Hello and welcome to The Highlighter #100! This is a major milestone. For most of my life, I’ve been the slow-and-steady type. Instead of meeting goals quickly, they’ve developed over time. Run a marathon? Yes, it’s happened, but only after a year of running around the lake. Play the piano? Did that
Hello and welcome to The Highlighter #100! This is a major milestone. For most of my life, I’ve been the slow-and-steady type. Instead of meeting goals quickly, they’ve developed over time. Run a marathon? Yes, it’s happened, but only after a year of running around the lake. Play the piano? Did that for 10 years, and then played my first full-length recital. The Kindle Classroom Project? It’s almost six years old and just getting started. The Highlighter is very similar: I haven’t missed a week in more than a year, and it’s building, and though I still don’t quite know where it’s going, it’s a good thing regardless. Thank you for being loyal subscribers, for opening up and reading the digest week after week, and for following this endeavor on its way to becoming absolutely gigantic.
This week’s articles are eclectic — even more than usual. The first piece is an essay by an accomplished teacher, who argues that our country’s educational system will not improve until white people stop segregating themselves from public schools. The second piece is an alarming and unsettling account of Boko Haram’s kidnapping and brainwashing of four boys in Nigeria. Then there’s the photo break, after which please enjoy two engrossing pieces about things you likely know nothing about: the impending extinction of Florida oranges and the hurtful impact of Empty Nose Syndrome.
One last thing: The Highlighter is expanding and becoming a (very short, very listenable) podcast! Every week (or month, or however often it comes out), I’ll interview a loyal subscriber, and we’ll chat about their favorite article from that week’s edition. Please check out my 1-minute trailer. (Yes, it’s just me talking.) Let me know what you think and if you’d like to be on the show (which will be on iTunes soon).
Social studies teacher Nate Bowling, a 2016 national Teacher of the Year finalist, writes that too much attention in education reform goes to spats about charter schools and the Common Core. What we should be talking about, Mr. Bowling argues, is how white people segregate themselves from public schools. Where white people go, money goes, and good teachers go, and until that system changes, there will be no lasting improvement to the life chances of poor African American and Latino kids. Related: Check out Malcolm Gladwell’s 31-minute podcast about what you didn’t know about Brown v. Board of Education. It’s outstanding.
Boko Haram means, “Western education is sinful.” Before reading this harrowing article by Sarah A. Topol, I didn’t even know this basic fact. Ms. Topol tells the story of the abduction of Kolomi, Fannami, Mustapha, and Zanna — four boys from Baga, a fishing village in Nigeria. The boys get transferred to a Boko Haram training center, where they learn how to shoot guns, ingest drugs, hurl bombs, and go on operations. The only way to survive is to obey orders and to forget who you are. The details are graphic and disturbing.
There’s a bit of a fruit theme at The Highlighter (see #86 as an example). One of my money-making schemes is to open up an orange store — that is to say, a store that sells only oranges, preferably for high prices. (My plan is to harvest the oranges from the tree outside the house my mom grew up in.) This article gives me hope that I will succeed. Author Wyatt Williams is convincing in his suggestion that the worldwide supply of oranges will plummet after the Florida crop all dies off from disease. Even if you’re not interested in the orange business, you’ll like all the orange-related tidbits in this piece, including the fact that oranges are green.
Brett Helling had sinus surgery to improve his breathing, and instead of feeling better, he felt like he was drowning all the time. Like many people with Empty Nose Syndrome, Brett begged his doctor for help, to no avail. After all, his airway was clear, so what was the problem? It turns out that a small number of people who have turbinate reduction surgery end up with ENS, but most doctors associate the condition with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other mental health issues.
And that’s that! One hundred issues of The Highlighter are in the books. Here’s to one hundred more! While we’re cheering, let’s please welcome new subscriber Carol. Loyal subscribers, keep getting the word out there and encouraging curious readers to give this digest a try. Stay tuned for next week, when I reveal The Highlighter’s first contest and prize. (You’ll like it.) Until then, have a great week, and I’ll see you back here next Thursday at 9:10 am.