Born a Crime

12th June 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Year

We watched Trevor Noah’s thoughtful video take on George Floyd, the Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery, and Amy Cooper, and were inspired to read Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Wow! This riveting book describes how, due to miscegenation laws in South Africa, Noah really was born a criminal—blacks and whites were not supposed to be mixing under apartheid in South Africa. Lucky for us, Trevor’s miraculous  mother deliberately chose to break the law. We won’t tell you how or why because we’d be spoiling the story.

The long and the short of it is that Noah is, quite simply, one of the most masterful story-tellers around.  He describes the great value of language—a gifted linguist, Noah could use his ability to understand the essence of how people spoke to in turn speak with them. “I became a chameleon. My color didn’t change, but I could change your perception of my color. If you spoke to me in Zulu, I replied to you in Zulu. If you spoke to me in Tswana, I replied to you in Tswana. Maybe I didn’t look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you.” Noah truly understands and conveys the horrors of domestic violence, and perhaps most importantly, from our perspective, he describes the often appalling lack of educational opportunities for children born into poverty.  This is truly a great book by an extraordinary writer—also a terrific book for audio listening. (Noah’s subtle South African accent is almost magnetically listenable.)

Defunding to Rebuild

Barb spent five years volunteering to help teach math in the inner-urban school district of Pontiac. The children were wonderful!  The educational system? Frankly, it was a disaster.  Barb was horrified to find plenty of fifth graders who couldn’t add 2 + 3, and who had never had homework assigned or graded in their entire lives. The teachers and administrators (save for a few wonderful paragons), created an atmosphere of fear and oppression related to learning, even as they helplessly threw up their hands and blamed everything on the students. But when a new math program was brought in that provided for both practice and accountability, math scores skyrocketed.  Here is a provocative opinion piece by Tim Worstall that suggests defunding school systems so as to rebuild to eradicate the horrific educational inequity currently experienced by the disadvantaged in the US.  “Defunding a police system in order to make room for a wholesale replacement has been proven to work. Doing it again to the inner city … school systems would do so again. …  Want black lives to matter? Kill the current education system. Kill it stone dead. Then rebuild it anew and without any of the people who currently misrun it.”

YouTube Channel for Kids Who Need Tips from Dad

Trevor Noah’s stepfather put a bullet through… (well, you have to read the book!). Rob Kenney’s father wasn’t so bad—he just walked out Rob and his seven siblings when Rob was 14 years old. But this has left Rob knowing what it’s like to grow up without a Dad. Now, Rob has “started a YouTube channel where he teaches kids, teens, and adults, basic and practical life skills. The kinds of things you might ask your dad to teach you. He calls it ‘Practical Dadvice for everyday tasks.’ Need to know how to tie a tie? Rob’s got you. Have a clogged up sink? Rob can show you how to fix it. Want to check your oil or change a tire? Rob can help.

Rob’s channel, ‘Dad, How Do I…?’ is not even two months old and has already garnered an impressive 2 million-plus views and 1.2 million subscribers.” So even if you’re a Dad, but you’re trying to teach better, take a look at Rob’s channel to get useful tips.

Minimizing Your Anxiety by Distancing from Social Media 

Mindshift Lead Mentor Scott Mathews writes “I can’t thank you enough for recommending [the book] Digital Minimalism to me.  I’m only on the third chapter, but I’ve already reached a new personal philosophy for my engagement with digital media, especially social media. In a nutshell, I choose the time, place, and methods of my engagement with digital media…it doesn’t choose for me. How liberating to learn that digital media is specifically designed to draw us in and keep teasing our attention, which is especially dangerous for someone with a propensity for addiction like me.

“I’ve been feeling miserable the last few days, fixating on the news, getting in the middle of angry arguments on Facebook, etc., and spending FAR too much time on it. So here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • Suspended my Facebook account, perhaps permanently. I still have Facebook Messenger, plus the more closely-moderated LinkedIn and Instagram.
  • Turned off ALL notifications across all devices except for phone calls and Messenger. This especially includes e-mail. I don’t have to jump right on it the moment a learner posts something, not even for technical problems! I will keep on top of the forums of course.
  • Limiting myself to only checking the news twice a day, and never right upon awakening.
  • Started charging my phone and my tablet (both turned off) in my office instead of by my bedside. This prevents me from waking up and immediately being immersed in bad news and conflict. (I could still ask Alexa to read me the news, but I don’t.)

“I hope that I will never go back to my former state. I happen to have training in substance use disorders, so it’s going to be “Physician, heal thyself.”

“…Just by following the guidelines above, I was able to complete a peer reviewed written assignment that I had been feeling daunted about before. Amazing what concentration can do for one…and I even managed a bike ride this morning too!”

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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