Each month, I aim to share just three things I read, listened to, watched, or experienced recently that might be of use or interest to you too if you're a fellow culture-shaper, problem-solver, or change-maker. Here's the latest:
1. Podcasts: Raising Kings, A Year Of Love And Struggle At Ron Brown College Prep (Collaboration between NPR and Education Week).
Code Switch is an NPR podcast created by a team of journalists who explain the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, and how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting. In October and November, they have been airing a 4-part series based on a full year of reporting on Ron Brown College Prepatory High School in Washington, DC. The school opened in August 2016, and during its first year, reporters Cory Turner and Kavitha Cardoza followed its teachers, staff and class of roughly 100 young men, all of whom are freshmen and students of color, half of whom come from families who qualify for food stamps. Three things that make the school’s approach unique: 1) virtually all the teachers are male, and men of color; 2) there is a dedicated group of staff called the care team which include a psychologist, social worker and several counselors, who keep the students on track emotionally and academically; 3) the school does everything in its power to avoid suspensions of students, opting instead to use a restorative justice model where students have to sit down with the Care Team and people they’ve wronged to figure out how to repair the harm they’ve caused.
This series is very well-done, and explores a wide range of issues related to education and beyond. While it focuses on individual stories of both students and teachers, as well as the whole school, it also explores some of the challenges of systems. I’d also recommend listening to the fourth episode which is a q&a with the reporters that brings up some really important points that weren’t covered in the story, particularly about the intersection of race and gender.
Listen here (listed in the order they aired)
- A Year of Love and Struggle in a New High School
- ‘They Can’t Just Be Average,’ Lifting Students Up Without Lowering the Bar
- To Fail or Not to Fail: The Fierce Debate Over High Standards
- Reflections on a Year at Ron Brown High
2. ARTICLE: We Shouldn’t Always Need a “Business Case” to Do the Right Thing Harvard Business Review, September 19, 2017
I highly recommend this piece by Alison Taylor because having worked in and with cross-sector collaborations for a lot of my life, I’ve always felt that when I’m asked for the “business case” that it’s a bit of work avoidance. Most complex social, economic, and environmental problems are the result of policy and flows of capital, so why is there an assumption that there is a good business case (particularly short term) to fix it.
Taylor gets this, and my highlight from her piece is this: "While there is a business case for integrity, an organization that embraces it must make a conscious decision to prioritize the long term, the intangible, and the existential over the specific and measurable. A growing body of evidence shows that ethical companies outperform financially over time, but trying to translate such a broad finding into the short-term planning metrics used by most businesses is perilous."
3. ARTICLE: Sex, Power, and the Systems That Enable Men Like Harvey Weinstein, Harvard Business Review, October 13, 2017
Over the last six weeks, it would have been hard to miss the NY Times and New Yorker pieces, which made public Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual harassment and assault of women. And it’s empowered a number of other survivors of harassment and assault to speak out, including about other high profile men in politics and entertainment and academia as well as other industries.
There have been a lot of think pieces on Harvey Weinstein, his behavior, and the fall out since early October, but I was surprised that one of the pieces I found most interesting and insightful came from the Harvard Business Review. The piece is by Dacher Keltner, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who’s work focuses on the social psychology of power. In just ~950 words he uses Weinstein’s scandal to elucidate decades of research, noting that people in positions of power are prone to empathy deficits towards those they have power over, and behave more impulsively or unethically; that men in power in male-dominated environments overestimate women’s sexual interest in them and sexualize the workplace; and that in these types of coercive power structures, the powerful perpetuate myths to sustain the status quo and diminish criticism.
Please let me know what you think of Just Three Things, the resources featured in it and if you spot other resources that might be good to feature in the future. Leave a comment, or get in touch using any of the following: