“…and hold them under until they are soaked in it”

The video below is just a tiny bit bombastic in approach. Just a smidge. But it’s still a good (if extreme) reminder: formal, compulsory education is always about turning people into something they aren’t, or weren’t. It always imposes its own value system. Whether that’s beating the “native” out of Native Americans, or merely telling kids they need to stay focused on getting a degree instead of going into the trades—formal education is never neutral. Formalism and bias are inseparable.

As such, education is an act that should always be engaged in with profound humility. With great sensitivity, and with a weather eye on unintended consequences.

Source: This Painting Captures a Disturbing Truth about the History of Our Education System


The South vs. The Confederacy

the Confederacy is not “the South.” It is not “the South now,” certainly. It was not even “the South” in 1861. The conflation of the Confederacy with “the South” began, I suspect, as some tired editor’s attempt to make a headline fit.

Source: Was the South Ever Confederate, Anyway? | The Knoxville Mercury

A learned and thought-provoking piece from a local historian.

A righteous man

Today I say Kaddish for Nicholas WintonOne day in 1938, about to embark on a skiing vacation in Switzerland, he decided to save Jewish Czech children from the Nazis instead. By the time war broke out, he had saved 669 children. Most of them were orphans by the time the war ended. Of the final batch of 250 children who were en route when the Nazis closed the borders, none are known to have survived.

Winton didn’t speak of his work on the kindertransport for almost 50 years. Many have commented on his humility. I wonder if perhaps it was also because of the children on that last train, and all the other kids he couldn’t save. He was finally reunited with many of the grown-up children he saved; I hope he was able to feel pure, undiluted joy when they took his hands.

I don’t think it’s enough just to acknowledge that a man was great. If you’re inspired by Winton’s story, today might be a good day to make a charitable donation toward humanitarian causes. I opted to give money to International Rescue Committee, which seems to do the kind of work Winton would have approved of. Other worthy recipients include Direct Relief, Heifer International, American Jewish World Service, and Charity:Water.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day

Hard on the heels of a much less auspicious day, today it is refreshing to celebrate Ada Lovelace. A programmer so badass that she wrote the world’s first program a hundred years before there was a computer to run it on.

As an aside, how cool is it that she described herself as an “Analyst & Metaphysician” of a “poetical science”?

Columbus Day

It should be a source of shame that for centuries we lionized the exploits of explorers who sought only wealth and glory; murdering, raping and enslaving as they pleased. Even their own priests reviled their depravity.

A free and proud people should be able to teach their children the truth; that we can and must enact justice in spite of our history, not because of it. We should not have to fall back on mythology to spare our sensibilities. We do not need to celebrate how got here in order to be proud of who we are.

Burn scars

I’d seen the picture before. Everyone’s seen the picture. A sobbing naked girl runs toward the camera, a wall of fire and smoke behind her. And until today I thought she was merely terrified. Not also horribly burned by the napalm inferno she’s running from.

She’s still alive. She lives in Canada. She has a newborn son. She founded a charity that helps child victims of war.

And she still has the scars.

When I look at that news photo from 40 years ago now, through a father’s eyes… I don’t know how to put it down into words. I can’t even bring myself to re-post that picture here. My mind freezes up and starts circling, unable to process the pain of that moment, unable to set it aside.

Via: On a Road, 40 Years Ago « Joe McNally’s Blog