I know we in the U.S. pride ourselves on our small town pride, but I still feel my town is extra special. When I tell people I live in Shelburne Falls, if they’re heard of it (and that’s more common than one might expect for a village of roughly 1700 people), they almost always tell me about an idyllic visit they once had to “such a beautiful town.” Though by no means as gifted a photographer as many of my friends and relations, I periodically post pictures of my home town, and they often draw a positive reaction.
I remember the air of celebration surrounding the first GLSEN Massachusetts student-educator conference I ever attended, some years ago now. I got the sense that here was a place where LGBTQ+ kids could - however temporarily - feel safe enough to burst forth from the closet. This year, that same sense of being accepted as one’s exact authentic self persisted, but in a calmer, more matter-of-fact way. This year’s conference theme, “Undone - Undoing - Still,” undoubtedly played a role in that. And in her welcome speech, Board member Trenda Loftin further expressed the mood of the conference, quoting activist Lilla Watson: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
The Association of Middle Level Education (AMLE) has been on the cutting edge of middle school practice since it was founded in 1973 as the National Middle School Association, ten years after William Alexander pioneered the middle school concept. In this context, “middle school concept” refers not just to a generic school for young adolescents but rather to a specific set of values and principles that may or may not govern a given school’s program. These are laid out and explained in AMLE’s “This We Believe,” originally published in 1983 and now in its fourth edition. Not as many middle schools are based on the middle school concept as one might wish. Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School is one of the happy exceptions.
AMLE hosted their annual conference in Philadelphia from Nov. 6-8, and I was able to attend the third day, squeezing out a visit between two nights of rock band rehearsals.
This morning, Sarah Littman shared an article entitled “A+E Chief Nancy Dubuc: Abuse of Power Begins With Unconscious Male Bias (Guest Column).” Among Ms. Dubuc’s takes on the Harvey Weinstein scandal: “We're hearing that there have been attempts to report on this for years, so how does something time and time again rise to that level and then when it's finally reported, everybody gets to say, "Oh, I had no idea"? Something there doesn't make sense.”
The thing about viral campaigns on social media is that, while it can be argued they may raise awareness to some degree, they can also make it possible to feel good about doing something without actually doing anything of major significance. The recent surge of #MeToo posts seems to be a welcome exception, if nothing else sparking innumerable conversations that go far deeper than a simple click-and-share.
When you see the world through another set of eyes, it's a more beautiful place. - Melody Brook
I had a good fortune to attend the Translating Identity Conference on Saturday, October 14 at the University of Vermont. As the website says, “The largest conference of its kind in New England, TIC is a free, student organized, non-profit conference that seeks to reach not only the University of Vermont & the Burlington community, but the nation as a whole.” As I arrived, the “Welcome” was just getting underway, and Melody Brook, an adjunct professor at Champlain College and a member of the Einu Abenaki tribe, officially welcomed us with words and song to a site that once belonged to her people.
I hope this finds you well. In honor of the International Day of the Girl, my students will be hosting several Hangouts to connect girls around the world. The conversations will be self-directed by the students who attend, with student facilitators. We hope to provide an opportunity to unite girls across borders on the ways we are similar and bring us closer together by celebrating our differences.
(originally published on MiddleWeb)
(This post was written after encountering yet another courageous link admiring yet another courageous blog about the importance of courage. While that blog, and thus this post, is centered on the diversity of gender and sexuality, I want to explicitly recognize that many marginalized people have been saying exactly the same thing for years, be it non-white people on “courageous conversations about race,” disabled people on “inspiration porn,” and so on.)
It builds up over time. Sometimes, you ignore it. Other times, you shake your head. Or mutter, “I don’t think so.” Or suddenly close your laptop and jump up and stride away. And then, every so often, you crack.
I understand that in our society, how we dress is linked to respect. Though I love wearing gym shorts and a tank top, there are certainly occasions where I wouldn’t do so.