Articles I’m Reading Now

Number One: Zac Bissonnette’s article from Huffington Post, “The Student Loan Train Wreck: Why the Default Rate Is Just the Beginning”. An analysis of the current state-of-affairs in student loans. This article brings up the very good point that despite the fact that an alarming percentage (20%!) of all loans in repayment since 1995 are in default,  that number doesn’t capture the people who have struggled to pay their loans, and stayed out of default,  by significantly altering their lifestyle/job/path.

“How many pursued careers that that weren’t passionate about in order to make their monthly payments? How many had to rely on their parents — whose own retirement situations are often dubious — for a bailout? How many had to put off marriage or having children? How many suffered from stress or anxiety as a result of the struggle to make their monthly payments? How many had to skip grad school in order to start making a dent in their debts? 20% tells us how many had their financial lives literally ruined by their debt. But it tells us nothing about how many sacrificed their lives to pay their debt, and that’s the real tragedy of a nation that decided, in the span of a few years, that it makes sense to send 21 year olds out into the world with 5- and even 6-figure debt loads.”

Andy and I have both made some big financial decisions based on our monthly payments for our loans. I believe the loans were worth the education. But it is a hard burden to bear as a young adult hoping to save for retirement/travels/house. We’re looking at an apartment tonight that seems to have all the right features, but is most likely out of our price range because 25% of our income every month goes toward student loans.

Number Two: An essay in the New York Times by Pamela Paul called “The Kids’ Books Are All Right”

about the growing trend of adults reading YA fiction. As some of the best books I’ve read recently have been considered “YA”, I loved reading this article and finally hearing someone vocalize exactly what I’ve been wondering, “Is any other adult reading this stuff?” In fact, they are. As a big Hunger Games fan, I loved this paragraph:

“But I am not embarrassed by my, shall we say, immature taste in literature. And I wasn’t much concerned when, barreling through ‘The Hunger Games’ at the hospital after giving birth to my third child, I hardly noticed whether he ate or slept. When will the rebellion begin, I wanted to know. Which suitor will Katniss choose? Nor am I alone. According to David Levithan, editorial director at Scholastic, Collins’s publisher, roughly half of the ‘Hunger Games’ fans on Facebook are full-fledged adults. ‘The Harry Potter generation has grown up,’ he told me.”

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Teaching

There is no doubt in my mind that becoming a teacher is one of the best ways to make an impact on a community. After spending time in schools in Ghana and teaching in Spain, I feel very adamant about the importance of equal access to the highest quality of education for every child.

However, my idealism is stranded on the other side of a ragged divide from the reality of education in the United States and especially education in the rest of the world. Because of my curiosity about that issue, I’ve read a number of articles discussing what even makes a good teacher. It’s a set of skills that is very hard to narrow into categories and it is intrinsically personal. “What makes a Good Teacher” published in The Atlantic is a great read.

Despite the mayhem of war, environmental disasters and all things violence or political plastered on the news, I am always encouraged when I can continue to read articles in mainstream media on the role of education in the US. Today, there’s a heated debate centered around Teach for America on the New York Time’s (NYT) website. I think it brings up a lot of the issues I thought about while working as an inexperienced teacher in exceedingly difficult schools in Spain. The NYT uses opinions from seven contributors as a jumping off point for the discussion that is populated by teachers, politicians and Teach for America volunteers alike. I really enjoyed reading it. Andy starts grad school next week to become a high school Spanish teacher so these types of discussions are particularly vibrant for me right now.