This week was one of many weeks that I wished I was at home in Virginia, to go say thank you to Ruth. I loved many things about her: her jabot, her brilliance, her defiance, her kindness. She was relentlessly devoted to human dignity.
Here is a post my friend Carlo wrote about bias, that I thought was objective and productive. It reminded me of RBG and her fight for the underdog; I wish RBG could read and elaborate on his opinion. In his thoughts below, Carlo says we all have bias; it’s only when we treat people worse because of our biases that we create problems.
“Being afraid of people we don’t identify as our group (foreigners, people with different skin color than yours, people with different sexual orientation, people with another gender identification, people with different habits, people with different religion ,…) it’s an instinct, a bias.
Bias are not a fault, they are instinctive reactions, like feeling appetite when you see food or disgust when you smell an unpleasant smell. These are reactions that our brain has developed in millions of years to keep us safe, to maximize our probability of survival.
There’s nothing wrong with this, because it’s not a reaction we can control.
When a bias leads us to carry out discriminatory actions, not based on actual data, then that bias becomes a problem (misogynistic, racist, homophobic, transphobic, religious hatred). Coming for example extreme, having a sexual attraction to a person is a natural instinct, reacting to this instinct by raping them is a horrible act and not justified under any circumstances.
The first step is to figure out which bias we have. First of all I found many of them in myself.
The second step is to accept them, since they are instinctive reactions, and consider them when making a decision.I’m saying this because I think it makes sense? Or is it just that that person has a certain sexual orientation?
I’m doing this because I think it’s correct? Or is it just because I’m talking to a woman.
Am I keeping someone at a distance because I have a sensible reason to be afraid of them? Or is it just because it has a different skin color than mine?
This is what makes us human beings.
Questioning is very important. Try rethinking something you said or did and understand why you said it or did it.
Is it hard? Yes, yes. Is it worth it and can change our lives and others lives? Yes, yes.
Here is a thought-provoking questionnaire with my answers. I might even open the comments section if you are bold enough to share yours.
What are you most likely to be very wrong about? Directions
What chapters would you separate your autobiography into? I don’t know the rest of my life so I’m not sure, but I would probably copy the common outline on Wikipedia- early life and education, career, personal life.
What are some things you’ve had to unlearn? As an adult, I’ve made a concerted effort to ignore both compliments and insults. Some of them I have internalized, and I’m working on unlearning them, and just letting negative people go. I’ve unlearned some bad flirting habits 🙃.
What could you give a 40 minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation? I’m a teacher, and occasionally when plan A doesn’t work out, you have to do exactly this. I feel like this would be fairly simple with a computer, a screen projector, and a sincere and contributing audience, but I can’t think of a topic offhand.
What question would you most like to know the answer to? I am trying to read more about productivity. I’d like to read this book by Gretchen Rubin.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time? Work another job!
Why did you decide to do what you are doing now in your life? I’m currently teaching. I accepted a teaching job because I knew I could help my students learn. I would like to work in tech for the same reason.
What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever received? I have received two pieces of advice that have stuck with me. The first is that if you love someone, you will not want to change them at all. If you want to change someone, then you don’t love them. That has helped me. The second piece of advice came from a bishop’s wife who said that when you have a tough time, it’s ok to throw yourself a pity party, but then move on. Have a good cry or a good break, but then come back to life hungry. I can’t think of specific bad advice I’ve received, although I would say 99% of the unsolicited advice I’ve received is worthless. Even advice that is revered by experts in best-selling books I often find very unuseful. I ask for advice from people who know me and who I trust, and ignore the rest, as a general rule.
What’s the most impactful ‘no’ you’ve said recently? I’m not sure.
What has been the happiest experience of your life? I don’t know! Too many to count. I really like teaching, traveling, and food, and I have had a fabulous experiences teaching so far this year. Learning piano was a great experience for me and traveling in Europe was really fun too.
I went to Trader Joe’s where I got an apple tart. This one is False because the line was just too long.
I socially distanced to watch a 2018 SpiderMan movie. True. I recommend! Very funny! And the soundtrack is amazing!
I made a delicious spaghetti sauce with garlic, onions, and ground chicken. True. It’s from this recipe.
One last story is that, my phone died (permanently), so I went to the T Mobile/Sprint store no less than three times with a phone to set up. Each time they gave me incorrect information about my SIM card and its compatibility with my new phone.
Ergo, via google chat, I had someone in Virginia call India where their tech support gave me a couple of very basic instructions to get my phone set up. If you live in Silicon Valley, where is a good place to get tech support? I recommend India.
How are you? Well, I hope? Today was finally sunny in California! And the air quality is safe. Who knew a clear sky would be such a relief!
I just finished watching the Social Dilemma and it actually has me feeling nostalgic. I miss when we didn’t need to create a brand for ourselves on social media platforms, when it was normal for people to have some mystery and intrigue to them, and when people got to know each other in the flesh instead of from instagram stalking. Life was so simple back then! (I sound like a geriatric!)
I don’t know if I could quit social media entirely, but I have the utmost respect for people who do.
As we head into the seventh month of covid, I hope you’re checking in on friends, mailing letters, keeping up with your hobbies, watching movies, exercising, baking, reading, writing, Zooming friends near and far, and spending time outside.
So California is on fire. I am living near the the SCU Lightning Complex (not the gender reveal fire 😣). The sky has been gradually changing from orange to gray and it even looked purple for a while. The fire is 96% contained, but it looks like the apocalypse outside.
In other news, our class celebrated the First Thanksgiving recently (we are just wrapping up 17th century America). In another class we wrote letters to Senator Harris about the plastic that is ruining ocean wildlife. We are all very excited about the Break Free from Plastic Pollution bill that is in the Senate, and hope it will pass.
I also recently watched Jurassic Park for the first time! What an incredible movie. I’m relieved they decided to leave the island at the end.
Do you love Connect Four too?! In my gif, the Connect Four champion is connecting four, dropping the winning piece into the fifth column, and perhaps engaging in some friendly trash talk with his opponent (who is just out of frame😊).
This post is for parents of online students. My hope this year is that even without traditional or even effective teaching, everyone can find a way to ‘Connect Four’ (corny, I know) and progress. I have a few thoughts and tricks up my sleeve, in case your student doesn’t enjoy being dumped on Zoom all day.
Here are some ideas to keep your student moving this year:
Workbooks: Download some workbooks and have your student create a routine of doing a few pages or exercises every day. If you need to, download the answer key(s).
Have your student teach you what they are learning. Set aside a special time for a daily, weekly, or monthly formal presentation. They can be the teacher and assign you several math problems, teach you a science experiment, explain some new vocabulary, read you a piece of their writing, or create and moderate a trivia game.
Find books your student is interested in and read them as much as you can. Also, find some classics that your student is not interested in and read them as much as you can.
Be forgiving and patient if your student doesn’t understand something. If they are truly stuck or discouraged, move on to something else and circle back to it.
Give the amount of feedback your student is hungry for. Don’t give them tons of feedback if it will make them feel bad. This is difficult! But just take them to the next step.
Khan Academy, IXL, and Prodigy are great learning platforms with clear, immediate feedback. Skillshare is another fun resource, although it’s not free.
Have your child create a budget and do the grocery shopping and meal prep for the week (Maybe keep some back-up snacks on hand, in case this does not go to plan 😊).
Mothers, please stop talking about how bad at math you are. Your children are listening. My mother is incredible at math. She stole my Calculus homework in high school and did it for fun! But even if you are truly bad at math, stay mum🤐. It’s not helpful to tell your young child that you don’t know your multiplication tables. Consider learning them with your kid! Math is important.
This year you can let your kids learn about whatever they (or you) would like to learn about. They can learn about your passions and areas of expertise. State standards are also very helpful (especially for history), but if you can’t stick to that, keep learning something. Turn a question at breakfast into a research project and poster presentation. Keep momentum, keep developing skills, keep gathering information, and keep due dates and accountability. Even if it doesn’t feel linear, keep learning. Stay hungry.
Watch documentaries and historical movies. You can stop every 30 minutes and chat about it or write a short paragraph at the end. Learning while you watch a movie is fun!
Have your child learn graphic design via sketch, or learn programming via Codecademy. Look at job descriptions online and learn whatever skills they require.
Assign your student a few service hours.
Talk about how much you love learning.
Lastly, have patience with your student’s poor teachers. Teaching is a difficult job under normal circumstances. If you can teach a huge class of all types of children via Zoom for 30 hours a week better than your student’s teacher– please, please do.
My sister is old years old today. I have always really admired her. She is driven and fierce and thankfully, also really nice. I’m going to brag about her for a second here.
Christine is an athlete, much to my mom’s chagrin. My mom doesn’t really love sports and has always seen them as a hobby. When my sister became a very, very competitive swimmer at age five, I don’t think my mom thought much of it. But Christine started beating the older kids and earned a reputation as the little kid to beat.
Fast forward to her teenage years- she had several NVSL records and was begging my mom to do year-round swimming at Curl Burke. My sweet academics-focused mother tried to talk her out of it every year. Christine swam every morning before seminary and every afternoon after school, eventually going on to Olympic trials (she didn’t qualify for the Olympics). While all of this was going on, I was busy focusing on doing a flip turn without getting water up my nose😂.
Christine went to TJHSST, where she got straight A’s and a 5(!) on the AP Computer Science exam. I think she got 5’s on all of her AP’s. When she was a junior, she was recruited to swim at Princeton and my awesome family decided to tag along on her recruiting trip. All seven of us drove to New Jersey in our big red and white striped van playing automobile bingo and singing together along the way. As we were driving onto the pristine campus, Christine was braiding my hair and noticed some gross insects crawling on my head (thanks Maddy Thom)! I got lice at Princeton. While we were on campus it was noted that our family might not fit in with Ivy league people.
Christine went to BYU on two scholarships that overlapped – a full-ride academic scholarship and a full-ride athletic scholarship. She made money every semester. She majored in chemical engineering, graduated at 21 (she was a year ahead in school), and went to work for Intel. She became the head of a fab for them.
The nice thing about Christine is that she wouldn’t tell you any of this. She’s intelligent and exceptionally disciplined, but she’s also very unassuming. She flies under the radar. She is an incredibly low maintenance middle child- she can sleep anywhere, she never loses her keys, she’s funny, and she’s very nice. She’s really pretty, but she doesn’t care too much about clothes or superficial things. I wish I was more like her.
Happy birthday Christine! For your birthday, I am creating a vaccine that will end COVID 🙃. I hope this is a wonderful year for you.