What Should Teachers Teach?

Educators are wringing their hands these days about how much students have “fallen behind” the past year. But students everywhere have learned a great deal the past year. What they’ve learned is far from the classic facts that they get tested on in English and math classes. Knowledge about the world is up. Way up. This may be the biggest teachable moment in any contemporary schoolteacher’s career.  Teachers: grab it! What might new syllabi look like?

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A Tale of Two [Unvaxed] Women

We needed to find a new plumber. I called around. The first business that seemed willing to clean our boiler and replace a problematic hose spigot had availability soon. Before settling on a date, I remembered to ask the woman answering the company’s phone–let’s call her, Mary–a non-plumbing question: Will

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What Anthropology Teaches Us about COVID-19, Part 4: A Conversation with Physician-Anthropologist, Dr. Bjørn Westgard

Recently, I checked in with Dr. Bjørn Westgard, to see how he was doing. Back in the ‘90s, Bjørn was enrolled in a wildly demanding, combined M.D./Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois, where I had the pleasure of serving as his academic advisor.  After completing his medical school coursework,

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What Anthropology Teaches Us about COVID-19, Part 3: A Few Thoughts about Culture, and What We Can Learn from Artists . . . and the Homeless

What is “culture”? Early generations of anthropologists offered all sorts of definitions. No matter what their specifics, the various definitions inevitably shared one feature: “culture” is identifiable. Above all, it encompasses a set of beliefs and behaviors that, together, are premised on an enduring set of values. Or something like

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What Anthropology Teaches Us about COVID-19, Part 1-Early Thoughts

Lesson 1: Like the ducks and brants my husband and I see congregating regularly by the dozens along the shore’s edge of Narraganssett Bay near our coastal home, we humans are a social species.  (Audobon’s description of the Brant: “Feeds in flocks at most times of year”), Whether indoors or

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