Baya Voce is the host of “The Art of Connection”, a web series looking to experts from across the globe on how to the live your most fulfilled life. In this TEDx talk, Baya reveals a simple tool you can start using today to create more happiness, fulfillment, and connection.
Oliver got his report card last week. He didn’t care about it at all because he was given a certificate by his Grade 2 teacher that identified him as the class’s best #Comedian. Yes there was a hashtag on the award. I asked him who else received an award and he rattled off the girl who won “best behaved” and his friend Pablo who won a technology award. All of the kids won one.
I trolled him a bit and asked why he didn’t win the “best behaved” award. He stopped and stared at me and said, “You can’t be the best behaved one and be hilarious Dad. It doesn’t work that way.” He then walked away disgusted at me.
Wendy went out to Dollarama and bought him a $1 frame to put it in. We framed it up and he asked for it be hung above his bed. Today he asked if I wanted to grab a Coke and come upstairs and admire his award. He is so proud of it.
I love the idea. I have been told by two of his classmates what award they won and both were beaming. Basically all the teacher did was find some pre-made certificates online, download them, print them out on colored paper and then sign them. For his students, being recognized for what they are really good at (like making jokes all of the time) gave them all sorts of validation going into summer and Grade 3. I loved the idea and from what I saw, his students did even more.
He now wants to read joke books all summer. “Now that I am the funniest kid, I need to keep working on it.” Wonderful.
This job teaches you a lot. You learn whatever material stuff you have you should use it and share it. Share yourself. People die with nobody to talk to. They die and relatives come out of the woodwork. ‘He was my uncle. He was my cousin. Give me what he had.’ Gimme, gimme. Yet when he was alive they never visited, never knew the person. From working in this office, my life changed.
So I heard that John McGettigan was running for the Saskatchewan Party nomination in Saskatoon Stonebridge Dakota. Â I then found this speech from a couple of years ago he gave at a Teacherâ€™s Rally where he questioned the Brad Wall lead Saskatchewan Party governments intelligence, passion for education, and commitment to our children.
Now he wants to be a part of the same government he bashed from the front of the legislature. Â Itâ€™s been a long time since I have been involved in partisan politics but I donâ€™t think it works like that.
Of course it actually gets weirder with this odd campaign announcement on Facebook where he seems to think he is running to be a cabinet minister.
So if he isnâ€™t named to cabinet (and given the perks to the position) is he going to quit? Â Who makes those kinds of declarations (or doesnâ€™t at least take away his campaign managers computer) as they announce their nomination?
Okay, so the reason the Sask Party has â€œmessed upâ€ education is that they donâ€™t have the information needed to fix it? Â The bureaucrats, the meetings with the unions, the work with the Saskatchewan Teacherâ€™s Federation, meetings with John McGettigan himself â€¦ that isnâ€™t getting them the information they need? Â So only McGettigan himself once elected and presumably named as Minister of Education will then share this information on how to fix education in this province.
Itâ€™s so weird. Â It is like he is running to be education minister and that is it which even if you have no idea how the world works, you have to know our system doesnâ€™t work like that.
In case you are wondering if that is all. Â No. Â There was this statement by his campaign manager.
Again, this man needs to have his computer taken away from him. Â This may be the most disastrous start to any nomination campaign that I have ever seen.
The researchers also found a major influence on how much healthy food children ate: the cafeteria environment. Children were more likely to eat healthy foods when it was quieter in the cafeteria; when the food was cut up into smaller pieces like apple slices; when lunch periods were longer; and when teachers were eating lunch in the same cafeteria.
â€œWe saw a big jump in consumption if these factors were controlled, and they arenâ€™t expensive things to control for,â€ Gross said.
In 2007, the California attorney general filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, Everestâ€™s parent company. Californiaâ€™s complaint against Everest and Corinthian included a litany of allegations: falsified job placement statistics, aggressive and unethical sales practices, and a pattern of jobless graduates carrying mountains of debt.
But that case never went to trial: The lawsuit was immediately settled with no admission of wrongdoing on Corinthianâ€™s part. The company paid a $500,000 civil penalty and $4.3 million in restitution to students at campuses that had notched the worst violations. As of this year, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on background, $3.4 million of that money has been paid out to 6,000 eligible students, for a total of approximately $560 each.
Six years later, a new California attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, filed a new lawsuit against Corinthian that was, for the most part, indistinguishable from the first complaint, detailing the same violations, alleging that the company had materially broken every agreement made in the previous settlement. The recent federal lawsuit, and those in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, trace similar lines.
The Department of Education began its own investigation into Corinthian in January, requesting details on everything from the companyâ€™s job placement rates to financial aid practices. In June, it claimed Corinthian was taking too long to respond completely, and temporarily cut off the schoolâ€™s access to the federal financial aid money that made up almost 90% of its revenue. Corinthian was so short on cash that even the 21-day delay sent them into a financial tailspin, threatening bankruptcy; the DOE eventually agreed to release the funds, but only on the condition that Corinthian would sell off or close all of its campuses within six months. The final list included only 12 schools that would be shut down; Corinthian plans to sell the other 85, likely to a private equity firm or a for-profit competitor.
But the lawsuits, investigations, and even the Department of Educationâ€™s forced shutdown are unlikely to result in any real change for the vast majority of Everestâ€™s current and former students. One of the deep ironies of Corinthianâ€™s collapse is that there are, experts say, effectively too many victims for there to be any reasonable way to compensate them, or to actually shut down the dozens of Everest campuses. It would cost the government billions to forgive the outstanding debt of former students, and any attempt to shut down Corinthianâ€™s schools would displace 70,000 current ones.
The lawsuit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau seeks debt relief for students â€” but only on a tiny fraction of loans, those made directly by Corinthian, not the federal loans that make up the vast majority of studentsâ€™ debt. Lawsuits in California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts may provide some restitution to former students in those states, but like the 2007 settlement, would do little more than chip away at studentsâ€™ loan tallies.
Corinthian Collegeâ€™s impending demise will likely work against former students, said Pauline Abernathy, the vice president of policy organization The Institute for College Access and Success. â€œThe issue is, if [the government] were to win a lawsuit, where would the money come from to compensate students?â€ Abernathy said.
Itâ€™s all but impossible that any real money will come from Corinthian. Corinthian is so cash-strapped that it has been selling off assets â€” even equipment belonging to its chain of automotive schools â€” just to stay afloat until it finds a buyer for its campuses. It is extremely unlikely, experts agree, that any state would be able to recover a substantial settlement from the company.
â€œThe chances are slimâ€ that former students will ever see any kind of meaningful debt relief, said Maura Dundon, senior policy counsel at the advocacy group Center for Responsible Lending.
I have long said that Saskatoon could and needs to do winter better. Â Instead of complaining about it, we need to embrace it like Edmonton has done. Â With the arrival of winter today in Saskatoon, I decided to come up with a list of 30 awesome things to do in Saskatoon this winterÂ (actually it is 28 things, one awesome thing is in North Battleford and one in PANP). Â If you have any ideas, let me know on the page. Â Iâ€™ll add them all.
Mark starts high school tomorrow. Â He will wander out of here around 8:30 a.m. and is headed towards Bedford Road Collegiate where he will spend the next three and a half years of his life. Â He is talking about joining the Royal Canadian Navy after that so he can see the world before deciding on a career. Â We will see if the RCN has any floating ships left before he decides on his next step.
It was a hard decision for him to go to Bedford Road. Â He had wanted to go to E.D. Feehan High School but the lack of a football team doomed that decision. Â The lack of many sports made it exciting for him to go. Â He looked at Mount Royal and Marion M. Graham Collegiate and Bishop James Mahoney as well but the time on the bus was going to be significant. Â No one wants that long of commute just to go to high school.
The response from teachers and educators over him going to Bedford Road was tepid at best and downright hostile and discouraging at worse. Â Neighbors and friends had reservations. Â A friend of the families kid was robbed and then hit hard with a chain. Â Another kid was robbed at knife point. Â Saskatoon Public School Board teachers called the kids â€œroughâ€, â€œunteachableâ€, and talked of physical intimidation in the classroom. Â Two teachers told me they would resign rather than be appointed to Bedford. Â I donâ€™t know if that was just talk but there are some polarizing feelings about the school. Considering it wasnâ€™t a decision I was fond of in the first place (bad things always happened to me when I was in Bedford Road when I was a student) we really spent some time looking at our options and deciding what was best for Mark. Â
In defence of Bedford I was told of crime and thugs everywhere in the city. Â That may be true but according to Saskatoon Police Service crime maps, there is a propensity of violent and serious property crime in 2014 (and continuing throughout the spring) in Caswell Hill (and Mayfair). Â Assaults, robberies, drug related offences. Â It is all there and in a higher concentration then in other surrounding neighbourhoods in the city. Â Crime happens in the neighbourhood and the neighbourhoods where itâ€™s students come from.
At the end of the day, crime is bad in our neighbourhood which has not been fun for the boys (it was last summer they were accosted by a high prostitute at 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday) and of course 2013 was the summer of gunshots and prostitutes working our street (which has stopped thankfully).
So yeah there is a basis for teachers to be concerned, I am not sure why all of the negativity that goes around Bedford (well I do actually, I have disliked the school since my friends stereo was stolen and then the guy tried to resell it back to us which there for a basketball game) and from westside teachers in general about being in inner city schools. Â I have heard the complaints about the lack of fundraising from parents (I was foolish enough to think that taxes paid for my kids education) to school fees not being paid on time (We know of one kid that was picking bottles to pay for his school fees this year), to a lack of school supplies. Â I am not sure itâ€™s right to hate the kids for the environment that they come from.
I canâ€™t speak to the physical intimidation part. Â I am 6â€™4. Â I am not physically intimidated by much anymore yet Wendy who is a foot shorter doesnâ€™t feel a lot of fear in her workplace and it can and often is violent (shoplifters, drunks, drugs, mental health). Â Maybe there is a desensitization that happens that I am missing and that some donâ€™t have. Â Maybe they shouldnâ€™t be teaching on the westside and perhaps it is a flaw of the system that allows teachers to teach kids they donâ€™t like or fear.
I also think the city does it weird with allowing Mark to go to any school he wants. Â It creates a system where his friends who want to ride the bus or have parents that wish to drive them daily, can go to any high school in the city and creates a weird feeling for those that â€œhaveâ€ to go to their neighbourhood schools. Â In the case of E.D. Feehan, you have a school in a slow death spiral because why would you want to go to a school that has no amenities when you can go the new and cutting edge Bethlehem High School.
Finally, I think the school board has a morale problem when you have teachers speaking so poorly about Bedford Road and about the westside to parents and students. Â Those teachers are speaking about not just a school but their own colleagues and are prejudging students before the summer is over and the school year has begun.
Oddly enough the extremely poor teachers Mark has had previously makes it easier to disregard the advice about Bedford (he has had more good teachers than bad but he bad one was so bad I donâ€™t think he would have survived a second year). Â Despite the degree, some people arenâ€™t wired to teach some kids. Â Hopefully he finds teachers that are wired to teach, coach, and mentor and they out number the ones that donâ€™t want to be there.
Mark will do fine but the process leading up tomorrow left me with a bit of a sick feeling in my stomach.
We are becoming increasingly isolated, and Iâ€™m no exception. Just before I turned 25, my mother succumbed to cancer, and a year laterâ€”as I was mustering the courage to contact my estranged fatherâ€”he passed away too. I have no siblings, and after I left the East Coast and moved to Wyoming, I rarely saw my extended family.Â Â
Thatâ€™s not to say I was alone: I had plenty of friends, a caring significant other, and wonderful colleagues. I ran into acquaintances almost every time I went to the grocery store, and my work at the radio station had made me a minor celebrity in Wyoming. But making plans around other peopleâ€™s packed schedules was often a challenge. And as friends got married and had children, the delightful one-on-one conversations I used to share with themâ€”the kinds of conversations where you hash out lifeâ€™s challenges together and go home feeling lovedâ€”became rare.Â Â
It seemed reasonable to assume that trekking alone for 500 miles, in areas with no cell phone reception and few other hikers, might leave me lonelier than ever.Â Â
But loneliness and being alone are two different things. During the five weeks I spent on the trail, I felt less lonely than I have in years.
Stephen Harper really seems to have it out for sociology. In 2013, in response to an alleged plot against a VIA train, Harper remarked that we should not â€œcommit sociology,â€ but pursue an anti-crime approach. And last week, in response to the death of Tina Fontaine, Harper argued that an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women is not needed, because this is not a â€œ sociological phenomenon â€ but simply a series of individual crimes.
Of course, not only is all crime a sociological phenomenon , but also without a broader sociological analysis we canâ€™t begin to understand why the rates of missing and murdered indigenous women are tragically high compared to non-indigenous women. Furthermore, itâ€™s clear that if rates of violence against non-indigenous women climbed as high as those of indigenous women, this government (even with its woeful record on womenâ€™s issues) would be more likely to announce not only a public inquiry but a full-scale national strategy. (This double-standard in how we value human lives is what sociologists call â€œracism.â€)
Harperâ€™s two disparaging comments about sociology, however, also need to be understood alongside his gutting of the long-form census in 2010. It is widely accepted that this action fundamentally undermined Canadaâ€™s ability to understand its own demographics, long-term social trends, and inequalities â€” in short, its sociology.
So what does Harper have against sociology? First, Harper is clearly trumpeting a standard component of neo-liberal ideology: that there are no social phenomena, only individual incidents. (This ideology traces back to Margaret Thatcherâ€™s famous claim that â€œthere is no such thing as society.â€) Neo-liberalism paints all social problems as individual problems. The benefit of this for those who share Harperâ€™s agenda, of course, is that if there are no social problems or solutions, then there is little need for government. Individuals are solely responsible for the problems they face.
This ideology is so seductive not only because it radically simplifies our world, but also because it mirrors the two social institutions neo-liberals actually believe in â€” the â€œfreeâ€ market and law and order. Everything is reduced to either a simplistic market transaction or a criminal case. In the former, you either have the money to buy stuff, or you donâ€™t and itâ€™s up to you to get more. In the latter, a lone individual is personally responsible for a crime and is punished for it. Easy peasy. No sociology needed.
But thereâ€™s yet another reason this ideology is so hostile toward the kind of sociological analysis done by Statistics Canada, public inquiries and the like. And that has to do with the type of injustices we can even conceive of, or consider tackling, as a society.
You see, sociologists often differentiate between â€œpersonal injusticesâ€ and â€œsystemicâ€ or â€œstructural injustices.â€ Personal injustices can be traced back to concrete actions of particular individuals (perpetrators). These actions are often wilful, and have a relatively isolated victim.
Structural injustices, on the other hand, are produced by a social structure or system. They are often hard to trace back to the actions of specific individuals, are usually not explicitly intended by anyone, and have collective, rather than isolated, victims. Structural injustices are a result of the unintended actions of many individuals participating in a social system together, usually without knowing what each other is doing. Whereas personal injustices are traced back to the harmful actions (or inactions) of individuals, structural injustices are identified by differential societal outcomes among groups. Sociologists call these â€œsocial inequalities.â€
And therein lies the rub. Perhaps the key difference between personal and structural injustices is that the latter are only clearly identifiable through macro-level societal analysis â€” that is, sociology. This is because a) there are no clear perpetrators with whom to identify the injustice and assign responsibility; and b) while structural injustices do generate concrete harms and victims, we often only learn about the collective nature of the injustice through statistical inquiry, or by identifying social/demographic patterns over time.
What should be clear, then, is that Harperâ€™s seemingly bizarre vendetta against sociology is actually an ideological attempt to prevent Canadian society from being able to identify, and tackle, its structural injustices. Without large-scale sociological analyses, we canâ€™t recognize the pervasive, entrenched social inequalities that these analyses reveal. And because structural injustices are actually generated by our social systems, both their causes and solutions are social.
Long before the killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, which have brought with them countless images of heavily armored local authorities pointing guns at and firing tear gas and other nonlethal weapons at unarmed protesters, some were disturbed by what Washington Post journalist Radley Balko calls â€œthe rise of the warrior copâ€ â€” that is, the increasing tendency of some local police forces to rely on military-style gear and tactics, even in situations that appear devoid of any real threat to officersâ€™ safety.
The story of how this happened and the oftentimes tragic results have been well-told by Balko, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others. In short, thereâ€™s been a flood of drug-war and post-9/11 money that has helped outfit police departments, even towns where a single murder is an incredibly rare event, with gear that could help repel seasoned paramilitaries.
Whatâ€™s less clear is how this gear changes the psychological dynamics of policing and crowd control. Is it true, as many people are arguing online, that â€œWhen you have a hammer, everything looks like a nailâ€ â€” that is, that simply having military gear will make police more likely to act in an aggressive manner toward civilians? How does this change the relationship between police and civilians?
At the most specific level, these questions havenâ€™t been studied empirically. But a great deal of social-psychological research, as well as important anecdotal evidence from law-enforcement specialists themselves, suggests that militarized policing can greatly inflame situations that might otherwise end peacefully.
The so-called â€œweapons effectâ€ can partly explain whatâ€™s going on in Ferguson and elsewhere. The mere presence of weapons, in short, appears to prime more aggressive behavior. This has been shown in a variety of experiments in different lab and real-world settings.
â€œTheory underlying the weapons effect or similar kinds of phenomena would suggest that the more you fill the environment with stimuli that are associated with violence, the more likely violence is to occur,â€ said Bruce Bartholow, a University of Missouri social psychologist who has studied the weapons effect. Brad Bushman, a psychologist at Ohio State, agreed. â€œI would expect a bigger effect if you see military weapons than if you see normal weapons,â€ he said.
This isnâ€™t just about a link between visual stimuli like guns and violence, however. It also has to do with the roles people adopt, with how they respond to the presence of others who may â€” or may not â€” mean them harm. To a certain extent, if you dress and treat people like soldiers facing a deadly enemy, theyâ€™ll act like it.
â€œThis process isn’t necessarily good or bad, but depends on the extent to which the more militaristic role fits the situation,â€ said Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State, in an email. â€œWhen it doesn’t fit well, it is likely to lead to more judgment and behavior errors.â€ Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who has studied how police departments outfit themselves, said the dynamic could be particularly dangerous in the context of nonviolent protests like Ferguson (there was rioting and looting earlier this week, but there have also been widespread reports of nonviolent protests being broken up by police aggression).
â€œMilitary equipment is used against an enemy,â€ said Haberfeld. â€œSo if you give the same equipment to local police, by default you create an environment in which the public is perceived as an enemy.â€ On the other side of these confrontations, this could have a negative effect on protesters. â€œWe live in a democratic country, and we believe that this is our right to go out and exercise the right to [free speech],â€ she said. â€œAnd when you go out there and exercise that right and suddenly you are faced with soldiers â€” even though these are not soldiers, but police officers looking like soldiers â€” then something is triggered, definitely.â€
Bushman said that meeting nonviolent protests with a militarized response is â€œreally a bad idea. I canâ€™t believe theyâ€™re doing it.â€ â€œItâ€™s just really bad for the officers because they feel more powerful, more invincible, more militaristic, ready to attack,â€ he said. â€œAnd also, I think it elicits a response from the observers that, hey, this is war, and people become defensive and they have a fight/flight response.â€ The adoption of masks themselves in a militarized setting, on the part of police or protesters, can also contribute to violence by triggering senses of anonymity and what psychologists call deindividuation. “There’s all kinds of evidence in social psychology that that will lead people to do things that they wouldn’t do if they could be identified,” said Bartholow.
All this militarization, said Bartholow, can be contrasted â€œagainst the old kind of beat-cop model where people in the neighborhood know the police officersâ€™ name and heâ€™s kind of everybodyâ€™s buddy in a sense.â€
Once school is out for the summer, the opportunity for children to engage in educational activities of any kind decreases. Studies show that, on average, students lose about a monthâ€™s worth of instruction, as measured by standardized test scores. But not everyone is average and, as a 2011 RAND Corp. report finds, summer learning loss disproportionately affects poor students, who already begin school behind their more affluent classmates. Research shows that any high-quality summer program that keeps children engaged â€” whether that is a traditional camp, summer school or even frequent trips to the museum â€” can mitigate summer learning loss.
The problem is, not everyone can afford to send their kids to a fancy summer program. That means low-income children (exactly the children that could benefit most from such programs) cannot afford to participate. Meanwhile, in a world in which most children grow up in a household without a full-time caregiver, low-income parents not only struggle to find full-time care but also must divert large a large fraction of their limited salaries to pay for it.
Worst of all, this loss is cumulative, with serious consequences as the achievement gap widens every summer. Karl Alexander, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist, tracked 650 children in the Baltimore public schools, recording their scores on the California Achievement Test in June and again in September, after summer break had ended. Alexander found that the poorest kids â€œoutlearnâ€ their wealthier peers in terms of knowledge gained during the academic year, but during the summer months they fall further behind. In contrast, the wealthier children, aided by a home full of books, organized summer camps and â€œconcerted cultivationâ€-type parenting, continue to develop their skills.
â€œYou came, you shopped, you dressed nice â€“ you went to the mall. Thatâ€™s what people did,â€ says Lawless, a pseudonymous photographer who grew up in a suburb of nearby Cleveland. â€œIt was very consumer-driven and kind of had an ugly side, but there was something beautiful about it. There was something there.â€
Gazing down at the motionless escalators, dead plants and empty benches below, he adds: â€œItâ€™s still beautiful, though. Itâ€™s almost like ancient ruins.â€
Dying shopping malls are speckled across the United States, often in middle-class suburbs wrestling with socioeconomic shifts. Some, like Rolling Acres, have already succumbed. Estimates on the share that might close or be repurposed in coming decades range from 15 to 50%. Americans are returning downtown; online shopping is taking a 6% bite out of brick-and-mortar sales; and to many iPhone-clutching, city-dwelling and frequently jobless young people, the culture that spawned satire like Mallrats seems increasingly dated, even cartoonish.
According to longtime retail consultant Howard Davidowitz, numerous midmarket malls, many of them born during the countryâ€™s suburban explosion after the second world war, could very well share Rolling Acresâ€™ fate. â€œTheyâ€™re going, going, gone,â€ Davidowitz says. â€œTheyâ€™re trying to change; theyâ€™re trying to get different kinds of anchors, discount stores â€¦ [But] whatâ€™s going on is the customers donâ€™t have the fucking money. Thatâ€™s it. This isnâ€™t rocket science.â€
Of course it didnâ€™t help that they were built with no urban planning principles in mind.
For mid-century Americans, these gleaming marketplaces provided an almost utopian alternative to the urban commercial district, an artificial downtown with less crime and fewer vermin. As Joan Didion wrote in 1979, malls became â€œcities in which no one lives but everyone consumesâ€. Peppered throughout disconnected suburbs, they were a place to see and be seen, something shoppers have craved since the days of the Greek agora. And they quickly matured into a self-contained ecosystem, with their own species â€“ mall rats, mall cops, mall walkers â€“ and an annual feeding frenzy known as Black Friday.
â€œLocal governments had never dealt with this sort of development and were basically bamboozled [by developers],â€ Underhill says of the mall planning process. â€œIn contrast to Europe, where shopping malls are much more a product of public-private negotiation and funding, here in the US most were built under what I call â€˜cowboy conditionsâ€™.â€
Shopping centres in Europe might contain grocery stores or childcare centres, while those in Japan are often built around mass transit. But the suburban American variety is hard to get to and sells â€œapparel and gifts and damn little elseâ€, Underhill says.
Same thing in the largely empty Confederation Mall. Â The mall emptied out after rents skyrocketed in Saskatoon. Â What used to be disposable income is now needed for rent. Â In that way, malls are a reflection of the economic health of the surrounding communities.