for rehumanizing mathematics. Near the end she quotes from the introduction to a textbook she co-edited:
“...mathematics education cannot truly improve until it adequately addresses the very students it¬†has most failed. As such, merely tinkering or basically repeating the same approaches is not likely to produce different results.

This is the end. I hope you find some morsels of interest in this collection. Although I said three resources, I realize that this batch constitutes three¬†bundles¬†of resources. I’m excited about this adventure and look forward to our discoveries going forward.

Wishing you all the best until next time,

Also: The title of this newsletter is the same as a documentary film about public health activists in the developing world. You may want to check it out. I had no idea.

image credits:  Header photo via / Janczek Abramowicz; 1619 Project: ©The New York Times Magazine