Archive for the ‘inequality’ Category

The opportunity to fail–the best gift we can give our children

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Mo Issa writes:

My parents gave me love, and lots of it, but often faltered in giving me direction. However, the best gift they gave me was the opportunity to fail, and then learn from those failures.

That opportunity not only made me stronger, but also instilled in me a sense of responsibility and independence that has helped me in every aspect of my life.

I look at today’s generation and sense a mood of entitlement. They expect things to be done for them. They shun responsibility and avoid making decisions.

After reading Jessica Lahey’s bestselling book, The Gift of Failure, and with much reflection on my own parenting over the years, I wish I could get my kids back for another four years (yes, I miss them that much!) so that I could change my ways.

I was trying my best as a parent and thought I was a great father. On reflection, however, many factors affected my parenting, not least of which was ego and and a pull to acquiesce to society’s norms.

Do we want our kids to get the top grades, get onto the varsity soccer team, and be around the most popular people because of us—or them? How do we define what is “best” for them, anyway? Is it not based on our criteria and values, rather than theirs?

When we impose our likes, dislikes, and values on our kids, we rob them of their individuality and their own experiences. As Lahey says, “When parents try to engineer failure out of kids’ lives, the kids feel incompetent, incapable, unworthy of trust and utterly dependent.” They are, she argues, unprepared when, “failures that happen out there, in the real world, carry far higher stakes.”

I love the title of her book—The Gift of Failure—because learning how to navigate failure really is the greatest gift that we can bequeath our children. Especially when we also give them our undivided love and complete support.

Through failure, they will learn life-long lessons they could never learn otherwise.


Who Gets to Choose Which Childhood Experiences Are ‘Appropriate’?

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Fom Christina Berchini’s thoughtful article:

Hard as some parents and guardians might try to shield their children from life’s difficulties and cruelties, other students bring adult issues to our classrooms. I certainly did. My students certainly did. An “appropriate” text, then, is also a text that honors this reality. Students who see their experiences ― however difficult ― reflected in the books they are asked to read might be provided with a coping mechanism through literature.

For example, the well-known young adult novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson addresses the issue of teenage rape ― a problem that Anderson’s supporters argue needs to be discussed. Children and teenagers lucky enough to live blissful lives ― the kind of lives my colleague assumed to be the rule, and not the exception ― are also served well by texts that illustrate the real trials and tribulations of childhood and adolescence. Such texts help to build empathetic classroom communities with a more complex understanding of the world, whether or not students have personally experienced such complexities.

The Fundamentalist Christian Chokehold On America

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

The fundamentalist chokehold on American politics seeks to destroy the religious and cultural plurality on which the country, and the Declaration of Independence, was based. These theological divisions – which pit believers against non-believers, and those who believe correctly against those who don’t – are a major contributor to America’s sharply divided politics. When someone believes he or she holds absolute truth, there can be no compromise, no middle ground, and no discussion.

Fundamentalism – Christian, Islam, or any other religious ideology – is the antithesis of progression. Fundamentalism’s dangerous anti-science stance threatens the world’s environment, reduces the efficacy of American education, and leaves citizens unprepared for life in a global economy. Fundamentalism is shrouded in ignorance, backed by authoritarianism, and places an enormous amount of trust in individual leaders. To free us of the religious chokehold, citizens must recognize, and actively vote against the powerful political machine of the Fundamentalist Christian right.


This Simple Mental Shift Can Enrich Everything In Your Life

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Those who are able to shift away from the obsessive chase for more, Twist says, often experience a renewal of sorts. “When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy,” she says.

That energy, Twist continues, can then be channeled into a different endeavor: paying attention to what you already have. “When you actually pay attention to nourish, love and share what you already have, it expands,” Twist explains.


As a Holocaust Survivor, I Know This Small Action Is the True Antidote to Hate

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am very concerned when I see presidential candidates fanning the flames of animosity. In the ’30s in Germany, Jews were the target, but the dangerous rhetoric of today is focused on Muslims and particularly Syrian refugees. Like the anti-Semitic tirades of decades ago, many of the same ingredients are present in the speeches of candidates who hold surprisingly high levels of support from the American people.

It is an all too familiar recipe: Strip away individuality and wrap everyone in the group into an amorphous and frightening entity. Speak about what they will take from us and add in a strong nationalist sentiment that allows people to justify their hatred as patriotic allegiance. It was this lethal combination that sent my family to Auschwitz, my father to the gas chamber, and me, a boy of 16, to a slave labor camp where I was forced to build railroads on starvation rations. The SS guards were able to do this to us because they lost sight of our humanity and of our individuality.


9 Not-So-Obvious Signs Your Partner Isn’t ‘The One’

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Your partner should bring out the best in you, inspire you to grow and make you laugh like nobody’s business. If that’s not happening, you’re probably with the wrong person.

Below, experts share nine signs the person you’re with might not be right for you.

More. Good article.

The Importance of Empathy

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

Empathy might seem like a squishy, vaguely liberal word—a sentimental virtue of minor importance. But the more we learn from neuroscience and psychology, the more it appears that much of human social and economic life, not to mention individual health, fundamentally relies on it. Which makes the rise of inequality— something that threatens empathy—all the more troubling.


I Argued That Class Participation Was Necessary. Then I Heard From Introverts.

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

I realized that I needed to come up with new techniques to encourage sharing in the classroom that stemmed from collaboration and joint efforts and offer ways for less verbal students to articulate their knowledge. Cain’s article offered one such technique, called “Think, Pair, Share.” This technique has become one of the most important tools in my teaching toolkit as it promotes collaboration and peer-to-peer learning among all students. Susan describes it beautifully, so here’s her explanation:

The teacher poses a question to the class and asks students to first reflect on or write down their answer, and then share it with a peer. Sometimes a shy student can find confidence through the encouragement of a single peer before sharing his idea with the larger classroom.


I personally like a lively, interactive classroom. But I also realize that trying to force everyone to participate on the same level and in the same way is not good. I’d rather have a well thought out point made by a shy student now and then than have to wade through lots of shallow ideas put out by those just needing to talk, for whatever reason (sometimes because they think that’s the way to get good grades and/or be noticed).

Finding other ways to encourage interaction by the shy is wise and certainly supportive of their learning needs.

13 Issues Facing Native People Beyond Mascots And Casinos

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

These are the problems you’re not hearing enough about.


All of us need to become more aware of what’s going on, not only in the world at large but in our own country, our own communities–and ourselves. We’ll never become integrated and move toward wholeness till we do.

Snail and caterpillar

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

“We can learn a lot from a snail and a caterpillar. We might even make the world a cooler place while we’re at it.”

A wonderful little cartoon that illustrates the differences among creatures and how we need to recognize and respect them. (This goes for humans as well.)


Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.