PLC 2021: Looking Forward ...


Dear Lang Gang –

Hard to know how to start looking back on the week(s) we’ve just had and forward to the upcoming days. But even though I’m a little late to the after-party from our initial session with Chris and Jordan, I wanted to add to the resources that Phoenix was kind enough to send/link .

  • The Power of Extroverts with Susan Cain.  Those of you who know me even a little can rightfully wonder what I’d know about introverts, but I am married to one and have taught many!  As Jordan and Chris were talking with us about dialogue, and especially about the resilience that comes from opening up, dealing with being hurt or misunderstood, moving on, and their encouragement that we get better with practice (as in most things), I kept thinking back to this TedTalk with Susan Cain, who speaks and writes so eloquently about introverts. She offers some good advice (and has some cautionary counsel about educators’ love for group work).  Mostly, she adds another perspective or maybe even a different model for conversation, dialogue, and discourse.
  • As we were all trying to process how to talk about the events of 6 January (you can hear me struggling to name them), many colleagues were suggesting resources, sites, etc, and I’m sure you all have your own suggestions. Robin shared a provocative view she read in an article that questions the value of neutrality and quotes contemporary writer Tayari Jones:

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon. When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle? Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude? Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WWII, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released? What is halfway between moral and immoral?” – “There’s nothing virtuous about finding common ground” (Time Magazine 2018)

Jones concludes with this assertion  “… justice seldom dwells in the middle.”  I’m itching to hear what our students would say about that statement – and how they might interpret it in the larger view as well as in view of today’s crises.

  • Lots of talk and chatter about the language that emerged throughout the day on 6 January – and how even naming the participants (neutrality …) changed from morning until night.  The historian Jill Lepore takes up that issue in an AP Lang way – and her article is one Robin and I hope you have a chance to read before we meet later this week.  It’s fascinating in terms of content, but we also think it’s a solid text to use when we discuss sources, synthesis, and meta-stuff. “What Should We Call the Sixth of January?” (NYer 8 January 2021)

We’re all looking forward to another meeting with the Lang Gang.  Robin and I had a good time preparing and are eager for your contributions. One teacherly footnote:  NCTE proposals are due on 19 January.  Maybe some collaborations from the Lang Gang? Then, we could meet up for real in Louisville next November!

May 2021 be a year of health, healing, and hope –



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I love these insights. I have to say that I personally agree with Jones. Neutrality only helps the oppressor. As I move toward a social justice curriculum, I love the idea of beginning my class with the quote you shared: “… justice seldom dwells in the middle.”   What a powerful 4 philosophical chairs discussion prompt that would make or even a yearlong essential question. 

Also, I missed the kick off meeting, but just finished listening to it and it was so powerful and made me reflect, but really I am wondering if Robin's nephew would still think that each of these crises that we go through as Americans stil make us better after the attack on the Capitol. Where do we go from here? How do we bridge the gap with people who believe absolute lies to be fact? 


Hi Missjennee,

If only I knew--family discussions on politics only go so far. Great mystery to my left leaning immediate family!



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