Tag Archives: teaching

Predatory Landlords, Debt, and Repairing the World

Dr. King said that,

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ”

The question is how does such “restructuring” happen?

Following up on my earlier post regarding debt as a problem of financial self-defense, particularly in the case of apartment renters who are forced to live in a lemon or face Breach of Lease, Biblical Law may have something to say about the long term consequences of artificially pushing people into debt (talking about otherwise frugal folks who do not spend profligately).

I respectfully submit that we have had one possible tool in our hands for several thousand years, and it may need to be examined in the context of our present debt crisis -the release of debts, both short term and long term, at different times.  Below is a handout from one of several talks I gave on the relationship between debt and community building, this one from the book of Deuteronomy: DCBM20August_Reeh_Class.

AfterNote: while debts do “expire” at different times in each state and DC according to the type of debt, only two states actually “extinguish” expired debts, and only Maryland prohibits lawsuits being brought against debtors for already expired debts!

May we look to our collective good, as one Human Race, and to the potential of each and every Human Being.

Read, Write, Dream, Walk !
June 26th, 12017 HE

Relating PTSD, homelessness and debt to lessons not learned in youth: do we need studies?

What we need our children to prove, for recognition of adulthood, is not their prowess in battle or the hunt, not their virility, not their adeptness at social maneuvering, but their ability to contribute meaningfully to society by teaching another person, from level 0, how to do something that is both difficult and absolutely neccessary in our society today. By requiring our pre-adults to teach some other person a needed life skill, over the course of at least a year, that pre-adult shows persistence, perseverence, discernment, and of course, the skill in question.

Thus we provide an esteem building excercise and respect building accomplishment which we then reward with full adult status, whatever the age of the pre-adult in question. This obviously assumes that the person has had opportunity to prove his or her good judgement in other ways as well, prior to seeking adulthood recognition. This might help as one step of a series of steps implemented by and through local communities which could lead to more long-term thinking in society at large, given a critical mass and good faith in the ability of humankind to rise above our instincts, and learn to cooperate.  Certain pre-requisites should apply: knowledge of emotional, financial and physical self-defense.

Tying into emotional challenges like PTSD, pre-adults must learn how to communicate non-violently, manage their own emotions and prevent emotional manipulation, which eases the recognition and treatment of difficult past traumatic disorders.   Homelessness and debt both relate to issues of financial self-defense, by which I mean the ability not only to balance a check book and write up a home budget, but also to avoid falling victim to scams of all sorts, as well as the ability to plan for long-range problems like job-loss, or illness, etc.
Hence the post I mentioned developing the idea of an Adulthood Rite of Passage:

First elaborated here: https://network23.org/communitycoop/2014/04/17/pre-adulthood-adults-and-rites-of-passage/ with an annoyingly trivializing comment, and then here:

http://adulthoodchallenge.dreamwidth.org/318.html , with more extensive conversations.

Then the prerequisites which are essentially being able to defend oneself physically, financially, and emotionally:

http://meowdate.dreamwidth.org/6177.html but more cleanly written (w/ref. to V. Frankl, also) here: https://network23.org/communitycoop/2014/06/27/am-i-an-adult-part-1-definition/

(A useful side effect of this idea is that it would effectively increase the number of available tutors, and also lead to every adult in our society coming away with an understanding of the challenges involved in teaching anyone anything non-trivial.)

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !
May 7th, 12017 HE

Words and their impact: important…

While watching El Ministerio del Tiempo with me, a friend commented that it was already passing the Bechdel test for sexism in films/TV shows in the first 20 minutes of the first episode, and then explained that the test also applies to racism in the media.  The importance of this is not just to hit political correctness marks, but to show the impact that words have on both our personal and our cultural development.

After watching the recent electoral campaign, I am more convinced than ever that we as a society need to learn how to think critically, to investigate fully, and above all, to put ourselves in the histories and shoes of the other (see the #SafetyPin movement…).  We need to learn to speak and think Non-Violently, and to think and act inclusively.  Not just for ourselves, but for our posterity.

If there is still a  habitable planet in another hundred years for our posterity, that is.  Even if not, who would want the coming generations to live in fear and aggression in what is left of humanity’s time on this earth?

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

November 9th, 12016 HE

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

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!

Review (English) of: L’espace est une question de temps ; Einstein et la relativité

L'espace est une question de temps ; Einstein et la relativitéL’espace est une question de temps ; Einstein et la relativité by David Blanco Laserna

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was revealing not so much for his personal life, but for the ways in which Einstein represented people like my high school students back in 2001, or my Community College students in 2012, all of whom needed to understand the mysteries behind the mathematics, rather than just memorizing the rules.
My students needed, like this genius, perhaps a bit less authoritarian rule-following, and a bit more flexibility in my own ways of communicating with even those I saw as less hard-working. From their points of view, the situation was surely different, and as I learn that time and space is relative, I understand that so is thinking and teaching.
Well worth reading,

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

2nd of April, 2016

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Putting the maths into the learner’s context

Interesting, that Einstein grew up around clock parts and railway renewal, in Bern. So he drew from his personal context, clocks and trains, to illustrate his theories. Almost a form of NVC, putting mathematical or scientific concepts into a form that your students can readily imagine in their own lifes, thus can use, from their own perspectives Cool!

Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

26 March, 12016 HE

Rev: Jour des Fourmis, and Lesson: Biblical Hebrew

First, the review of

Le Jour des fourmisLe Jour des fourmis by Bernard Werber

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found this book disappointing due to the increased spiritualism and preachiness, which his first book in this series touched on, but not nearly as heavily. He also gets a few things wrong that begin to become annoying by the end of the book.

J’ai trouvé ce livre pas a mon gout parce que le spiritualisme et ses efforts de nous dire quoi penser m’ont gêné. Ce n’était pas si lourd dans son premier livre. Aussi, il a raté quelques chose qui me commencé à gêner par le fin du livre.

4 Janvier, 12016 èH

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Now, the Biblical Hebrew lesson:

Look up the Hebrew for the first verse of Genesis (“Bereishit” in Hebrew, which is not even remotely the correct translation!!), here is the first sentence (will find image of where Hebrew keyboard letters are located):

Bereishit/B’reishit/B’reshit 1:1

Bereishit bara Elohim ( et ) haShamaim ve(Et) haAretz.
In Beginning created God (vrb-obj) theHeavens and(vrb-obj) theEarth.

Ok, vrb-obj is what I use for the “word” ET. You’ll notice that it always comes between a verb and the word HA (HA = the, and sometimes the word HA becomes HE in front of words like Harim=Mountains, or other words that also start with an H), the definite article, which, yes, is the object of the verb.

ET is a ‘filler’ word that only tells you ‘here comes a noun which is the object of the verb you just saw’ -so many folks consider the word ET to be useless (the inventors of Modern Israeli Hebrew actually wanted to drop the word ET from Israeli Hebrew grammar!! 😦 For me, ok, yes that does simplify the grammar, but it also means you lose the connection with ancient Hebrew, and also lose an important grammatical indicator, imho…).

I’m sure you can find long comments on the use or lack there of the connector-word ET online probably. I was glad to have ignored my first Rabbi’s advice (ok, the conversion failed, so maybe not so glad back then) and studied both MIH and biblical Hebrew, because now you can see the difference that a little non-word word can make! 🙂

If one has had time to chew on Bereshit 1:1, now it is time to learn by heart the entire Alef-Bet, or just start by learning the letters you need to read that first verse:
Tav (BRShT),
Mem Sofit (the final version of the letter Mem: 5 letters change when they come at the end of a word),
Mem, and
Tzadi Sofit (final Tzadi).

Let me start with a story (you can undoubtedly find it online as well):
Aleph, the first letter, wanted to know why the Torah starts with a Bet. If you look at the letter Bet, you see that it is open on three sides, while Aleph is sort of like a slanty H: closed. Bet is also the word that means ‘House’ so starting the Torah with the letter Bet means that the entire Bible is like a home: open and welcoming.

Also, on YouTube, if you can see videos, The Moshav Band had a video with the words sung pretty slowly, so easy to learn.
My first lesson is to find that video and sing the first verse of the song: Bereshit, Bara Elohim (In Beginning, Created God)
and the next day, or when you have learned those first 3 words, move on to the next verse of the song: Et HaShamaim.


4 Jan. 12016 HE