#341: Fun-Size Hustle
Happy Thursday, loyal readers! Thank you very much for being here.
One thing I’ve always liked about our reading community is that we appreciate articles from a variety of publications. There’s nothing wrong with The New York Times and The Washington Post. But we see those sources every day. If we want our reading to help us understand different viewpoints, we must seek well-written pieces outside our regular feed. But many of you have told me you don’t have the time to scour the internet for hidden gems. That’s one reason I started doing The Highlighter almost seven years ago. I’m grateful for your readership.
This week’s selections (from around the web) explore how we raise our children to embrace capitalism, how one Black woman experienced school desegregation, how technology in the classroom is not productive for learning, and how our country might be headed toward civil war. If you have time to read just one article, make it “Fun-Size Hustle: How School Fundraisers Teach Kids That Work Is Sweet.” But all four pieces are on the shorter side this week, so who knows what’s possible? 😀 (Let me know if you read all four.)
+ Do you want to read more but struggle to carve out the time? I’d love to hear from you. All you need to do is hit reply. (I have some ideas.)
Fun-Size Hustle: School Fundraisers Indoctrinate Kids Into Capitalism
When I was in the fourth grade, I went door to door asking my neighbors to sponsor me for the school’s Spell-A-Thon. The goal of the fundraiser, I don’t remember. The point was to spell all the words right and bring home the cash. In this provocative essay, Mary Porto wonders why suburban educators solicit kids to raise funds when they could ask parents directly. It has to do with capitalism, Ms. Porto argues, and preparing children for grind culture. “The message of school fundraising is the same one that adults are taught about jobs: Working hard is rewarded, whether with a paycheck or a toy. And if your paycheck is too small or you want more than one backpack tag, work harder.” (5 min)
+ I won a robot as part of the sixth grade magazine drive. What do you have to show for yourself?
Kelundra Smith: “I chose books and academics because that was the only choice I was allowed to make. I was a student who was tracked early on and set up for this college-bound life of achievement, and I walked it out all the way through graduate school. I have the student loans to prove it. Yet, surviving that level of scrutiny and perfectionism came at a cost. The idea that pronouncing a word incorrectly or wearing a certain outfit could rob me of opportunities is one that it took years to recover from. It is an ongoing effort.” (12 min)
Maya, who belongs to loyal reader Karisa, is a sweet beabull who loves her purple ball. Want your pet to appear in The Highlighter? I think you do! hltr.co/pets
Putting Technology Before Teaching
I used to be a big advocate of technology in the classroom, always looking for the next app (anyone hear of Diigo?) to engage my students. No longer. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older. Or maybe I worry for our young people, stuck behind screens all day, sedating themselves from the effects of the pandemic. Former teacher Shane Trotter describes an iPad initiative at his school, which introduced a barrier between teachers and students that made building relationships and growing trust more challenging. The point was not about learning, Mr. Trotter says. It was about making sure Nearpod worked, and then surveilling students from afar, rather than interacting with them up close. (10 min)
We Are Living In The Age of Civil War
“Ask almost anyone who has lived through a civil war,” Barbara F. Walter warns, “and they will tell you that they didn’t see it coming.” An expert on international security, Prof. Walter worries that the United States now meets the three criteria that put nations at risk: weakening democratic institutions, citizens organizing themselves around identity rather than ideology, and once-dominant groups losing their power. Unless these trends reverse, our country stands a 4 percent chance of descending into conflict. The solution? Take away social media, and we’ll be fine. (12 min)
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