Tag Archives: education

S(Monday) Scraps 106

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1. WEIGHT: How not to be a dick to your fat friends. Spot on advice from Marianne at XOJane.

2. HOLLYWOOD: This clip is old, but man is it good. Watch Dustin Hoffman have a few on-camera epiphanies while talking about dressing like a woman in Tootsie.

3. RACE: Kiese Laymon on multicultural writing, what it means to be a “real black writer,” and the state of modern publishing. For Guernica.

4. ABORTION: My second favorite dude comedian, Rob Delaney, writes for the Guardian about why he’s pro-choice.

5. SEX ED: The always excellent Marianne Cassidy on the sex education she wish she’d had (but never got, because she grew up in uber-Catholic Ireland).

6. WRITERS: Roxane Gay at The Rumpus applies the Vida test to race and publishing. Guess what percentage of NYT book reviews were of non-white writers?

Related Post: Sunday 105: Bodies that matter, old cities, tiny islands, literacy tests

Related Post: Sunday 104: Bookish pie charts, bro Venn diagrams, the Girlfriend Zone, etc.

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Filed under Body Image, Books, Education, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex

Sunday Scraps 96

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1. ART: This Colossal photo series of art by Takahiro Iwasaki is called called Topographical Maps Carved from Electrical Tape. I think that about covers it.

2. DATING: Jory John’s take on Nate Silver’s take on the statistical realities of your relationship (from McSweeney’s). 

3. FAMILY: If you don’t cry, you have a heart of stone. Twelve years ago, a young gay couple found a baby on a subway platform.

4. GENDER: The always excellent Amanda Marcotte for Slate writes about Philip Roth’s relationship with women. Wanting to fuck them is not the same thing as respecting them.

5. PLAYBOY: Fun little personal essay from Lynn Levin on meeting her father at the original Chicago Playboy mansion in the early 70s.

6. EDUCATION: Part 2 of This American Life’s series on Chicago’s Harper High School.

Related Post: Sunday 95: Seth McFarlane, missed connections, Leslie Knope’s wedding dress

Related Post: Sunday 94: Connie Britton, Queen Bey, Jane Austen

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Filed under Art, Books, Chicago, Education, Family, Gender, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Monday Scraps 95

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1. DATING: Where do “missed connections” happen? In Illinois, on the train (duh), in Indiana, at home. Wait, what?

2. AUTHORS: Ugh. Ender’s Game was kind of my favorite thing for so so long. It still is, but I hate when the authors you love turn out to be raging homophobes. Dammit.

3. EDUCATION: This amazing investigative piece by WBEZ on the South Side’s Harper High School is incredible in basically every way journalism can be incredible.

4. KNOPE: NYMag has the inside scoop behind Amy Poehler/Leslie Knope’s amazing wedding dress.

5. SPORTS: For the very first time, a woman is participating in the NFL regional tryouts. Kicker Lauren Silberman will probably not play in the NFL, but that’s still pretty f’ing cool.

6. OSCARS: I would write about Seth McFarlane’s horribly sexist jokes, but Margaret Lyons at NYMag  nailed it so hard I’d just be paraphrasing. 

Related Post: Sunday Scraps 94: Bey, Connie Britton, Jane Austen and more.

Related Post: Sunday Scraps: 93: Guns, visiting Chicago, Margaret Atwood

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Filed under Books, Chicago, Education, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Sports

Monday Scraps 89

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1. SNOW: This epic John Branch story is a freaking commitment (took me about an hour to read, I think), but one that’s well worth it. With amazing graphics and video, he recounts the avalanche at Tunnel Creek.

2. THIEVERY: Super fun profile of “supernatural” pickpocket Apollo Robbins by Adam Green for the New Yorker.

3. FASHION: Girls is coming back! Yippee! Get excited by reading about how Jessa, Marnie, Shoshanna and Hannah are dressed and styled.

4. MONSTERS: As part of a promotional campaign for the new Monsters Inc. prequel, check out the parody website “Monsters University.”

5. MATT + BEN: Who doesn’t love a good oral history of a much beloved cultural landmark? (Side note: The Friends oral history in Vanity Fair was excellent.) For Boston magazine, Ben, Matt, Stellan, Robin and more recount how Good Will Hunting got made.

6. EDUCATION: I dare you to not get weepy at this NYT video of a very special physics teacher.

Related Post: Sunday 88: Boobs, doubt, the Rockaways, Moloch

Related Post: Sunday 87: Deb Perelman, Amy Hempel, Pinterest for cops

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Filed under Advertising, Education, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sports

Monday Scraps 83

1. GIFTS: After Romney’s post-election definition-of-a-sore-loser quotes about the “gifts” the President gave young people and minorities (Did you know you can buy a 24-year-old’s vote for a couple of months of contraception. TRUE FACT), Jon Stewart shared a few other “gifts.”

2. MORMON: Super excellent piece by McKay Coppins for BuzzFeed on being the sole Mormon reporter on the Romney press bus.

3. MEXICO: What happens to journalism when bribery, threats, and frequent spates of violence directed specifically at the press plague your country? Just ask reporters covering Mexico’s drug wars (NYT Book Review).

4. LANGUAGE: Which words does the NYT use too often? A new internal tool lets the paper (and curious spectators) explore the patterns of language perpetuated and created.

5. HILLARY: Gail Collins + Hillary Clinton = excellent reading. What will Hillary do next? Sleep, aparently, and exercise.

6. DENVER: This is from 2007, but I’m kind of obsessed with Katherine Boo this week, so I’m sharing it anyway. For the New Yorker, she covers the story of Denver’s superintendent and the journey of one turnaround school that couldn’t quite turnaround.

Related Post: Sunday 82: Kevin Durant and the OKC, Rachel Maddow nails it, cute MD photos

Related Post: Sunday 81: Callie Khouri, Anita Sarkeesian, sex surrogacy

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So What Do You Do Exactly? Presidential Library Edition

For the second time ever, the featured interviewee of my jobs series So What Do You Do Exactly? is a dude! Yay for diversity! This is Kevin. Kevin works at the JFK Library Foundation in Boston live-tweeting things, writing things, planning things, and trying to understand why people are so fascinated by JFK eating an ice cream cone.

What’s your actual title? Communications Associate at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

What would your title be if it actually described what you do all day? Something like Communications/Development/Events/Research/ Administrative Assistant. We have a ton of things going on as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the JFK Administration, so we have a lot of cross-departmental cooperation

Describe a sample day: My days can vary greatly depending on the type of project we’re working on at the time. Last week I got to work at 6:45 so I could shoot photos and video of Freedom 7, the space capsule that carried the First American into space, as it arrived at the Library. In general, I usually kick off my day by doing a quick email check, creating some content for our social media pages if we don’t have any saved, and getting administrative tasks — writing thank-you letters to donors or filing meetings notes, for example — out of the way as quickly as possible.

Beyond those everyday tasks, it’s hard to say what each day will hold. In the past few weeks I have spent afternoons building invite lists and coordinating RSVPs for our event at the DNC, writing press releases for the Library’s upcoming programs, editing our monthly newsletter, and live-tweeting a Q&A we held via satellite with two astronauts currently living on the International Space Station. In short, I’m either preparing for major events, or handling the events as they happen; but the events are so varied, I’m always finding new ways to be engaged in my work. I might interview the son of a former Soviet Premier next week, (hint: last name sounds like “crew shave”) so I spent my afternoon today writing some interview questions — and may or may not have stolen a few of yours.
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What is the purpose of a Presidential Library? What role does it play in society? Seems like a relic…Though other Presidential Libraries have fallen by the wayside, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum has thrived not only as a collection of artifacts from the president’s life, but as a cultural institution devoted to carrying on the Kennedy legacy of civic engagement and social consciousness to future generations. (OK, that sounded pretty PR, but it’s true.)
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Other presidential libraries have stayed small and local, which suits them just fine. But JFK Library has the benefit of being located in a thriving cultural hub like Boston, and can therefore plan programming for a large audience. We had an event in Charlotte this week featuring Deval Patrick, David Gregory, Chris Hughes (Facebook co-founder), and contributors from the New York Times and CNN. We house an incredible collection of Kennedy memorabilia, as well as the largest collection of Ernest Hemingway’s works in the world (donated by his wife Mary shortly after his death). The MFA, ICA, Museum of Science, Gardener Museum, and nearly every museum in Boston reach new audiences by celebrating the past while embracing the present. That’s what the JFK Museum is all about.
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How has social media/technology changed museum culture? Has JFK embraced this stuff or shied away from it? Technology has only enhanced the Library’s ability to bring exhibits to the masses. We recently began a digital archival project, preserving nearly every piece of Kennedy media we own. We’ve used film restoration companies to restore audio and video of Kennedy speeches from unusable to crystal-clear quality.

As for social media, I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know our audience, and what kind of material appeals to them. It seems that posting archival material from the 1960s has been more successful than our present-day stuff. People just love looking at photos of the Kennedys or reading inspirational quotes from JFK’s speeches — we even have a Twitter account devoted solely to re-living the 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Administration day by day, and people love it. I spent last week trying to get our social media audience excited about our International Space Station event, but they were more interested in a photo of JFK eating ice cream. A photo of JFK and Jackie in Hyannis Port would trump a forum with Obama, Elvis, and the ghost of Henry Clay.
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In a tough economy like this, why should people donate to a museum given all the other deserving non-profits out there? The mission of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation was first articulated by Jacqueline Kennedy, who, when describing the yet-to-be-built library, envisioned it as “a vital center of education and exchange and thought, which will grow and change with the times.” There will be ups and downs in the economy, but cultural institutions are crucial for a society’s growth. It’s hard to argue that the Library is more deserving than any particular charity, but given the drastic cuts in education funding and marginalization of teachers striking for a fair wage, I think any institution continuing to make an impact educationally and culturally should be celebrated and supported.
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Which is the best Presidential Library? Having been to none of the other ones, I can say unequivocally that ours is the best. I’ll give the Reagan Library second place because my Uncle works security there. And I’ll give the Coolidge Library third, because whoever works there is going to be really excited when they get their first Google alert in 3 months. (Kidding, of course. They don’t have internet at the Coolidge Museum.)
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Kevin would also like you to know that, “like a drunken sparrow, he tweets and tumbls. He also co-runs a TV blog he’s hoping to update before this interview gets published so he doesn’t look bad.”
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Related Post: SWDYDE: Ambika is a social strategist
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Hushpuppy

I left the movie theater Wednesday night exhausted and a little weepy. I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about the movie we’d just seen, Beasts of the Southern Wild, but I knew I felt something. All I was certain of was that the star 6-year-old actress, Quevenzhane Wallis, is the most photogenic child on the planet.

The plot, if you are unfamiliar, is simple. Beasts follows a girl named Hushpuppy who lives with her father in an off-the-grid Louisiana community called the Bathtub. Sparse of dialogue, lush of scenery, the plot follows Hushpuppy and her father through a few short days surrounding a Katrina-like storm.

I think it’s a movie that grows on you, a movie that digs into the little pockets of your brain and takes root. Images from it keep springing up, unbidden, like Hushpuppy hiding under a cardboard box after setting her house on fire to spite her father. She draws with charcoal, marking her story for future excavators like the cave people she has just learned about. Another scene, in a hospital after the flood, shows the girl stripped of her usual dirty undershirt and shorts and forced into a pretty blue dress, her hair combed into braids.

At Salon (via LA Times), Kelly Candaele argues that Beasts presents this community of misfits with a sort of irresponsible glee, as if their poverty and disconnection facilitates joy and spontaneity that the rest of couldn’t achieve:

Viewers are asked to interpret a lack of work discipline, schooling, or steady institution building of any kind — the primary building blocks of any civilization — as the height of liberation. “Choice,” even the choice to live in squalor, is raised to the level of a categorical imperative. There is no inkling of the economic and social history of the region that had limited these “choices.” We are left with a libertarian sandbox, with a rights-based life philosophy gone rancid.

The film does open up a whole bunch of cans of worms, none of which have I been able to re-close since I’ve been mulling it over. Lots of big questions about community building, about the right to live as you see fit, about parenting, about infrastructure, about nature, about education. There are big questions about the obligations of the state and how far it should go to “assist” marginalized populations. Should they evacuate people who don’t want to be evacuated? Should they force medical care on people who don’t want it? Is there something fundamentally wrong with the upbringing Hushpuppy has, so wrong that the state needs to intervene?

Education, for me, is the hinge on which all of these other questions are resting. Hushpuppy is precocious, inquisitive, imaginative and self-sufficient. She’s everything that most teachers would want in a student, but how much of her curiosity and creativity is fueled by the neglect she experienced and her subsequent self-sufficiency? With formal education and support, she could be anything, but the film portrays formalized assistance as stifling and intrusive. Surely there’s a middle ground, somewhere between turning her into the blue-dressed doll and letting her explore her surrounding for days on end, unsupervised and uncared for.

This is a self-indulgent post, so mad props to you if you’ve stuck with me. I didn’t know what to make of it in the immediate aftermath, but the next morning I chatted my movie buddy and said, “I think I liked that movie” and she said, “I think I did too.” And then we talked about it for a while, so that’s something. If you’ve seen it and can parse out this mess ‘o thoughts into more articulate questions or arguments, I’d love to hear your take.

Related Post: The last movie I loved, The Queen of Versailles.

Related Post: Why I think “higher order thinking skills” are important.

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