from the world's big
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
Comfort has won, and most formality is gone.
Benedictus, Benedicat, per Jesum Christum, Dominum Nostrum. Amen.
Please be seated. It's dinner time in St Paul's College, Sydney, where I'm dean and head of house at Graduate House.
Sometimes the best way to make changes is when you're in the middle of a challenging time.
- While no one knows the future, implementing lifestyle changes now can prepare you for returning to a post-coronavirus society.
- Boredom has long been a powerful catalyst for creativity and should not be viewed in the negative.
- Spending more time in the kitchen, walking, and being more thoughtful online can be practiced right now.
Creative Time Summit | Keynote Presentation: Rebecca Solnit<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="89509df197c02d2eff73af80309383b1"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/L9kWI2skHdw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><h3>Value service workers</h3><p>For years, I've done this: When in line and the person in front of me stares at or talks on their phone the entire time the cashier rings them up, I always ask upon reaching my turn, "How does it make you feel when a person ignores you to look at their phone?" Never once—and my anecdotal study has many dozens if not a hundred responses thus far—has someone replied, "I feel great." Answers range from "I'm used to it by now" to "It's like I'm not even a human being." </p><p>Grocery store (among other) workers aren't having a moment right now because they're heroes. The dictates of capitalism demand that they risk getting sick or don't get paid. We shouldn't appreciate service workers now; we should <em>always</em> appreciate them. The grief that retail workers usually receive is a sad reflection of a twisted social hierarchy. And to think, just weeks ago we endured gripes regarding the impossibility of a $15/hour minimum wage. As a society we need to seriously question the value we place on work, and make that value available to everyone. It starts by valuing those that care for you, regardless of your financial or career position.</p><h3>A return to the kitchen</h3><p>With eyes turned on <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/toilet-paper-is-a-giant-waste-of-resources" target="_blank">toilet paper</a> and hand sanitizer, as well as the <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/calorie-restriction" target="_self">sales surge</a> in pretzels, popcorn, Oreos, and other processed foods, there is good news on the food front: loads of people are <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/voraciously/wp/2020/03/24/people-are-baking-bread-like-crazy-and-now-were-running-out-of-flour-and-yeast/" target="_blank">baking their own bread</a>. I picked up this skill over a decade ago while living in Brooklyn and fell in love with the patience and diligence the process requires. Sure, the fact that flour and yeast are hard to procure is unfortunate. At the same time, it signals an important return to the kitchen. Americans outsource their cooking and food preparation too much as it is. </p><p>In the past week, my wife has experimented with Polish peasant food, pungent Isan soup, and scrumptious butter cookies. We both cook regularly, but given our normally hectic lives, that's usually limited to weekends. Yesterday, she made cultured butter from scratch, which then went into pancakes. (Fortunately, I'm <a href="https://www.derekberes.com/yoga/" target="_blank">live-streaming classes</a> to keep moving after all this home cooking.) I'll return to bread when I can secure flour, but in the meantime I'll be reopening my Hungarian cookbooks to revisit the dishes my grandmother made. </p><h3>Hit the books</h3><p>With Amazon taking up to a month to ship books and local bookstores and libraries closed, there are still plenty of opportunities for reading. (You probably binged "Tiger King" anyway.) Fortunately, ebooks are instantly downloadable. If you're in a financial squeeze, the <a href="https://archive.org/details/nationalemergencylibrary" target="_blank">National Emergency Library</a> has made over 1.4 million books available for free, and <a href="http://www.openculture.com/" target="_blank">Open Culture</a> is one of the best resources around for discovering open-source and public domain reading materials. </p><p>Reading <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/reading-rewires-your-brain-for-more-intelligence-and-empathy" target="_self">bestows numerous benefits</a>, including increasing your intelligence and levels of empathy. This pandemic has thrown many off-guard. Yet disease has long been part of our biological heritage. Humans have endured pandemics with much less up-to-date information. That said, this is the perfect time to study the history of medicine and evolutionary biology. A grasp of the past empowers you with the understanding of how to move through an uncomfortable present. Take advantage of this time to fill your brain with knowledge. </p>
A man reads his book on his window after partial curfew declaration within precautions against coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Tunisia's old city Al Madina al-Kadima on March 27, 2020.
Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images<h3>Back to the basics</h3><p>"Thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do," writes Rebecca Solnit in <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/0140286012?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">Wanderlust: A History of Walking</a>. "It's best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking." </p><p>Not that walking is nothing. In a sense, it's everything to us bipeds. Still, Solnit make an important point. The most startling revelation of this pandemic is seeing more people casually walking around on sidewalks than on the roads—and one of my cross streets is the perpetually-crowded Venice Blvd. Even the ubiquitous scooters are nowhere in sight. </p><p>We can't expect these practices to sustain at the current level when self-isolation is over. But maybe, just perhaps, more of us will remember the pleasure of walking. As Solnit implies, it is also a wonderful opportunity to work through those thousands of thoughts in your head. Time and space give you perspective. </p><h3>Come together</h3><p>I had, admittedly ignorantly, assumed that a pandemic was one issue that would cut through political polarization. Wow, <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/157044/republican-plot-save-rich" target="_blank">was I wrong</a>. As mentioned above, this virus transcends race, gender, and class. Yes, it's particularly dangerous for immunodeficient patients, of which there is a class component (due to food availability and exercises opportunities). Overall, no one wants this virus, and everyone can suffer—if not you personally, then a relative or loved one. </p><p>We need to unite and rally around levelheaded science. The growing number of conspiracy theories (5G; bioweapon manufacturing; Advil) potentially hurt others as well. This crisis is often compared to 9/11 where over the months that followed there was fear around New York City. But there was also an overwhelming sense of community. Though I am mostly inside these days, when I do go out for walks, I notice that same sense of "we're in this together." Subtle and simple: people making eye contact and saying hello. That is not the usual exchange in Los Angeles. </p><p>Reading, walking, cooking, appreciating the person ringing up your groceries, all practices that slow us down and bring us back to fundamentals. Humans are social animals, making this an especially difficult period, as we can't <em>touch</em> one another. But we can still effect each other, even if through these screens. On the other side of your posts, human eyes stare back. Keep that in mind the next time you sit down to write or share. People all over the world are suffering right now. We can all play a role in alleviating each other's distress.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a>. His next book is</em> "Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</p>
Hospitals are running out of critical face masks as civilians are panic-buying medical supplies en masse amidst the coronavirus global pandemic.
- Sales of medical masks are up by a whopping 319% as civilians hoard medical supplies to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak.
- The CDC and WHO are urging the public not to buy and wear the masks as some hospitals are now in danger of running out of critical respirator masks.
- At this point, coronavirus has infected at least 1,000 Americans and more than 115,800 people around the world.
The danger of hoarding supplies<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3MTc1NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Mzk1NTQ2N30.f9Ps6Xa3jdP6RRNC2rA3AspCafsG0PaGVx3_vVbuSTY/img.jpg?width=980" id="9947f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bf23625e8c803d10bf302a9618948881" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Chart showing coronavirus-related product sales" />
Photo: Statista / IBT<p>As cases of coronavirus climb daily, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/09/health/coronavirus-n95-face-masks.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimesscience" target="_blank"><em>The New York Times</em> reports</a> that several hospitals are in danger of running out of N95 masks, which are tighter and thicker than surgical masks. They are essential for protecting health care workers and controlling the epidemic, but some hospitals are claiming they have hardly more than a month's supply left and that restocking has proven difficult as supplies are being bought out en masse.</p><p>"We can't get any. Everything's back ordered," Dr. Marc Habert, a pediatrician in New York <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/09/health/coronavirus-n95-face-masks.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimesscience" target="_blank">explained to the <em>Times</em></a>. "I was on a phone call earlier with the local department of health and they basically said the state has supplies, but we need to show we tried to order from three separate places first."</p><p>Health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), are urging the public not to buy and wear the masks to decrease chances of getting infected by the coronavirus. </p>"Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!" <a href="https://twitter.com/Surgeon_General?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1233725785283932160&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F2020%2F02%2F29%2Fhealth%2Fface-masks-coronavirus-surgeon-general-trnd%2Findex.html" target="_blank">tweeted Dr. Jerome Adams</a>, the U.S. Surgeon General, on February 29. "They are NOT effective in preventing [the] general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"
A smarter way to prepare<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3MTc2My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTM2MjQ1NX0.te5Elz5ys5OD2OdRE9z2qxb2Mztp6_xFGDOMxk3UZNE/img.gif?width=980" id="8a095" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a7e9cb5ef205db26603baeedbc22d00e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
By Alexander Radtke
Source: FlowingData<p>So what can you do to protect yourself from the coronavirus outbreak? First, don't completely freak out and <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/03/who-is-getting-sick-and-how-sick-a-breakdown-of-coronavirus-risk-by-demographic-factors/" target="_blank">know if you are at risk</a>. Those who are <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html" target="_blank">at higher risk</a> for developing serious COVID-19 illness are older adults and people with severe underlying health conditions — for example, heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. Right now there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it, so the best thing you can do is take precautions against spreading the virus. </p><p>Here are the most effective ways that you can arm yourself against contracting and spreading the coronavirus, without contributing to hospital shortages of critical supplies, as outlined by the CDC: </p><ul><li>Avoid close contact with people who are sick. </li><li>Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds or longer. (Especially after sneezing, coughing, or being in a public place.) If it isn't possible, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. </li><li>Try to avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places such as elevator buttons, door handles, and handrails. If you do, wash your hands after. </li><li>Don't touch your face, eyes, and mouth. </li><li>Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated areas. </li><li>Don't shake or hold hands with others. </li><li>Cancel non-essential travel plans, including plane trips. </li><li>Clean and disinfect your home. </li></ul><p>If you do end up getting sick, stay home and call your doctor immediately. Most people will be able to recover from coronavirus at home – <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html" target="_blank">Here's a guide on how</a>. The CDC advises that you plan ahead and have medical supplies to treat the symptoms on hand, such as over-the-counter medicines and tissues, along with groceries and other household items so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.</p><p>For more information on the best ways to prepare for the coronavirus, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html" target="_blank">see the CDC's recommendations on its website</a>.</p>
With the realization that overdue charges disproportionately affect access for low-income readers, libraries are reconsidering the value of fees.
- The Chicago Public Library found that a third of their economically disadvantaged members had been denied borrowing privileges due to overdue books.
- Overdue fines account for a tiny fraction of library funding, so the ramifications of ending them are more social than financial.
- Though 92% of U.S. libraries still charge late fees, the number is shrinking.
The purpose and history of public libraries<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE5NDA3OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTg5NjcyM30.idbDE5QsU-0a6CuB8_4JH3IlfJy2cuXm1-PXVqO5tsg/img.jpg?width=980" id="da9d0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="38e8716e68bd4b592813725a62bebe29" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Boston Public Library
Image source: Mark Zhu/Shutterstock<p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Of all the human arts, that of writing, as it was one of the earliest invented, is also one of the most important. Perhaps it would be safe to pronounce it, without exception, the most useful and important. It is the great medium of communication between mind and mind, as respects different individuals, countries, and periods of time. We know from history that only those portions of the human family have made any considerable and permanent progress in civilization, which have possessed and used this great instrument of improvement." — First </em><a href="https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.31951000831516z&view=1up&seq=1" target="_blank"><em>trustees report</em></a><em>, Boston Public Library, 1854.</em></p><p>The <a href="https://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2236/how-did-public-libraries-get-started/" target="_blank">first public library</a> in the U.S. was the Boston Public library, and the quote immediately above laying out its purpose — as well as the quote in the previous section — were written in its report to library trustees as the library opened its doors to the general population in 1854.</p><p>Prior to this, libraries were mostly personal book collections, at best available only to an owner's family, friends, and associates.</p><p>Benjamin Franklin owned over 4,000 books, and in 1731 created the first subscription library, or "social library," as a means of exchanging books within Philadelphia's literary society. In 1762, William Rind in Annapolis, Maryland, opened the first circulation library, an innovation that saw print shops and bookstores renting out books. School libraries provided reading materials to their students.</p><p>In 1833, the first organization we might recognize as a public library was started in Peterborough, New Hampshire, as the result of an unexpected windfall. New Hampshire had raised tax money for a state college that never made it off the ground and had to find something education-related to do with the money — they disbursed it to towns around the state. Peterborough used its share for a library for its citizens. It was a well-received idea, and in 1849, the state became the first to enact a law empowering municipalities to raise tax money for libraries.</p><p>Just five years later the first truly public library opened in Boston.</p>
Chicago Public Library’s announcement<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE5NDA4MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Mjg5Nzc1Mn0.pIOoUgXMx2-R0Lvo8LzJK4t4p27kWx58WK4YrUc0X1E/img.jpg?width=980" id="49f8d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="274af2a3a54fe667ef1cb8e0617c463b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Mural on Chicago's South Side
Image source: Terence Faircloth/Flickr<p>Chicago Public Library Commissioner Andrea Telli told the <a href="https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/9/30/20890138/chicago-public-library-eliminate-late-fees-fines" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Sun-Times</em></a>, "I think our staff members are going to be practically jumping over their circulation desks to tell people that fines have been eliminated."</p><p>They'll also want to get word out to the 343,208 former patrons who've lost their library privileges to overdue fines. Data recently collected by the library reveals that one in three cardholders in the city's low-income South District is among that number. One in five of those is under 14, children who would benefit from access to the library's books. In more affluent areas, by contrast, just one in six cardholders has been penalized.</p><p>Eliminating the fines aims to return the library system to those most in need of it. Telli said, "We're removing one of the most important barriers."</p><p>Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who supports the change, said in a <a href="https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2019/september/EliminateLibraryLateFees.html?fbclid=IwAR0Sk3G4LDXFSHtFhkQxGjGXSIL3D3WGF2aWw8_R6lxrzI2qgCcqamUR6yo" target="_blank">statement</a>, "Like too many Chicagoans, I know what it is like to grow up in financially challenging circumstances and understand what it is like to be just one bill or one mistake away from crushing debt."</p><p>Chicago is not alone in finding late fees disproportionately affecting its less-monied cardholders. In San Francisco, whose own San Francisco Public Library got rid of late fees last month, 5% of members could no longer borrow, with the majority of them living in low-income communities, African-American communities, and areas with fewer college graduates. Each of those who'd lost library privileges, on average, owed about $24 in late fees.</p><p>Curtis Rogers of the Urban Libraries Council told <a href="https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/10/public-library-late-fees-chicago-san-francisco-equity-access/599194/" target="_blank">CityLab's</a> <a href="https://www.citylab.com/authors/linda-poon/" target="_blank">Linda Poon</a>, "Overdue fines are not distinguishing between people who are responsible and who are not. They're distinguishing between people who can and cannot use money to overcome a common oversight."</p>
Why bother charging late fees anyway?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjE5NDA4Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMTc1OTkxMn0.POcCL7iVBkqzzLg4mdDXEP0kS1yQLIlg7dsDwJEY0zw/img.jpg?width=980" id="7f34e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1240f6efbf284100505ba1b1bb6c7b69" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Thought Catalog/Unsplash<p>Libraries cost money. Books must be purchased, facilities paid for, and staff compensated. Nonetheless, late fees constitute just a tiny fraction of a library's budget. As a big library system, the Chicago Public Library collects nearly a million dollars each year through fines, but that represents less than 1% of their annual budget. Rogers says the impact of fees' elimination has proven negligible for other libraries, and may even save them money since personnel and time no longer need to be allocated to collecting them.</p><p>Some consider overdue fees a form of discipline that can reduce the number of books lost to people who never return them, though a 1983 study found that this <a href="https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdelib/removingbarrierstoaccess" target="_blank">isn't so</a> over time. And, in any event, says <a href="https://www.ted.com/talks/dawn_wacek_a_librarian_s_case_against_overdue_book_fines" target="_blank">Dawn Wacekof</a> of La Crosse Public Library in Wisconsin, "I don't think it's our task, or that it's mission-centric, any more than teaching people manners is. Our role is to provide access to information."</p>