A Teacher's Writes

One teacher's thoughts on life, literature, and learning

A bit of why I enjoy writing for a little magazine

The Curator hopes to embrace how little magazines tend to treat their writers. Little magazines aren’t just an experimental playground removed from the larger culture, but can operate as a writerly gym, a place to train a writer’s artistic and critical muscles. As Michael Anania, former editor of Audit/Poetry and director of the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, has said:

“Little magazines have always functioned primarily for writers. Readers are desirable, sometimes even actively sought out, but the impulse behind most magazines is the writer-editor’s conviction that there are writers who are not being served by existing publications. At their best, little magazines draw together groups of writers and, however marginally, find them an audience.[5]

Being small, The Curator can care about its writers, serve them, stretch them, train them, receive gifts from them—provide a community to work on how you work with words. Every little magazine hopes to publish the best of what it can, but small magazines like us have the capacity to say: Give us your poor, your tired, your hungry, your zombie-ish words. Let’s work on them. Let’s see if they can be resurrected.

Adam Joyce, at The Curator

“My Kid Has a Shot at the Pros” say 26 percent of American parents

According to a recent poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 26 percent of U.S. parents whose children in high school play sports hope their child will become a professional athlete one day. Among families with household incomes of less than $50,000 annually, the number is 39 percent.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, only a tiny percentage of high school athletes actually go on to play professionally — roughly 1 in 168 high school baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball team, and just 1 in 2,451 men’s high school basketball players will get drafted by a National Basketball Association team.

“It’s extremely difficult to make the pros; we all know that,” says Tom Farrey, the director of the Sports and Society Program at the Aspen Institute and author of Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children. Yet, in recent years, he has started to see a shift among the parents of kids playing youth sports. “The difference is that a lot of parents today see those odds and say, well, I’d better get started early with my kid.”

Anders Kelto, NPR

What if we contained the mission of our universities to education?

What if we contained the mission of our universities to education? The story behind the story of student debt inflation is the inflation of the university into an expanding behemoth of goods and services that have little to do with education and more to do with expectations of coddled comfort. Rather than being an institution centered on education, the university now aspires to be a total institution that meets every felt need. The campus is now a sprawling complex of fitness centers and cineplexes, food courts and gargantuan coliseums. Students aren’t taking out loans to pay for an education; they’re effectively borrowing money to pay exorbitant, short-lived taxes for the privilege of living in a scripted, cocooned city.

James K.A. Smith

Politics impact our perception of our neighbor

Politics do not (or at least should not) define us, but cultural values that are traditionally wrapped up in political movements impact our perception of our neighbor. If politicians and the pundits who support them regularly speak about immigrants as threats to our country or view poor minorities as drains on our economy, or if they mock Christian voters as backwards bigots and pro-life advocates as anti-woman, it shapes the way we envision one another. We grow skeptical of one another, hostile, and cynical. In a word, we become less neighborly.

Alan Noble at Christianity Today

Michael Gerson sums up the politics of the middle finger

The political philosophy of the middle finger — captured by Trump in all its vulgar, taunting, divisive glory — requires an ethical leap. It assumes that practices we know are wrong in our private lives — contempt, mockery, cruelty, prejudice — are somehow justified in our political lives. It requires us to embrace views and tactics that we would never teach our children — but do, in fact, teach them through an ethically degraded politics. Imagine your teenage son (or daughter, for that matter) calling a woman a “fat pig,” “dog ” or “disgusting. ” Imagine your child labeling someone he or she knows as a “loser,” “moron” or “dummy.”
This is the evidence of poor character, in any context. For Christians, the price of entry to the Trump movement is to abandon their commitments to kindness and love of neighbor. Which would mean that their faith has no public consequence at all.

Michael Gerson at The Washington Post

If Trump were President, I’d wish our checks were more balanced

The presidency of the United States has been growing more powerful and less constrained by traditional norms with every passing administration. One need not pass judgment on individual presidents and their policies to recognize this trend, and to expect it to continue regardless of which party wins in 2016. In that context, a successful man-on-horseback candidacy, in which a president is elected on whose selling point is that he refuses to bow to convention or restraint, is precisely the kind of thing that could expose some of the underlying perils inherent in our system, and accelerate America’s march toward either Caesarism or crisis.

– Ross Douthat, “Why I Can’t Learn to Love Donald Trump.

Mark Noll on taxation and how what I earn is partly “ours”

The U.S. needs to base its income tax policy on broad views of justice and equity–that is, it needs sharply progressive income taxes. The ability to create wealth does depend on personal initiative, personal intelligence, personal work and personal luck. It depends also on a social infrastructure that allows initiative, intelligence, hard work and luck to result in the creation of wealth. If you live in Bangladesh, Haiti, Zimbabwe or many places in Russia, your chances of becoming wealthy are scant, regardless of how smart you are, how hard you work or how much initiative you take.

It is a matter of justice that those who benefit most from the social infrastructure of the U.S.–from its traditions of liberty as well as its traditions of entrepreneurial creativity, its provisions for making business work as well as its culture of personal consumption–should pay the most to maintain that infrastructure. What I earn is in some real sense “mine,” but in another equally valid sense it is “ours,” since what “we” provide is the kind of political and social environment in which money can be made.

Mark Noll, in The Christian Century. “None of the above: why I won’t be voting for president.” 121.19 (Sept. 21, 2004): p8. From Expanded Academic ASAP.

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