Vocabulary Post #1 – “The Hood”

30 Apr

hood – ho͝od

  • a community in which people have lost the habit of being neighborly. i.e. “they took the ‘neighbor’ out of the ‘hood'” (h/t @DJReezey)
  • generally applied to geographic areas of varying size which are perceived as being low-income, and high-crime
  • often used in the context of denigration and fear. e.g. “don’t go through there, that’s the hood”
  • typically hood communities are under substantial economic stress (see: Wilson, Massey & Denton)

Suggested Reading: “Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City ” by Eliot Anderson


Click here for “Perplexing Images” – (my historically-themed Tumblr account)

13 Apr


Propaganda, or, “There Are No Orcs in Real Life”

13 Apr

So . . . I was watching the Lord of the Rings (a childhood favorite), and I suddenly had a thought. Something that might help explain an important concept.

What do I mean by that? Well, look at the orcs. They’re the bad guys, and they’re UGLY. Just look at him!

Of more consequence than their appearance, however: They aren’t people. They don’t have personalities or morality. They don’t have wives and husbands and children. As we watch the Lord of the Rings, we never once see a weary 40-something orc coming home after a long day, putting his coat on the hook, and sitting in front of a warm fire with his family. “How was your day, honey?” “Oh. Not so great. I just don’t know if we’re doing the right thing.” “What? Enslaving the world of men?” “Yeah. I’m just not as sure as I used to be.”

No. Orcs are pure evil. Negotiations with them are pointless, because their goal is to kill and destroy. They’re not people like you and me.

Interestingly enough, similar methods have been used throughout history to depict one’s enemy as the “other.” Propaganda makes for an interesting learning experience.

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What questions do these images spur?


What is “What’s Going on Here?” (#WGOH)

13 Apr

WGOH is a short-hand term for a way of presenting content to students. It’s based on compelling images and perplexing questions.

You present a compelling image or series of images to students. And ask them, “What’s going on here?” Its a simple set-up, but it can get a foothold into a student’s curiosity. Seeing the images below, what questions would you want to ask next?

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I latched on to “What’s Going on Here?” as a guiding question, because it can branch off in so many different directions. There are so many questions implied within it. They could be “Who are those kids?” “Who took this picture?” “What’s he doing?” “Where did the city go?” “Why do those people seem so happy?” “What are they yelling about?” “Why are they being arrested?” What those questions are depend on what you see in front of you.(1)

The idea is to present students with images that will perplex them, sparking curiosity and compelling them to ask questions and go in search of answers. Something Dan Meyer said once really hits the nail on the head. He said:

. . . perplexity is not the same thing as confusion. It’s more like confusion with a full tank of gas, and a road map, and the will to get there.” source

So, what is WGOH? It’s an idea I had about a way we can inspire perplexity in our students’ lives.

That, at least, is my two cents. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.

(1) It’s like real life. When analyzing a situation, we don’t go through the exact same set of cognitive steps every time. How we “figure it out” depends on the context of what we see in front of us.

“Nuclear Weapons” – A Series of Perplexing Images*

8 Apr

“Perplexity is not confusion. It’s like confusion with a full tank of gas, a road map, and the will to get there.”


* Tumblr

What’s Going on Here? (#WGOH)

4 Apr

‎”Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”

Daily Awesome – RAW video of Dallas Tornado Throwing Semi Trucks

4 Apr

Note: By “awesome” in Daily Awesome, I don’t necessarily mean “great.”

Sometimes it’s more like “wow.”

Words of the Day – Wed. April 4

4 Apr

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders.

“Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea…”

– Antoine de Saint Exupery

h/t to Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Reddit

Autonomy – Mastery – Purpose

4 Apr

I wrote my masters thesis based largely on the ideas Dan Pink describes in his book “Drive” and in the video below.

It wasn’t the best thesis in the world, but it forced me to think deeply about what kinds of environment leads people to flourish . . . and what kinds of environments squander human potential.
I’ve seen both. . . .

the next-gen lecturer

4 Apr

The ideas in this video have influenced my thinking a lot. . . .

Lecturing can be re-thought.

Tutoring can be re-thought.

Education can be re-thought.

Why not?



“What Isn’t for Sale?”

26 Mar

“As the Cold War ended, markets and market thinking enjoyed unrivaled prestige, and understandably so. No other mechanism for organizing the production and distribution of goods had proved as successful at generating affluence and prosperity. And yet even as growing numbers of countries around the world embraced market mechanisms in the operation of their economies, something else was happening. Market values were coming to play a greater and greater role in social life. Economics was becoming an imperial domain. Today, the logic of buying and selling no longer applies to material goods alone. It increasingly governs the whole of life.”

. . . While it is certainly true that greed played a role in the financial crisis, something bigger was and is at stake. The most fateful change that unfolded during the past three decades was not an increase in greed. It was the reach of markets, and of market values, into spheres of life traditionally governed by nonmarket norms. To contend with this condition, we need to do more than inveigh against greed; we need to have a public debate about where markets belong—and where they don’t.

Consider, for example, the proliferation of for-profit schools, hospitals, and prisons, and the outsourcing of war to private military contractors. (In Iraq and Afghanistan, private contractors have actually outnumbered U.S. military troops.) Consider the eclipse of public police forces by private security firms—especially in the U.S. and the U.K., where the number of private guards is almost twice the number of public police officers.

. . . A debate about the moral limits of markets would enable us to decide, as a society, where markets serve the public good and where they do not belong. Thinking through the appropriate place of markets requires that we reason together, in public, about the right way to value the social goods we prize. It would be folly to expect that a more morally robust public discourse, even at its best, would lead to agreement on every contested question. But it would make for a healthier public life. And it would make us more aware of the price we pay for living in a society where everything is up for sale.”

“Empathic Civilization”

26 Mar

I love these RSA videos.

Illustrative images are awesome when they go along with thought-provoking ideas.