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

Odds & Ends

With ideology masquerading as pragmatism, profit is now the sole yardstick against which all our institutions must be measured, a policy that comes not from experience but from assumptions – false assumptions – about human nature, with greed and self-interest taken to be its only reliable attributes. – Alan Bennett, in the London Review of Books Relatedly, Diane Ravitch takes down the notion that teacher protections are what impede access to quality education.  Historical.. Read More

The culture of our world, right now, is crafted by little boys who only recall being stood up on their first date, and nothing they got after. They don’t remember the sand they kicked in other people’s eyes, only their own injuries. Our art is cynical and bad-ass and made by people who will not be happy until you join them in the church of “everything is fucked up, so throw up your.. 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

Duly Noted

The last few weeks have entered into a period of crazy-busyness, kicked off with my move from the existential hell I’ve written of before.  Though there is a lot going on, I will make efforts to update more regularly – as it is I’ve accumulated quite a backlog of links to share:   – Firstly, for those who haven’t yet read it, Russell Brand’s essay on Margaret Thatcher is empathetic, intelligent, and generally.. 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

Enlightened America

In lieu of a life spent online, I’ve been lately throwing myself into a study of European history.  Books and (judiciously downloaded) podcasts are filling the gaps left by years of bad teachers, and I find myself marveling at the thrill and relevance of the never-too-distant past.  In particular, I’ve become minorly obsessed with the French Revolution, a subject on which until very recently I professed near-total ignorance; I knew the fall of.. 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

The Folly of Knowing Too Well

I am not a radical. But more than anything the Iraq War taught me the folly of mocking radicalism. It seemed, back then, that every “sensible” and “serious” person you knew – left or right – was for the war. And they were all wrong. Never forget that they were all wrong. And never forget that the radicals with their drum circles and their wild hair were right.   –TNC   To read.. Read More