ISA HOPKINS

Raconteur. Adventurer. Kimchi Enthusiast.

To Be A Teacher

There’s a fascinating article in The New Yorker which discusses the notion – the contemporary American religion, perhaps – of performance improvement.  The subject is introduced via a discussion of athletics, where performance (as RBIs or race times or free throw percentages, or whatever the contest may be about) is fairly easily to quantify and compare.   For that alone, the article is interesting enough.  Towards the end, though, there is a turn.. Read More

The Data Agenda

When it comes to education reform, the reliance on “data” is purported to be a values-neutral statement: data has no ideology, this line of thinking goes, so its use cannot be manipulated.   Two important articles – one very long, the other less so – illuminate the lie at work in this proposition.  First, the Atlantic looks at Philadelphia’s textbook allocations.  Textbooks – logistics – are an easy and appropriate place to use.. Read More

This Is Black Hoodie Rap

A textual collage exploring inspiration, technology, and identity.   On Wednesday night I finally saw “Fruitvale Station” (not out in Australia, at least not yet).  A phenomenal film; an imperfect one, yes, but then perfection is a meaningless concept outside of abstract mathematics anyway.  Some reviewers have come in armored with preconceptions, that this is a Message Movie, or else so programmed by the preponderance of anti-hero narratives that they find a deeply.. Read More

This is a business school mentality, that education can be measured with precision on sheets of papers with lists and checkmarks. Accreditation—it’s about who gives you credit, and how you can persuade them to do so. It’s trust and confidence again. Who do we trust? Who do we have faith in to say that we’ve done the right thing? … The reduction of the moral to the financial is so complete that risk is.. Read More

The Virtues of Foreignness

Is this how it’s supposed to be? Is learning forever winding through these strange and foreign places?  Is study the opposite of home?   –TNC   I’ve been thinking about teaching and learning quite a bit lately (an appropriate reaction when one is, uh, becoming a teacher); I’ve also been very much enjoying Mr. Coates’s missives from Europe, where he has finally ventured after two years of studying French.  I’ve been sharing his.. Read More

When People Are The Worst

I really loved Ta-Nehisi Coates’s recent reflection on the “working definition of an asshole.”  I think he summarizes things nicely in describing such a specimen as “a person who demands that all social interaction happen on their terms”, although I wonder if he doesn’t quite go far enough – for it’s not only social interactions that can be forced to square with the worldview of an asshole, but the narrative of one’s entire.. Read More

Propagating Grace

I recently wrote a couple pieces about sharing for Grist, and it’s been well-timed.  As I mentioned here previously, I am – for the first time – living alone, and I have found it difficult beyond imagining; the existential distress at such isolation (I am carless, Internet-less, and far) is more than I ever anticipated.  But one pleasant consequence of my aloneness is the full realization of how much other people, both generally.. Read More

Summer Reading

Law enforcement: a land of thin accountability.   “Failing” schools: the narrow view of a single metric.   We are not post-racist; we are just a more sophisticated form of it.

Challenging Convention

I know I keep talking a good game about this Harry Potter post and then going on about other things instead, but I promise, it’ll show up before 2011 runs its course.   In the meantime: this piece by Diane Ravitch, who should team up with Elizabeth Warren and run for president of the universe, is both angering and inspiring in all the best ways.  Ravitch is reviewing two new books about education.. Read More

Education Inflation

A fascinating article on the ballooning administrative costs which have been highly correlated to rising tuition at colleges and universities – really worth a read.