Carl's Teaching Blog

A place to talk about teaching and learning

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Clog: The Math Toolbox #Mtbos2020

This seems like it’s my first Clog of the school year. Yes, it’s been a while, I feel genuinely lazy about it. The school year is fine, everything is fine (well, my kids take forever to go to sleep, but I guess that’s normal). I have another project that is taking up all of my writing brain, and our country’s news cycle is crushing my soul. There’s really no reason I’m avoiding blogging, honestly. I guess, I just need to do it. Which is why I’m excited to get started on this #Mtbos2020 writing challenge.

Math Toolbox for Statistical Inference

I was teaching a stats class for this cycle as basically a push in to a literacy class. My job was to help the kids learning in this class be able to use graphs and other forms of data in their papers better. One thing we started to come up with was this idea of math toolbox. I wanted it to be a series of questions that kids could use to unpack the number that they would find in articles. Often we’d see kids copying any number verbatim out of a text book and using it in confusing or straight up wrong ways in their paper.

The math toolbox has 4 boxes, each with a goal.

  1. Find out what the number is
  2. Make sense of the number
  3. Think about what the consequences of the number are
  4. Predict what you think the number should be

Here’s an example:

Does it seem cool? I think it needs some work in a couple of different ways:

More writing: Kids could write more, but that would probably mean I should write more to help them. I should have each box armed with sentence starters and examples so they know how to use it, not just the four questions.

More Boxes and more verbs: Each box has it’s verb that the kids are working on, Find, Make, Think, Predict. Each of these are important for making sense of a number that one might come across, but perhaps there could be more. Maybe a “Argue” box where kids have to use the number to defend and/or attack a point. Maybe “represent” where they have to make a graph or other representation. Maybe “contextualize” Where they compare the number to other numbers to help make sense of it.

Any other ideas about this toolbox? Are there other verbs we could use if we want to make it longer? Let me know in the comments below.

Racial Affinity Groups and My Grandma

I’d always park my car right in front of the house at the spot on the curb where my brother and I sat to looked up at the stars when we were kids. At that spot I could for my straight line from my seat, through the passenger side window, straight down the path, and up the steps. If the weather was nice I could even see straight through the open door and see Grandma sitting in her chair. I would shut off the car, grab my stuff and walk down the path, which was just enough time for her to walk across the living room and greet me by the door. 

After I finished my Economics degree, but before I finished my math degree, and eventually left MSU I started hanging out with my Grandma more often. The magnetic pull of Chicago draws lots of Michigan State students to go party and hang out with recent grads. My girlfriend at the time was starting Teach for America in Chicago, but I was still at MSU to take the one class I needed to finally finish my math degree and then I had to wait for the rest of the year to then spend another year student teaching. I had lots of free time to think about the fact that my non-ed major girlfriend could be finished with 2 years of teaching before I ever start. My light also schedule meant that I could make time to drive into Gary, Indiana on my way down to visit Chicago for the first time without tagging along with my dad.

She’d greet me, give me a hug, and probably tell me to “shut the door and stop letting the cold air in”. After I briefed her on my agenda for the weekend, we’d kinda start hanging out. I’d sit in my grandfather’s old chair, which to me was new and exciting. When I was last there with my Dad, he would sit in that chair and I would sit on the couch, or if my mom and uncle were on the couch, I might just go hang out in the kitchen or go downstairs and watch tv. In fact on my first visit I instinctively walked over to the couch before Grandma insisted I sit in the chair that was closer to her. I felt honored, and a little anxious as I pivoted and walked past the TV, and sat in the big, plastic-encased chair. In that walk across the living room I realized a couple things. 1) I must be grown now 2) I don’t know what grown ups are supposed to talk about with their Grandma.

These days Grandma’s regular routine consisted of daytime television and church on Sunday, but she had certainly lived an interesting life up to this point. Born in rural Mississippi, after marrying Grand Daddy she had my Dad, went to Arizona for WWII, and then they all headed up north for more opportunity. Where better than Gary Indiana, a city so focused around factory work that it was named after the founding chairman of US Steel Corp. Her and Grand Daddy used the GI Bill to buy first brand new house on her block of Kentucky Street and Grand Daddy found work in the Steel Mill. Their move was part of the second wave of the Great Migration, where 5 million black people left the south to less prejudiced opportunities of the north over the next 25 years.

After just finishing my African American history class a year prior, I was really curious about the stories of our families history. In those stories was hopefully some clear direction for me and my future. It was disconcerting seeing my future playing out in my girlfriend’s Chicago classroom, while I had to head back to MSU and still be in college for one 3 hour class. In between our two worlds was Gary, where I’d often sit mulling over ways to earn a masters degree while in the same time that I would have spent doing student teaching. Especially if I could get trained in a big urban environment like Chicago, not the suburban internship placement near my parents house which MSU placed a lot of students. It was at this time I started to look at urban education grad programs at colleges other than Michigan State. Sitting in Grand Daddy’s chair, I could have used some guidance about whether I should leave the number 1 secondary education school in the country, and a place that was really good to me. This kind of life guidance I thought would be a great thing for Grandma to advise me on! I was hoping for something like Neo’s visit to the oracle like in the Matrix. I ended up having to answer my questions, so it was a lot like Jeopardy. It was also literally Jeopardy. 

We watched Jeopardy. We heard the clues, we guessed the questions, and congratulate ourselves if we got it right. then we watched the 12 o’clock news. Grandma wasn’t interested in telling me what to do, or passing along stories full of wisdom and guidance, or imparting on me some responsibility to uphold the family name or serve our black youth. That was for me to figure out on my own as she was trying to figure out the questions to Alex Trebek’s answers. Turns out, that was actually lot more fun. As the visits progressed I would help getting things out of tall places, driving her to run errands, and seeing whether the mail had come yet, without opening the door and letting the cold air in. I’d be lying if she did tell me lots of stories from the past. Lots of stories of me when I was a kid, or about Grand Daddy and the vegetable stand he ran out of his pickup truck when his shift finished, and what my Dad was like growing up. It’s not like she wasn’t taklative, she just never pretended that she could tell me what I should do with my life.  Besides, watching jeopardy with Grandma was entertaining enough to postpone worrying about figuring all that stuff out right then anyways.

Those days in Gary came to mind this week because I attended my school’s People of Color affinity group. As with most things recently, I was embarrassingly late. By the time I arrived everyone had settled in, and finished sharing in response to that day’s prompt…meaning it was immediately my turn. My mind went blank initially when looking at the prompt, “Choose the name of someone who valued you”, then I began telling a few stories of my time with Grandma who initially popped into my mind. She wasn’t super talkative, especially when it comes to life advice, but it was clear that she valued our time together. It was also clear how much I valued being in the group of educators, after the guilt of coming late subsided. The teachers made a welcoming space with flowers, candles, and a centerpiece which now has the name of my grandma. It was great, I left feeling great, and I woke up needing to write this. 

The meeting at school was surprising, as I expected to be dissecting different issues and indignities that were arising at work. Issues of race at work always leave me a little unsure. You can never know how these conversations will go, and I always imagine conversations of race will go terribly. It would be cool if there was a group I could go to that would give me the right thing to do/say, and provide straight answers for how to address racial problems as they arise at work. This meeting would give me no more of that than my trips to visit my Grandma would help me decide what to do with my life. What they both gave me was a feeling that I was valued and maybe that is the most important step. Race is so complex, and appears in so many forms, your coworkers might not be any more able to see the nuance surrounding you than my Grandma could parse through university policies. With some things, you’re ultimately the one responsible for working on yourself or your organization. It’s on you to understand other perspectives, and make decisions. The weight on your shoulders, can be made a lot lighter if you felt valued. In the face of The difficulties of racism, the thing that our group of people of color decided to use the first step of the year to support and affirm each other, and I’m ok if that is we keep taking that step over and over all year long.

After a few visits with Grandma, I started pulling out GRE flash cards during the commercial breaks. I explained to Grandma that this test was going to help me apply for grad school, so I could take summer school and be halfway through a masters degree by the time I started teaching. I would have also explained that I am going to apply to a few programs at other schools, including Harvard, where I could earn a full masters in the same amount of time. However, I could tell she was as disconneted from this whole process as she was to that unused microwave in the kitchen that she uses as cake holder. She pleasantly encouraged me to do my thing, without weighing in on what I should do, at least until the commercial break ended.

Two talks and an ear infection: Reflections on #NCTMBoston19

I’ve been super busy at school and at home so I haven’t had time to reflect on my time at NCTM Boston. I had a morning talk doing teaching for social justice in algebra. I have a similar talk to one I gave a year ago and am preparing to shelve. The talk was great, and we created a Google doc full of ideas.

During a turn-and-talk, I started a conversation with someone sitting alone. They asked me about the Voyage of the Creole project, and how it qualifies as social justice and for a moment I was perplexed. It explores a historical event that illustrates and hopefully humanizes the people who were enslaved in the mid 1800s. The story can be inspiring or contextual for today’s society, but it isn’t about creating the immediate change today that I imagine this person was asking about. After a brief pause I said “the goal of whatever project isn’t to reach a certain objective of social justice, it’s about making students who are reflective and confident of how math can be a tool to examine complicated systems in our actual world and used to help make change.”

Defining a social justice project, and the larger goal of creating mathematically critical students was new for me. It wasn’t in my prepared notes or slides and the words formed as I talked. The distinction still holds true for me a month later, though. The goal isn’t for me to teach students about current events, but to help them to see and shape the world mathematically. The slavery project looked to me like an opportunity to connect math to student’s culture and identity. It was created at my old school whose students were largely black or afro-latinx. The social studies teacher on my team created a powerful unit on the middle passage and he suggested I connect to it in my math class. I found a story where kids were acting as a person that was enslaved, and needed to use math creatively to find freedom. Working on this project hopefully taught students a little history, and connected math to part of their identity for students whose ancestors may have been affected by the global slave trade.

Is that social justice or not? Perhaps. Trying to help students connect math to their culture and identity is an act of social justice, or perhaps a similar project around modern day slavery would be better at that process because we could immediately advocate for change in our actual world? If those two projects were sort of sitting on my desk and I had am choosing one to walk over the copy machine, I think the determining factor would be whether I could reach the goal that I rambled about earlier. Will it be really likely to help students feel confident using math to make change? In 20 years I want the students to confidently use math to face the myriad problems that this world will mired in. If those kids are in the middle of unit in history class that has them really engaged, and I have a chance to tag on and make a deep impact on how they see themselves, I’ll go with that project. If the kids would be more engaged in having a present-day context, it would be a no-brainer to use the latter project. At the end of the day, the teacher has the possibility to help students rethink what math is about through their contexts, how you can you make choices that can most impact the way students see math, and see themselves as mathematicians?

That exchange gave me a lot to think about, so thank you person-whose-name-I-forgot, and I guess thanks to the person who had been sitting next to you but left to go to another session. The talk is probably going to evolve into something else pretty soon, hopefully that will be more valuable. Stay tuned here

Right after that talk, I met up with my Co-Speaker Bushra Makiya for the second talk which went so much better than the disaster that it might have been. My laptop computer wasn’t projecting audio, and this was a talk with videos of student thinking, so we needed the audio. The technician came and couldn’t help, then what seemed like his supervisor came as well with no luck. The NCTM program committee member Kaneka Turner saved the day, letting us use her computer and hot spot. By the time we started using her computer, we were already 5 minutes into the talk. Because the room had bad service, we didn’t know the videos were going to be playable until just a few minutes before the videos were needed. We were crossing our fingers and hoping it would work the whole way. Thankfully, it did work out. Maybe next time we could bring a transcript and have participants act out student thinking.

Shortly after this my daughter had an ear infection so I had to cut my time in Boston short, but it was quite eventful. Also during my session the NCTM photographer guy stopped by and gave me a link to the pictures. They are worth checking out:

@Freakonomics should really work a little harder if they want to impact math education

I’m a big fan of Freakonomics. I read the book, I’ve listened to just about every episode, and I’ve been consistently subscribed to it longer than any other podcast that isn’t about math or house music. So I was jazzed when they decided to take on math curriculum. Based on earlier episodes about our political parties, the life of a CEO, and behavioral economics, I was really expecting something amazing. After listening to this episode I came away a little underwhelmed as it went to too little depth so they could support a pretty unoriginal, pre-determined solution.

There is a typical line of reasoning proffered by potential education reforms that support their innovations which seems to be used here. It goes like this:

  • Our education system is pictured as old and outdated.
  • The outdated system could be immediately fixed by the new solution.
  • The only thing stopping us from bathing in the revolution are those stodgy old educators, who need to adopt the solution nationwide.

If you look around you’ll notice this idea sandwich everywhere. It’s surprising to see it used here as it violates the principles of basic research e.g. choosing your conclusion before you understand the problem. I won’t go into too much detail about the episode, you can listen to it here. In the episode there was a frustration with the Algebra II homework that host Steven Levitt was helping his 10th grader finish. He then does the whole idea sandwich to suggest swapping out data science for algebra 2 in high school math. There was a question for bringing this to school as a whole. Then a historical summary about math education’s origins. There also interviews with Jo Boaler, and the college board CEO, and Levitt’s cousin who taught a few years. All were ostensibly asked a version of two questions “High school math sucks, right?” and “How cool would data science be?” It seems like stacking the deck for data science, which is fine, as data science is cool, but there is more to what’s wrong with math than just the lack of regression models.

Later in the show they review research done with listeners of the show. They were asked what kind of math they use in their everyday life, and the results imply that data science would have brought more day to day utility. If your audience is full of people who earned high school diplomas, and higher ed degrees, accepting that premise is a bit premature. Everyday math benefits these people regardless of how much they’ve used it. Their career would be inaccessible without the education that their math scores allowed. Their knowledge of math made them competitive at colleges providing them a privilege to ignore math the rest of their life while keeping their benefits in tact. Many people don’t know how to parallel park, and don’t do so regularly, but their knowledge of parallel parking on their driving exam allows them the privilege of a driver’s license. Contrast all of this with someone whose struggles in math prevented them from attaining any of those levels of education. Perhaps they were in a school that didn’t offer advanced math classes, or only offered them to students on a higher track. Perhaps the student was in a class, but the teacher did not teach for equity, leaving many traditionally underrepresented students and special needs students behind. For many, math isn’t just a boring chore. It’s a glass ceiling, locking them into lower income classes while bestowing privilege on others.

I am not arguing for continuing the focus on algebra 2 so that students can take AP exams, I am arguing that math should be decoupled from the privilege society gives it. Earning high math scores is as important for your daughter to compete for scarce seats in colleges as it is for providing day-to-day value. This sucks. Math could be a subject of beauty and meaning for people’s day to day life like art or poetry, if it wasn’t militarized to help people jockey for position. However, competitiveness in education has made math appear solely as a measuring stick for students. Algebra 2 is a class his 10th grade daughter is taking when many take it senior year. This means she must have had algebra in the 8th grade or earlier, and must be in line for AP calculus or Stats, or both senior year. These other classes are pushed into lower and lower grades so that students appear more prepared for college. These students will beat out students from schools without that math preparation. It’s easy to imagine that if his daughter were taking a data science course right now, she would lose out on her competitive edge and face a similarly small pool of options.

Unless dozens of parents start an opt-out campaign, the idea for adopting the class that he proposes would be to talk with college admissions counselors about how to make it interesting, or talk to to current teachers about how to integrate data science into what schools are currently doing. This would be a really interesting route to explore and lead to an interesting episode. The show could pick up with part 2 where they continue the analysis of how math curriculum could change. The first step of that, would be to talk to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics who wrote a whole book about changing high school math, that is fully in line with the changes proposed in the show and could use the amplification Freakonomics could provide.

There are plenty of other avenues that Freakonomics could take with math education outside of the well worn “Idea sandwich.” There are so many good economics ideas to be discussed around high school math. Scarcity, opportunity cost, competition, etc. Freakonomics is also in a position to learn a great deal of these things. It would have been interesting to hear what the people at University of Chicago Lab school, as a high school, would think about replacing algebra 2, and what the anticipated parent response might be. It also might be interesting to talk to your University of Chicago admissions, and see how they would interpret a data science course on a students transcript who doesn’t go on to take any AP math courses. It would be really interesting to also talk to current teachers who are teaching data science and describe how different the classroom experience is with a current on-the-ground perspective especially considering all of the new stats and data tools that are becoming available (Desmos, CODAP, etc). 

Waiting for things to clear up #VConHM

Completing this post for The Virtual Conference on Humanizing Mathematics was supposed to be a short evening of writing and turned into a week-long journey. It began while watching the video of Rochelle Gutierrez being interviewed. The whole interview was great, because everything she does is great. However, I had trouble paying attention, as I do when there’s a lot going on at school. As she described what teachers need to do, I thought about my teaching and then my school, and then my role in the school this year and without realizing it I was totally lost in my thoughts. During my 4 years as an administrator my mental state is too often in “emergency response” mode. Constant fires to put out, non-stop situations to resolve, so many deadlines looming. Thoughts about all these little emergencies keep popping into mind even when I’m trying to do normal stuff, like watching a youtube video. The video kept fading into background noise as thoughts rolled in about onboarding new staff, or how people took last years observations, or the kid who failed summer school. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to write anything for this, and then Rochelle’s responses to one section cut through the cloud of mental chatter and suddenly was fully attentive. I won’t transcribe the whole section, but I’ll say the one word that hooked me. Clarity.

Why Am I Thinking About Clarity?

How often have I lacked clear understanding of the right school decision? How much of worry around any stems from different expectations about what school should is and should be that are held by every entity in the school. My role, it seems, is to interpret all of these demands and create a decision about my class, computers, math assessments, operations and other stuff as well. But there are murky grey areas where quick, clear decisions can’t be made or should receive special care. A kid is late on the day the project was due, does it count? A teacher designed a class to be more interactive classes, but it still looks traditional on day 7. Parents suspects kids are selling weed in the parking lot of school. All of these situations need immediate answers, but have lots of room for subjective judgement so it makes rushing to judgment risky.

It’s not always easy to be confident you’re making the right call. It’s hard to think of a good example because every school is different, so a math example might be helpful. Let’s say I had to construct a pentagon. It wouldn’t be too hard, I’d probably use a protractor and ruler, maybe a compass, make a polygon with equal sides and 120 degrees angles. Now let’s say I had to make the same polygon with a compass and straight edge with no measurements, it would become much harder. What I end up might look like a pentagon to me and no one else, but if they can’t measure either, it’ll be hard for anyone to say it could be better. Murky situations without clear ways to measure success, unilaterally decided with little room for other viewpoints are situations ripe for introducing people’s own personal biases.

There are no clear, precise defined measurements for serving all of our students, especially kids from traditionally underserved background. Kids’ needs are diverse and changing, and the world they are entering is changing too. Sometimes it seems the world is changing in ways that directly target these young people. When I try to step in and deal with a situation, it’s like I’m trying to construct a polygon whose measurements I don’t know, with tools that aren’t precise on a table that’s constantly shifting. But I’m determined, so I keep trying, and I turn possible scenarios over and over in my head on my down time (like when I should be watching the video I sat down to watch) making this whole job seem unsustainable. How much time and mental energy would be saved if I could just be clear on the right thing to do in these sticky issues.

Specifying Clarity

A few days later I re-watched the section of the video, where I realized the specific term she used was “political clarity,” a welcome distinction. The political stuff at work is the stuff I turn over in my head they most. Every outcome in a school is the result of millions of political compromises made at a number of different levels. Some are governmental, many are interpersonal, and most are full of caveats and loop holes. Even if you are clear on something, it doesn’t mean everyone else is, and besides it could all get changed after the next election. Of course there’s always some powerful person(s) who never gets called for doing things “the old way,” despite how clear the new initiative is that gets widely ignored. Being clear about all of these things may make it easier to make decisions, and help progress move along. Luckily there was an article with more information about the Political Clarity term, and it was linked in the description of the youtube video.

Getting clear about political clarity

In hoping to learn how to regain my own some mental clarity, I sought to learn about political clarity from the article Gutierrez mentioned, titled Beyond The Methods Fetish: Towards a Humanizing Pedagogy by Lilia Bartholome. It warns educators against letting the needs of those suffering from systemic oppression fade into the background while they search for the the perfect teaching ‘method’. “A myopic focus on methodology often serves to obfuscate the real question — which is why in our society, subordinated students do not generally succeed academically in schools.” The author talks about a number of ways to deal with this “real question”, including culturally responsive instruction, and two other approaches to humanizing instruction, but the prerequisite for these approaches is political clarity. Putting these techniques in the hands of politically clear teachers offers “…the potential to challenge students academically and intellectually while treating them with dignity and respect.” Reading this in the opening of the article left me with a number of thoughts about myself, my own personal growth and my thoughts about the school year. Specifically to first try explain my own understanding of political clarity to see if it makes sense (hence this post), and then to look for applications where this can be applied in my work.

What is political clarity?

The article goes on to provide more details about political clarity. It sounded like political clarity is like being “woke,” but with a concentration in the policies and relationships that support oppression at your school, and the ability to support students facing oppression in ways that support their identities. It sounds daunting, certainly for me, who always worries that I’m not woke enough and it’s might hold a student back some day. But the key to it is that it’s a process. Here’s Bartolome’s definition:

“Political clarity” refers to the process by which individuals achieve a deepening awareness of the sociopolitical and economic realities that shape their lives and their capacity to recreate them. In addition, it refers to the process by which individuals come to better understand possible linkages between macro-level political, economic, and social variables and subordinated groups’ academic performance at the micro-level classroom. Thus, it invariably requires linkages between sociocultural structures and schooling.

Lilia Bartholome [emphasis mine]

This definition of political clarity sounds like an ongoing process of learning how things can be linked together. This means it is something continuous. A never-ending battle, or perhaps a noble “infinite game“, but this is certainly not a quick fix. Our education system consists of a complex web of interconnected parts intended to work together but the persistence of graduation and achievement disparities along racial, language, and gender lines show that parts are actually not working (as well as the fact that this article is relevant despite being 25 years old). Fixing these old systems won’t be a matter of reading an article or a book, or learning a new method, so expecting the solution to be as such would lead to frustration. Thinking about the larger structures beyond the methods is going to be a process, and we have to be constantly doing it. It’s not a thing that we are supposed to instantly be able to just turn on.

Education systems can lead students to life or death situations, so perhaps a health metaphor would be appropriate. CPR is a method one can learn to sustain the life of a person who isn’t breathing until an ambulance arrives. It’s a great method in a certain situation, but isn’t a health solution. Knowing CPR won’t help you with chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma. To address chronic, pervasive conditions you need knowledge of lots of different methods, the awareness about which is the right method, and an understanding of how to a method would fit into a long-term treatment plan that can be carried out over time. Treatment is a process of trying different methods, looking at the results, staying abreast of developments in the field all while explaining options to the family and thinking through each decision with them. The process is harder, and sounds ironically less clear, but it’s certainly the way forward. As emergencies start to pile up for me at work, I look to solve things myself, quickly, which may resemble the methods-fetish people that Bartolome is criticizing. That approach probably resembles someone trying to perform CPR on every one that walks into the ER. Breaking this habit won’t be as easy as just saying I’m not going to do CPR, it’s saying that I’m going to start a long slow process of learning, as if I was planning to take a long slow process of learning to be a doctor.

So what do I do now?

It’s still not exactly clear. The first step I think it’s realizing that I have a number of blind spots around which I’ll need to gain more clarity. There are books I can read, and chats I can join to help but that change will be long term. There are also regulations specific to my locality that I can’t learn about except for attending trainings, networking, and listening to people. All of this ‘self work’ will take time. What happens in the meantime? What can I put in place while I develop my political clarity? For starters, get more perspectives on the things I’m doing. Having students, other teachers and other parents feeling free to give feedback about what I’m doing will be huge. Making that part of the culture will help with the next step, ending decision vacuums. Having places where I, or anyone, make unilateral decisions is just opening up space for personal biases to enter a situation. Just because I’m getting started, doesn’t mean I don’t hold biases that could cloud my decision making. Our school has a democratic decision making framework, so I’ll lean on that in hopes that getting more eyes on situations will help us all see a fuller picture. Hopefully the idea will be that things like grading policies or computer policies are open for feedback and contribution. Of course I’ll have to reflect on what all gets learned regularly, which may be on this blog (but I really don’t want to talk about admin stuff on this blog).

Bartolome’s article isn’t really about political clarity, or methods, about humanizing. It describes ways to humanize students so teachers can talk about more than just what test scores and IEPs tells us about our students. We’re talking about people, not underperforming subgroups, just like hospitals treat patients, not diseases. Instead of looking to find some quick TPT PDF ready made lesson, we could begin the long work This could lead my school and I to “recreate and reinvent teaching methods and materials by always taking into consideration the sociocultural realities that can either limit or expand the possibilities to humanize education.” With all of the things to think about, and all of the macro and micro places to try to get clarity around, the thing I’ll takeaway from this article the most is the idea that I should focus on the putting our kids humanity ahead of any specific standard or goal or policy or whatever.

Sidenote: It took me a week to write this, because I thought at the end of this I would be able to say what my secret for finding clarity is. After reading more and watching the video, it seems like there isn’t going to be a nice answer, and instead I should embrace that lack of clarity as an ongoing challenge. Kind of funny how this whole week long search for clarity ended with me feeling more unclear than I was at the start. Let me know if any of this makes sense, or tell me why it doesn’t make sense in the comments below.

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