One teacher's thoughts on American culture, history, politics, activism, unionism, education, and life in the classroom--with a bit of punk rock's spirit and hardcore's heart.

This time of year many people in the US and across the world take time to remember the tragic loss of life incurred during the 9/11 attacks. Without getting into “inside job” conspiracy theories or accusations of “chickens coming home to roost” (a la Malcolm X), I think we can all agree that the violent deaths of 2,977 unsuspecting innocents is abhorrent. But injustice and terror reside in far more places than most people are comfortable admitting. 
This week my classes will delve into Precolumbian (pre-European contact) indigenous history and hopefully take an honest look at the lives and cultures of a diverse indigenous population pre-1492. Among other activities, I’ll screen the “Clash of Cultures” episode of the _500 Nations_ documentary series. It will be a transition activity that will introduce students to the often brutal or otherwise interactions between Europeans and Native Americans in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The documentary details the conflicts that arose between the conquistadors and people like the Taíno of the Caribbean, the Timucua of modern Florida, and the English abuse and exploitation if the Inuit. 
Lots of people seem to think—or even say aloud—“That was the past. Why can’t you just move on?” A few of my own students have expressed similar sentiments over the years. There are many responses one can give to these perhaps ignorant or callous types of statements and questions. One of them is, “Would you say the same thing to 9/11 families? Holocaust survivors?” And what we should remember about Native American history—without diminishing the ugliness of other historical tragedies—is that armed attacks were not one-time events. Using various forms of violence against the indigenous the indigenous population became systemic and systematic. Violence became a tool of imperialist expansion and colonization—and we see it in the actions of governments against their own or neighboring populations to this day. So why do we not forget and just move on? Because remembering is an act of resistance, an act of defiance, an act of dignity, and an act of humanity. 
#500Nations #clash #culture #indigenous #NativeAmerican #Inuit #NDN

This time of year many people in the US and across the world take time to remember the tragic loss of life incurred during the 9/11 attacks. Without getting into “inside job” conspiracy theories or accusations of “chickens coming home to roost” (a la Malcolm X), I think we can all agree that the violent deaths of 2,977 unsuspecting innocents is abhorrent. But injustice and terror reside in far more places than most people are comfortable admitting.
This week my classes will delve into Precolumbian (pre-European contact) indigenous history and hopefully take an honest look at the lives and cultures of a diverse indigenous population pre-1492. Among other activities, I’ll screen the “Clash of Cultures” episode of the _500 Nations_ documentary series. It will be a transition activity that will introduce students to the often brutal or otherwise interactions between Europeans and Native Americans in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The documentary details the conflicts that arose between the conquistadors and people like the Taíno of the Caribbean, the Timucua of modern Florida, and the English abuse and exploitation if the Inuit.
Lots of people seem to think—or even say aloud—“That was the past. Why can’t you just move on?” A few of my own students have expressed similar sentiments over the years. There are many responses one can give to these perhaps ignorant or callous types of statements and questions. One of them is, “Would you say the same thing to 9/11 families? Holocaust survivors?” And what we should remember about Native American history—without diminishing the ugliness of other historical tragedies—is that armed attacks were not one-time events. Using various forms of violence against the indigenous the indigenous population became systemic and systematic. Violence became a tool of imperialist expansion and colonization—and we see it in the actions of governments against their own or neighboring populations to this day. So why do we not forget and just move on? Because remembering is an act of resistance, an act of defiance, an act of dignity, and an act of humanity.
#500Nations #clash #culture #indigenous #NativeAmerican #Inuit #NDN

Every fall one of the first units I teach is on personal history. I camouflage it pretty well by introducing it with this film, _Antwone Fisher_. The film is based on the autobiography of Antwone Fisher, and portrays the struggles of a young man learning to deal with a painful past to prevent it from continuing to negatively impact his present and future. It’s also Denzel Washington’s directorial debut. 
The story and the acting are solid—even if some of the subject matter is heavy and the language isn’t always very school-friendly. My view is that the value of the narrative and lessons to be learned far outweigh any offense a student or other viewer may take from the expletives in the dialogue. I use the film as a tool for students to get students thinking about a few things: 1) Everyone has had (or will have) painful life experiences; 2) Some people’s experiences (perhaps classmates’) has been really rough; 3) the past influences the present and the future; 4) our own past experiences can shape who we are, both negatively and positively; 5) our past can influence who we become individually and collectively; 6) history is not just on the pages of a textbook—it’s everywhere, including our own personal memories. 
While watching the film students answer a series of comprehension, predictive, and analytical questions related to film. Many of the questions relate to or reinforce ELA standards, as well. We discuss the plot, characters and character development, the setting, and key events. Analyzing important events leads us to make a timeline of Antwone’s life, which is guided practice for the next assignment: a project in which students construct their own personal history timelines. 
I’ve found that screening the film in class helps a lot of kids drop their barriers (against me, their classmates, and history class), understand where I’m coming as their teacher, and helps them start to open up a bit to me—which allows me to get to know them as people and continue the process of building rapport and developing classroom culture. 
If you’re interested in my film questions or the personal history timeline assignment, shoot me an email.

Every fall one of the first units I teach is on personal history. I camouflage it pretty well by introducing it with this film, _Antwone Fisher_. The film is based on the autobiography of Antwone Fisher, and portrays the struggles of a young man learning to deal with a painful past to prevent it from continuing to negatively impact his present and future. It’s also Denzel Washington’s directorial debut.
The story and the acting are solid—even if some of the subject matter is heavy and the language isn’t always very school-friendly. My view is that the value of the narrative and lessons to be learned far outweigh any offense a student or other viewer may take from the expletives in the dialogue. I use the film as a tool for students to get students thinking about a few things: 1) Everyone has had (or will have) painful life experiences; 2) Some people’s experiences (perhaps classmates’) has been really rough; 3) the past influences the present and the future; 4) our own past experiences can shape who we are, both negatively and positively; 5) our past can influence who we become individually and collectively; 6) history is not just on the pages of a textbook—it’s everywhere, including our own personal memories.
While watching the film students answer a series of comprehension, predictive, and analytical questions related to film. Many of the questions relate to or reinforce ELA standards, as well. We discuss the plot, characters and character development, the setting, and key events. Analyzing important events leads us to make a timeline of Antwone’s life, which is guided practice for the next assignment: a project in which students construct their own personal history timelines.
I’ve found that screening the film in class helps a lot of kids drop their barriers (against me, their classmates, and history class), understand where I’m coming as their teacher, and helps them start to open up a bit to me—which allows me to get to know them as people and continue the process of building rapport and developing classroom culture.
If you’re interested in my film questions or the personal history timeline assignment, shoot me an email.

And that about sums it up. 
I wonder what Lincoln would think of his party, the Republicans, today. 
#prounion #union #labor #uptheunion #notaDemocrat #definitelynotaRepublican #AbrahamLincoln #Abe #Lincoln #PresidentLincoln #USHistory #history #quote #LaborDay #LaborDay2014 #punkrockteacher
The Koch Brothers fund some of the most insidious organizations and causes that undermine the quality of life of working Americans, as well as the democratic traditions of our republic itself. I strongly urge you to avoid supporting them by boycotting their products. 
#KochBrothers #KochIndustries #KochBros #boycott #middleclass #workingclass #trades #bluecollar #whitecollar #LaborDay #LaborDay2014 #andeveryday #empower #unite #teachers #union #labor #laborunion #CFT #AFT #votewithyourwallet #solidarity #punkrockteacher
#LaborDay #LaborDay2014 #workingclass #trades #middleclass #labor #laborunion #unions #organizedlabor #AFT #CFT #unite #solidarity #inequality   #exploitation #incomeinequality #minimumwage #manipulation #benefits #march #protest #strike #boycott #organize #educate #agitate #teachers #education #punkrockteacher
Here’s a photo I took recently while visiting Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 20 minutes outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. This is the Vegas I like to see. It’s fun to see the hotels and casinos of the Strip or downtown, but I’m not much of a gambler or a drinker. And I have a low tolerance for cigarette smoke. So I’d much rather be outside—even in the summer heat. 
This is Southern Paiute country. 
#RedRockCanyon #RedRockNationalConservationArea #desert #Mojave #Nevada #NV #MojaveDesert #LasVegas #geology #flora #fauna #PaiuteCountry #SouthernPaiute #punkrockteacher
Credit for this meme goes to Occupy Democrats. 
While I’m not a Democrat, the quote is spot on. Why privatize schools (this is not the same as private parochial schools)? It de-democratizes them, taking away accountability to the community with elected school boards. Elected officials and democracy pushed aside, privatized schools can then be run like companies—turning our children into “products,” subsidizing corporations in “partnerships” that monetize the learning process (what my colleague @tsinharhini today called “the school-industrial complex”), and creating yet another venue where people are disempowered and profit is prioritized. 
Don’t believe the hype, ladies and gentlemen. Educate yourselves. Join with educators and learn about these issues from those who teach your kids and always put them first. 
#TimothyMeegan #ChicagoSunTimes #privatization #schools #children #students #teachers #educators #future #priorities #education #democracy #profitoverpeople #Chomsky #wakeup #educateyourself #repost #punkrockteacher
Visiting the Japanese American National Museum @jamuseum in downtown LA/Japantown today. A smaller exhibit is called “Colors of Confinement”—18 color photographs taken by Takeo Bill Manbo, a prisoner at Heart Mountain (Wyoming) “War Relocation Center” during WWII. Heart Mountain was one of several prison camps for Japanese and Japanese Americans living on the West Coast established by FDR’s Executive Order 9066. The camps weren’t for criminals. They were set up for average people who posed a threat to the US only because of their “Japanese ancestry.”
These photographs and many of the other displays at the museum that display such fear, hatred, and horrible acts of discrimination are heartbreaking, yet inspiring. Looking at them gives us yet another set of reminders that there was (and is) another United States behind the one we want to believe in. It sometimes steps from the shadows and obscures the beauty and idealism that has drawn people to our shores for centuries. 
Above is a cropped photo of the photographer’s son, Billy, posing on a barbed wire fence with Heart Mountain’s barracks in the background. 
#TakeoBillManbo #photographer #Japanese #JapaneseAmerican #Issei #Nisei #HeartMountain #WRC #WWII #internmentcamp #internment #Wyoming #WorldWarII #SecondWorldWar #prejudice #discrimination #prison #portrait #family #barbedwire #shame #ugliness #DTLA #JANM #USHistory #teaching #learning #education #punkrockteacher
I have a similar sign on my classroom wall.
I remind my students that their brains aren’t literally muscles, but —like muscles—our brains “atrophy” without challenging activity. And with challenging activity, our brains “grow” and become “stronger.”
#flexyourhead #MinorThreat #IanMacKaye #education #school #teaching #learning #students #teachers #highschool #secondary #lifelessons #brain #laziness #atrophy #challenge #ganas #grow #strong #forward #adelante #punkrockteacher
Do you like having a weekend? Or an eight-hour day? Or equal pay for equal work? Or child labor laws? Or occupational health and safety? How about healthcare? Unemployment and Social Security? Minimum wage? Family and medical leave? Paid overtime? Workers compensation? Pensions? Collective bargaining? Outlawing job discrimination? Vacations? 
If so, you can thank labor unions. 
#labor #unions #laborunions #organizedlabor #unions #labour #uptheunion #unity #solidarity #workingclass #middleclass #classwar #plutocracy #Kochbrothers #wakeup #prounion #unionthug #punkrockteacher