Words Worth Reading

53h

image via Gratisography

For days I was eager to get back to my laptop to finally be able to write again. Really write. And here I am with a little time and peace and I feel empty rather than full. At the same time I do have a need and desire to share a few helpful/useful/peace-bringing reads which have made this challenging political moment a little less dim, a bit more manageable.

Tressie has become a trusted source of wisdom, clarity and wit. In this post-election essay, she explains how so many “professionally smart people” completely misread the signs and signals that the Republican candidate could win. Understanding how she arrives at hopelessness as a point of departure requires more of the reader than surface comprehension, it demands empathy.

My hopelessness is faith in things yet seen and works yet done. Hopelessness is necessary for the hard work of resisting tyranny and fascism. It is the precondition for sustained social movements because history isn’t a straight line. It is a spinning top that eventually moves forward but also always goes round and round as it does.

I love this conversation because it’s probably the only way I can “be in the same room with” these people I so deeply admire.

I described this essay on place and identity as a “gentle and exquisite read”.

“We live in a world where love of land, love of place, love of home, means very little. We might value it in literature, but if a place must be sacrificed for a higher use, meaning a use that generates money, then love will not save it. That doesn’t make the love any less real.”

This article is the most uplifting yet practical piece I’ve read since the election. Taking care of ourselves and our loved ones while resisting political bankruptcy is a tall order for long stretch. The article shares how to do both.

Our first task, then, is to get ready to resist in ways small and quiet, and large and loud…

Much of the progress in the coming years will happen locally—in cities and neighborhoods, and sometimes statewide. Cities are locally accountable and far less gridlocked by partisanship, and they have some latitude to get things done, even with a hostile federal government. City leaders understand the need for living wages, they value their immigrant populations, and they see firsthand the impacts of climate change. Change is still possible in our communities.

This collection of White House photos of the first family are, well, a little bit of comfort in stormy times.

By the way, The New Yorker has had some outstanding cartoons out these last few weeks. go treat yourself to some well crafted humor.

Be well, everyone. We have work to do and we have each other.

 

 

Great Reads 2015

This is a new endeavor: an end-of-year round-up of some of my favorite reads. Thanks to the wonders of technology (Twitter and Evernote, in particular), it was almost easy to do. May you find a post or article that tickles your curiosity and broadens your perspective.

January

Such a wonderfully open post! @Bali_Maha on choosing to wear the hijab: http://t.co/ity8RdeANS Highly recommended reading! #diversity

.@nicolecallahan, telling some truths about being the one friend/family member of color: http://t.co/kAoZoCivta (Tweet via @ArissahOh)

March

Must-read“@tressiemcphd: “Starbucks Wants To Talk To You About Race. But Does It Want to Talk To You About Racism?” https://t.co/QHNmrD1nzx

Why education is not a design problem: http://t.co/kzp47RM2Mh via @jacobinmag

“What If Maps Were Made By Africans For Their Own Use?” http://t.co/guS8A267CZ via @brittlepaper re: @Chimurenga_SA (tweet via @james3neal) This is the intro to an edition of a literary journal.

April

Why I Teach by @ericspreng: https://t.co/Yka7yzyGfV Very rewarding read.

May

Where are my people at?: http://t.co/ZvXf1GnaBX via @RusulAlrubail#educolor means so much.

Who am I to add value to this conversation? But who am I to keep silent? http://t.co/UtysUQHc2O #educolor via @Angela_Watson

June

Divided, Conquered: “Everybody blogs. Nobody reads.” http://t.co/raXU6Vvv8h via @plthomasEdD

Is It Time to Give Up on Computers in Schools? (my notes from our panel today at #iste2015) http://t.co/YOodhwGjZr via @audreywatters

July

tressiemc.files.wordpress.com
https://tressiemc.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/data-and-privacy-have-been-translated-as-market-issues.docx Boom!

More on Solidarity: “Speak to Shared Goals,” Not “Speak with One Voice” http://t.co/v5OqOL9fMA via @plthomasEdD

August

Absolutely one of the best things I have read recently (and I’ve read a lot): #preach Rachel Thinnes! https://t.co/qxVBqRxK1x

September

Are Americans sacrificing their right to walk? http://t.co/DwlG4qWCmn (@amalchik, @aeonmag) #longreads  This is where I began reading Amanda Malchik’s work. Now I am an enthusiastic follower, also of her astute recommendations.

Once we all get a bit more comfortable we can talk about race, and equity.
http://t.co/i5jGqTaWwh — Tom Rademacher (@MrTomRad) This is a post I really want everyone to read.

October

Ten Counterproductive Behaviors of Social Justice Educators via @_CodyKeith_ http://t.co/6DvNqtnF4b So much truth!

November

Traces https://t.co/Z5Rbrfej48  stunning post by @KateMfD for #DigiWriMo  (tweet via @slamteacher)

Read this because it is beautiful: Paths of Desire https://t.co/Havph4QfpH via @40houradjunct

Dreading going ‘home’ for Xmas – good advice https://t.co/fzcxRTDu3V Post by @mi_good (tweet via @PartAnnMarie )

Out of order

And… I’m not sure when this year that I read this piece by Mellanie Fullick (@qui_oui) which she wrote in 2013, but wow, it was a sort of wake up call for me:

So those are my picks this time around. Such rich reading. Enjoy as much as you can and let me know what

 

 

 

 

Knowing What Resonates

Although I have always been an enthusiastic reader, the variety, pace and range of reading that I do now astounds me. After one year of full intellectual contact with online media, I see distinct patterns emerging that determine which content will likely earn a favorite star or be retweeted to my co-learners/explorers.  Five distinct characteristics stand out:

1. I value authors who show their humanity in a palatable and potentially endearing way. No strip tease or outrageous confessions, just individuals who can describe their struggles and victories with a degree of humility, grace and often humor. Pernille Ripp does this extremely well whether she’s writing about her classroom or her living room, it’s all very real and reflective without being creepy. John Spencer (@edrethink) also has knack for thoughtful sharing that is personal and often professionally relevant.

2. System skeptics will inherit the earth even though it’s not really what they wanted in the first place. My heart beats for these perpetual disrupters; the folks who shake their heads, fists or both at the prevailing order and write, write, write, making others uncomfortable with their unforgiving questioning.  Divergent thinking, floating alternatives, and leaving nothing sacred are the hallmarks of this unquiet riot. One of my favorite education system skeptics is Terry Heick. His posts at TeachThought often require 2 or 3 read-throughs in order for me to take in the full depth of his arguments. Raising questions like “What is quality?” or “What’s Best for Kids?” demands a capacity for big picture thinking coupled with an appreciation for the supporting details that make it all go. Grant Lichtman is another agitator for change who has mapped out some very real options for alternative routes in his book, EdJourney.

3. The polemicists.  These authors take debatable positions and in doing so invite discussion with and among readers.  Although I am not a fan of formal debate, when I read an article or blog post that touches a nerve, then I also read a number of comments to get a sense of how others have responded. This practice has truly invigorated my reading in unexpected ways. Having a window into other people’s thinking about the same text has touched off some tremendous learning on my part. And it has allowed me to discover my own comment voice. Tom Whitby of edu fame tends to take strong positions especially with regard to educators and their need to get connected in order to remain relevant.  I agree with him on many points and  I have also disagreed with an idea or two. What is new is that I now take the liberty of speaking up, either in the comment section or even in a separate blog post.  And that experience of daring to hold and also publicly share a dissenting opinion has been both liberating and empowering. Learning to disagree without becoming disagreeable has broadened and sharpened my thinking.  Also check out Jose Vilson for his powerful arguments and the way he addresses opposing views; business and art in the same post.

4. Clarity of purpose and encouragement as a professional mission will get me every time. Two experts who emulate this  are Elena Aguilar and Angela Watson. Both are authors in the educational realm and  each offers unique means to help educators find their inner resources to sustain and grow their practice.  Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd) also does an amazing job of appreciating and acknowledging his school community even as he spreads that positive
impact around the world. He is clear about his purpose and it shows. I think he must have one of the highest good news quotients on twitter. Worth following.  And sometimes I just stop by cult of pedagogy because Jennifer Gonzales is so remarkably  gracious and personable in all her communications even as she offers tons of resources to make the teaching life better and better.

5. Beauty
When I catch beautiful writing in its tracks, I try to admire it for longer but it always slips away. That’s why it’s such an intense encounter when it happens, like a sudden kiss. Beauty can be funny, come-as-you-are, full of surprise, wearing a hint of mystery – the point is, I never know where beauty will appear – in which post, on which platform, from which author. A short story like this can change my day with the laughter it unleashes.  Sometimes, it’s a picture or a short video, just something that reminds me how amazing this whole “inhabiting the planet earth” narrative is day after day, hour by hour.