What We Need To Fight Is Fascism

While campaigning in Florida, Trump made the following statement, "We're not supposed to have a socialist — look we're not going to be a socialist nation. We're not going to have a socialist president, especially a female socialist president, we're not gonna' have it, we're not gonna' put up with it." "Socialism" has always been a bad word for Americans, so Trump is associating this dirty word with Senator Kamala Harris. Having the government control every means of production is indeed unattractive, but this is not the brand of socialism progressives aspire for in this country. There is a lot of merit in providing everyone with a good education, preventive health care, and clean energy. Working for equity in education is not evil. Wanting that everyone has the means to see their doctor regularly is not wrong. Responding to the challenges of climate change is not immoral. What is in fact immoral is fascism.
The signs are clear, according t…

The Pandemic Is Still Here

President Trump is known for spewing lies so fast that it is challenging to keep track, but one lie is so important that we should not ignore. On the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump claims, "We're rounding the corner. It's going away." It is not. On the same day Trump made this absurd and dangerous claim, the United States recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 cases. COVID-19 is not going away for one simple reason: A significant number among us still continue to ignore simple yet effective ways of mitigating the pandemic: Wearing a mask, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings especially indoors. Trump continues to hold rallies without enforcing these important measures. And at the same time, Trump insists that every school district open their schools. We cannot open schools if we have not gained control over the spread of this coronavirus. But Trump like most of his supporters do not see the logic. Do we not care about our children and their teachers? I gue…

Words from a President Matter

I have the impression that my previous post, "Facts have no bearing on how one feels", may have been read as "How we feel has no bearing on facts". The two are very different. What often makes education particularly challenging is correcting misconceptions. What we think normally becomes a part of who we are and when what we conceive gets refuted, it appears to be an attack on ourselves. And this is especially true when these misconceptions are intimately connected to our values. For example, Trevors and Duffy have recently found that correcting misconceptions regarding COVID-19 are going to be difficult since these involve moral values and emotions. We already know this with issues like climate change, diversity and inclusion, and gun ownership and violence. All these issues require collective action, but with strongly held misconceptions, corrective measures will simply remain out of reach. The coronavirus pandemic will continue to grip our world, sea levels will…

Facts Have No Bearing On How One Feels

I would never ask students in my class if they believe in the Pythagorean theorem. Instead, the proper question would be: "Do you understand the Pythagorean theorem?" I would never ask students in my class whether they reject the notion that the earth is flat. What is appropriate is: "Do you know that the earth is not flat?" Facts have no bearing on how one feels. Asking someone about their belief has nothing to do with how well they understand. Some people may understand but may still reject to believe. So when Senator Kamala Harris asked the nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, whether climate change was real, it was not asking how well the nominee understood climate change. It was probing the nominee's character and identity.

And Barrett's response suggests that she is deeply religious. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with being religious. Religion provides us with a different window from which we can view life and the world. Religion, a…

Learning from History

President Donald Trump often condemns history classes that tell the truth. Back in July, the Fairfax County School Board voted to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day. The motion that was passed included the following statement: "Indigenous peoples have been and continue to be the victims of prejudice and systematic discrimination as a result of 500 years of oppression and violence that began with European colonization, and it extends to the systematic oppression indigenous people face today throughout the Americas." We might easily embrace, as Michael J O'Leary did, the words of Native American scholar Stan Rushworth: "the difference between a Western settler mindset of, I have rights and an indigenous mindset of I have an obligation. Instead of thinking that I am born with rights, I choose to think that I was born with obligations to serve past, present, and future generations, and the planet herself." In fact, these words may even serve as insp…

What Does the Fly Know?

On the East Coast, the debate went way past the bedtime of my children. Nevertheless, my kids caught the first thirty minutes of the exchange between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence. My daughter was asking me before the debate if this was of historical significance, if her future children would ask her what she was doing at this time. Without doubt, the discussion could be certainly educational. It would have been a battle between two ideas. On one side, there would be a government that would rein in health care, carbon dioxide emissions, and systemic racism, while on the other side, only free market forces would be expected to shape our future. Unfortunately, the debate did not materialize as a battle between these two. Instead, as my two children noticed, there were distortions of facts. My children went to sleep before the debate ended so they did not get to see the fly on Mike Pence's head, a fly that seemed to know a lot about what was being said.

A week af…

The School Year for Public Schools in the Philippines Has Begun

The Philippines is one of the countries in Southeast Asia with a large number of COVID cases. Its president has ordered the suspension of in-person classes until a vaccine is available. The Department of Education, after postponing for several months, finally opened the school year with remote learning this past Monday. There is no doubt that a significant number of children would be left behind, especially those with very limited resources. In fact, it has been reported that about 3 million students did not enroll in this school year (more than 10 percent of the expected enrollment). The weeks leading to the school opening were marked with extremely tiring and challenging preparations. A day before the first day of the school, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in the Philippines noted that materials were still being reproduced and collated by teachers from locally made learning modules as master copies from the central office of the Department of Education had not arrived yet. The p…