What to Read in 2018

So yesterday I turned the beautiful age of 48, and with that came my yearly gift from my incredible wife…money for books! You see, we have this deal that I’ve written about before, whereby I get to order books each year on my birthday, and if I finish them all before my next birthday then I get more money to do it all again…awesome! Anyway, I finished my last book from 2017 just a few weeks ago, and I’ve spent the last month or so compiling my birthday list for 2018…I’ve pored over book reviews and on-line articles, I’ve combed through book stores, and I’ve asked around for recommendations from friends and colleagues from all around the world, and I now have a preliminary list of 15 books that I’m super excited to read…see below.

I’ll order these in the next week or so, and my goal of course is to finish them in the upcoming year. I’m encouraging all of you to take a few minutes this week to look through these titles, and to order one (or five, or ten) that resonate with you…or, do your own search and share those titles with me please so I can add them to my list. The suggestions below revolve around my favorite themes of education, leadership, creativity, innovation, and culture building, with an overarching focus on becoming a better person for our world through a few small, simple, and powerful life changes. Happy reading in 2018 everyone, and let me know if you have a suggestion or two of your own so I can get them into my shopping cart. A good book can be transformative in so many ways as you know, so please take the time…I promise you it will be time well spent. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other…Happy reading!


Quote of the week…

Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you!

– Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Great At Work – Morten T. Hansen

The Culture Code – Daniel Coyle

When – Daniel H. Pink

Powerful – Patty McCord

The Vibrant Workplace – Dr. Paul White

Thinking in Bets – Annie Duke

When the Adults Change, Everything Changes – Paul Dix

The Innovation Code – Jeff DeGraff

Who Are You, Really? – Brian R. Little

Creativity Rules – Tina Seelig

The Power of Moments – Chip and Dan Heath

Radical Inclusion – Martin Dempsey

The Case Against Education – Bryan Caplan

Rethinking School – Susan Wise Bauer

Teaching as a Subversive Activity – Neil Postman (Published in 1969, still very relevant today however)

Posted in Daniel Kerr | Leave a comment

What is Pedalgogy?


Hello! We are Matthew and Niamh, two new bloggers for TIE.

Bicycle touring

Photo Credit: Erik Peterson Photography

Working hard in international schools definitely has its rewards. We are spending our savings on a life-long dream of combining a bicycle ride around the world with an education project. We are enjoying the daily physical challenge of pedalling across all kinds of terrain in all types of weather while raising awareness of Prader Willi Syndrome. The people that we meet and cultures that we learn about along the way give further meaning to this endeavour. Our desire to travel was fuelled by a shared interest in global citizenship. We have previously run a Global Citizens after-school club which enabled us to build the foundations of a story sharing website for children around the world. Our hope is to visit schools along our route to gather more stories and transform this website into a valuable, interactive resource for teachers. Lots more detail can be found at www.pedalgogy.net and www.tedweb.org.Ted Web

We will be blogging about a range of topics including:

1. Tales from the Road

2. Education Project

3. An Economists Take

4. Selected Ramblings

5. Beautiful Places and Moments

6. Lovely Mapping

7. Biking Stuff

8. Hacks and Recipes

9. The Reasons

Bicycle touring

Follow us on our Facebook page: Pedalgogy

Videos from our bicycle travels can be found on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsG7n5CjPz3zj-muSezAWuA

Looking forward to being part of the TIE community!

Posted in Matthew and Niamh | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Clean Slates

So we’re already two weeks into 2018 and I have to say, it’s really fun to be back with the kids. The holiday break was fantastic for sure, and like many of you I feel rested and ready to tackle the second semester, with the palpable excitement of building on the first half of the year. I love this time of the year honestly because we’re so set up now to make a real impact in the lives of our students, and if we get it right, the next few months will be arguably the most important ones of the year for learning. You see, after 5 months we now truly know our kids, we know each other, we’ve settled into our school imperatives, and we’ve reflected on our practice leading up to this point. January always feels like a clean slate for me, and the month that can absolutely influence the year in incredibly powerful ways.

I’ve written before about the idea of New Year’s “reflections” instead of New year’s resolutions, and my feeling is that if we look back critically at how we ended the year (first semester) it can help authentically shape the realistic ways that we can best move forward. In my opinion, there is nothing harder than changing either professional practice or personal habit, and there is nothing easier than letting a New Year’s resolution go unfulfilled. To really make a difference in our lives, and in the lives of our kids, it’s going to take some honest reflections and some discipline. We can either make the changes in our lives that we want, and that are needed, or we can fall into the trap of complacency and routine. That’s the opportunity that we have as we begin the new semester, and what an opportunity it is.

I spent a good portion of my holiday reflecting (and eating), and I’ve identified some areas in my life and in my professional practice that could use some attention. I’ve set some second semester goals for myself and I’ve talked about these openly and I’ve written them down. Of course, it’s one thing to talk about them and a very different thing to actually put them into action. I want to start communicating more effectively, I want to start giving more to others in need, I want to do better for our environment, I want to stop worrying so much about my first world problems, and I want to find more courage to help make the changes in our school that are needed to drive our imperatives forward…this is the month to start, and this is the time to start decorating that clean slate.

I want to challenge all of you over the next couple of weeks to take some time to reflect (if you haven’t already) on the first semester, and to identify some areas that can make you better versions of yourselves. Identify them, talk to someone about them, write them down and find the discipline to make them a reality. January is a busy month in schools and it’s no different for us, so use the upcoming professional development conversations to jump start your year, and set you on the path to change. Take advantage of this opportunity everyone…this clean slate month of January, and make 2018 your best year to date. Happy New Year and happy decorating…bring those clean slates to life! Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. Here’s my favorite New year’s poem for you to contemplate…


Life I am the New Year.

I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.
I am your next chance at the art of living.
I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about a life of reflection and giving.

All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me,
waiting for you to search it out with more determination.
All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve
is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will,
All the faith that you claimed but did not have —
these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened
by the touch of a strong purpose.

I am your opportunity
to renew your allegiance to a life fulfilled
I am the New Year.

— Author Unknown

Quote of the Week…

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice

– T.S Eliot


Related Articles –

An Academic’s New Year’s Resolutions

My New Year’s Resolutions

Education Post – New Year

The Global Search for Education

New Year, New You


Inspiring Videos to begin the New Year –

Oprah’s Golden Globe Speech

A 27 Year Old’s Advice to the World

An Incredible Gift

Against Discrimination 

Knowing Our Kids (A Goal of Mine)

Posted in Daniel Kerr | Leave a comment

Mobile Phone Shutdown

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

During the first few weeks before my new campus opened, many people wanted to know what the mobile phone policy would be for students, especially those students living on-campus.

A decision was made to allow teachers to set their classroom norms, and to give the students an opportunity to use technology responsibly. This very open policy would be applied, and results would be evaluated.

The first month of school yielded some very interesting results, and eventually lead to a big change not only in policy, but also in campus culture.

The Real Issue

The assumption most adults and educators make is that students will waste time while using their devices in class.

The truth is that students using mobile phones outside of the classroom, is in fact a severe waste of time compared to the time lost in the classroom. Policies focusing on controlling students and preventing them from enjoying some form of entertainment while in class, are missing the core issue(s).

The real issue with students who are engaged in very high levels of screen-time, is that the engagement negates their time to socialize. The device, ironically, pushes them further apart from one another, even if they are using the device to communicate.

Classroom use of devices can be very beneficial. Teachers can task students and keep them working and interacting, while socializing.

During the first month of observation, when left to their own prerogative, students in social situations would default to the use of social media apps and free or freemium games instead of talking to one another.

The students were not engaged in deep discussions, academic information exchange, or even conversations about making plans for their weekends. They were just engaged in activities that had a short and very shallow feedback loop.

My personal observations were combined with others, and everyone agreed that we did not want a campus culture that encouraged students to not socialize; to sit alone and stare at a screen; and that seemed to push curiosity to the floor.

The Policy and Procedure 

Writing a policy to ban devices is not easy. The task seems easy, but if the policy is to be enforceable, then it has to be well thought out. Whenever anything is taken away, a negative impact occurs somewhere else.

The policy itself is simple, “No use of mobile phones on campus during academic hours.”

The policy must be simple. I often fall into the trap of making options, but options are difficult to manage. Options are difficult to explain. Options are difficult to translate to students if they are not native English language speakers.

The policy should be followed by a positive exception. In other words, “When and where can students use their devices ? ” This was clearly defined, so that students and parents could plan on a regular communication pattern after academic hours, but before study hall (remember most of these are boarding students).

Finally, the consequences have to be mapped out clearly. With any set of consequences a negative impact can occur to someone, or some place, if policies are planned haphazardly.

The school found two locations with staff who were already managing student discipline. This created a distributed and nominal impact on those people working in the offices. There was no additional staff or equipment required to implement the policy.

The consequences created by the policy writing team were clear and strict:

  • For the 1st offense, your phone will be confiscated and withheld until the conclusion of the following academic day. This will be logged on PowerSchool for your parents and advisor to see.
  • For the 2nd offense, your phone will be confiscated for 3 days, a call will go home to your parents, and the incident will be logged into PowerSchool.
  • For a 3rd offense, your phone will be taken for an entire week, your parents will be called, and the phone will need to be picked up and collected by your parents in person.

The Aftermath

So far nothing. I wanted to have some type of amazing story to tell, but nothing bad has happened. I have asked around 60 students how they are doing without their devices.

They have all said that it is not a big deal for them, they have a time to use them, and they do not want any instances logged into PowerSchool for their parents to read.

In addition, the number of devices confiscated is actually lower than it was before the policy. We still have some classes using mobile phones as cameras everyday, but outside of those classes, I have not see any students breaking the rules.

Of course, they are breaking the rules sometimes, but not lunch. Not at assembly. And not during those other daily opportunities where students meet in groups and socialize.

A week ago I walked into assembly, and students were playing music, laughing, and talking. It was loud, and I was extremely pleased.

Posted in Tony DePrato | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

5 Concrete Ways to Address #metoo and #timesup in International Schools

Follow Me on Twitter @msmeadowstweets

Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoo movement

Everybody’s talking about it. #metoo and #timesup are trending hashtags and campaigns that represent an age-old issue: sexual harassment. This is a global phenomenon, and certainly – unfortunately– present in international schools. Whether you’re inspired by Oprah’s Golden Globes speech, or moved by the flood of #metoo’s on your social media feed, or simply realize that you are in a position to make your school a better, safer place for working and learning, here are five concrete ways to start:

  1. Establish a rock-solid policy/plan on sexual harassment. I had the honour of serving on the committee which revised Hong Kong International School’s sexual harassment policy, and I can tell you that crafting an effective one requires a lot of thoughtful effort. Take stock of resources in your locality, read plans from other schools, and write it up in painstaking detail. Don’t assume that everybody agrees on things like the definition of ‘sexual harassment’. Remember to consider what to do if an accused harasser lives on campus or in school housing, a common arrangement in international schools. Waiting until you’ve got a crisis on campus is not the time to think about how to manage it.
  2. Publish your plan everywhere. Your plan will only be useful if people understand how it works, and trust that it will be followed. If students/staff do not know who to go to when they’ve been harassed, or don’t believe that the policy will be enforced, it is useless. Make your policy and plan visible to everyone. Tell families and students about it. Talk about it at staff meetings. Do this routinely, or at least once a year.
  3. Listen to reports of sexual harassment. Believe the reporters. Put your policy/plan into action as soon as someone reports.
  4. Reframe reports of sexual harassment as an opportunity. Nobody looks forward to the HR/PR issues that can come up when sexual harassment takes place within a school community, and there can be a temptation to see reports as a nuisance. Instead, consider that the sexual harassment has already happened, and the school now has a chance to improve the safety of everybody in their community, thanks to the reports. Express gratitude to reporters for their bravery and willingness to help make the school a better place for all.
  5. Turn this into a teachable moment. Children need to be taught the knowledge and skills to deal with sexual harassment, starting from a young age. Leverage this current conversation (or use it as inspiration) to reinforce your school’s curriculum on the topic.

How does your school ensure that community members know what to do in cases of sexual harassment?

Posted in Emily Meadows | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Photo JM

Nyon, Vaud, Switzerland.

As the first days of 2018 arrive, any reflections on last year seem to contain an uncomfortable rawness because of the events continuously populating our devices – the immediacy, brutality and complexity of a world fueled by- FakeNews?”, each one of us trying to construct a context in the “Filter Bubble” choreographed by algorithms from which we build a sense of the world we live in.

As International School educators, we straddle between the walled garden of “school” and the outside “world”. The reality is that we are surrounded by constant change and ambiguity. But there is a gap between the accelerated rate of change and our capacity to adapt to it. For some, the gap is wide. For others, the gap stays the same, and for a few, the gap is narrowing. How we interpret and engage with the gap and our own capacity to keep up influences many of our feelings and emotions. These in turn fuel the perceptions, opinions and behaviors with which we express ourselves.

International Schools have to juggle the fine line between ensuring students and parents are pleased and ensuring that they feel safe, challenged and cared for. In the unique world of International Schools, a percentage of parents come from a comfortable socio- economic environment. Often times, their education is a contributing factor to their current positions. This education provided the opportunities for their successes and their economic prosperity. Living with this becomes a strong marker in what International School parents believe their children should get from an education and an International School. This pedagogic reference point in many cases 25+ years old. The world was a very very different place then. However we try as schools to innovate, change and adapt, we do this with a level of caution and reservation. At the end of the day, the invisible mandate between parents and international schools, is “provide my child with stability, continuity, what I remember from my school days and more certainty then I have in my life today“.

As educators, we fall into a similar narrative. We have a desire for of stability, continuity, and more certainty than in the outside world we interact with. We do innovate and change in our schools, but the presence of the invisible mandate between our parents and schools influences the level by which we break the status quo.

Photo JM

St. Cergue Switzerland

Today the level of stability, continuity, and certainty that we were once used to has eroded. Uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility are an unavoidable part of the day. The complexity of this change permeates into everyone’s lives, and often not by choice.

2018, is an opportunity to embrace the world’s uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility, not as something eroding our past and challenging our present, but as an opportunity to re-frame the possibilities in front of us as a unique and rich learning journey. We have a responsibility to take this on in our roles as mentors, facilitators and educators. We bring a wisdom, resilience and care that has served us well and can continue to serve us today. Many of our students will one day be International School parents or educators who look back at their education as a point of reference for their own success. The measures will be different. We live in a world where uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility are part of our lives. We should not depend on reference points from our past to give us stability, continuity and certainty. The gap for many will still get bigger and more uncomfortable. But hopefully, in 2018, we can work to bridge that gap as well.

John Mikton @beyonddigital.org

Posted in John Mikton | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just wondering about open reference letters.

With the new year upon us, and the recruiting season that is kicking off again after the December break, I feel the need to touch upon the topic of reference letters, which can be delicate.

All of us have asked our Heads of Schools and Principals to write open reference letters. Also, as school leaders, we often receive such requests from faculty members. Sometimes, schools even list open reference letters as part of the application package. Writing such letters have become a typical step or even a ritual in the recruitment process, but it is legitimate to question the value of those letters.

In the meantime, when an educator opens or reactivates a file with a recruitment agency, they are asked for several referees who will then complete confidential references. The educator will be notified when the referees have completed their confidential references, but they will not be able to access them through their own account. Prospective recruiters, however, will be able to read those references to get an idea of what previous leaders thought about this candidate.

So, are actually doing the same thing twice? In this very busy world of international education, do we really have time to write open and confidential reference letters? As I was preparing this post, I connected with several respected international school leaders about that topic. There is a general agreement out there that open reference letters are not really useful. Some leaders say that they do not read them at all, but they go straight to the confidential ones. All of them have also mentioned how important it is to talk directly to the referees. Many schools have a defined process to check on references about several aspects of the educator’s practice including strengths, areas for growth, relationships with different members of the school community and child safeguarding. Other leaders actually do not write those open reference letters anymore but offer to call the prospective Heads of Schools or to send them a reference letter directly.

It might be time to evaluate this tradition since it seems to have minimal to no impact in hiring nowadays. Of course, there are always going to be some exceptions or even some national employment laws and legislations that will still require employees to be able to read what has been written about them. In the grand scheme of things, however, I propose that, when possible, we refrain from writing those open reference letters, we talk directly to the referees, Principals and Heads of Schools and we educate our faculty why this is simply more efficient for everyone.

For what it’s worth…

Posted in Frederic Bordaguibel-Labayle | Leave a comment

Congrats! But…

When international educators are seeking a new position, most will reach out to their professional networks in search of advice and information about schools. What do you know about this school? Has anyone worked with this administrator? What are the working conditions in xyz country? It is fitting that in a community as closely-knit as this one, educators will be looking to each other for advice.

But sometimes, we simply don’t want to hear what others have to say. We have our own reasons for seeking a particular school, location, or position, and we’re not interested in what people think of our choices.

And yet, advice and opinions abound. We hear the anecdotes and stories, perhaps accidentally, perhaps because those who are holding them make sure to tell us. Some people feel it is their duty to shove more information at us, even though we haven’t asked for their feedback or insight.

I have a friend who recently accepted a new position and was, naturally, super excited about it. It didn’t take long for word to spread amongst her colleagues, and soon, she was flooded with visitors. Except here’s the catch: nobody wanted to congratulate her. Instead, all of them were clamoring to tell her the negative things they’d heard about her new school. “It frustrates the heck out of me,” she told me one day. “I don’t care what their experiences are or what opinions they have about this school. I have a good feeling about it and think that I will be really happy there, and I don’t need people trying to bring me down.”

I’ve heard similar frustrations expressed from others in my own professional network. They might choose a particular school based on the availability of an elusive position they’ve been seeking. They might find the school’s mission and vision directly in line with their own. They might choose a school because they really want to be in a certain city or country. Or they might choose it simply because they had a natural, positive connection with the administrator during an interview. Whatever the reason, one thing is always the same: they’ve just concluded their job search, and they are relieved and happy. Jubilant, even. But there will no doubt be somebody, somewhere, who has had a negative experience and will be eager to share it. Their intentions are good, of course, seeking only to forewarn a friend against a possible bad situation. But when your friend has already committed to the job, this is far from helpful.

If someone is asking for information about a school prior to interviewing or signing a contract, by all means, give them that information. Tell them what you know, IF you know it recently and first-hand. If you have personal experience with the school in question, know what your friend is looking for in their next post, and don’t think it’s a match, tell them. If you feel that they need to be steered another direction, steer them gently. Unfortunately, more often than not, the opinions and anecdotes that people choose to share are outdated and passed through the grapevine. If we’ve simply “heard” that a school is not good, or an administrative team is weak, we’re really in no position to offer advice in the first place.

If, on the other hand, your friend or colleague has just signed a contract with a new school, congratulate them, no matter what you’ve heard about the school. Tell them that you’re happy for them. Don’t share the story about the guy-you-once-worked-with-who-used-to-work-there-and-hated-it. Your friend doesn’t need nor want that information. They have just committed to at least two years working at this new school, and now is not the time to ruin their happiness and excitement with negative quips. Keep it to yourself. Schools change. People choose schools for different reasons, and their reasons may be different than yours. You may not understand or appreciate their motivations, but the factors that pull educators to certain schools are as unique as the educators themselves. Let your friends celebrate their new jobs. Don’t sabotage their joy with unsolicited horror stories.

Looking for a new job is a stressful time for everyone in this network, from a first-year teacher to a seasoned head of school. When we finally get to the end of our own personal recruiting season and have committed to a school, we want to relax and let that fact sink in. We don’t want negativity to chase after us like an angry swarm of wasps. To everyone recruiting this season, best of luck in finding a perfect match. Once you sign with the school that you feel is right for you, relish in the fact that your job search is over. Ignore the naysayers who may try to steal your joy. Be at peace with your decision. Enjoy the moment. And congratulations.


Posted in Shannon Fehse | Leave a comment

I’m Not In Love…Your Job Search Survival Guide

This is a difficult and glorious time of year. And I’m not talking about going home and dealing with the family you haven’t seen since summer or gift shopping in Dhaka. I’m talking about those of you looking for work in the next phase of your international adventure.

It’s hard. It’s really hard. Especially as the number of the schools in the world grows exponentially and the education landscape is more complex than ever and schools are grabbing people up like Halloween candy.

Take a breath. A deep breath.

First of all, enjoy the holiday. I know many of you are making a quick holiday exit to one of the January fairs, but take some time away from that email and focus on the most important reasons you are living the life you lead besides job searching. The hunt goes on well into March and even April. (And that doesn’t include hiring in North America or other parts of the world).

So, here’s my survival guide for you staff and teachers and even administrators looking for that next post. I’ve had lots of experience on both sides of the proverbial table and have learned truly what it feels like.

So, here goes…

1) Be clear about who you are and what makes you special as a teacher. In other words, stand for something. This seems a bit odd for #1, but I read a LOT of CVs that seem to say the same thing over and over. Accentuate something that you’re really good at and passionate about and drive it home.

2) Stop job jumping. I know there’s not a lot you can do about that now, but I (and many Heads) skip right past the 2,2,3,2,2, years at posts. Believe me, I know what it’s like to be at a place that you feel is a big mismatch, but you only get one, two max on that one. Otherwise, you really need to come up with a better plan to stick around at a school or have a very clear reason why you are moving on. It’s okay if it didn’t work out but you need to differentiate yourself from the teacher tourists. And if you are a teacher tourist, you are at the end of the line!

3) Personalize your experience by telling a STORY. Don’t just talk in generalities about your skills. And be honest in that story, about your mistakes, your setbacks, your ability to overcome, your generosity of spirit, the who you are and how you handled it. Recruiters love that.

4) Do NOT interview or apply to a place that you cannot envision yourself at for FOUR YEARS minimum. That’s right. Four years. It’s not fair to you, it’s not fair to the kids that deserve the BEST teachers in the world. If in your heart you cannot imagine yourself at the school for a minimum of four years, then find a way to get out of the process. It’s better for everyone.

5) ALWAYS include your Head of School or Principal as a reference. I know it’s hard sometimes, but we recruiters get really suspicious when your only line managers are department heads and coordinators. That sends off a red flag and we call the Head anyway. Yes, we know that there are some mean directors and principals out there, but the reality is that you need to get on good enough terms to put them down on your list.

6) At LEAST read the mission statement of the school and tailor your candidacy towards what you believe the school stands for. I know that a lot of the statements are the same, but you need to familiarize yourself as best possible with how the school presents itself and how you put yourself towards it as a match.

7) Don’t fall in love. Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with a school. If you REALLY want a job, act as though you don’t, or at least that you have other options. Keep calm, present yourself in a light that is balanced and enthusiastic, but not desperate. In other words, SKIP the recruiter/candidate mixer. I’ve seen too many people embarrass themselves at these awkward events and you need to keep yourself together.

That’s all. Best of luck. Stay focused. Remember that if you are good, you’ll definitely get a job. And ALWAYS remember that everything you do is about making the world a better place for future generations, not so you can go mountain biking or skiing.

Best of luck, and here’s one of my favorites to keep you balanced in the search…

Posted in Stephen Dexter | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Science as a Political Statement

Follow Me on Twitter @msmeadowstweets

I had the honour of meeting with a group of scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this summer, and I can tell you that it’s no secret within the organization that using the term ‘transgender’ in your budget proposal this year doesn’t fare well for funding prospects. This isn’t necessarily a brand new barrier; deciding what gets studied (and published) has always been a matter of politics, often favouring the dominant narrative and priorities of those in power (not typically transgender people).

Harvard palaeontologist, Stephen J. Gould, writes in his thought-provoking book, The Mismeasure of Man[1], about a history of “scientists” using the platform of their profession to further political agendas. For example, 19th century Europeans conducted “studies” attempting to prove the fallacy that certain races are genetically superiour. Gould explains the ways that bias and falsification can turn “biological evidence” into dangerously misleading “facts”, and how readily these distortions may become justification for discrimination. While we like to think of science as apolitical, it isn’t. What we decide to study/fund/publish is driven by the values of those in charge of bringing research to light[2]. Gould makes a case that power maintains itself through science.

The Washington Post this week reported that the Trump administration is prohibiting CDC officials from including some specific words on budget proposals: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. There was no explanation accompanying the announcement, so the CDC and the rest of us are left guessing why. The mission of the CDC is to, “Protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S.” The organization covers all things health-related from general well-being to very specific, urgent zika virus research, and pretty much everything in between. (They also host an extensive resource on traveler’s health.)

According to the Washington Post article, in lieu of the terms ‘evidence-based’ or ‘science-based’, CDC analysts have been told to use the phrase: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes”. Which community does this refer to, I wonder? Probably not the transgender community – just a guess. While I understand that a political administration has some leverage within U.S. public organizations, I would also hope that the professionals in charge of carrying out their mission to protect the health and safety of a nation are encouraged to do so in a way that is both evidence-based and science-based, not discriminatory or politically-motivated.

May educators everywhere continue to teach their students about the scientific method, about the pitfalls of biases, about the critical importance of reliable and valid results, and about the inclusion of underrepresented populations. Perhaps the CDC of today is being dissuaded from working on such projects, but I hope that our current students, when they are professionals in their fields around the world, will gain attention and funding for their studies about populations that are vulnerable, issues of diversity, transgender people, and other under-researched topics, and that they may do so openly using evidence-based and science-based methods.

[1] Gould, S. J. (1981). The Mismeasure of man. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

[2] Suhay, E. & Druckman, J. N. (2015). The Politics of science. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 658(1), 6-15.

Posted in Emily Meadows | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment