#358: Just Do This
Plus: Highlighter Happy Hour is just around the corner. Join us!
School is back in session, so let’s make this week’s issue about education, shall we? Don’t worry: There won’t be any depressing articles about the teacher shortage or critical race theory or book bans. You can read about those topics elsewhere. Here at The Highlighter, I’ve selected pieces that are funny, thought-provoking, and inspiring. If you’re a teacher, or you care about teachers, you’ll enjoy this week’s lead article, “Just Do This,” an amusing reminder that teachers juggle many responsibilities. If humor’s not your thing, you’ll appreciate thoughtful pieces on what’s actually being taught in history class, how teachers are changing the way they teach reading, and how Native American students are navigating their college years. Please enjoy!
HIGHLIGHTER HAPPY HOUR: It’s that time again. Celebrate the start of the school year and the joy of our reading community! Join other loyal subscribers at Room 389 in Oakland on Thursday, Sept. 8 for our Fall gathering of The Highlighter Happy Hour. We’ll start gathering at 5:30 pm. Connect with fellow loyal readers and reflect on the articles. Meet new people, deepen relationships, offer your perspective, and listen with empathy. Hope to see you there! Get your free ticket here. (Space is limited to 20. We’ll be outside.)
Now that I’m back at a school (and very happy about that), and particularly because I substituted four days last week (to support a colleague with Covid), I’m reminded that teachers have a ton on their plates. It’s a tiring (and rewarding) profession, don’t you think? In this piece for McSweeney’s, teacher Tom Lester gets right to it, humorously lamenting all the demands teachers face, alongside administrators’ suggestions to “just take a deep breath and remember to take care of yourself.” (4 min)
2️⃣ What’s Actually Being Taught In History Class (videos)
This collection of short video interviews of high school history teachers made me proud to have taught social studies. In short, they know what they’re talking about. After sharing their perspectives on critical race theory (and how they don’t teach it), the teachers consider important questions like, “What is it like to teach about race and United States history?” “What do you teach about Thomas Jefferson?” and “How do you discuss the Civil War and Reconstruction?” My favorite quote was from Valencia Abbott, who teaches in Wentworth, North Carolina. She says, “I teach these things so that I know that when I’m no longer here, my country is going to be fine, my country is going to make it, and the only way that that’s going to happen is to teach the truth.” (15 min)
When Kareem Weaver taught fourth and fifth graders in Oakland, his district required him to use Open Court, a scripted reading curriculum based on phonics instruction. He and his colleagues hated the program and fought for a more progressive approach that would offer young people access to a wide variety of meaningful texts. Now Mr. Weaver wants the old curriculum back. Why? The science of reading. Despite all of the controversy surrounding the latest battle of the reading wars, this article offers a fair summary of why and how educators have shifted their approach to teaching young people how to read. (17 min)
4️⃣ Standing In Two Worlds: Native American College Diaries (podcast)
This is an inspiring collection of first-person accounts by Native American college students seeking higher education to strengthen connections with their indigenous roots. Reuben Kitto Stately says: “Education for me is truth-seeking. I knew that focusing on American Indian Studies at Augsburg University would help me better understand the history of colonization here in America. Knowledge is an act of resistance and a way to help Native people. This is a capitalist system and the best way that we can support our people and ourselves and our families is to make money. You can bring that college degree back to your people and get a job for your tribe. Maybe you’re able to indigenize new space or you strengthen the space that your people are already in.” (50 min)
+ I highly recommend this podcast episode, especially for Humanities teachers and college counselors.
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