Categories
Reading

Sunday Reads

Long Reads

Creation in Confinement: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration
By Nicole R. Fleetwood

“In popular entertainment, journalism, and documentaries, images of “life behind bars” fascinate, horrify, and titillate. They also offer a familiarity with prison as a cornerstone institution of modern life, but one that the majority of people never enter. The nonincarcerated public comes to recognize prison and the people in prison almost exclusively through a set of rehearsed images created by the state and by nonincarcerated image-makers—images like arrest photos, mug shots, the minimal furnishings of the prison cell, fortress-like walls, barbed wire, bars, metal doors, and the executioner’s chair.”

Russell Craig: Self Portrait, 2016

Russell Craig/Photo by Kisha Bari, provided by the Soze Agency
Russell Craig: Self Portrait, 2016
Russell Craig/Photo by Kisha Bari, provided by the Soze Agency

The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectives
By Ben Williamson, Sian Bayne & Suellen Shay

“Although ‘datafication’ – the rendering of social and natural worlds in machine-readable digital format – has most clearly manifested in the commercial domain, such as in online commerce (e.g. Amazon), social media (Facebook, Twitter), and online advertising (Google), it has quickly spread outwards to encompass a much wider range of services and sectors. These include, controversially, the use of facial recognition and predictive analytics in policing, algorithmic forms of welfare allocation, automated medical diagnosis, and – the subject of this special issue – the datafication of education.”

Why climate change is a pandemic in slow motion (and what that can teach us)
By Rob Wijnberg

“If this time is showing us anything, it’s this: we are able to transform society on a global scale in order to protect ourselves from danger. Now is the time to solve not just one crisis, but two at the same time.”

Short Reads

Beyond Rights: COVID—19, Conservatives and the Responsibilities of American Christianity
By David C. McDuffie

“In claiming religious freedom as a justification to act contrary to public health advice, some conservative Christian leaders in the United States are choosing to risk American lives so that their congregations can attend to their spiritual needs. Though most Christian communities have suspended traditional worship in adherence of social distancing guidelines, David C. McDuffie sees the defiant behaviour of the minority as rooted in a common supernatural understanding of Christian duty.”

We’re Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholders’ Republic
By Ibram X. Kendi

“Slaveholders disavowed a state that secured any form of communal freedom—the freedom of the community from slavery, from disenfranchisement, from exploitation, from poverty, from all the demeaning and silencing and killing. The freedom from. The freedom from harm. Which is to say, in coronavirus terms, the freedom from infection.”

How Serbian activists started a nationwide anti-authoritarian protest during COVID-19 lockdown
By Miloš Budimir

What began as a nightly cheer for healthcare workers has inspired thousands of people to bang pots and pans, blow whistles and blast music to protest Serbia’s ruling regime.

The COVID Crisis Is Reinforcing the Hunger Industrial Complex
By Andrew Fisher

“The existence of this unholy alliance poses the fundamental question of: “Why end hunger when anti-hunger work is so profitable to all parties?” Through supporting anti-hunger organizations, corporations reduce their labor costs, garbage disposal fees, and tax bills while building their reputations as socially responsible firms.”

Is Our War With The Environment Leading To Pandemics?
By Fiona Armstrong, Anthony Capon And Ro McFarlane

“It might be clear to readers here that human health depends on healthy ecosystems. But this is rarely considered in policy decisions on projects that affect natural ecosystems – such as land clearing, major energy or transport infrastructure projects and industrial-scale farming.”

BONUS – Videos

Life-Making, Capitalism and the Pandemic: Feminist Ideas about Women’s Work with Susan Ferguson and Tithi Bhattacharya

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Income Inequality and Redistribution of Wealth + James Baldwin

Categories
Family

An Experiment: Children in School

Today is the first day of school for my 7-year old daughter.

We have two children, ages seven and ten, who have been homeschooled their entire lives. Since our older child was very young, our intention was to homeschool them for as long as it seemed feasible and right. During the last ten years, the homeschool approach to learning connected with our values, and has become a part of who we are as a family. We have built a community around this life-learning. Homeschooling provides flexibility that you can’t find in a traditional school environment. Homeschooling provides for our family to remain a tight community. Homeschooling allows the children to learn what they find interesting, at the time they are interested in the topic. Homeschooling provides a method to learning that doesn’t force learning to the most common dominator. Homeschooling doesn’t teach children how to stand in line, doesn’t rely on exhausted teachers who must follow the state “standards” for learning (not saying that my wife Leslie doesn’t get exhausted).

Though there is great joy and enrichment from homeschooling, it hasn’t been without struggle, frustration, and difficulty – both for the children and for the parents. The two learners have different needs and different styles. Perhaps it hasn’t servered both the children in the same manner due to their different personalities. Further, our son has moderate special needs and demands a great deal of focus and attention. From time to time, we sit down and assess if we are moving in the right direction; to see what is working and what isn’t working. A lot of the issues surround our son and his needs.

Ironically, our little village of Ojai has about 14 schools in the area. Most of them are private boarding schools. Last month Leslie decided to make an appointment to visit the Montessori School of Ojai. I took the day off work and went to observe the classrooms and meet the teachers. Of all the types of schools we have available, this school appears to be the most flexible with integrating different children together by grouping ages (a homeschool value), providing flexibility in how often our children attend, and having open enrollment. They also have a scholarship program to assist with the tuition. The class sizes are very small and the teachers have a long history with the school. Children can be learning at different levels in the same classroom. For example, a children could be reading “above” grade-level and writing “below” grade level and that isn’t a problem.

So our grand experiment begins today. There is about six weeks remaining in their school year and we hope this will give us a chance to experience having children in school. If it works well, then we may continue it next year. This is a significant change for us and involves a lot of letting go of ideas. It’s a great opportunity for me to practice the vows I’ve taken to be open and not attached to views. Who knows what the future may hold. Please send us your support and loving energy, both for Leslie and the children.

Next week: my son’s first day of school.