• The Left Hand of Darkness for Preschoolers and Others

    A painting hangs in my younger daughter’s room: it’s a picture of the spines of 10 books. These are books that her mother and I imagine her reading by the time she is 18. One she’s heard aloud many times: Where the Wild Things Are. Some others she might hear aloud in a few years: Matilda, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Others I hope she will read on her own: Graceling, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landou-Banks, The Handmaid’s Tale.  

  • Segregation, Assimilation, and Anti-Racism in Ibram Kendi's "Stamped from the Beginning"

    Kendi lays a few deceptively simple building blocks as the foundation for this definitive history of racist ideas. First is how he defines a racist idea: “it is any concept that regards one racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.” It doesn’t matter if that idea is implied or explicit, state or unstated, inscribed in law or deed. If someone says that black people ought to be more like white people in any way, the implication is that black people are less and whites are more—and that is simply racist. Apply that rule to everyday discourse, to media representations of white and black folks, and to laws and policies and create disparities in wealth, incarceration rates, and educational access, and you see a world pulsing with racist ideas like radioactive contamination.  

  • Talk about race by "Waking Up White"

    I was at a two-day race and equity workshop last fall, and during the final session of the first day, the lead facilitator read aloud several pieces of anonymous feedback that various participants had shared. “I want to hear more from the white participants,” she said, reading from a card someone else had submitted. Hearing that, something clicked for me: I was listening to the participants of color talk about race, and I was empathizing with their stories, thoughts, and emotions, but I wasn’t talking enough about my own race, my own story, and my own emotions. That withholding was, in fact, a facet of my own white privilege. The skin I was in meant that I didn’t have to think about race on a day-to-day basis if I didn’t want to. In order to get more out of the workshop, I had to talk more about race, even if it was uncomfortable, and that meant that I had to talk openly an honestly about my own whiteness. So on the next day of the workshop, that’s what I did: I opened up more, offered more candid thoughts and stories, leaned into the discomfort of talking about race. When I picked up Debby Irving’s book, Waking Up White, it felt like a refresher course extending the inner work I began during that workshop. Here was another white anti-racist educator proclaiming loudly to her readers: “I’m white, and I’ve been really ignorant about race, but I’m leaning into my discomfort because it’s what white people have to do.”  

  • Learn more through a story

    There are two books sitting on my bedside shelf that I have been reading in short chunks for a long time. One is The Evolution of Childhood by Melvin Konner. The other is The Richness of Life, acollection of essays and book excerpts by Stephen Jay Gould. One is essentially a textbook; the other is full of stories. Both are great books about science in their own right. I'll eventually make it through each. But which one will a remember better? Will I learn more from the expository text or the narrative essays? 

  • Computers as Objects to Think With

    Bret Victor wrote an essay in 2012 that left me desperately wishing I were a computer engineer. "Learnable Programming" was a critique of 1) Khan Academy's newly released intro course on programming, 2) the Processing language the course focused on, and 3) decades of stagnation in programming pedagogy. The essay was funny, visually stunning, provocative, and so convincing in its presentation of an effective foundation for how to teach programming to learners by *showing them what their code was actually doing* that one could easily be led to believe that anyone who'd even considered the question of how to teach programming before was asleep at the pedagogical wheel. 

  • Working and Networking

    I love talking to people about the exciting work they're doing. I love it more when their work resonates with something I'm doing. I love it the most when finding people whose exciting work resonates with my own is part of my professional responsibilities.