November 12 2019


November 2019 Issue II
Friends refer friends.


Taking a deep dive into a specific topic related to education.

An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

While technically that’s true (gravity bitch), the saying – which has been coined to mean someone is not far from how their parents are – isn’t. These variances in identity can be difficult – points of contention that leave tensions felt by both the child and the parent who raises them. Andrew Solomon set out to explore the extent of the term reproduction (a copy of something else) in what he terms “horizontal identities”, personalities that differ from the ones inherited and as a result, challenge views of acceptance.

His book (and now documentary) provides empowering narratives about what it means to be “out of step” in a culture driven by standardization. Dwarfism. Down Syndrome. Homosexual. Criminal. These labels that we carry attempt to mark differences amongst one another. Some are seen as a sin or illness, others as treatable or curable, and perhaps even a choice that can be reversed, but all are an identity – and as Solomon begs to question, how do we decide what to cure and what to celebrate?

It ain’t easy being green.

A broader sense of the tension from horizontal identities is portrayed in Veronica Roth’s (2011) novel Divergent in which five different factions perform different functions within their society. The Dauntless faction is distinct for their bravery. The Amity faction is discernible for their ability to keep peace. The Erudite faction is distinguished for their remarkable intelligence. The Abnegation faction is defined for their selflessness. The Candor faction is discrete for their honesty.

Although each of these factions represents a different element or virtue that is characteristic of human nature, they also represent similarities amongst individuals within each faction. Their sameness is notable not only by their actions but the way in which they dress. The expectation that a child will choose the same faction of their parents is emphasized during the choosing ceremony, when divergence comes with a great cost.

Different isn’t Wrong

Practices that attempt to remove differences (genetic treatments attempting to eradicate dwarfism) to produce more and more alike individuals have problematic consequences for those identities that are perceived as ‘abnormal’. The expense: individuality is lost. Jack’s perspective – in Solomon’s documentary – regarding the diversity of language forms is a particularly powerful one: “We thought he should talk. We talk so he needs to learn how to talk […] He started spelling letters with the stencils and he typed out, ‘I’m trying and I’m really smart'”. Autism physically prevented him from speaking, which his parents thought he needed to do in order to communicate. But eventually, they came to realize what new literacy scholars argue: language takes many different forms (not always linguistic ones). Emphasizing that acceptance, rather than sameness, is what should be desired.


Taking a meaningful break to chip away at the silos in education.

Because turkey comas are legit…

So when you start feeling sluggish or you just need to get out of spending time with the fam, get them comfies on and binge on these noteworthy shows because we all know we can’t shut that teacher brain off even when watching commercials:
    • Grey’s Anatomy (think ER meets Scrubs). Oh yes my friend. We went there. And before you write this suggestion off as just another guilty pleasure (although we do love our stories), GA is known for its dynamic cast of culturally relevant characters — something creator Shonda Rhimes’ would credit to real life not diversity — that portray timely topics all to help its viewers unpack the events currently happening around us.
    • Black Mirror (think Twilight meets PSA). If you didn’t “like” the like obsessed nosedive of an episode we shared in September, there are plenty of others to choose from. Let’s just say privacy isn’t the issue in these dystopian tech driven worlds.
    • Orange is the New Black (think OZ meets Girls). This show takes a deep dive into prison life to empower the women behind bars. All while exposing the corruption in our prison system.
    • Modern Love (like Chicken Soup for the Soul meets Love Actually). When a NYT column becomes a podcast and is now a series streaming on Prime, you know it has got to be good. The show exemplifies the complexity of the term “relationship”, examples that are especially important reminders during a season of thanks and giving.

    And don’t worry, we haven’t lost track of the time. We are bringing you the second issue early this month because coming up is our 2019 NCTE Conference guide. Trust us, you don’t want to miss it so subscribe below.

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