April 6, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. I didn’t share one last week, because I was still in processing-mode. I think a lot of us have been during this pandemic. I shut off my personal Facebook for a greater sense of calm; and then Friday, I deactivated Twitter, too. (This upcoming week is Semana Santa, which means my online teaching schedule drops away, and my novel-writing time surges. Fingers crossed I can finally finish the first draft of book two!) Before I… Read more

March 23, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. Colombia is about to undergo two weeks of mandatory lockdown, from March 24 to April 13, to protect against COVID-19 dissemination. We’ve already been in voluntary social-distancing for two weeks, but the hoarding behaviours didn’t really kick in until Tuesday, when hard-discount stores and major supermarkets alike had to implement changes in how people could access the stores and what they could buy. Medellín has also been under curfew since Friday, and citizens in their… Read more

March 16, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. Teaching requires great emotional dexterity whether it’s in Colombia or Canada, among children or adults. When you teach more discussion-friendly material–such as literature, ELL, social studies, and political science–you will run into moments when students disclose extreme events in their lives. (If that happens in math or physics classes, too, apologies for the exclusionary language!) For me in Colombia, I have quite a few students who speak as a matter of course about losing family… Read more

March 8, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. This is a distillation of the first conversation I often have with people when they find out I write and publish science fiction: “Oh, cool! I love science fiction!” To which I say, “Oh, cool! What sort of authors do you like?” To which they pause and say, “Do you know… Asimov?” And I smile. “Yes, Asimov is one of the Golden-Age majors, along with Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, and about a dozen more. Some of… Read more

March 1, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. This one’s part-personal-update, part-lesson (I hope) about how some of our best work as humanists will come from listening to others, and from availing ourselves to the possibility that many things we take for granted are not givens for everyone else. This is especially important, I’d argue, when it comes to establishing a sense of moral conduct in the secular world. Is what we’re suggesting should be “common sense” really universally applicable? Or are there… Read more

February 23, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. These last few months I’ve been interrogating a lot of my most deeply held beliefs, by which I mean beliefs that are so much a part of me I often forget they are beliefs: perceptions of the world as operating one way, that is, when I could be perceiving it in another. I explored a few of them in a recent essay, “Beyond the Biological: Why Humanists Must Be Leery of Inner Drive.” There, I discussed how something… Read more

February 16, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. Back when I was precocious twit–a kid in grade three who’d already been skipped a grade, went to one-day-a-week gifted a year earlier than the programmes usually began, and took math class with the grade sixes (who then beat and bullied said kid at recess: not that the older kids in gifted were any better)–I read a story in Jack & Jill magazine about a teacher illustrating prejudice by creating an arbitrary divide in the… Read more

February 9, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. I have a cautionary reaction to sudden, increased attention that I wonder if any of you share. In January, within my writing community, I gained an overnight surge in social-media followers, because I was observing the need for measured response to a tense issue at just the right time in the discourse. And because I have no inner gender identity (one form of “nonbinary” in the parlance of the era), when I call for measured… Read more

February 2, 2020

Let’s begin with a story. It’s the one where everything’s going wrong: zoonosis has triggered a massive viral outbreak, and associated spike in racism; Brexit has gone into effect, emboldening further racists; democratic checks-and-balances are being denied in plain view in the U.S. political system; citizen monitoring and related forms of state control are on the rise in genocide-perpetuating China; the consequences of climate change are being felt the world over in extreme natural events and increasing refugeeism; populist presidents… Read more

January 19, 2020

Let’s begin with a game. Quick! What do all of the following have in common: A person stands in a packed, ill-lit theatre and screams “He’s got a gun!” Your boss comes in, and tells you, “You’re fired.” Your life partner announces “I don’t love you anymore, and quite frankly I never did.” You’re starting your time on a jury for a violent crime, and a fellow juror says to you, “Oh, the defendant is black? Well, this’ll be a… Read more

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