Diversity isn’t just about race, it’s also about ideas

When Muslim minds aren’t challenged by “dangerous” ideas they cannot develop the sophistication needed to articulate their own.

So true, and I would argue the same for all minds, regardless of faith, ethnicity and background. Perhaps the only hopeful way forward for the world is less ignorance and a willingness to engage “the other”.

I guess that’s why I’m so interested in education; to me, it’s the key to opening up minds and broadening horizons. The ability to read and think allows you to consider other perspectives instead of always being told what to believe. Though I realise that’s my idealised notion of education, because of course people can be “educated” into becoming narrow minded bigots.

I also found this bit especially interesting because I did not know this:

This willful closed-mindedness is not an inherent feature of Islam. A thousand years ago, Muslim societies were open and curious, while Christian Europe was insular and fearful of “blasphemy.” Aristotle’s books were translated and studied in Baghdad and Córdoba, and banned in Paris and Rome. No wonder the Muslim world was then the home to groundbreaking discoveries in science, medicine and mathematics. In theology, too, Muslim thinkers like Ibn Rushd, also known as Averroës, developed sophisticated arguments that would inspire Christian thinkers like Thomas Aquinas — thanks to the Muslim engagement with Greek philosophy.

Read: How Muslim Governments Impose Ignorance

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The difference between empathy and sympathy

Empathy is hard to do, and I’m almost always terrible at expressing it. I’m that person with an awkwardly timed “I’m sorry to hear that”, the one who resists the urge to find a silver lining because I know that doesn’t help but the silence is so uncomfortable! So I’m learning, and probably always will be. Also, watch Brené Brown’s TED talk on the power of vulnerability.

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Penelope Trunk on the Stanford rapist and the power of language

Melissa found Louisa Curry who says, “I see a pattern emerging from rape culture where women have a past while men have potential. When women are violated we’re asked ‘What did you do to deserve this?’ and often our past is looked at for clues. When men violate women they’re asked ‘What do you have to lose?’ and their future is looked at for clues.”

I read Penelope Trunk – a lot. Here’s her piece on the Stanford rapist and the power of language. From this day onwards, through no real fault of its own, the Stanford name will be linked with the crime of an entitled white brat and his offensively arrogant/ignorant father. That’s unfortunate because, had the judge in this case done what a judge is supposed to do, i.e. see that justice is served, the Stanford name could so easily have become part of the fight against rape culture instead.

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Rethinking the G.P.A. and what it means to be successful

Success is about being passionately good at one or two things, but students who want to get close to that 4.0 have to be prudentially balanced about every subject. In life we want independent thinking and risk-taking, but the G.P.A. system encourages students to be deferential and risk averse, giving their teachers what they want.

Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the G.P.A. rewards those who can answer other people’s questions. The modern economy rewards those who can think in ways computers can’t, but the G.P.A. rewards people who can grind away at mental tasks they find boring. People are happiest when motivated intrinsically, but the G.P.A. is the mother of all extrinsic motivations.

An article on the pitfalls of the G.P.A. system. Love that people are starting to rethink what being a “good” or “successful” student really means. I’ve seen so many kids that are “so smart” in a grades-focused academic setting graduate high school with no clue what they want to do next. Or, worse, those who graduate university, having completed the degree that their parents told them to do, and they are completely without passion or purpose for the rest of their lives.

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This is how New York schools are trying to help students learn English

Among the most significant changes is that schools must now have an English language teacher — like the woman drawing pictures at P.S. 160 — in the classroom for part of each week if even one student is learning English. In the past, students could receive English language instruction outside of the classroom, while spending the rest of their time in a regular class trying to puzzle out the words on their own.

Another shift requires schools and districts to create programs in which classes are taught in two languages. These bilingual programs will now be offered to students who are new to the public system, as long as there are enough children in one place who speak the same tongue.

An interesting article about how public schools in New York are trying to cope with the high numbers of students who are new to English. At least they’re doing something about it instead of turning a blind eye and hoping that the problem will sort itself out. Is this something Australia might have to consider for some school districts one day?

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What if students controlled their own learning?

Peter Hutton of Templestowe College in Melbourne talks about an educational model that allows students to individualise their education and share control in the running of the school.

I’m excited that people are talking about what does and doesn’t work in conventional schooling. We might be a long way from completely overhauling our approach and perceptions towards education, but at least the conversation has begun.

I’ve read comments about how this educational model might not work as well for unmotivated students who are still trying to figure out what they’re interested in, or who perhaps might need a little more structure and guidance.

I can see how that might be the case, but I also wonder if students might have a better idea of what they’re passionate about if they were given more flexibility to explore in primary school. How would it look to incorporate some of these principles in a primary school setting?

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“If I should have a daughter…” by Sarah Kay

It was what she said about raising daughters that grabbed me at first. And then she started to talk about spoken word poetry, which up till I watched this video was new to me, and even as a writer who never attempted poetry (and has no desire to), I couldn’t help but think: this is so cool. And then, I wonder if we could teach this in schools?

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Two years on: Still missed, never forgotten


It’s been two years and there are days where something still catches in my throat when I think of you, taking me by surprise. I hope you are well, my friend. If there were a Starbucks around here, I would have a caramel macchiato in your honour, iced of course, even though it’s 16 degrees out. Here’s to you: still missed and never, ever forgotten.

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