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Be the Printing Press

December 30, 2014

I chaperoned Winter Formal. At last call for photographs, I grabbed the math teacher I affectionately refer to as my little brother and wrangled him to the backdrop. It looks like a mother-son frat party pic to me, but I love it. 

Every week, I read the compilation from Brain Pickings. The email is delivered to my inbox on Sundays, and I wait until I have slow, coffee time to read it. Every week there is a gem that I just adore, that I might forward to a friend or family member, or read to my students at school. I’ve shared one below.

I often think about the difficulty of what we as teachers do, compounded in New Orleans by the culture of celebration, and the culture of crime, and I know my life could be easier. I could make different choices. I could teach somewhere that would be easier on me, that would give me more free time, or more involved parents, or more future-focused kids. I could go back to a job that pays waaaay more, sit at a desk, and have those what-am-I-looking-for-dreams that haunted my 20s. But I’m certain that I am making a difference, inciting change, and that without me my kids would be loved a little less, would laugh less, would know less. We don’t realize at the time what change we are making, but a long-lensed perspective allows me to see clearly the dominos and feel briskly the wind that tumbles the first one.

And AMEN to winter break. AMEN!

From Steven Johnson’s How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World:

Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press created a surge in demand for spectacles, as the new practice of reading made Europeans across the continent suddenly realize that they were farsighted; the market demand for spectacles encouraged a growing number of people to produce and experiment with lenses, which led to the invention of the microscope, which shortly thereafter enabled us to perceive that our bodies were made up of microscopic cells. You wouldn’t think that printing technology would have anything to do with the expansion of our vision down to the cellular scale, just as you wouldn’t have thought that the evolution of pollen would alter the design of a hummingbird’s wing. But that is the way change happens.

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