Scott Williams

Praise for teachers: When our oldest son Scott was in the second grade, I attended a Parent’s Day class at Fairview Elementary in Normal, Illinois. I clearly remember my first thought was — this is chaos!! I also remember thinking—I could never teach elementary school children.

After a few minutes, I began to realize and appreciate — the teacher was a genius. Within the noise, activity and what I perceived as chaos, she knew what was going on and was in control. The children were happy and learning.  

I still thought to myself – I could never do this. She has a gift I do not have.

I had a long career in teaching but under very different circumstances. Never once did I think being a university teacher made me better than elementary school teachers. I remained in awe of their abilities.

In the times of COVID teachers at all levels are having to make difficult adjustments. I cannot imagine how elementary school teachers are coping. How can they be teaching young people under the circumstances they now face?

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to all teachers at this time, but an extra shout-out to the elementary teachers. I hope everyone who has the opportunity will find a way to thank teachers for their work in these extra-ordinary times.

One small suggestion for how to say thanks — our church has a teacher’s closet at our adopted school. We keep supplies for teachers (paper towel, Clorox wipes, copy paper, etc.). Some they use themselves and some they use for student’s needs. The supplies would ordinarily come out of the teacher’s pocket — a small way we say thanks.

If you have other suggestions I would love to hear them.

Confirmation Bias: The Presidential Debate was hardly a debate and I do not want to comment on either Trump or Biden. I do want point out that an important psychological phenomenon was clearly visible in the reactions to Chris Wallace the debate moderator.  Confirmation Bias is the human tendency to have an opinion and then only recognize evidence in support of that opinion while ignoring counter evidence. I have previously discussed it.

The failure of people to manage Confirmation Bias was very clear in the reactions to Chris Wallace, the debate moderator. I had friends on the left who just knew Wallace worked for Fox and therefore he would be bias. He would support Trump and be against Biden. They believed that is exactly what happened.

I had friends on the right who just knew Wallace was a part of the media and Trump predicted Wallace would be against him and therefore he had to be bias. He would support Biden and be against Trump. They believed that is exactly what happened.

Both left and right watched with their opinions and only saw evidence in support of their opinions.

In my opinion. he could not have been bias both ways at the same time.

In both cases people mostly ranted against Wallace and gave very little evidence for their perspectives. I saw where one group counted the number of times Wallace interrupted Trump,

compared to the times he interrupted Biden. However, they did not count the times Trump interrupted Biden compared to the number of times Biden interrupted Trump. Neither side said which, if any of Chris’s questions were bias.

I see the response as another warning to all of us of the power of Confirmation Bias. I know I have to watch for it in my own thinking.

Jason Whitlock

Fighting Confirmation Bias. One way to work on overcoming Confirmation Bias is to respectfully read or listen to thoughtful views of people with which we may disagree. I received a recommendation from one of my friends who reads this blog. I think it is a challenging read from any perspective.

The article is American Sports Are Letting Down America. It is a lengthy statement by Jason Whitlock, a Black sportswriter. I recommend reading it. He certainly challenged me in several thoughtful ways.

I tried to go beyond simply agreeing or disagreeing with him. To get beyond Confirmation Bias I tried to think about why I agreed or disagreed — good learning experience for me.

We have another hurricane in the Gulf — a big one — this is not fun!

Peace

Jerry


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