Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘education methods/programs’ Category

Written by Dyami Millarson

Underlying tooth decay, there is a constant battle between demineralisation and mineralisation.

Dental caries may simply be defined as the cumulative result of the cyclical ebbs and flows of demineralisation and mineralisation.

Remineralisation is the term used for the normal daily process whereby the teeth, namely the enamel and dentin, are repaired from demineralisation.

Enamel is the material that covers the outside layer of the teeth above the crown. It is one of the most mineralised and hardest parts of the human body. Enamel is a composite of both organic and inorganic components, and the same is the case for dentin.

Dentin is the hard dental tissue that is the whole body of the tooth . Alternatively, dentin may be more specifically defined as the dental layer under the enamel which covers the surface of the teeth.

Enamel and dentin are also seemingly contrasted with the latter being defined as a mineralised dental tissue and the former as a mineralised dental structure,

Context is relevant for understanding the definition of mineralisation: Mineralisation in this article deals with tooth decay, it is relevant to specify that biomineralization is meant by this.

In the context of soil science, mineralisation is the process by which organic matter is converted to mineral nutrients, which are easy to absorb for the roots of the plants growing in the thus mineralised soil.

However, biomineralization is the process by which biological organisms produce minerals ), and that is the process we are interested in for understanding tooth decay and we mean biomineralization when we speak of tooth mineralisation.

The science of biomineralization is the study of biologically produced materials, such as human teeth, as well as the study of the biological processes leading to the formation of such organic-inorganic composites ).

As a refresher for the reader who might be inundated with new facts, enamel and dentin are composites of both organic and inorganic components.

The formation of hard dental tissues, such as enamel and dentin, involves the following two processes:

  1. a biological process which includes cell signalling and
  2. a biochemical process where the biomolecules interact for the formation of crystal apatite .

Apatite refers to any member of a series of phosphate minerals and apatite comes from an Ancient Greek word for deceit, as apatite resembles a plethora of other minerals .

Apatite is the most common phosphate mineral, and is the main source of phosphorus required by plants in the soil . Apatite is also relevant for soil mineralisation.

Apatite is not popular as a gemstone because it is too soft, and thus considered too brittle for most jewellery use.

Calcium phosphate, which is another name for apatite, is what the bones and teeth of humans and animals are made of, and the biological apatites, of which the aforementioned human and animal hard tissues are composed, are usually hydroxyapatites, also known as hydroxyapatites without an l in the third syllable .

Apatite found in bone has a unique chemical composition as well as unique geometry and the basic composite structure of bone, as seen from the nanoscale, consists of collagen fibrils densely mineralised with hydroxy(l)apatites.

Collagen is the single most abundant protein in the animal kingdom and may simply be defined as an insoluble, hard, fibrous protein that accounts for one-third of all the protein in the human body.

Although there are 16 types of collagen in total, 80-90% of the collagen which is found in the human body consists of types I, II and III.

The collagen molecules as found in the body pack together and form long thin structures known as fibrils.

Type I collagen, of which the vast majority of the fibril-type collagen in the human body consists, is not only found in the human bones and skin, but also in the connective tissues, tendons and fibrous cartilage .

Cavitation occurs once the enamel and dentin do not have the proper structure anymore for maintaining their mineral framework, and remineralisation may be regarded by the dentist as an insufficient treatment at that point).

Remineralisation is therefore a form of preventative medicine, i.e., the dentist seeks to prevent the formation of cavities by means of dental remineralisation .

However, demineralisation is Not a continuous one-way process, but it is a cyclic event characterised by waves of mineralisation and demineralisation.

Although dental remineralisation may, in practice, be employed by the dentist for the prevention, repair and reversal of dental caries, which is a synonym of tooth decay by the way, there is a definite limit to what mineralisation therapies by the dentist can do, provided that they are not accompanied by proper dental care at home.

It is therefore vital that the following be answered:

  1. what, then, is proper dental care? Here are some dental care tips: brush your teeth no less than twice a day and keep in mind more than twice a day may be desirable,
  2. brush your tongue as well,
  3. flossing is equally important as brushing your teeth and so you should never skip this, floss all of your teeth properly no matter how difficult it may be to reach them and so take the time for a proper flossing routine,
  4. drink plenty of water instead of sugary beverages, and generally avoid foods that contain lots of sugar and carbohydrates as well as foods that have a low pH, i.e., foods that are acidic .
  5. Microbial activity is associated with the onset of dental caries, and when one eats too much sugar, carbohydrates or foods with a low pH, one is feeding those cariogenic bacteria with nutrients that they need for breaking down one’s teeth, and so limiting sugar, carbohydrates and low-pH foods is a practical and viable strategy for preventing the onset of tooth decay in the mouth.
  6. Saliva plays an important role in protecting the teeth against damaging microbial activity and natural anti-microbial agents, such as spices, herbs and probiotics, seem effective for controlling cariogenic microbes, i.e., micro-organisms responsible for dental caries

Although my keen interest in phonetics already made me instinctively interested in the mouth, one of the main reasons I was alerted to the importance of oral hygiene was the ageing-related fact that good oral hygiene reduces mortality risk and a good dental care regimen should therefore be taken extremely seriously by those who wish to follow a longevity-promoting lifestyle.

Seeing the link between oral hygiene and longevity is undoubtedly an indispensable health-boosting insight, and I have become much more attentive to dental care ever since I became aware of this fact.

I recall that I watched cartoons as a child about bacteria that were destroying the teeth, and that is when it first dawned upon me that micro-organisms were responsible for tooth decay, which is what made me very concerned about cleaning my teeth and so I never experienced a single cavity until 2020 around my 26th birthday when I had been lax with dental care for a while due to experiencing prolonged heightened levels of stress, which usually makes one vulnerable to developing dental caries.

Natural compounds extracted from the following herbs and spices may be effective against cariogenic bacteria: Bauhinia forficata, Curcuma xanthorrhiza, Licorice Root, Eurycoma longifolia jack, Cinnamomum burmannii, tea tree, Sterculia lychnophora Hance, Melia azedarach L., Tamarix aphylla L., Cinnamon bark, Acacia arabica, Ginger-garlic paste, clove, Acacia catechu, Thuja orientalis, Camellia japonica, Quercus infectoria, Pongamia pinnata, Cymbopogon citratus.

I use a few drops of tea tree oil mixed in a cup of water as my preferred mouthwash product, though one should be careful not to ingest the tea tree oil and therefore one ought to make sure to wash one’s mouth thoroughly with water after one has finished gargling with the mix of tea tree and water to rinse one’s mouth.

When my gums hurt or if my gums are bleeding, I may apply some tea tree and it usually works; I usually spit it out after 10-15 minutes of holding the tea tree in my mouth with increasing saliva formation, and then I wash my mouth with water.

Micronutrients may be essential for oral health, because research has demonstrated that they reduced oral inflammations, such as gingivitis and periodontitis .

Gingivitis, which is basically an inflammation of the gums, is a commonly occurring, mild form of gum disease . This inflammation may be caused by bacteria and if this inflammation is left untreated, it may develop into periodontitis, which is a much more serious medical condition than gingivitis .

Interspersed with all the factual information, let me add one more personal anecdote to this article: I believe that I may have been experiencing an inflammation of my gums due to bacterial overgrowth this year, and what helped me in my case was having more dishes with lots of pepper.

I noticed already this summer that my gums had receded a little bit, and for this reason, I may look into the topic of regrowing the gum in another blog article.

When it comes to habits preventing the formation of oral cavities, it is best to avoid sugary foods, but in case we do choose to engage in such a guilty pleasure, it is recommend that the sugary foods be eaten with a meal rather than between meals .

Although it may be counterintuitive to have sweets with meals, it is truly the best habit for the teeth, and my mind is instinctively making the following analogy: many vitamin and mineral supplements ought to be taken with meals because this is the best habit for the gut.

(Such instinctive analogies that my mind draws for me usually have a mnemonic function.)

As perceived within the context of the notion that saliva may be important for protecting and repairing the teeth, it might be advisable to include salivation-promoting foods in one’s diet: peas, bananas, Brussel sprouts (*31).

Which vitamins and minerals are healthy for teeth?

Vitamins A, B and D, magnesium, iron and not to forget calcium and phosphorus, are relevant for dental and skeletal health

The functions of the following vitamins and minerals are not to be overlooked: vitamin A builds the enamel and keeps the gums healthy, vitamin D deposits calcium in the jawbones that support the teeth and it boosts dental mineral density, phosphorus repairs and protects the enamel, and calcium forties the enamel

While one needs sufficient calcium to fortify one’s teeth and bones, one ought to commit to memory that one needs vitamin D for the absorption of calcium

One may obtain vitamin A from dairy products, oily fish and liver products such as beef liver, lamb liver, liver sausage, cod liver oil, king mackerel, salmon, bluefin tuna, goat cheese, butter, cheddar

One may obtain vitamin B from leafy greens, turkey, legumes, sunflower seeds, yoghurt, milk, mussels, trout, salmon, clams, chicken, eggs, oysters, beef

One may obtain vitamin D from red meat, oily fish, egg yolks and liver products

One may obtain magnesium from nuts such as almonds and cashews, seeds such as pumpkin seeds and chia seeds, leafy greens such as spinach, legumes such as black beans and in smaller quantities from fish and meat

One may obtain iron from beans, nuts, dried fruit, red meat and liver products

One may obtain calcium from leafy greens, dairy products and fish where one also consumes the bones such as is the case with sardines (*41).

One may obtain phosphorus from poultry products such as eggs and chicken and turkey, dairy products such as yoghurt, milk and cheese, lentils, nuts such as cashews, pumpkin seeds, seafood such as salmon and scallops, quinoa, beans, amaranth, sunflower seeds, liver products, potatoes, and beef

Some may also recommend bone broth as a way to help the teeth recover from dental decay

Personal note: I clean my teeth by dipping my brush in white vinegar and adding a little bicarbonate of sodium. You save on all these expensive toothpastes. Best to brush before going to bed in order Not to allow bacteria to accumulate during sleep for lack of salivation. Drink water to wash the teeth before brushing the teeth.

What Meritocracy looks like in the US and elsewhere?

Why Poor kids who do everything right don’t do better than rich kids who do everything wrong

This propaganda that “America is the land of opportunity“, is it just for some more than others?

In large part, inequality starts in the crib, in the socio-political system

Rich parents can afford to spend more time and money on their kids, and that gap has only grown the past few decades.

Economists Greg Duncan and Richard Murnane calculate that, between 1972 and 2006, high-income parents increased their spending on “enrichment activities” for their children by 151% in inflation-adjusted terms, compared to 57% for low-income parents.

By Matt O’Brien October 18, 2014Poor Grads, Rich DropoutsSource: Data from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill

It’s not just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s also a matter of letters and words.

Affluent parents talk to their kids three more hours a week on average than poor parents, which is critical during a child’s formative early years.

That’s why, as Stanford professor Sean Reardon explains, “rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students,” and they’re staying that way.

It’s an educational arms race that’s leaving many kids far, far behind.

It’s depressing, but not nearly so much as this:

Even poor kids who do everything right don’t do much better than rich kids who do everything wrong.

Advantages and disadvantages tend to perpetuate themselves.

You can see that in the above chart, based on a new paper from Richard Reeves and Isabel Sawhill, presented at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s annual conference, which is underway.

Specifically, rich high school dropouts remain in the top about as much as poor college grads stay stuck in the bottom — 14 versus 16%, respectively. Not only that, but these low-income strivers are just as likely to end up in the bottom as these wealthy ne’er-do-wells. Some meritocracy

What’s going on? Well, it’s all about glass floors and glass ceilings.

Rich kids who can go work for the family business — and, in Canada at least, 70 % of the sons of the top 1 percent do just that — or inherit the family estate don’t need a high school diploma to get ahead.

It’s an extreme example of what economists call “opportunity hoarding.” That includes everything from legacy college admissions to unpaid internships that let affluent parents rig the game a little more in their children’s favor.

But even if they didn’t, low-income kids would still have a hard time getting ahead.

That’s, in part, because they’re targets for diploma mills that load them up with debt, but not a lot of prospects.

And even if they do get a good degree, at least when it comes to black families, they’re more likely to still live in impoverished neighborhoods that keep them disconnected from opportunities.

It’s not quite a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose game where rich kids get better educations, yet still get ahead even if they don’t—but it’s close enough.

And if it keeps up, the American Dream will be just that.

Note: Kids of struggling and hard working parents learn to save money and appreciate the value of hard work. Kids of very rich families fail to learn the value of money or work hard when young.

Unless the rich kid  go to work for his parents’ business and are given countless second chances, he is unable to make it on his own.

It is not the rich parents fault as much as their inability to convince the kid, who see wealth of his family surrounding him, in the house and things coming his way the easy way, that the notion of hard work is not believable.

Garrett Gee Sold His Startup For $54 Million, Then Gave His Family a Gift of a Lifetime

By Benny Luo . Posted on December 16, 2015

What do you do when SnapChat buys your startup and you become a millionaire?

If you’re 25-year-old Garrett Gee, you pull out all the money in savings, sell everything you own, and take your family on an endless trip around the world.

Gee is the founder of Scan, a QR code-scanning mobile app he pitched on “Shark Tank” in 2013.

He appeared on the show wearing just a hoodie and flip flops, an ensemble he wears when pitching investors.

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“I wore them in every investor meeting before ‘Shark Tank,’ including my meetings with Facebook, Google, Menlo Ventures, Lady Gaga, and more,” he told NextShark in a 2013 interview

“Actually, they were part of a ‘uniform’ I put together while raising money for my company. To me, it was very important for potential investors to see me for who I really am.”

Although he failed to get a deal in the tank, Gee had already raised over $8 million in funding from various venture capital firms prior to getting on the show.

After launching his company in 2011, it was acquired by SnapChat in 2014 for a whopping $54 million, making Gee an instant millionaire.

Gee recalled:

“I kept looking at [my bank account], then looking away, then looking at it to make sure it was still there and that this was all real.

I took a screenshot for my journal — OK, I took like seven screenshots for my journal. I didn’t show my wife — not at first. We were just about to have our second child so I waited about one week until she was literally in labor.

Then, to take her mind off the pain, I pulled out my phone and showed her our bank account. It worked.”

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About a year after, Gee — now a father of two kids, Dorothy, 3, and Manilla, 1, with his wife Jessica, 29 — were trying to figure out what to do next. At that time he was still a student and captain of the soccer team at Brigham Young University.

“A new house and cars didn’t feel right,” Gee told People.

“We didn’t need that stuff. We were young, healthy and really didn’t need much of anything.

So we started joking about putting our money in savings, selling everything and using those funds to travel the world. Where would we go? What would we do? And as we began to add more plans to our bucket list, it just became real.”

After putting their newfound fortune in savings, the couple held a large garage sale and sold literally everything they had except journals, photos and Gee’s lucky sandals.

They made a total of $45,000 in the end, which would end up being the money they used to fund their travels.

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“We will travel until that runs out,” Gee told NextShark.

“We will see how long it lasts. Perhaps some of my entrepreneurial skills will come into play and I’ll figure out a way to make that money stretch further and further.

Or, if I’m really good, $45K will give me enough time to make our travels fuel themselves, or better yet, profitable. Anything is possible, right? Just keep intentions pure and attitudes positive”

On why the couple decided to travel, Gee explained: 

“We hope to learn more about life and become better people. We are excited about the memories that we will surely create together and the opportunities around the world that will help serve others.

Already it has become clear that the world is a big, open place with endless mindsets, cultures, and beliefs, none better than the others — just different.”

(What of people with less enviable passports? What kinds of plans can they fathom with that kind of saving?)

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The couple met in Russia in 2007 while they were serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and have been married since 2009.

To make sure their $45,000 travel fund lasts as long as possible, the family is living as frugally as possible.

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“[Being frugal] just comes kind of natural to us. It makes us uncomfortable to be thoughtless with money,” Gee explained.

“We still buy the cheapest flight we can find, even if that means waking up at 4 a.m., and we still only drink water with our meals. I believe the best way to show gratitude for the blessings in life is humility, and one of the best ways to show humility is to live frugally.”

The family has spent the last four month traveling in the South Pacific, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand. They’re currently vacationing on the beaches in Bali, Indonesia.

“My personal favorite adventure thus far was back in Tonga. For over a year I had been researching and preparing to freedive in the waters of Tonga — with humpback whales! It was the most epic moment of my life.”

When it comes to his kids’ future education, Gee is a little hesitant in settling somewhere permanently.

“I’m very open-minded to the option of Not settling down,” he told NextShark.

“I’m open to non-traditional forms of education. I wasn’t a very good student. The typical education system actually made me feel stupid and bad about myself and gave me less confidence in my own ability to be creative and valuable.”

Nonetheless, I loved school for everything else. I loved the social life. I loved sports. I loved the challenges. So, it is kind of a toss-up.

I want the best of the best for my children so hopefully I’ll soon be able to figure out what that may be.”

On whether he credits his success to hard work or luck, he said: “If you were to ask me in person I would say, ‘Oh it’s all luck.’

But, that would be a lie just to get past the question. The truth is it’s all hard work.

There’s a ton of serendipitous and fortunate events where stars have aligned in order for everything to come together. But even each of those ‘lucky’ happenings can be traced back to extra efforts and hard work, extra efforts to network, extra late nights.

So the harder I work, the ‘luckier’ I get.”

Gee also shared three factors to success he believes in:

1) Be impressive: success doesn’t just grace anyone and everyone. It seeks out impressive people — hard-working, talented, sincere, good-hearted people. Basically, be deserving of any success that wishes to find you.

2) Be yourself: it’s fine to learn from others and look up to those deserving, but let it stop there. The Facebook formula worked for Facebook — probably not for you. The Garrett Gee way was kinda cool for him, but not that cool. Always be learning more about yourself and always let that light shine bright!

3) Be successful: realize what success really is. That way, on your pursuit to ‘financial success’ you can enjoy real success. You can enjoy your health, your family, and the things that really determine success.

The couple plans to travel to the Maldives and Switzerland in the coming months, and Gee says he already has a new company in the works that he says is “something like never before.”

He regularly blogs about his family’s adventures The Bucketlist Family

SCHOOLS AROUND THE WORLD

No Comment. Which school setting you wished you attended?

I have watched many documentaries of children walking for hours in rough dangerous regions (crossing rivers, climbing mountains, defying arid lousy paths…) in order to attend schools and hoping for a meal after so many difficulties to reach destination.

youkoofthelovespot posted this March 21, 2014

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Belo Horizonte, Brazil

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Dusseldorf, Germany

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Akamat Al Me’gab, Yemen

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St. Louis, Missouri, USA

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Netherlands

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Madrid, Spain

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Seaham, County Durham (England)

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Tiracanchi, Peru

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Gambella, Ethiopia

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Jessore, Bangladesh

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Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

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Old Havana, Cuba

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Doha, Qatar

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St. Petersburg, Russia

Meanwhile, in Taipei, Taiwan…

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(Though to clarify, Taiwanese schools all have a nap time hour after lunch.)

Source article: Quiet at the Back—Schools Around the World—In Pictures

How complex is Your life experience?

Why well to do people cannot help but judging and belittling people life experiences?

How many of you experienced a few of these events in their life?

Visited the sinks of small restaurants serving Mexican food? And hand washed and cleaned dishes soiled with all kind of cheese and fat?

Cleaned restrooms and toilets? Vacuumed 4 floors of libraries and collected the trash?

Mopped and shined wood parkets?

Had to wake up at 4 am for years to work on 4 minimum wage jobs in order to pay the tuition for graduate courses?

Was awaken at 2 am by the manager to observe the dead bodies of 4 night guards, killed with machetes to rob the safebox of the manager?

Who suffered from malaria in Nigeria and was taken to an Egyptian doctor, living alone in a shanty house, deep in the forest?

Who slept hungry?

Who rented a space to sleep in guesthouses and had to vacate early morning?

Who cared for years for his bedridden elderly parents (both of them in their 90’s)? And had to wake up twice at night, go down stairs to switch the interruptor for the private electricity provider in response to the sound of the air ventilator machine?

Who rented rooms in basements?

Who lived with elderly people because their children “feared” to leave them alone in the house?

Who managed a retirement community in a 9-story building, hopped with them in a van to visit sites in the city, take picture of them, interview them for the monthly gazette to promote this lousy private institution? And witness several clients commit suicide by throwing themselves from windows?

Who boarded the slowest Amtrak train of the 70’s that made you feel you’ll never reach destination.

Who got on a Greyhound bus for 3 days and nights to cross from one state to another, just to attend a convention?

Who was awaken at midnight in a hotel room by your advisor to say “you are snoring”

Who tried all kinds of jobs, just to discover a single job that he would consider worth a life endeavor, a passion that will make him wake up happy and excited to go to work, and miserably failed to find and settle on this job/passion?

Who was 2 hours away from certain death when he got typhoid fever in Africa at the age of 5, and had to re-learn how to walk after a month in the cold chamber?

Who lived alone for 20 years in a foreign land, no relatives around, and had to fend for his survival everyday?

Who had to learn to place 50 cold calls every morning to strangers in order to fulfil the requirement of a real estates company?

Who walked every single street in an entire county and knock on every house to distribute promoting leaflets?

Who attended every conceivable university courses, math, chemistry, physics, engineering (industrial and human factors), psychology, econometrics, economy, accounting, higher education… All the probability graduate courses, experimental designs applied by different fields and their statistical analyses packages and interpretation of results, running experiments with subjects, designing ATM interface that never changed through the decades…

Who took Artificial Intelligence course in the late 90’s, the kind of “If…then” queries from experts in their fields, and neutral network created by psychologists?

How many international exams and tests, national and syndicate exams and tests, language proficiency exams and tests, including driving exams (oral and written) in every state you settle in? (Obviously rules and laws of driving do Not change that dramatically, but governments need fresh money. I did all of them in 3 languages (French, English and Arabic) and stopped counting long time ago. Multiple choice exams ae no brainer if you know the order of dimension in every engineering field. Without preparation, I managed to pass, and that was good enough.

Teaching at universities with 60 students per class. Students Not there to learn anything, but to secure a certificate for attending a university. Heavily copy/pasted internet homeworks to depress you.

At universities that don’t believe in subscribing to peer-reviewed scientific papers, and I had to write my own course material and distribute the chapter one session at a time. Great exercise for me to relearn and offer what the class could assimilate. And testing and exams requirement to my chagrin, since only a couple students per class cared to learn and appreciated the material.

Never settling in one location for more than a couple years. Carrying barely a couple of suitcases and leaving behind all my possessions. I even gave away for free 2 cars because I could Not afford the repairs.

I read the original books of the famous and known authors of every state I settled in, and read in 3 languages whatever book I could get my hands on and was available. And translated many passages to spread the “learning” of different social fabrics.

I have been reading since the age of 13, and started with French books, then Arabic and finally books in English. Though I can write proficiently in 3 languages, I got used to writing in English.

I have been maintaining a blog (about ten thousand article/posts so far) of what means to me and is worth communicating.

I survived so far and don’t miss the belongings that I left behind.

What of the millions upon millions of refugees?

Fleeing war-torn countries. Walking, for days, with toddlers and children. Hoping to stumble on a UN facility. Sheltering under a makeshift tent, if available, in the snow, pouring rain, scorching sun. Encampment burned by the locals.

Camps closed and transferring again, to nowhere. To the unknown, wishing to live one more day, the whole family intact. Drown in the sea, dying from curable diseases for lack of medical treatment. Hungry most of the time, thirsty all the time.

Tear-gassed, beaten, harassed, maltreated, chased away like dirty dogs, regardless of level of education and many spoken languages.

Pop culture, white privilege and widening the lens

This aspect of white privilege has bubbled under the surface of recent debates about college admissions policies and unpaid internships.

As a recent post on the Web site Journos of Color noted “The only people who can afford to work full-time for free come from wealth, and generally, if you’re wealthy in America, you’re white.”

Outlook published this July 27, 2013 on the WP Opinions section:

Ron Koeberer/AP – Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant in a scene from “Fruitvale Station.”

Many people, especially white people, don’t realize the extent of the disparities that persistent structural privilege creates.

According to some estimateswhites on average possess 6 times the accumulated wealth — in the form of home equity, savings and retirement accounts —” of blacks.

That discrepancy is explained Not by financial savvy or luck, but by the legacy of now-illegal practices in housing, education and employment that formed the foundation of America’s enduring — and widening — wealth gap between non-Hispanic whites and minorities.

As mortified as some white people may be at the suggestion that we’ve enjoyed career advancement at someone else’s expense, we need to acknowledge that one can benefit from privilege even if it isn’t explicitly claimed.

Indeed, perhaps the ultimate marker of privilege is Not having to be conscious of it. Thanks to other people’s positive projections and expectations, I’ve often been able to view the world as a welcoming, or at least benignly neutral, meritocracy.

I’ve never been followed in a department store by anyone other than an aggressive perfume lady with a spritzer.

I haven’t had to pay an “anxiety tax,” expending untold physical and psychic energy managing other people’s reflexive fears.

Obviously, gender, geography, economic and social class, and temperament play a part in my outlook as well.

No one’s experience, positive or negative, can be reduced to just one characteristic. But it didn’t always occur to me, nor was I ever taught, to consider race as part of my personal bundle of x-factors.

This is where popular culture can be particularly helpful. Granted, the 1947 film “Gentleman’s Agreement” didn’t eradicate anti-Semitism. Nor did “Tootsie” stamp out sexism or “Philadelphia” erase homophobia.

But each of those films reframed its subject matter in ways that galvanized audiences into reaching “aha” moments about prejudice.

Perhaps it’s time to make a modern-day “Black Like Me,” the 1964 film based on John Howard Griffin memoir of impersonating a black man in the Jim Crow South, this time for the 21st century: a story that throws the condition of whiteness, with its myriad unseen, unspoken advantages, into clarifying relief.

The challenge is creating characters that can transcend polarized and entrenched perceptions of race.

This past week, a Washington Post poll found that a sobering 86% of African Americans say blacks and other minorities do Not get equal treatment under the law, whereas a majority of whites 54%  say there is equal treatment for minority groups.

In a recent interview about their book “Justice in America: The Separate Realities of Blacks and Whites,” political scientists Jon Hurwitz and Mark Peffley described a “gulf” between African Americans, who largely lack faith in the criminal justice system, and white citizens, who consider it essentially color-blind.

Just as the roots of blacks’ mistrust of the system lie in their unfair treatment over generations, the roots of whites optimism can be found in our own history.

Like compounded interest from an investment we never made, the advantages white people enjoy derive from past racist practices and present-day unconscious behaviors that create channels no less wide, deep and real for being largely invisible.

If movies are equipped to do anything, it’s to make those channels visible. And the best films can show viewers how to navigate them.

“Fruitvale Station” does that, in just one brief encounter.

The San Francisco street scene may begin with an acute observation of separate realities, but it ends by suggesting a possible bridge, in the simple act of a black character taking the business card of a white man he’s just met.

A Very Serious Clown from Lebanon. November 10, 2020

Throughout 2020, Lebanon has been descending into an economic crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, which, according to an article in the New York Timeswritten by Ben Hubbard (who happens to be our interviewee’s husband), is threatening decades of (faked?) prosperity.

Anti-government protests have been on the rise. We immediately thought: a revolution is the perfect time to talk about clown!

Fortunately, our friend from Beirut agreed.

Sabine Choucair is a Lebanese humanitarian clown, storyteller, performer, and new mom. She has a special talent for finding the light in the darkest of times with her clown work and for poking fun at the powers that be with bouffon, a biting and satirical cousin of clown.

We joined her in May via Zoom and competed over who has it worse—America or Lebanon. We’re #1. #MAGA #JokingNotJoking

Amrita Dhaliwal: How is your work responding to the current pandemic and economic crisis in Lebanon?

Sabine Choucair: In the beginning the clowns of Clown Me In were a bit like, “What do we do?” All of our work is based on live interaction, the people being on the streets. And then boom—total lockdown. Suddenly we were at home, lonely, not able to create.

Zoom did not really work for us.

We were in shock, trying to figure out what to do with our lives, and were a bit depressed. We lost all the clown hope we had.

But bit by bit, we started thinking about ways to overcome this and we came up with the idea of making short videos of different games kids can play with their families at home or with themselves in front of a mirror. It was a way for us to be active.

We’ve filmed 5 short videos so far and have been disseminating them.

We have put them on social media and sent them to all the refugee camps in Lebanon and the NGOs we know are working with different communities, specifically Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as Lebanese living in rural areas.

We’ve also invited people to donate to artists in Lebanon who are stuck in this economic crisis.

We asked artists to send us recordings of them performing fun stuff we could share online on our platforms and we gave them $100 per video. With the economic crisis, the dollar to the lira is nearly seven times what it used to be, so it’s a big deal.

I started giving online live sessions on Facebook for people to just have fun and be silly and just play for half an hour every Friday. We call it the happy half hour.

black and white photo of five seated people in masks

The International Institute For Very Very Serious Studies in Lebanon 2020. Photo by Zakaria Kaakour.

Amrita: You have recently finished running the first year of your school, where you also teach.

Sabine: Yeah, the International Institute for Very, Very Serious Studies.

Nathaniel Justiniano: Very serious.

Amrita: So this is a very serious question. It’s very serious.

Nathaniel: If you could just be serious, please.

Amrita: Let’s be serious. The school is a performance training program in participatory art, clowning, mask work, bouffon technique, puppetry, physical theatre, and storytelling, as well as community-integrated street performance.

You might be the only physical theatre program that teaches and emphasizes activism. Is that true?

Sabine: Very true.

Amrita: How did it go?

Sabine: The first part of the school year was great. The students had so much fun. Then boom! The revolution started, so we shifted our work from the classroom to the streets.

Nathaniel: Congratulations, you started your school. We’re gonna add a revolution and a pandemic, so just be ready.

[Note: In hindsight, we should have also warned Sabine about the explosion. During the editing of this interview, Lebanon experienced the largest explosion in its history due to the accidental ignition of 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in one of Beirut’s ports.

In response to the explosion, Sabine and her crew traveled around the most affected areas to perform and spread joy to the families.]

Sabine: Exactly. So, we started thinking about ways to be on the streets doing activism as clowns joining the revolution.

We had all these big signs congratulating the government for all the great work they were doing making Lebanon #1 in corrupt governing.

Nathaniel: Congratulations, by the way.

Sabine: As clowns, we were really proud.

Amrita: As an American, it’s just really hard for me to congratulate another country for being number one. I’m really feeling insecure right now…

Sabine: We feel that you’ve surpassed us in corruption now.

Amrita: Oh, thank god.

Sabine: But, back in October, we were number one.

Nathaniel: It is a competition.

Sabine: It’s okay. As a clown, I accept failure.

Nathaniel: Can I take it back into the streets with the revolution? Can you help us understand where the revolution is coming from and some of the actions that you and the group committed to? How you built it, your plan, and how it was responded to when you did it?

Sabine: For us, it came as a buildup of many things: Of corruption, of all the politicians who’ve been in power for more than 30 years not making any progress or helping people, of the garbage crisis—we look at our country and feel we’re drowning in a sea of garbage because the government couldn’t find a way to dispose of it.

And then the financial crisis, the economic crisis happened. We were like: We should be doing something.

So we decided: Okay, we’re gonna go to the streets wearing our swimsuits with garbage stuck to our bodies and then we’ll walk in the protests and brag about all the great things we found in the sea.

Someone filmed us for an interview and it went viral; it was very painful and very funny at the same time.

Most of the comments we got were: This is tragicomic. This is the reality. Really, clown is life. This is what’s happening to Lebanese people every day and it’s so scary. It makes us all so angry, but it’s also so funny.

Another day we thought, People are super angry and they’re going out of their way to be on the street.

We decided to be the happy clowns who go and say to the protestors, “Thank you for being here.” This alone makes people really happy—to be marching and chanting and very energetic, and to see clowns.

Many people know we exist as the clowns who go fight for social justice on the streets. They love having us. They’re very supportive. We get a lot of positive feedback and it gives us an amazing push to keep doing what we do.

a group of protestors

Clown Me In during the 2019 Lebanon uprising. Photo by Stop Photography.

Amrita: Can you tell us about your journey to activism? Were you in school and always knew or was it just something that happened?

Sabine: I had no idea this is what I was going to do. I studied theatre in Lebanon, we didn’t really do clowning. I went to London. I did mime school, and I was like, “Oh, this is so boring.”

Amrita: We’ll edit that part out.

Nathaniel: We’re gonna put it as the headline, but go ahead.

Sabine: After, I went to performing arts school and discovered clowning. And I thought, Wow, this is such an amazing art! How did I not know anything about it? 

I grew up during the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted 15 years (1975 until 1990), so the first clown I created was this military clown who’s super paranoid. And I thought this clowning business was great.

So I decided I would do clowning for the rest of my life because it made me feel so much better.

And then I wanted to share the experience with other people because it’s fun and it makes a difference, so I started Clown Me In, a theatre company I co-founded with Gabriela Munoz.

That’s how I started, one thing led to another. The first time we went to the streets was because I was giving a workshop to a group of people and we were like, “Let’s go try clowning on the streets.”

We went to the Corniche, a popular seafront promenade, in Beirut and wondered why people were littering so much.

We started following them as clowns, tripping over what they just littered and giving their trash back to them. We were doing stuff that people found fun, even though we were really clown-attacking them about littering. Then we were like, “Let’s do more of this.”

Amrita: It sounds like a classic clown journey.

Really, clown is life. This is what’s happening to Lebanese people every day and it’s so scary. It makes us all so angry, but it’s also so funny.

Nathaniel: You’ve been working at addressing environmental issues for years. How has your strategy or any aspect of your work changed in the face of the culture not changing?

Sabine: We still take the themes and make them into clown acts or clown videos, but over the years we started working more with the people who are trying to change policy.

For example, we worked with the Coalition for Waste Management and in one of their protests they wanted to talk about incinerators.

We came up with a whole scene about incinerators and clowns going to the protests, offering our condolences to people and saying we’ll miss them because we’re all going to die. That’s the way we’re shifting—we try to be supportive of the people making a difference in policies.

Nathaniel: It sounds like you also create visibility, joy, and more conversation around an issue in collaboration with those who might be able to actually change policy.

Sabine: Definitely.

triptych of three clowns

Screenshot from the Clown games videos. Video by Ali J. Dalloul.

Amrita: Let’s talk about the intersection of clown and bouffon. Bouffon being a much more confrontational, satirical, and often disturbing cousin of clown. What are your thoughts on it?

[Note: Bouffon is a satirical performance style and the primary dynamic is ecstatic mockery. They don’t make fun of individuals in the audience so much as everyone’s collective complicity in societal dysfunction.

Often costumed in exaggerated and distorted full-body masks, they dance and play with carefree abandon, unapologetically rejecting oppressive stigmas and social norms.

One reference point of a type of bouffon in popular culture is Sacha Baron Cohen’s work as the characters Borat and Bruno.]

Sabine: Clown Me In uses a lot of clowning and bouffon because being an activist clown is not enough.

You need to really be a bouffon in so many situations. It’s great to be a poetic, hopeful clown looking at life and showing your vulnerability. But when things are really heated you need to be able to be there, showing people who they are, what they are, and really pinching these parts.

As in touching issues that are delicate and/or hurtful sometimes and really digging into them. Once we find what’s bothering us or the issue we want to tackle, we start devising and looking for fun and extreme ways to play it, whether it be clown or bouffon. So it’s a bit of both.

I’m not great at theory; another person might give another explanation. I just know in practice this is what happens. We shift when we need to shift. I don’t think anyone can say something that is really important, that gets to people, if it’s not coming from passion. It’s all very personal.

Nathaniel: In the wake of the brutal murders of Tony McDade, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others activating protests and marches in every state in the United States, as well as all over the world, it’s feeling like an inflection point in society right now, which is very hopeful.

There’s a Facebook group called “Clown Theory,” and someone posted a question in the face of these protests: “…wondering if there is a place for a clown amongst more serious gatherings like street riots and protests for social and racial justice.”

Some people chimed in in the affirmative. Some people said no, it’s inappropriate. You chimed in saying you’ve done protest work as a clown and people have responded well.

So much of clown practice and teaching in Europe and North America is led by and written by white folx. So there is, I think, a very reasonable association with clowning and whiteness, but these protests and this moment are about uplifting and centering Black folx.

Can you expand on that conversation? We’re talking about white supremacy, activism, clowning, and how we approach it, if at all.

Sabine: Let’s start with the fact that I am Arab. I am Brown, so I feel like I can be a clown on these streets. If I want to choose clowning as a way to talk about racism and Black Lives Matter, then I have the right to do this.

I mean, I am not there, and I’m not living this on a daily basis, but I come from a place where I never felt the urge to stop myself from being on the streets to say something I believe in.

If I’m real, and if I’m true, and if I honestly go there because I believe what I’m doing and saying is supporting the cause, then I just do it.

That’s also how I see other people doing it. But that might be a bit naive from my part.

Nathaniel: Well you do more than that, you are of the community. They know you. You talked about how they know you so well that when you come out, they’re like, “Oh, it’s those clowns.”

I want to lift that up because that seems to be part of the chemistry that makes it work. Do you agree?

Sabine: It took time for it to work. But, yes. It’s something we built together.

three clowns outside

Clown Me In team protesting against incinerators in Lebanon during 2018. Photo by Nabil Mounzer.

Nathaniel: As a final question, what are you hopeful about seeing as a result of your work—clown activism work, or the school, or both? What are you hoping to see happen in terms of impact in Lebanon and Beirut, and amongst the community?

Sabine: I have high hopes about both. The number one reason I wanted to start the school was to have more engaged street theatre in the country.

From the work we’ve been doing with street activism, we’ve seen a lot of change over the years. And I can’t quantify it yet, but we see it. There are specific matters that are bothering people, which we use to inspire the content of our street theatre, and since they know us now, they wait for our performances, which then inspire further discussion among our community.

More people are becoming a part of what we do and using street theatre and clowning to fight for social justice.

I’m hopeful that if we have more people doing this work, even greater impact will be made. And I’m hoping that people from outside the country will try this kind of work in their own countries because talking about really big things in fun ways, and opening conversations on the streets, has such a big impact on people.

Even if it doesn’t, it’s so much fun for us and for the people around us who see us doing it. It’s just amazing.

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THOUGHTS FROM THE CURATORS

Clown and activism may seem like an odd couple, but embedded in the nature of clown is the spirit of joy and resistance to oppressive forces.

This series features a selection of folks from around the world who are all part of a long and diverse heritage of clown activists. From rural villages to urban centers, from popular protests to refugee camps, each of our contributors use grit and humor to activate their communities toward equity and justice.

This series shows how effective clown-based activism can be at subverting bigots and in cultivating hope in hard-hit communities.

We also see how the laughter they provoke has a disarming effect on spectators, creating an opening for vital messages to be heard.

When clowns are invited to help, they have the makings to be a powerful gift to social justice movements. And as we here in the United States have just undergone a presidential election, feeling the deep exhaustion of this time, we heed the call to send in the clowns, with their relentless, life-giving hope.

When Clowns Fight The Power

Overwhelming power of prosecutors in US justice system.

When a kid commits a crime, the US justice system has a choice: prosecute to the full extent of the law, or take a step back and ask if saddling young people with criminal records is the right thing to do every time.

In this searching talk, Adam Foss, a prosecutor with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston, makes his case for a reformed justice system that replaces wrath with opportunity, changing people’s lives for the better instead of ruining them

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.

A prosecutor vision for a better justice systemted.com|By Adam Foss

Adam Foss. Juvenile justice reformer

By shifting his focus from incarceration to transforming lives, Adam Foss is reinventing the role of the criminal prosecutor. Full bio

The following are my opinions, and do not reflect the opinions or policies of any particular prosecutor’s office. 

I am a prosecutor. I believe in law and order. I am the adopted son of a police officer, a Marine and a hairdresser. 

I believe in accountability and that we should all be safe in our communities. I love my job and the people that do it. I just think that it’s our responsibility to do it better.

By a show of hands, how many of you, by the age of 25, had either acted up in school, went somewhere you were specifically told to stay out of, or drank alcohol before your legal age?  

How many of you shoplifted, tried an illegal drug or got into a physical fight, even with a sibling?

how many of you ever spent one day in jail for any of those decisions?

How many of you sitting here today think that you’re a danger to society or should be defined by those actions of youthful indiscretion?

When we talk about criminal justice reform, we often focus on a few things, and that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

But first I’m going to give you a confession on my part.

I went to law school to make money. I had no interest in being a public servant, I had no interest in criminal law, and I definitely didn’t think that I would ever be a prosecutor.

Near the end of my first year of law school, I got an internship in the Roxbury Division of Boston Municipal Court

I knew of Roxbury as an impoverished neighborhood in Boston, plagued by gun violence and drug crime.

My life and my legal career changed the first day of that internship. I walked into a courtroom, and I saw an auditorium of people who, one by one, would approach the front of that courtroom to say two words and two words only: “Not guilty.”

They were predominately black and brown. And then a judge, a defense attorney and a prosecutor would make life-altering decisions about that person without their input. They were predominately white.

As each person, one by one, approached the front of that courtroom, I couldn’t stop but think: How did they get here? I wanted to know their stories. And as the prosecutor read the facts of each case, I was thinking to myself, we could have predicted that. That seems so preventable… not because I was an expert in criminal law, but because it was common sense.

Over the course of the internship, I began to recognize people in the auditorium, not because they were criminal masterminds but because they were coming to us for help and we were sending them out without any.

My second year of law school I worked as a paralegal for a defense attorney, and in that experience I met many young men accused of murder. Even in our “worst,” I saw human stories.

And they all contained childhood trauma, victimization, poverty, loss, disengagement from school, early interaction with the police and the criminal justice system, all leading to a seat in a courtroom.

Those convicted of murder were condemned to die in prison, and it was during those meetings with those men that I couldn’t fathom why we would spend so much money to keep this one person in jail for the next 80 years when we could have reinvested it up front, and perhaps prevented the whole thing from happening in the first place.

My third year of law school, I defended people accused of small street crimes, mostly mentally ill, mostly homeless, mostly drug-addicted, all in need of help. They would come to us, and we would send them away without that help. 

They were in need of our assistance. But we weren’t giving them any. Prosecuted, adjudged and defended by people who knew nothing about them.

The staggering inefficiency is what drove me to criminal justice work. The unfairness of it all made me want to be a defender. The power dynamic that I came to understand made me become a prosecutor.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the problem. We know the criminal justice system needs reform, we know there are 2.3 million people in American jails and prisons, making us the most incarcerated nation on the planet.

We know there’s another 7 million people on probation or parole, we know that the criminal justice system disproportionately affects people of color, particularly poor people of color.

And we know there are system failures happening everywhere that bring people to our courtrooms. But what we do not discuss is how ill-equipped our prosecutors are to receive them.

When we talk about criminal justice reform, we, as a society, focus on three things. We complain, we tweet, we protest about the police, about sentencing laws and about prison. We rarely, if ever, talk about the prosecutor.

In the fall of 2009, a young man was arrested by the Boston Police Department. He was 18 years old, he was African American and he was a senior at a local public school. He had his sights set on college but his part-time, minimum-wage job wasn’t providing the financial opportunity he needed to enroll in school.

In a series of bad decisions, he stole 30 laptops from a store and sold them on the Internet. This led to his arrest and a criminal complaint of 30 felony charges. The potential jail time he faced is what stressed Christopher out the most. But what he had little understanding of was the impact a criminal record would have on his future.

I was standing in arraignments that day when Christopher’s case came across my desk. And at the risk of sounding dramatic, in that moment, I had Christopher’s life in my hands. 

I was 29 years old, a brand-new prosecutor, and I had little appreciation for how the decisions I would make would impact Christopher’s life. Christopher’s case was a serious one and it needed to be dealt with as such, but I didn’t think branding him a felon for the rest of his life was the right answer.

For the most part, prosecutors step onto the job with little appreciation of the impact of our decisions, regardless of our intent. Despite our broad discretion, we learn to avoid risk at all cost, rendering our discretion basically useless.

History has conditioned us to believe that somehow, the criminal justice system brings about accountability and improves public safety, despite evidence to the contrary.

We’re judged internally and externally by our convictions and our trial wins, so prosecutors aren’t really incentivized to be creative at our case dispositions, or to take risks on people we might not otherwise. We stick to an outdated method, counterproductive to achieving the very goal that we all want, and that’s safer communities.

Yet most prosecutors standing in my space would have arraigned Christopher. They have little appreciation for what we can do. Arraigning Christopher would give him a criminal record, making it harder for him to get a job, setting in motion a cycle that defines the failing criminal justice system today.

With a criminal record and without a job, Christopher would be unable to find employment, education or stable housing.

Without those protective factors in his life, Christopher would be more likely to commit further, more serious crime.

The more contact Christopher had with the criminal justice system, the more likely it would be that he would return again and again and again — all at tremendous social cost to his children, to his family and to his peers. And, ladies and gentlemen, it is a terrible public safety outcome for the rest of us.

When I came out of law school, I did the same thing as everybody else. I came out as a prosecutor expected to do justice, but I never learned what justice was in my classes — none of us do. None of us do.

And yet, prosecutors are the most powerful actors in the criminal justice system. Our power is virtually boundless.

In most cases, not the judge, not the police, not the legislature, not the mayor, not the governor, not the President can tell us how to prosecute our cases.

The decision to arraign Christopher and give him a criminal record was exclusively mine. I would choose whether to prosecute him for 30 felonies, for one felony, for a misdemeanor, or at all. I would choose whether to leverage Christopher into a plea deal or take the case to trial, and ultimately, I would be in a position to ask for Christopher to go to jail. 

These are decisions that prosecutors make every day unfettered, and we are unaware and untrained of the grave consequences of those decisions.

One night this past summer, I was at a small gathering of professional men of color from around the city. As I stood there stuffing free finger sandwiches into my mouth, as you do as public servant —  I noticed across the room, a young man waving and smiling at me and approaching me. 

And I recognized him, but I couldn’t place from where, and before I knew it, this young man was hugging me. And thanking me. “You cared about me, and you changed my life.” It was Christopher.

 I never arraigned Christopher. He never faced a judge or a jail, he never had a criminal record. Instead, I worked with Christopher; first on being accountable for his actions, and then, putting him in a position where he wouldn’t re-offend.

We recovered 75 percent of the computers that he sold and gave them back to Best Buy, and came up with a financial plan to repay for the computers we couldn’t recover. 

Christopher did community service. He wrote an essay reflecting on how this case could impact his future and that of the community. He applied to college, he obtained financial aid, and he went on to graduate from a four-year school.

After we finished hugging, I looked at his name tag, to learn that Christopher was the manager of a large bank in Boston. Christopher had accomplished — and making a lot more money than me —

He had accomplished all of this in the six years since I had first seen him in Roxbury Court. I can’t take credit for Christopher’s journey to success, but I certainly did my part to keep him on the path.

There are thousands of Christophers out there, some locked in our jails and prisons. We need thousands of prosecutors to recognize that and to protect them.

An employed Christopher is better for public safety than a condemned one. It’s a bigger win for all of us. In retrospect, the decision not to throw the book at Christopher makes perfect sense. When I saw him that first day in Roxbury Court, I didn’t see a criminal standing there. I saw myself — a young person in need of intervention.

As an individual caught selling a large quantity of drugs in my late teens, I knew firsthand the power of opportunity as opposed to the wrath of the criminal justice system. Along the way, with the help and guidance of my district attorney, my supervisor and judges, I learned the power of the prosecutor to change lives instead of ruining them.

And that’s how we do it in Boston. We helped a woman who was arrested for stealing groceries to feed her kids get a job.

Instead of putting an abused teenager in adult jail for punching another teenager, we secured mental health treatment and community supervision.

A runaway girl who was arrested for prostituting, to survive on the streets, needed a safe place to live and grow — something we could help her with.

I even helped a young man who was so afraid of the older gang kids showing up after school, that one morning instead of a lunchbox into his backpack, he put a loaded 9-millimeter. 

We would spend our time that we’d normally take prepping our cases for months and months for trial down the road by coming up with real solutions to the problems as they presented.

Which is the better way to spend our time? How would you prefer your prosecutors to spend theirs?

Why are we spending 80 billion dollars on a prison industry that we know is failing, when we could take that money and reallocate it into education, into mental health treatment, into substance abuse treatment and to community investment so we can develop our neighborhoods?

why should this matter to you? Well, one, we’re spending a lot of money.

Our money. It costs 109,000 dollars in some states to lock up a teenager for a year, with a 60 percent chance that that person will return to the very same system. That is a terrible return on investment.

Number two: it’s the right thing to do. If prosecutors were a part of creating the problem, it’s incumbent on us to create a solution and we can do that using other disciplines that have already done the data and research for us.

Number three: your voice and your vote can make that happen. The next time there’s a local district attorney’s election in your jurisdiction, ask candidates these questions.

One: What are you doing to make me and my neighbors safer?

Two: What data are you collecting, and how are you training your prosecutors to make sure that it’s working? And

Three: If it’s not working for everybody, what are you doing to fix it? If they can’t answer the questions, they shouldn’t be doing the job.

Each one of you that raised your hand at the beginning of this talk is a living, breathing example of the power of opportunity, of intervention, of support and of love. While each of you may have faced your own brand of discipline for whatever malfeasances you committed, barely any of you needed a day in jail to make you the people that you are today — some of the greatest minds on the planet.

Every day, thousands of times a day, prosecutors around the United States wield power so great that it can bring about catastrophe as quickly as it can bring about opportunity, intervention, support and yes, even love. 

Those qualities are the hallmarks of a strong community, and a strong community is a safe one. If our communities are broken, don’t let the lawyers that you elect fix them with outdated, inefficient, expensive methods.

Demand more; vote for the prosecutor who’s helping people stay out of jail, not putting them in.

Demand better. You deserve it, your children deserve it, the people who are tied up in the system deserve it, but most of all, the people that we are sworn to protect and do justice for demand it.

We must, we must do better

You’re Not Dumb.

Are you doing your due diligence to acquire comprehensive knowledge of cultures, civilization, nature, environment, communication…?

Are you prepared with the subject matter before you compete in school studies?

This may surprise you, but Sal Khan used to skip classes at MIT. (Very normal behaviour if you never joined team sports or served in the military)

Khan, perhaps the best-known teacher in the world today, entrepreneur.com|By Kim Lachance Shandrow

Lectures were too long and boring: “I found it much more valuable to learn the material at my own time and pace”

“I learned a lot more going into the computer lab or the science lab or the circuits lab, fiddling with things and playing and getting my hands dirty.” (That’s called training your experimental mind in education methods)

Patsy Z shared this link TEDxBarcelona

“Whoever you are, wherever you are. You only have to know one thing: you can learn anything.”

Khan Academy Founder: No, You’re Not Dumb. Anyone Can Learn Anything.

That same renegade spirit of independence and innovation, of learning on your own terms and on your own time, is still the heart and soul of Khan Academy. The “revolutionary controversial” online learning platform that this 38-year-old math whiz engineer singlehandedly founded 10 years ago.

What began as a handful of tutoring videos, the former hedge fund analyst uploaded to YouTube to help his cousins with their algebra homework. The platform mushroomed into a massive digital classroom for the world.

To date, the free, non-profit learning hub has delivered more than 580 million of Khan’s straightforward video lessons on demand, with students completing around 4 million companion exercises on any given day.

The Academy is in the midst of a growth spurt offline as well, with an excess of 1 million registered teachers around the globe incorporating the supplemental teaching tool into their classrooms.

We recently caught up with Khan, who discussed how his own education shaped his passion project, his belief that anyone can learn anything and what’s next for Khan Academy, online and off.

How did you develop a passion for education? Who inspired you?

Education has helped me a lot. My father’s side of the family was very active in education.

My parents separated when I was two and then my father passed away. I never really knew that side of the family. But, when I got to know my father’s side branch, they’re intensely academic.

My mother’s side of the family, they’re more the artists. We have a lot of dancers and singers who don’t fit with certain stereotypes that they’re all engineers and they’re all super invested in math.

I went to a fairly normal, middle of the road public school in a suburb of New Orleans, but it gave me huge opportunities. I had a lot of friends there who were just smart as I am.

They seem to learn things just as fast, but they’re hitting walls in algebra class and chemistry class.

That’s when I started questioning the notion of mastery-based learning. It wasn’t completely obvious to me then, but I just knew something was off.

You often say that anyone can learn anything. Why do you think that?

If you’re doing well in school you can have one of two things: You can say, “Oh, well, I have the DNA for doing it. Or you can say, “No, my brain was able to tackle it. I had the right mindset.” I saw those ideas in action early in high school.

Also, I tutored others as part of this math honors society I was in. I noticed that if you tutored people the right way, engaged with them the right way, they would improve.

I saw C and D students all of the sudden do very, very well and become some of the best math students in the state.

Then I go to college at MIT and I saw a lot of people struggle there, too, mainly because they aren’t adequately prepared. It was the same thing.

It was clear to me that it wasn’t intelligence at play, it was much more preparation. The people who did well were the people who saw the material for the third time, had a lot of rigor and didn’t have any gaps in their knowledge.

The people who really struggled were the folks who weren’t familiar with the material and didn’t have a super solid grasp. It has nothing to do with some type of innate intelligence.

How are you taking Khan Academy out from behind the Internet and into the real world?

We piloted a program called LearnStorm in the Bay Area (of San Francisco,California) last year. We’re expanding it to three to five other areas this Spring.

We hope it will function nationwide by 2017. It goes beyond the core skill work we do on Khan Academy, tying it into monthly challenges that are intended to be done in a physical environment, in your math class with your teacher.

LearnStorm came from the idea of we can create these great experiences online that are aligned with standards that are really good for students and they correlate with success metrics, but you need the the students to engage with them.

On our own, we can create a lot of neat game mechanics and all sorts of things on the site, but nothing beats having physical people who are part of your life, especially your teachers, your school and your peers, involved in your learning.

More recently, we worked with Disney Pixar to bridge the disconnect between what students learn about math and science at school and tackling creative challenges in the real world with an initiative called Pixar in a Box.

Our relationship with Pixar makes it very clear that math, science, creativity and storytelling aren’t separate things. They can all happen together.

Why the recent pivot to a growing list of local, offline projects when you originally set out to be a digital classroom for the world?

This isn’t the first time we’ve branched out offline. From day one, I immediately reached out to teachers to see if they’d want to use Khan Academy and to get their feedback on our features. In 2010, we started with the Los Altos school district here in Northern California.

Plus, there’s a whole teacher resources section on Khan Academy, so we’ve always had this dimension.

What’s different now isn’t us working with a handful of classrooms in a very high-touch way. It’s us being able to work with many more teachers and, frankly, they’re able to do a lot of the heavy lifting around mindset, meta cognition, getting students into it, and we provide the tools.

When we say that our vision statement is a free, world-class education for anyone anywhere, it doesn’t mean that it’s just going to all happen through our software, through our content.

As an organization, we view it as part of our mission to up how we interface with all of the other incredible stakeholders in this ecosystem, especially teachers and schools, to figure out how we educate students together, not just all from one site.

What will the classroom of the future look like and how will Khan Academy play a role?

You won’t need lectures in class any more. Those can happen on students’ own time. Using exercises, students can progress at their own pace, like how the Khan academy software works.

Instead, in-class time can be spent having peer-to-peer socratic dialogues, case-based discussions, programming and project based learning.

Why can’t teachers co-teach and mentor each other?

Why separate students by perceived ability or age?

Can’t you benefit from older students mentoring younger students? When classrooms are not one pace, when it’s all not lectured-based, it opens up all sorts of possibilities.

What’s the next big tech innovation in education, even bigger than the Internet?

Virtual reality, though my gut says it’s going to be about 10 years before we see major potential here. It’s very early right now. I can imagine that in about a decade, when you come to Khan Academy, you’ll literally feel like you’re in a virtual place of learning and in a community.

You’ll see people walking around in a virtual world. Who knows? I don’t know if that’s in 10 or 20 years, but I think that’s going to happen.

Aside from virtual reality integration, what else is on the horizon for Khan Academy?

We’re going to be available in all of the world’s major languages on all of the major platforms, whether it’s a cheap smartphone or an Oculus Rift. The more the better. We’re working on translating all of our resources into more than 36 languages, with thousands of volunteers helping us subtitle videos.

Are any new subjects in the works? Topics outside of the traditional academic realm, like, say, yoga and meditation perhaps?

No, nothing like that at the moment, although I do love yoga. We already have a lot of material in physics and chemistry and biology, but we want to really nail those core academic subjects.

Expect to see a lot from us in history and civics over the next year, along with interesting things around grammar, writing and programming.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who hope to be as astronomically successful as you

I cringe at the term “astronomically successful,” because it sure doesn’t feel like I am. As for advice, though, I think every entrepreneur should know what they’re getting into, that there are moments of extreme stress and pain that aren’t so obvious sometimes when you read about startups in the press.

Still, all entrepreneurs go through it. You need to be prepared for it and know that it’s normal when you’re in the midst of it.

The transcript that follows has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Tags:

Did I miss anything?

Reine Azzi posted on Fb a poem by Tom Wayman 

Every time a student asks if they missed anything important… I plan on using parts of this poem ☺️

Have you missed anything?

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here,

We sat with our hands folded on our desks in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth 40% of the grade for this term
And assigned some reading due today
On which I’m about to hand out a quiz worth 50%

Nothing. None of the content of this course has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
Any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter, either to you or me, and are without purpose

Everything. A few minutes after we began last time ,

A shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel or other heavenly being Appeared and revealed to us what each woman or man must do to attain Divine wisdom in this life and the hereafter.

This is the last time the class will meet before we disperse to bring the good News to all people on earth.

Nothing. When you are not present, how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom is a microcosm

Of human Experience, assembled for you to query and examine and ponder.

This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered,

But it was one place. And you weren’t here…

Tom Wayman


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2020
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