In Australia, the country of his birth, Thanh Bui learned early on that kids who looked like him faced two possible paths.
On one, traversed by the only other Asian student in his school, the cold sting of isolation and ridicule awaited. On the other, however, came the assimilatory embrace of knowing you were “one of the lads.”
For Bui, youthful, outgoing, and kinetic, it was an easy choice — one that would take him to heights his immigrant parents could never have imagined: first, playground popularity and acceptance, and then, eventually, global celebrity and superstardom.
The only requirement was that he suppress his Vietnamese identity. …
Now the real work begins.
As this historic year (and election season) draws to a close, the barrage of warnings we have tried to wish away — spoken in the language of fires, floods, and invisible pathogens — make clear to anyone paying attention that the norms of the past are no longer tenable.
There can be no return to normal — because normal was the problem in the first place.
This is the hindsight of 2020.
To heed it, however, we must acknowledge how we got here — and then we must change our ways.
Consider this: whereas in 1500, we produced goods and services worth about $250 billion in today’s dollars, today it’s $60 trillion — a 240-fold increase. As a direct result of that conspicuous consumption, one-third of the Earth’s land is now severely degraded. There are half as many animals in the world today as there were in 1970. And we’ve used more energy and resources in the past thirty-five years than in the previous 200,000 — the total amount of time that homo sapiens have been alive and kicking. …
For decades, before it became a blight on the city landscape, the massive Sears building in Memphis was a symbol of what the “Bluff City” might one day become.
Built during the Roaring Twenties, with a vivid art-deco exterior and more than one million square feet of space, the building was a monument to the Golden Era of retail — Amazon, before Amazon. It served as the parent company’s distribution center for the mid-South — a labyrinth of hoppers, runners, chutes and conveyor belts, and a beehive of activity in which trucks were loaded up on one side of the building, and trains on the other. …
Four years ago, on the eve of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, I made the dispiriting prediction that, regardless of who won (and, at the time, the notion that Donald Trump would win seemed inconceivable to most of us), America was witnessing the birth of a new civic (dis)order.
Four years later, in the shadow of another election, our world is both radically different -- and dispiritingly similar. So it’s notable that the storyline of HBO’s dystopian, overwrought, and prescient 22nd-century series, Westworld, once again provides an edifying parallel to the real-life drama of 21st-century American public life.
If you haven’t watched it, Westworld is a show about a question at the heart of American identity: What does it mean to be free? -- albeit in the context of watching what happens to our great-great grandchildren when their robot playthings become hip to the game and decide to exact some revenge. …
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing one obsolete.
— Buckminster Fuller
Before these six acres were left to the trees, before the buildings were razed and the families displaced, before the $31 million promise or the thousands of visitors, and before there was ever a blueprint for a campus that might light a path towards the school of the future — there was the young woman on the bike with the 600-page plan under her arms, the one whose childhood teachers labeled her defiant, the one who set out alone to discover the world while still a teenager, who refused to take no for an answer, and who looked out at these abandoned lots and neglected tapestry and saw the culmination of everything those 600 pages had outlined. …
My fellow grown-ups:
Now that the End Days are upon us (kidding/not kidding) and your kids are out of school for the foreseeable future, how should you structure their time?
This is both a helpful and a horrifying question.
It’s helpful because we’re all about to huddle indefinitely in close quarters. Whereas just a week ago, we were still snarfing down breakfast in the car to get to school on time, we’re now about to drown in a sudden deluge of the most precious (and scarce) feature of modern life: time.
It makes sense, then, that we would want to schedule the uncertainty of this time away. And amidst the fear and anxiety of the current moment, there are few things as universally familiar as our shared assumptions about what one is supposed to do at…
In his State of the Union address tonight, President Trump will renew a call for tax breaks in order to provide more scholarships for students to attend private schools.
The Education Freedom Scholarships would provide up to $5 billion in federal tax credits to individuals and businesses who donate to scholarships for families to use at private, faith-based schools or to fund homeschooling. “For decades,” Trump explained, “countless children have been trapped in failing government schools. We believe that every parent should have educational freedom for their children.”
To which I say, buyer: beware.
And: it’s complicated.
As a resident of Washington, D.C., site of one of the country’s most ambitious school voucher plans to date, and a city in which half of the city’s students attend public charter schools, I feel like I’ve seen this movie before. And, for what it’s worth, I even support school choice. I helped launch a charter school here. My sons attend another one, and the city is beginning to see some real collaboration between its charter schools and the district. Good things are happening. …
It has been more than fifty years since James Baldwin first named the knotted pathology that has ensnared White and Black America in an intimate dance of mutual self-destruction for, well, ever. “The failure to look reality in the face diminishes a nation as it diminishes a person,” he wrote. America has failed, he said, because it has come to believe its own myths: The Dream. Equal Justice. The Melting Pot.
And America’s greatest crime is its ongoing disinterest in any meaningful introspection. …
OK, people, let’s get specific: Out of all the schools in the world, which ones are the most transformational when it comes to imagining a new way to think about teaching and learning in the 21st century?
There are a lot of inspiring schools out there, so I want to repeat: which are the most transformational — by which I mean schools that are demonstrating, by policy and practice, 10 or more of the 22 core categories from QED Foundation’s Transformational Change Model?
What I find so useful about the QED model is the way it identifies the central pillars of a high-quality education, and then demarcates what each pillar looks like in a traditional, transitional, and transformational setting. …
As an educator, I can’t think of a more important, elusive, and agonizing question than this doozy: How do you measure success?
So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered a new source of inspiration for how we should answer it, by way of a 27,000-acre fish farm at the tip of the Guadalquivir river in Southern Spain.