Circles, Baldwin, and Comments

-Valor Academy’s Circles, By Wade Lee Hudson
-Mass Culture and the Creative Artist, By James Baldwin (1959)
-Readers’ Comments

Valor Academy’s Circles, By Wade Lee Hudson

I found “How one school is centering social-emotional learning” to be profoundly inspiring. This PBS “Brief but Spectacular” video documents a Valor Collegiate Academy mutual aid “Circle.” Since 2014, Valor has expanded to more than 30,000 students nationwide. Their success suggests the holistic, egalitarian movement is spreading. Time is short, however. The world may be on a deadly downward spiral.

Daren Dickson, Valor’s Chief Culture Officer, says

Our dream has been to turn circle facilitation over to the kids as they get into high school. We all know that middle schoolers are much more impacted by each other than by adults, so having them lead the practice will be more meaningful. 

This 11-minute video captures a Circle led by a Valor student.

Valor encourages students to share what’s going on in their lives and accept support. Their mission is “sharp minds; big hearts.”  They aim to create a community of care “to empower our diverse community to live inspired, purposeful lives,…bring our diverse community together, and support each other in identity and relational development.”  Valor bases its approach on four pillars: 1) top-tier academics; 2) intentional diversity; 3) built to last; and 4) whole child development….
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Mass Culture and the Creative Artist: Some Personal Notes
By James Baldwin (1959)

Someone once said to me that the people in general cannot bear very much reality. He meant by this that they prefer fantasy to a truthful re-creation of their experience. The Italians, for example, during the time that De Sica and Rossellini were revitalizing the Italian cinema industry, showed a marked preference for Rita Hayworth vehicles; the world in which she moved across the screen was like a fairy tale, whereas the world De Sica was describing was one with which they were only too familiar. (And it can be suggested perhaps that the Americans who stood in fine for Shoe Shine and Open City were also responding to images which they found exotic, to a reality by which they were not threatened. What passes for the appreciation of serious effort in this country is very often nothing more than an inability to take anything very seriously.)

Now, of course, the people cannot bear very much reality, if by this one means their ability to respond to high intellectual or artistic endeavor. I have never in the least understood why they should be expected to. There is a division of labor in the world  — as I see it — and the people have quite enough reality to bear, simply getting

through their lives, raising their children, dealing with the eternal conundrums of birth, taxes, and death. They do not do this with all the wisdom, foresight, or charity one might wish; nevertheless, this is what they are always doing and it is what the writer is always describing….
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Readers’ Comments

Re: “Friedman on Israel”
Larry Walker
Excellent and timely article. My related observation is that the US is losing its role as world leader in other ways as well.


Re: Introduction
Freddi Fredrickson

Growing a generation of intrinsically minded people.


Re: Interview with “Fluke” author, Brian Klass”
Jed Riffe

After being self employed for over 50 years, experiencing 19 stock market failures, all of which seriously disrupted my small independent print and documentary film businesses, I feel like chaos is the operating mode. I appreciate Wade’s two comments.

Yahya Abdal-Aziz
Thank you for this! I believe he’s hit on something important about modern society. He’s right, there is – by design! – very little slack in our systems, so any little chance event (“fluke”) can tip us into an unstable situation that may deteriorate rapidly and uncontrollably into chaos and disaster.

Yes, we like to think we’re in control of our personal lives, but “a little less hubris” would be a very good thing for most of us. And perhaps we can trace some of the roots of our modern epidemic of anxiety and depression to our inchoate sense of the precariousness of the teetering sand-pile?

Joyce Beattie

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