Practice: Confession

From: Annan.K.2016.Slow Kingdom Coming.InterVarsity Press

  1. Confess Your Mixed Motives: “God and neighbor, I confess my mixed motives. Help the fruit of my efforts to be beautiful and just.”
  2. Confess Your Desire to Feel Good When You Help: “God and neighbor, I confess that I’m tempted to contribute in ways that make me feel best, not that help most. Help me to slow down to serve my neighbor in the best way possible.
  3. Confess Your Public Gestures: “God and neighbor, I confess I want to be seen as good. Free me to do what is good.”
  4. Confess Your Hero Complex: “God and neighbor, I confess that I claim too much credit. Grow my humility and show me how to rightly give credit to others.”
  5. Confess Your Compassion Fatigue: “God and neighbor, I confess I’m sometimes empty of compassion. Renew me in the deep gladness of the call to work for justice.”
  6. Confess Your Privilege: “God and neighbor, I confess the privileges that benefit me. Help me to give them away again and again.
  7. Confess Your Pain Caused and Received: “God and neighbor, I confess that I have caused pain of, and am hurt by, injustice. Help me to participate in healing for others and myself.
  8. Confess Your Longing for Change: “God and neighbor, I confess my hope is in you and in this kingdom coming.

2021 marks 10 years since I left Microsoft to become a teacher. I confess mixed motives in doing that. I say it was to help students see the potential and possibility of jobs in technology, but sometimes I see it as a way to be honored and respected for that decision. Instead the beautiful and just outcome is helping students experience physics and get information and skills for technology careers.

I confess my desire to see students succeed and know that it was my efforts that helped bring it about. Instead I should take pride in good teaching and in helping all my students see physics or see technology in a new way. Even if none of my students ever get hired by Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. I will still have value, my efforts will not have been wasted.

I confess my desire to be known as the teacher that ________ (is cool, knows technology, worked outside of teaching, etc. etc.). When people don’t know of me or haven’t heard about me I am slightly wounded. Real goodness is doing what needs to be done when no one is around to see.

I confess my desire to be the hero. I see patterns in my electronic communications or activities where I want to be the clutch-player who had the best idea at the best time which caused real change. True humility would persist in doing the right thing and never calculate on how it is being perceived or how many “likes” your statement got.

I confess my compassion fatigue. Teaching is hard work, in many ways it consumes me more than any work I ever did at Microsoft. That said, when I feel like I am not appreciated, I want to pull back and stop giving. This also shows up when I am tense or short with students that don’t ever deserve that treatment. I confess that it is compassion fatigue that forces me to resentful emotions when I am not appreciated.

I confess that I am a WASP with so much privilege that I have the privilege of not having to calculate or ever reckon with a lack of privilege. I would like to give that privilege away, to employ it in ways that benefit others, but even that desire is fraught with condescensions or patronizing attitudes. So I will re-read Kent Annan’s declaration more often in the coming years, and subscribe to it more confidently.

From Kent Annan, (C) 2016.

I confess that in trying to guide my students to a career in still-mostly-misogynistic physics, or no-way-friendly-to-POC technology jobs, I may be doing more harm than good. I confess that every time I wax nostalgic about science that has been a tool of oppression (race, class, gender) or how great college was (when it cost much less) and the stakes were lower, I am not respecting student wishes to live creative and good lives which they themselves are free to define, free from my criteria. I confess that when I am blind to my privilege or resort to attitudes of the oppressor and owner in subtle but real ways I am causing pain and the not the healing I most fervently desire.

So finally, I confess my longing for change. For a just society that does not overvalue economic gain, I pine. For a job market, education system, research industry, that seeks to be as diverse in the ownership and direction of the means of production as the people that it serves. I long to be replaced by a teacher of color, of another gender, of authority that speaks more to students about what is possible for them based on actual experience rather than theoretical probabilities. And, in that hope I will wait.

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

Time will tell…

I wanted to do a blog post celebrating the forgiveness of my student loans, which happened in the past couple of weeks. It took a little while (6 years) and a little extra funds, but they should be behind me now.

And then this picture showed up again and has me reflecting on the whole purpose of this venture.

Ben, when I worked at Microsoft, you could take your kids to work and get a badge for them.

The reason I left Microsoft was to perhaps inspire our enable other kids to be future employees at Microsoft. However, in so doing, I may have made it harder for you to ever work in a technology job such as that.

That’s one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is that you are also part of the mission to reach and inspire other kids who aren’t blessed to have one or two parents at Microsoft. To help them see that they could work there is not something they might have imagined without us going to them.

It was a sacrifice to leave Bellevue, for us all. It continues to be. But I know you will do great things.

Watts.D.J.2017.Should social science be more solution-oriented.Nature: Human Behavior.

Abstract: Over the past 100 years, social science has generated a tremendous number of theories on the topics of individual and collective human behaviour. However, it has been much less successful at reconciling the innumerable inconsistencies and contradictions among these competing explanations, a situation that has not been resolved by recent advances in ‘computational social science’. In this Perspective, I argue that this ‘incoherency problem’ has been perpetuated by an historical emphasis in social science on the advancement of theories over the solution of practical problems. I argue that one way for social science to make progress is to adopt a more solution-oriented approach, starting first with a practical problem and then asking what theories (and methods) must be brought to bear to solve it. Finally, I conclude with a few suggestions regarding the sort of problems on which progress might be made and how we might organize ourselves to solve them.

Watts.2017.Social Science More Solution Oriented.s41562-016-0015.pdf

Some day…

TIPERS defined

Creating Interactive Physics Simulations Using the Power of Geogebra

Another type of simulation / coding I should try in class.

Making Experts of Physics (Instead of Just Equation Jockeys)

I’m finishing my second year of modeling instruction in 2016-2017.

I’m frustrated by the order of the topics, and wondering if there is a better way.

Then I read this paper:

A couple things I really like about it:

  1. returning to an overview of concepts in physics (i.e. models that may apply to any problem)
  2. putting work back on the students
  3. sharing feedback with students on how the course is going

Salary Checkup 2017-04-07

I’ve been keeping data on my salary. Here’s the comparison between base, gross and net for the last 6 years. NOTE: 2011-2012 I was student teaching in Highline School District.

For Gross and Net below, I only look at data through March 31st.

And here is Net Salary

I guess I’m just not gaming this salary system as much as I should.

Breslyn and McGinnis 2011

ABSTRACT: Teachers’ use of inquiry has been studied largely without regard for the

disciplines in which teachers practice. As a result, there is no theoretical understanding of

the possible role of discipline in shaping teachers’ conceptions and enactment of inquiry.

In this mixed-methods study, conceptions and enactment of inquiry for 60 National Board

Certified Science Teachers (NBCSTs) across the secondary science disciplines of biology,

chemistry, earth science, and physics were investigated. A situated cognitive framework

was used. Through the analysis of portfolio text (n = 48) and participant interviews (n =

12), themes emerged for participants’ conceptions and enactment of inquiry. Findings

suggested that disciplinary differences exist between NBCSTs’ conceptions and enactment

of inquiry. Furthermore, individuals teaching in more than one discipline often held different

conceptions of inquiry depending on the discipline in which they were teaching. A key

implication was the critical importance of considering the discipline in understanding

science teachers’ varied conceptions and enactment of inquiry. C _ 2011 Wiley Periodicals,

Inc. Sci Ed 96:48 – 77, 2012

Your discipline affects your use of inquiry in your classroom.

What is the metric of an effective high school?

Suppose a high school has a goal to graduate (metric) all students (metric) college and career ready (metric?).

What if we just took median income of a school district, and found the stats of graduates relative to median income and tracked that? Couldn’t the I. R. S. help us with those numbers?

But if all students go to college, and many out of town or out of area then those stats are pretty useless. Those students aren’t generating income and not in their hometown for at least 4 years if not more.

What if you just ask graduates “do you feel you are living the life you had envisioned now or are you making progress towards that life or those goals?”

Do we think high school is serving all students equitably? Do we think high school is having the impact it needs to have? If we want high school to have more impact shouldn’t it have more contact with community leaders? Are high schools in general adequately funded?

%d bloggers like this: