Does the media shape culture, and how?


“Her anne gibi…” (“Like every mother…”)

When I taught English in Izmir, not a day went by without my Turkish co-workers (and perhaps even my British colleague) spending several minutes harranguing me about the need to wear make-up, in their professional opinions. I refused, but I paid a price, in lower esteem and in difficulty relating to others. A scene in which little Cilek wants to dye her hair is a telling one. Her older sister comments that their mother dyes her hair, as all mothers do. But how much of this cosmetic change that we make to ourselves is because we want to, vs. because society expects us to do so? And who benefits?

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !
September 2, 12016 HE


La Censura: Una Amenaza para la Salud Pública

Me quedo sorprendida de haber aprendido (a traves de mi programa favorito: El Ministerio del Tiempo) que La Gripe Española de 1918 en realidad no comenzô en España, sino era llamada Española por el hecho de que España era el primer paîs (o el unico) de haber permitido noticias de esa maladia cuando empezô.  Otros paîses censuraron la noticia debido a la Gran Guerra, y asi terminaron ayudando al virus de extenderse con el regreso de los soldados tras la guerra.   Una triste manera de aprender como la censura puede haber consequencias mortiferas en todo el mundo.

(Correcciônes a mi español recibidos con buen grado…)

a Leer, Escribir, Soñar, Enseñar!

27th of August, 12016 HE


A Public Health Threat: Censorship…

I remain surprised to have learned (via my favorite currently running TV show: El Ministerio del Tiempo) that the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918 actually did not likely begin in Spain, but was called Spanish due to the fact that Spain was the first (or only) nation to have reported the illness when the outbreak began.  Other countries censored the news due to The Great War, and thus ended up helping the virus spread with the return of the soldiers after WWI.   A very sad lesson on how censorship can have deadly consequences world-wide.

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

23rd of August, 12016 HE

Glad I shared a Smile that day…

Two people now have told me that this shared smile (during the 14 months I worked in Turkey) was indeed a contribution to society, even though no monetary exchange and no formal recognition was involved. Time to readjust my thinking on what makes a contribution to society, and my ability to contribute (more compassion for self and others allows greater contribution)…

Read, Write,Dream, Teach !      –ShiraDest
19th of August, 12016 HE

ShiraDest Community Cooperation Blog

Short story: glad I smiled at someone I did not know -who thanked me, and made me grateful to be alive, back in 2005. And also today.

Less short version of the story:
Ok, so after a useless day yesterday of only 1100 words written, and desperate fears of 8 more days zero, (I have another 10k words to write), I was reflecting on the use, or lack thereof, of my life.
moving morose meditation on beauty to bottom…

When I lived in Izmir, that summer I took long walks on Saturday afternoons. I had the habit of smiling, or at least nodding, to every person I saw because frankly, I hoped someone would smile or nod back at me. At least acknowledge me as a fellow human being, as I tried to do, even passing the homeless people lining the streets as you go into the Metro (DC).


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Puerto Ricans are being sold into slavery in Alaska

My god, this is unbelievable…


Book - 12-10

Yes, this language is inflammatory. But it is dead accurate.

Read this article slowly. Watch the corporate video inside it. Listen to every word from the president of the company…and then decide for yourself, if that is not EXACTLY what’s being done to these young Puerto Ricans. They are being sold into slavery.


With a $4.25 minimum wage just around the corner, a company will soon ride into Puerto Rico with a much better deal. It will offer jobs at $9.75 – plus overtime – and a chance to see Alaska !

Both the $9.75 and the overtime are at rock-bottom Alaska minimum wage – not a penny more – but hey…it’s better than $4.25!


The generous company, Westward Seafoods, Inc., will recruit Puerto Rican workers on Sept. 2 and 3 in a hotel in San Juan.

So what kind of jobs are these?


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Understanding the need to repeat and frame Values

(reblogged from post “Understanding Trump” by George Lakoff ):

“Effective respectful policing is a public resource.”

Peace Officers, as DancingPalmTrees put it, are an integral part of our freedoms.

Further, he says: “Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.”

Now, please go read, digest, and share his original post…

Peace, Shira  6 August, 12016 HE  (the Universal Holocene Calendar)

George Lakoff

Understanding Trump

By George Lakoff

There is a lot being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More than half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times.

Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the NY Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later I this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and…

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Rice, Riots and Basic Income: Teaching math is fun!


As I prepared for my second interview recently at a school where I would very much  like to teach math, I was reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call for a Basic Income, and his comment that “social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), 22.).  I hope I have made this mini-lesson, and all of my teaching, relevant to both the current and future lives of my students.

Here are some of the interesting resources I came across while planning my lesson on Slope, which I called “Rice and Riots” to illustrate that a line can tell you a lot.

“ancient egypt 3-4-5” gives this: Google image search for 345 Right Triangle

and this Rosicrucian paper seems to have been copied with cuter images across several different websites, while quotes from the Rhind Papyrus make me want to spend all of my time just studying ancient works, and this fascinating proposal to rename the Pythagorean Theorem actually cites interesting sources.


And from an EduTopia article on “6 Ways to Help Students Understand Math” (too bad the pdf is no longer online): now we can teach the way I wanted to teach back in 2002!!  Ahem:

2. Introduce topics using multiple representations.

The more types of representations that you can present to students addressing their different learning styles, the more likely they will truly understand the concept being presented. Different representations could include using manipulatives, showing a picture, drawing out the problem, and offering a symbolic representation. For example, when presenting linear relationships with one unknown, illustrate to students the same problem as an equation, on a number line, in words, and with pictures. Students who are exposed to and can recognize the same relationship posed in the different representational modes are more likely to have conceptual understanding of the relationship and perform better on assessments (PDF).”

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

1st of July, 2016

Intelligent female characters becoming strong Leaders

I’m still emotionally buzzing from the end of episode 21 of El Ministerio del Tiempo and Amelia’s incredible courage, and character arc !!

More than just one protagonist, though, she stands in a line of female main characters (not always lead or protag, actually) who start off as just intelligent, and develop into both intelligent and strong female characters, a bit like Hermione Granger from the HP series:  these ladies began with some kind of growing to do, and did that growing through painful events, but grew, emotionally and personally (courage, committment, etc) to become much stronger than they started off the books or series, like:

Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5, or  Eda from Sihirli Annem,  or Nazli from Yabanci Damat all began as less than fully confident, but all very promising, intelligent, and self-directed young ladies, who had to learn to be more assertive, culminating in either marrying the person whom they chose (rather than their families chose), or by snatching victory from the jaws of death, or in the case of Amelia, deliberately walking into the possibility of the worst death known (an Auto-da-Fe) in history, for the purpose of making her point.  (ok, yes, you could argue that Delenn does this in B5’s Circle of Fire, but watch the Ministerio del Tiempo episode, and you will see that it is rather different, and also Delenn arrived on B5 as a mature leader, where Amelia began as a novice leader).

These are the examples of critical thinking, emotional growth, and self-confidence that young girls need to see as early and as often as possible to grow into leaders able and willing to stand alongside men and make this world a more just and humane place for all.


Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

3rd of June, 2016

(9th of June edit: these ladies all learned to use cooperation with their allies, and even understanding and forms of NonViolent Communication with their enemies, to accomplish seemingly impossible goals: worth learning in various languages to share with others as I aspire to  become an excellent teacher, like all of these role models!) -Shira, 9 June, 2016

Let (or help) students do the thinking

I agree intellectually, but still find this amazing, and a bit guilty, emotionally:  a proficient teacher rarely finishes any of the cognitive work that students could own.”  -Wow.  In other words, the students not only should think critically, not only ought to be encouraged to think, but must think critically, and for themselves!  This is what school should have always been!  This is not the teacher who asks, waits half a second, and then answers her own question while the students sit and look at her:  this is pushing kids to use that gray matter between their ears as if they really were real people -and they are!

(Yes, I am hearing the theme song of “Kids are People, Too!” from way back when!!)

*Quote comes from the Teaching Fellows core rubric: http://www.noycefdn.org/documents/hccollab/TNTP_Core%20Teaching%20Rubric.pdf


Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

3rd of June, 2016

Why I am becoming a teacher again

“Conversations about the Common Core State Standards and

raising the rigor of student work were still years away, but even
then it was apparent that my practice demanded very little
of my students. I did nothing to encourage them to explore
multiple approaches. I did very little in terms of having them
explain their thoughts and ideas”
A veteran teacher on how the new Common Core Standards have allowed him to transform his teaching of mathematics from drudgery into joy, for his students.  This is what I want to do!
Read, Write, Dream, TEACH!