Sixty years ago, at the height of the Cold War, a B-52 bomber disintegrated over a small Southern town. An eyewitness recalls what happened next.
Sixty years ago, at the height of the Cold War, a B-52 bomber disintegrated over a small Southern town. An eyewitness recalls what happened next.
Beginning in December 1951, Ernesto “Che” Guevara took a nine-month break from medical school to travel by motorcycle through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. One of his goals was gaining practical experience with leprosy. On the night of his twenty-fourth birthday, Che was at La Colonia de San Pablo in Peru swimming across the river to join the lepers. He walked among six hundred lepers in jungle huts looking after themselves in their own way.
Che would not have been satisfied to just study and sympathize with them – he wanted to be with them and understand their existence. Being in contact with people who were poor and hungry while they were sick transformed Che. He envisioned a new medicine, with doctors who would serve the greatest number people with preventive care and public awareness of hygiene. A few years later, Che joined Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement as a doctor and was among the eighty-one men aboard the Granma as it landed in Cuba on December 2, 1956.
This is a fantastic article by Don Fitz, the author of the book pictured above, which I would really like to read. I “rediscovered” my interest in Che Guevara recently when I used a brief version of his biography as the core of an EFL tutorial. That lesson can be found at this website. It’s a broad brush bio in about two paragraphs meant for English learners not already familiar with his story. So, naturally it leaves a lot out. But the episode Fitz relates at the beginning of this CounterPunch article is one that I certainly don’t remember from reading the biography of Che that came out in the mid-1990s when I was in high school, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, by Jon Lee Anderson, a journalist at the New Yorker.
I could be wrong, I do remember there being a section on Che’s becoming a doctor and his famous motorcycle tour. I could be conflating Anderson’s account with the fictionalized film version “Diarios de motocicleta” (2004). I was certainly more interested in the guerrilla fighter aspect of El Che than I was in the more practical embodiments of his revolutionary character. I suppose, I was tricked by CIA propaganda that depicted a one-dimensional figure, a dangerous killer, Fidel Castro’s right-hand man.
But Fitz does a great job of re-calibrating the machinery here, centering Che’s liberatory social health work, against the present day back-drop of post-Cold War Cuba’s breakthrough medical mutual aid in the midst of the AIDS crisis, and now COVID-19.
The figure of Doctor Che is almost too perfect, to have served in the most lasting, arguably most successful anti-capitalist revolution in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. But I suppose that’s why the man is a legend. My intuition is that there are plenty of teachers who have also acted in some respect as revolutionaries in their own times and places. But who has had the conviction to risk their own life, to abandon prospects of career and personal gain to lend what power they possess to a larger cause. I guess it is Che’s selflessness that I am most impressed by, and his ability to adapt to the conditions he saw in the world around him, whether as a medical student in a leper colony, or as a revolutionary fighter suddenly at the reigns of a new country’s financial system.
With the Japanese government finally undertaking more aggressive and widespread anti-COVID19 measures since the end of April, I have had a lot more time with the kids and a lot less time to read history of education journal articles like this one. However, in other recent news, I have learned that I will be teaching (or at least assistant teaching) an undergraduate class at UW in the fall. The class is a long-running elective for teaching licensure candidates called, “The Purpose of Public Education in a Democracy.” To be honest, I am thrilled to have been given this opportunity. To be teaching at a university is literally a dream come true. So, I have been all kinds of motivated suddenly in the past few days to do every little thing I can to make sure I will be the best graduate student teacher I can be come this September. All of this, of course, God willing, and I can make my way back to North America without succumbing to the current plague.
So, with all of that as a backdrop, I dug back in this week to some of the articles I had saved from the HEQ 50th anniversary retrospective, and found an earlier one– this piece by Michael Katz, who was the president of the History of Education Society in 1976. This piece about the origins of public education in North America, based largely on Katz’s own research in an industrial community in Ontario, Canada, gives a sweeping if perhaps over-general assessment of the field of History of Education with a focus on one of the major problems in the field at that time: how public education became an institution in North America. This seems like a particularly relevant article given the work assignment I just received this past week, teaching about the purpose of public education. As I read this piece, I kept wondering about the relationship between historical evidence for the ontological emergence of public education as an institution, and the normative or teleological roots of the institution. Is the class I’m going to be teaching more rooted in one or the other of these questions? And is the history of education as a field more concerned with one or the other, if not some third option?
Admittedly, I have little sense of how this question of the emergence of public education has developed, or to what degree it has been “settled” or perhaps continues to be revised in the field of history of education. But reading Katz, I have begun to get a clearer sense of the directions in which the field developed, what questions were central to its early contributors, and where my future research might fit in, interrupt, stand up and clear its throat. For instance, the first piece of history of education I read consciously as such was Duberman’s social history of Black Mountain College, which became central to my own M.Ed. research on Dewey’s influence there. But Duberman, who was writing around the publication of Katz’s HEQ presidency was responding to Cremin’s The Transformation of the School (1961), which Katz also recognizes as a starting point (with Paul H. Buck, et al. 1957; and Bernard Bailyn, 1960) for his work. Likewise, I see echos of Katz claims about the “feminization” of the teaching profession in my advisor, Nancy Beadie’s earlier work.
I think I’ll just leave this “review” there for now. I need to return to childcare duties. So, the content of Katz’s analysis will have to wait. But these “big-picture” concerns are just as exciting. I look forward to being able to formulate an even more detailed history of the field as I begin preparing to teach this survey course in the fall.
Micro-Review: American Socialist Pedagogy and Experimentation in the Progressive Era: The Socialist Sunday School, by Kenneth Teitelbaum and William J. Reese. History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Winter, 1983), pp. 429-454.
This was another piece identified in the HEQ 50-Year Retrospective. This piece jumped out at me, not because of any familiarity I had with the authors, but with the specific subject matter it dealt with—Socialism in American Schools. In this case, this sweeping overview of a segment of the socialist movement in the United States (and the U.K.) outlines the foundation of and development of curriculum, as well as the impact of these relatively informal, small, niche institutions had on the culture of the United States in the opening decades of the 20th Century.
I suspect that there exists a much longer, more detailed book by Mr. Teitelbaum and Reese on this topic, but this essay provided an excellent taste. This is much closer to the sort of history I envision myself writing, but with a stronger reliance on individual teacher data—a diary, or set of letters relating to the actual conditions “on the ground” so to speak at school. But the way this essay foregrounds individual texts like excerpts from the Socialist Sunday School Songbook, against broader demographic data—numbers of schools, student enrollment figures, and the economic and government structures underlying the foundation of these schools is very much in line with the type of writing I’d like to do for my dissertation.
Ultimately, Teitelbaum and Reese are able to make a much broader claim about the influence of Socialist Sunday Schools by locating them in the broader cultural milieu of the time—figures like the progressive public intellectual and educationalist John Dewey, as well as Eden and Cedar Paul, who are new figures to me, but who seem to have been doing their part to agitate for communist education in the English-speaking world of the inter-war period. Reese and Teitelbaum’s most powerfully resonant claim in the present day is that socialist education in the United States in the first half of the 20th century were something of a “counter-hegemony” in a “war of position,” as described by the Italian anarchist thinker, Antonio Gramasci in his Prison Notebooks.
The 74 Million is an independent news blog dedicated to the 74 million primary and secondary students in the United States. A lot of their coverage tends to be skewed towards rhetoric around “school choice,” and so I’m a little bit skeptical. But there also seems to be a strong racial justice core to their reporting. The most interesting and useful coverage I’ve seen have been Union Reports like this one, which shed light on the connections between teachers unions (NEA, AFT) and shady groups like Democratic Super- PACs and the so-called “State Engagement Fund” described below.
I guess, what is so disappointing about characterizations of America’s largest Teachers Unions in purely vehicles for cashflow (not that this isn’t an accurate portrayal, because I think it is) but it ignores the humanity of the teachers these organizations purport to represent. I don’t think the problem is with unions as such, but certainly the way the AFT and NEA seem to be operating at the highest levels is gross and tends to feed into the stories we have been told for generations about unions’ corruption, mob connections, racism, sexism and so on. Do teachers need to remake their unions and union culture before they can remake their schools, communities and society?
Mike Antonucci’s Union Report appears most Wednesdays; see the full archive. The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are known as labor unions, advocates for teachers and public school employees, and political powerhouses. But they also are grantmaking institutions. During the 2018-19 school year, the two national teachers unions directly donated $43.1 million […]
Dream Action Oklahoma (affiliated with United We Dream, the nation’s largest immigration youth-led network) is organizing a coalition of groups in Oklahoma for a large peaceful protest at Fort Sill on Saturday, July 20, 2019. This past March, Tsuru for Solidarity, a direct action, nonviolent project of allied organizations within the Japanese American community, gathered in Crystal City, Oklahoma in collaboration with pilgrims from allied national organizations and networks. Crystal City, a former WWII internment camp in Texas, housed over 2,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. The gathering was to protest conditions at the nearby South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. 30,000 tsuru(origami cranes) were strung on the fences surrounding the detention center to demonstrate solidarity with those detained, including unaccompanied children separated from their families. Last month, the Dept. of Health and Human Services announced that up to 1,400 unaccompanied migrant children would be transferred from Texas to Fort Sill, Oklahoma—another former WWII internment camp that held 700 persons of Japanese ancestry, including 90 Buddhist priests. Tsuru for Solidarity has been invited to participate and a Buddhist memorial service will be part of the day’s events. Fort Sill, a military site, is a historic concentration camp that was used to imprison indigenous people forcibly removed from their lands. It is a place where native children were forcibly taken from their families and placed in re-education schools. It is a site where over 700 American men from the Japanese American community, including 90 Buddhist monks, were imprisoned during WWII. Concentration camps are used to indefinitely detain minority groups in violation of human and civil rights and without due process. Fort Sill is being prepared to once again become a concentration camp. Concentration camps are now being used across the U.S. on a scale not seen since the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. It’s time for us to reclaim our moral center and our human commitment to one another. We are interconnected. What happens to one of us affects all of us. Speak out, show up, and get involved. Please join us in this movement.
Pro-Beijing officials say a course that teaches critical thinking has created a generation of rebels. Students and teachers say it has made them more engaged with society.
I am just beginning to dive in to some of the details of this ongoing series of actions in Hong Kong. But I am excited to have been able to use a bilingual interview with an activist (Agnes Chow Ting) spokesperson for the “Scholarism” group in Hong Kong for one of my English expression classes. Scholarism eventually merged into the Demosisto group which is I believe at the center of the current actions. It was a bit of a sensitive issue in class because there is one student who is Chinese in that class and I wasn’t sure how she would react. Japanese media (and as a result, my students) tend to focus on the unrest as a means to criticize the Chinese government in a kind of superior jingoistic fashion. And my Chinese student has often But I think I made it clear that the reason why I brought this text into the class was out of respect for the Chinese student activists and their connecting politics with their education in a meaningful and powerful way.
Exactly what is the connection between education and radical politics in this situation is still something I want to investigate. Obviously the connection that this NYTimes headline suggests of a 1-to-1 process of “radicalization,” doesn’t ring true because it ignores the underlying contexts of that education as it takes place. Anyway, more soon…
Densho is a great organization engaged in archival work and political activism around the World War II Era Japanese-American concentration camps in the Western United States. It’s based out of Seattle, where they have frequent events. I look forward to learning more about this important organization and hopefully even using some of their archival materials on a future history of education project.
Another Japanese incarceration lead that I just became aware of is this novel, No No Boy by John Okada (Charles E. Tuttle, 1957). Unfortunately I had to find out about this in a NYTimes article this week describing a copyright dispute between the Okada family and Penguin Books, who apparently treated it as part of the public domain when they published the latest edition (pictured below).
Densho also has a great article outlining the story of this book and its publication here.
I was working on this website beginning around the beginning of my first semester at UBC. In particular, the quotations on the “about this site” page (linked above) are a good representation of the various voices in EDucational STudies that resonated with my own voice at that time. Here again, you can see an evolution.
The purpose of this site has always been to be a of part of the public at the margins, less obviously dominated by capital interests. Naturally, it takes time to maintain a blog. There are long stretches when I was exclusively posting NYTimes headlines that I thought were important to remember at the time. Looking back at some of those blog posts, you notice the arc of my political interests. I’ll link to a representative sample here:
In surveys Mason City residents rank water sports (swimming, boating, and fishing) among their favorite recreational activities. The Mason River flowing through the city is rarely used for these pursuits, however, and the city park department devotes little of its budget to maintaining riverside recreational facilities. For years there have been complaints from residents about the quality of the river’s water and the river’s smell. In response, the state has recently announced plans to clean up Mason River. Use of the river for water sports is, therefore, sure to increase. The city government should for that reason devote more money in this year’s budget to riverside recreational facilities.
Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.
Mason City Government needs to proceed with a bit more caution as interest in Mason River recreational activity ramps up. Despite the stated facts—the burgeoning popularity of water sports among Mason residents, the complaints about water quality including odor, and the State’s plans to clean up the river. There is still a lot riding on assumption as opposed to fact, data or indeed the reality of the situation in Mason City. As the city government plans to earmark more funding this fiscal year to riverside recreational facilities the following three points ought to be considered for their potential effects on the outcomes of such expenditures. First and foremost, is the Mason River going to be a viable site for marine recreational activities? Second, given the viability of such facilities, would Mason River recreational infrastructure be economically sustainable and competitive with regional waterfront facilities that are already proven more popular among locals? And finally, is opening the riverfront up to water sports really the best use of this valuable city resource? Only after these underlying assumptions have been thoroughly investigated, should Mason City government proceed with their laudable if perhaps overly-ambitious commitment of funding to this development effort.
Likely the most significant assumption being made ahead of the city’s investment in riverfront recreational infrastructure has to do with the safety of the riverfront in general. What is known is the history of pollution in the river. This history will not soon be forgotten in the community. And so, the city ought to take a long, hard look at the reality of clean-up measures, as well as advertising and public-relations campaigns that might be necessary to convince locals that that stinky eyesore in their backyards is the next vacation hotspot. Only after a more detailed development plan is mapped out can, the nitty-gritty of the budget for such a project be comprehended with clarity. And the last thing the city needs is to get involved in such an ill-begotten project only to have some poor child be poisoned or otherwise put in danger from exposure to a half-baked tourism boosting scheme.
After safety has been fully contemplated, the actual useage of the riverfront ought to be next under the microscope. As popular as water sports are apparently among the denizens of Mason City, there may well be other sectors with interests in this valuable property. Indeed city tourism may be better served by developing the riverfront as an upscale commercial property rather than a beer-soaked weekend waterhole. Or else, the industries which have up to this point been using the river for waste disposal may indeed have some economic stake in keeping marine sports out. The city is assuming that marine recreation is the best choice for riverside development, which just may not be the case.
Finally, can Mason River really be expected to compete with other facilities in the region, which are already so popular among the locals? This needs to be demonstrated before any development project can reasonably be expected to move forward.
Once these three major underlying assumptions have had the proper exposure to the light of day, with community input and appropriate data gathering and analysis, then and only then may the Mason City government be able to move proceed on its commitment of more funds to developing the waterfront for recreational purposes.
Wanted to cram one more 30 minute one of these in before bedtime, since tomorrow I have the children all day, and I won’t likely have time to commit to it then. (Parenting humble-brag? Yuck!) Obviously needed to devote a bit more time to re-reading/ double-checking. I caught a few mistakes on my read through after the timer went off. Booo! Hiss! Possibly a function of it being after 1am when I finished this. Then again, this light exhaustion/ heavy caffeine state is probably a good simulation of test day state of mind.