Daniel T. Willingham | There Are Better Ways to Study That Will Last You a Lifetime – The New York Times

Mr. Willingham is a psychologist at the University of Virginia and the author, most recently, of “Outsmart Your Brain: Why Learning Is Hard and How You Can Make It Easy.”

“Picture your preschooler’s teacher pulling you aside at pickup time to say that your child was “not taking responsibility” for learning the alphabet. You’d be puzzled and probably angry. It’s not up to a 4-year-old to make sure he learns the alphabet. That’s the teacher’s job.

But as your child gets older, he’ll increasingly be expected to teach himself. High school seniors must read difficult books independently, commit information to memory, schedule their work, cope with test anxiety and much more.

These demands build slowly across the grades, essentially forming a second, unnoticed curriculum: learning how to learn independently.

For most American students, that curriculum goes untaught. In a 2007 survey, just 20 percent of college students agreed that they study as they do “because a teacher (or teachers) taught you to study that way.” “

Aaron Tang | Maine’s End Run Around the Supreme Court Is an Example for Other States – The New York Times

Mr. Tang is a law professor at the University of California, Davis, and a former law clerk to Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“What a week so far for conservatives. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down a Maine law that prohibited religious private schools from receiving taxpayer dollars. And on Thursday, it invalidated a New York State gun safety law limiting the public carry of firearms. The outcome in these cases was not surprising. The court has ruled in favor of religious litigants in an overwhelming number of cases, and the gun case’s outcome was clear from the oral argument before the justices in November.

What is surprising is how little the 6-to-3 decision in the Maine case, Carson v. Makin, will matter practically. And the reason offers a glimpse of hope for those who worry about a future dominated by the court’s conservative supermajority — including the many Americans troubled by the court’s decision in the gun case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.

Let’s start with the Carson case. Anticipating this week’s decision, Maine lawmakers enacted a crucial amendment to the state’s anti-discrimination law last year in order to counteract the expected ruling. The revised law forbids discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and it applies to every private school that chooses to accept public funds, without regard to religious affiliation.”

Margaret Renkl | In the Culture Wars, Teachers Are Under Attack – The New York Times

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — My grandmother was still a teenager when she started her teaching career. She went to college for a year and then taught for a year to save money for tuition. After another year of college and another year of teaching, she married my grandfather. The wedding, everyone assumed, marked the end of her career. She was 21 years old.

Down here we call someone like my grandmother a natural-born teacher. She loved her job. The family desperately needed her income, too, but the country was in a Great Depression by then, and there weren’t enough jobs to go around. Women in her Lower Alabama school district — as in many others around the country — weren’t allowed to work for pay once they married.

As discriminatory policies so often do, this one backfired. There weren’t enough licensed teachers to staff the schools, especially in deeply rural areas. From time to time, the superintendent would beg my grandmother to come back and finish out the school year for a teacher who was leaving, and my grandmother always did. When her youngest child was old enough for school, she was offered a permanent job teaching in the two-room schoolhouse in her tiny farming community. Years later, she went back to college to finish her four-year degree. She finally retired from teaching in 1970, more than 40 years after she taught her first class.”

What happened when I tried to become a substitute teacher in Hamden CT | by Makaela Kingsley | Jan, 2022 | Medium

What happened when I tried to become a substitute teacher

In December 2021, it became clear that the latest COVID-19 variant — omicron — would impact schools after the holiday break. Thanks to the widespread accessibility of vaccines, the mild nature of omicron infections, and nearly two years of protocols that limit COVID transmissions inside schools remarkably well, I was not worried about sending my kids — a 7th grader and 10th grader — to their large public schools in our 60,000-person Connecticut town. Even more importantly, they were not worried. They wanted to go back to school.

We all knew, though, that opening schools would require having enough grown-ups — in all buildings, most classrooms, many periods, every day. And clearly omicron wasn’t going to let that happen. Teachers, paraprofessionals, aides, administrators, custodians, security officers, and all the other essential adults in the school community would have to take days off for a variety of reasons — symptomatic COVID cases, asymptomatic COVID cases, symptoms that were caused by something other than COVID, quarantined kids or other family members, not to mention PTO for dentist appointments, out-of-town weddings, personal days, and all the other relics of pre-pandemic life.

Source: What happened when I tried to become a substitute teacher | by Makaela Kingsley | Jan, 2022 | Medium

Bret Stephens | The Lessons of Brooklyn Tech – The New York Times


Opinion Columnist

“For many years I lived across the street from Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan’s elite public school, and I would sometimes get a ride from a father of one of the students. He was a cabdriver from Pakistan, a man who liked to strike up conversations with his passengers. Usually we talked about two things: his pride in his academically gifted kids (another child was already at Cornell) and his dismay at the state of affairs in Pakistan.

Eventually, the child at Stuyvesant went on to another elite university, and I saw less of my friendly driver, and then I moved out of the city. But I’ve been thinking about him again in connection to the two best things I’ve read about immigrants in recent months — and what both say about our never-ending debates over “American values.”

The first was Michael Powell’s luminous report “How It Feels to Be an Asian Student in an Elite Public School” in The Times last week. The second is Roya Hakakian’s book “A Beginner’s Guide to America,” a Tocquevillian gem of sociological and psychological analysis that explains, to a mainly American readership, just how strange this country can be to a newcomer, even — or especially — in what seem like the most banal aspects of life.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT |NYT comment:
Bravo Bret Stephens. An excellent piece, and good comments in support of more academically challenging curriculum. I lost my eldest son to a heroin cut with too much fentanyl overdose in 2011. He was a month short of 21, and an extremely bright candle, majoring in economics at Uconn. When Austin took his SAT’s, he scored an 800 on the verbal.
We have thought deeply about all the reasons he became a drug dealer while in high school, and became reckless about his safety regarding party drugs. Clearly, we made mistakes. One of the many contributors we identified, was the lack of academic challenge in the Hamden CT public school system, especially in the pre high school grades, where all homework was finished in school, and the absence of non varsity, after school sports and enrichment programs.

Nicholas Kristof | Biden Plots a Revolution for America’s Children – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist


Credit…Richard Foulser/Trunk Archive

“The most revolutionary part of President Biden’s agenda so far is his focus on a constituency that doesn’t write whiny op-ed columns, doesn’t vote, doesn’t hire lobbyists and so has been neglected for half a century: children.

Biden’s proposal to establish a national pre-K and child care system would be a huge step forward for children and for working parents alike. It would make it easier for moms and dads to hold jobs, and above all it would be a lifeline for many disadvantaged children.

Imagine: You drop a kid off at a high-quality prekindergarten program in the morning and pick the child up on the way home from work. That’s how it is in many other advanced countries, and in the United States military.

When my wife and I lived in Japan in the late 1990s, we sent our kids to one of these nurseries, and they were a dream.”

Dr. Seuss Books Are Pulled, and a ‘Cancel Culture’ Controversy Erupts – The New York Times

“In the summer of 1936, Theodor Geisel was on a ship from Europe to New York when he started scribbling silly rhymes on the ship’s stationery to entertain himself during a storm: “And this is a story that no one can beat. I saw it all happen on Mulberry Street.”

The rhymes morphed into his first children’s book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” about a boy who witnesses increasingly outlandish things. First published in 1937, the book started Geisel’s career as Dr. Seuss. He went on to publish more than 60 books that have sold some 700 million copies globally, making him one of the world’s most enduringly popular children’s book authors.

But some aspects of Seuss’s work have not aged well, including his debut, which features a crude racial stereotype of an Asian man with slanted lines for eyes. “Mulberry Street” was one of six of his books that the Seuss estate said it would stop selling this week, after concluding that the egregious racial and ethnic stereotypes in the works “are hurtful and wrong.”

The announcement seemed to drive a surge of support for Seuss classics. Dozens of his books shot to the top of Amazon’s print best-seller list; on Thursday morning, nine of the site’s top 10 best sellers were Seuss books. The estate’s decision — which prompted breathless headlines on cable news and complaints about “cancel culture” from prominent conservatives — represents a dramatic step to update and curate Seuss’s body of work, acknowledging and rejecting some of his views while seeking to protect his brand and appeal. It also raises questions about whether and how an author’s works should be posthumously curated to reflect evolving social attitudes, and what should be preserved as part of the cultural record.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
I’m horrified by this action by the Seuss estate, which I consider obtuse. Seuss made fun of everybody and everything at some point, and almost everyone loved his children’s books for their fun and rollicking humor. That he poked at all groups, isn’t racist, it is what a good humorist does. I loved the comment I just read, a woman wrote, If I see an image that seems offensive today, it simply provides a teachable moment.

Should Your School Be Fully Open? Here’s What the C.D.C. Says – The New York Times

“Only 4 percent of the nation’s schoolchildren live in counties where coronavirus transmission is low enough for full-time in-person learning without additional restrictions, according to the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an analysis of the agency’s latest figures.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYTimes Comment
So many tough choices. Good Article. I just had a weird idea. I’m 68, and in two weeks, I get my 2nd vaccine shot. This fall, high schools could go to two sessions, with half the teachers be recruited from the ranks of the retired, vaccinated college educated community. We would deserve a stipend, but not a union wage. It would get us through the 2021-22 year with all students getting at least half a day at school, maybe more.

Opinion | Quarantine May Negatively Affect Kids’ Immune Systems – The New York Times

By Donna L. Farber and 

Dr. Farber is a professor of immunology and surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, where Dr. Connors is an assistant professor of pediatrics.

Credit…Dave Woody for The New York Times

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is unwittingly conducting what amounts to the largest immunological experiment in history on our own children. We have been keeping children inside, relentlessly sanitizing their living spaces and their hands and largely isolating them. In doing so, we have prevented large numbers of them from becoming infected or transmitting the virus. But in the course of social distancing to mitigate the spread, we may also be unintentionally inhibiting the proper development of children’s immune systems.

Most children are born with a functioning immune system with the capacity to respond to diverse types of foreign substances, called antigens, encountered through exposure to microorganisms, food and the environment. The eradication of harmful pathogens, establishment of protective immunity and proper immune regulation depends on the immune cells known as T lymphocytes. With each new infection, pathogen-specific T cells multiply and orchestrate the clearance of the infectious organism from the body, after which some persist as memory T cells with enhanced immune functions.

Over time, children develop increasing numbers and types of memory T cells, which remain throughout the body as a record of past exposures and stand ready to provide lifelong protection. For other antigen exposures that are not infectious or dangerous, a type of healthy stalemate can result, called immune tolerance. Immunological memory and tolerance learned during childhood serves as the basis for immunity and health throughout adulthood.

Memory T cells begin to form during the first years of life and accumulate during childhood. However, for memory T cells to become functionally mature, multiple exposures may be necessary, particularly for cells residing in tissues such as the lung and intestines, where we encounter numerous pathogens. These exposures typically and naturally occur during the everyday experiences of childhood — such as interactions with friends, teachers, trips to the playground, sports — all of which have been curtailed or shut down entirely during efforts to mitigate viral spread. As a result, we are altering the frequency, breadth and degree of exposures that are crucial for immune memory development.”

Opinion | The Problem With Coronavirus School Closures – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times


Opinion Columnist

Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

“Some things are true even though President Trump says them.

Trump has been demanding for months that schools reopen, and on that he seems to have been largely right. Schools, especially elementary schools, do not appear to have been major sources of coronavirus transmission, and remote learning is proving to be a catastrophe for many low-income children.

Yet America is shutting schools — New York City announced Wednesday that it was closing schools in the nation’s largest school district — even as it allows businesses like restaurants and bars to operate. What are our priorities?

“I have taught at the same low-income school for the last 25 years, and, truly, I can attest that remote schooling is failing our children,” said LaShondra Taylor, an English teacher in Broward County, Fla.

Some students don’t have a computer or don’t have Wi-Fi, Taylor said. Kids regularly miss classes because they have to babysit, or run errands, or earn money for their struggling families.