Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekend Reading: The Fine Blend of Good Things Edition

My big software release is done (and went well), but I've still got an IT outage to get through this weekend (my team has to come smoke test all the apps after the outage is over. Yes, I know about automated regression testing. There are reasons we still need to smoke test.)

So, while I've got a nice mix of things for you this week, I don't think I have the brain power to write much analysis around them. I'll just get straight to the links.

There is a lot of hate about the new Common Core standards out there. I haven't had enough experience with them to have a strong opinion. I can say that I've liked the math that Pumpkin (a first grader) is bringing home. I like how it is not about memorizing facts, but is instead giving her a chance to recognize the "magic" in math that makes it so powerful. I got an inkling of that with proofs in geometry (10th grade)  but didn't really get how powerful math is until college. I'm all for letting more kids see that earlier.
Anyway, @mylifeasprose, one of the people I follow on Twitter, is in some sort of math ed role, and is a huge advocate of the Common Core math standards. She did a series of tweets about how the new standards work in practice, and it is storified. It might be worth checking out if you're wondering "WTF" about the math homework your kid is bringing home.

Like I said- I haven't really seen enough of the Common Core standards to have an opinion, but I think there is some merit in this tweet:

And I think that "the Common Core" is being used to explain a lot of changes that may or may not actually be about the new standards, and a lot depends on how the standards are implemented. I personally would like to see less focus on testing and more on having a curriculum standard and trusting/empowering educators to teach that curriculum to kids. But we love our tests here in the USA....

OK. Moving on.

Reading this interview Kiese Laymon conducted with his mother makes it obvious that he is not the only awesome person in his family. (Also, if you have not yet read How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, you should fix that. I've got his novel, Long Divisionon my Kindle, waiting for me to have time to read a novel.)

I really liked this HBR article from Avivah Wittenberg-Cox about how sexism in the workplace self-perpetuates. Sad and thought-provoking, especially as a manager. A couple of favorite quotes:

"The only hope of overcoming anything unconscious is to make it conscious."


"Companies that continue to use biased talent management systems — unwittingly or not — will continue to get exactly the same results. Equally competent women will learn from the system that others are considered better – and believe it.  “People don’t even learn that they are equally capable,” as one of the study’s coauthors, Luigi Zingales of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, told the New York Times. Research pointing to women’s supposed “lack of self-confidence” overlooks this point: Men and women are born with similar ambitions, talents and ideas. Then we teach them bias."

Sarah Kendzior has a really good piece out about not just the gender gap in foreign policy, but how the system excludes people who do not come from wealthy backgrounds. You should also read the backstory on this piece, which should be unbelievable but sadly is all too believable.

To finish off the sexism and racism portion of the links, I give you... white guys sorting things out.

I  found this story about the homicide report at the LA Times to be really interesting and moving.

This is a really good post about alternative histories. (Hat tip: Bad Mom, Good Mom, who emailed it to me.) Definitely watch the short film that is embedded in it. I had seen it before but not posted it because I was uncomfortable with how the hijab is portrayed as necessarily demeaning. I do not agree with that. But other than that, it is a really well done film. And maybe I'm not reading the hijab portion as the filmmaker intended. I don't know.

I had never even heard of Portolan Charts before reading this post from Strange Maps, but it is a fascinating story. I love that site for teaching me random things I didn't even know I wanted to know.

Finally, Tragic Sandwich has a post about an interaction between her kid and some other kids at day care that really got me thinking. To understand the post, you need to know that Baguette (Tragic Sandwich's kid) has Autism Spectrum Disorder and a speech delay.I won't say more, because I think you should just go read the post.

It got me thinking about how I need to push myself to talk to my kids about all sorts of differences, not just race. Pumpkin and I have been talking about physical disabilities a bit on our walks to and from school, because she just got a long-coveted roller backpack, and she likes to pull it over the yellow bumpy section of the sidewalk ramps. She asked me why some ramps have those and others don't, and that led to a conversation about what they were for, etc., etc. I have to say, I am loving how we talk about things on the way too and from school. The change to walking has been the one bright spot in my new commute routine, which I otherwise continue to hate.

Anyway, inspired by Tragic Sandwich's post, today we talked a bit about how we shouldn't infer too much from differences we notice between ourselves and others, and I told her about Carly Fleischmann, a young woman who has autism and is unable to speak. At the age of 10, she figured out how to type, though, and she is telling the world what her world is like. I wanted Pumpkin to see that being unable to do one thing (or slower to learn it) does not say anything about a person's intelligence and other capabilities.

And I showed her this trailer for a book Carly has co-written with her father, which tells the whole story:

That's not my usual funny ending, but it is uplifting, so I'll leave it there and wish you all a happy weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link to the trailer for Carly's book, which I'm going to find now. And thanks for the link to my post. I really appreciate it.


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