Clarify Your Bias

Brave Writer

It’s easy to identify bias in everyone else: that news show anchor, the brash radio host, your annoying neighbor, the uncle who won’t shut up at the holiday dinner…

Bias lives in all of us, however—even those of us who pride ourselves on being “objective.” What’s harder to detect is the invisible, silent influence bias has on how we think. The method for detecting bias isn’t more studying (you can always find books and articles to confirm your biases). Rather, bias is merely how your mind sorts information to affirm what you *hope will be true.*

A good example. When you read about homeschooling, don’t you begin hoping that whatever you read will validate that homeschooling is a trustworthy method of education? That “hope” is where your mind starts when it goes to read the article. If you read an article that’s against homeschooling, don’t you find yourself wanting to discredit what you read? You want homeschooling to be seen as effective so you hope that this negative article isn’t accurate or true.

Try this.

  • Go to any news site. Pick an article to read. Read the headline.
  • Now before you start reading, ask yourself, “What do I hope will be true?”

You aren’t asking what IS true. You aren’t asking if the writers are biased. You aren’t even trying to see if you agree or disagree with the writer.

Your task is to detect the little internal voice that is already telling you whether or not to trust this article, and what you hope to find (you may even hope to find that the writer is a loudmouth or that the information is wrong or that the research is flawed). If it’s a headline you like, you may hope to find more data to confirm what you want to be true!

Bias is the unconscious posture you take toward any information. It’s not possible to eliminate it. The best we can do is notice it—bring it to the surface so it can ride sidecar while you read an article, tweet, or Instagram caption. It’s also helpful to notice your bias when in conversation.

Ask: what do I hope she’ll say? What do I wish he wouldn’t say? 

The crux of bias is: What do I hope will be true?

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Plan Time to Do Nothing

Plan Time to Do Nothing

In all your planning, plan space without plans; plan time without agenda.

Sometimes the temptation to wash away last year’s regrets is strong. We overcome the feeling of not living up to our own ideals by planning a slew of new ideals for the next year. Somehow the act of imagining a better future eases any feeling of lack from the past one.

Yet what if this past year was fine?

  • What if you accomplished exactly what you could and it was exactly enough?
  • What if you looked back and took it in: we survived a pandemic AND we learned and grew?

Maybe last year is a blueprint for the future, not a memory of what not to do again.

What if you looked at last year and decided to do even less in the coming year?

What if you gave yourself permission to go at the pace of human beings, not schools?

In ALL your planning, plan time to do nothing.

Plan time for wondering and wandering.

Include space to be.

We’re driven by performance metrics. We measure ourselves against a spreadsheet of productivity and completed tasks. We forget that the deeper work of caring to learn can’t be quantified. Caring gets you all the way there.

Instead of planning tasks on calendars, ask this question:

What kind of plan promotes caring to learn?

This year, even as you plan, take human beings at a human pace into account. Get to know each of your kids as people, not students. Uncover lessons learned, rather than teaching objectives.

In all your planning, promote caring.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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Mechanics & Literature: October 2021

Brave Writer

Friendship is the tie that binds October’s Dart, Arrow, and Boomerang.

Dig deep into the writing, mechanics, and literary devices that make stories sparkle. And watch friendships transformed by empathy and compassion as our protagonists navigate extreme circumstances, illness, and personality differences.

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Brave Writer Dart

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake

Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship, from Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake with full-color and black-and-white illustrations throughout by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.
No one wants a skunk.
They are unwelcome on front stoops. They should not linger in Important Rock Rooms. Skunks should never, ever be allowed to move in. But Skunk is Badger’s new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it.
When Skunk plows into Badger’s life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens? ~Amazon

Purchase the book.

Get the Dart.

Brave Writer Arrow

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately, life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that—but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past? ~Amazon

Purchase the book.

Get the Arrow.

Brave Writer Boomerang

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

A refugee and child soldier challenge the rules of war in this coming-of-age novel set against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma.

Chiko isn’t a fighter by nature. He’s a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family’s home and bamboo fields. When Chiko is forced into the Burmese army and subsequently injured on a mission, the boys’ lives intersect. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion as both boys discover that everything is not as it seems. Mitali Perkins delivers a touching story about hopes, dreams, and the choices that define who we are. ~Amazon

Purchase the book.

Get the Boomerang.

Brave Writer

Friday Freewrite: Fit as a Fiddle

Friday Freewrite

Have you heard the phrase, “Fit as a fiddle”? It means you’re healthy. Imagine a fiddle is asked to explain how it stays in shape. What might it say?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide

Tailor-Made Education

Tailor-Made Education

Allow your homeschool to evolve, morph, grow (or shrink!). Be strong and courageous to stick up for your choices. Remember: individuals over systems.

You can’t get it right.

That’s the good news! Each time you notice that you want to tweak your homeschool, high five yourself for doing the real work of home education—

  • adapting,
  • morphing,
  • changing,
  • and growing.

There’s no arrival point.

Homeschooling is not a destination.

You’re creating a routine and set of practices that necessarily evolve because so do the people in your family. As your kids get older, they:

  • develop preferences,
  • get bored,
  • master one topic and need more support in another one,
  • and learn at different rates during different years.

Not only that, you get bored, you have other commitments that require attention, you learn more about homeschooling each year, and some subjects and levels are harder for you than others.

If anyone gives you guff, you can let it go. You’ve chosen tailor-made education, not institutional schooling. This is exactly how it’s supposed to work.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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