Saturday, October 30, 2021

On Burnout

Dr. Alok Kanojia is a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction treatment. His videos are fantastic for some everyday issues as well, like this one on burnout. The most impactful line from this video is that burnout tends to happen when, "people who want to do a good job are placed in situations in which doing a good job is very, very difficult." It's not because you're lazy or a bad fit with your career, but that your workplace isn't acknowledging their part in making a job unnecessarily difficult. And it tends to happen more to people who actually care about what they're doing, not people who are just putting in hours. He says,

"One of the biggest scams that's currently being perpetrated against people about burnout and mental wellness . . . that's subtle and society wide . . . people are placing the responsibility for burnout on the individual. . . . . Burnout affects the individual . . . so there's a subtle scam going on that once you label it as an individual problem . . . then you work on it as an individuals. It's a catastrophic shift of responsibility from the workplace to the individual."

Monbiot on our Current Challenge

George Monbiot wrote an article that he's calling his best bit of writing. It's largely more of the same argument that people can't seem to hear or respond to. We're ignoring the changes in the world at our peril. 

In the back of our minds, there’s a voice whispering, “If it were really so serious, someone would stop us.” If we attend to these issues at all, we do so in ways that are petty, tokenistic, comically ill-matched to the scale of our predicament. . . . In normal conditions, the system regulates itself, maintaining a state of equilibrium. It can absorb stress up to a certain point. But then it suddenly flips. It passes a tipping point, then falls into a new state of equilibrium, which is often impossible to reverse. . . . If one system crashes, it is likely to drag others down, triggering a cascade of chaos known as systemic environmental collapse. . . . vast tracts of the Cerrado have been cleared to plant crops – mostly soya to feed the world’s chickens and pigs. As the trees are felled, the air becomes drier. This means smaller plants die, ensuring that even less water is circulated. In combination with global heating, some scientists warn, this vicious cycle could – soon and suddenly – flip the entire system into desert.

The mainstream media treats it as an afterthought. Chomsky has been on about this for decades: we keep getting distracted by sports and entertainment when the world needs our attention. Even in political news, we focus on the wrong things. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

On Moral Injury

I just re-read a post full of sound and fury that I wrote last year at this time, detailing my initial shock at our unsafe and unprecedentedly intense working conditions at the time. The only policy improvements since then is that students don't have to be in the building during lunch and that we flip two courses every week so we only work five days without prep instead of seven months. What's worse is that there are twice as many in the building, and kids know they can take off their masks all the time to eat or drink. Teachers are finally allowed to wear their own masks openly (I've been hiding mine the whole time) while kids are getting lax about theirs (some teachers too due to vaccine-provoked complacency), and we have no recourse to stop them - excepting being that bitch of a teacher who won't let her kids take a sip of water in class! I realized how many rules at school I've ignored over the years to students' delight, and it sucks to suddenly be seen as a hard ass. The rules still don't make sense. We still err on the side of privacy instead of saving lives by stopping the spread. We still provide businesses with free rapid tests (paid for with our taxes) and leave the $40 option for unvaccinated children. The world feels crazy in its callousness.  

Then Dr. Hishram Ziauddeen's twitter post on moral injury really hit it home for me. Here it is in full with just minor punctuation adjusted for clarity: 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Nobody's Rules

UPDATE: As of Oct. 14, teachers are allowed to wear their own quality masks, no more suspensions for that, but still have to wear board-mandated floppy masks on top because... reasons (likely to satisfy a backroom deal with suppliers). Still no access to rapid tests, and I have a class with a Covid confirmed (but officially no contact with others since having it), and several others absent because of "illness." No test = no covid spread!! I suggested the rest of the class notice the number of empty desks in the room and get a rapid test just in case.  


We're becoming subject to unrest in our schools and hospitals, with anti-vax picketers yelling at cancer patients and school children alike: "Stop being sheep! Take off your mask!" It's not the fault of our government, not directly, although the province next door somehow managed to draft a bill to end the protests while ours was still on vacation. It's Nobody's fault. That's how this works. It's hard to live through it when you're on the receiving end of rules that make no sense and Nobody will answer for it. Just close your eyes and think of England.

In her shortest book, On Violence, philosopher and journalist Hannah Arendt describes the problem with our bureaucratic system: 
 "The latest and perhaps most formidable form of dominion: bureaucracy or the rule of an intricate system of bureaus in which no men, neither one nor the best, neither the few nor the many, can be held responsible, and which could be properly called rule by Nobody. If we identify tyranny as government that is not held to give account of itself, rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all, since there is no one left who could even be asked to answer for what is being done. It is this state of affairs, making it impossible to localize responsibility and to identify the enemy, that is among the most potent causes of the current worldwide rebellious unrest, its chaotic nature, and its dangerous tendency to get out of control" (38-9). 
Educators are witness to these effects.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The View from Here: Preventing School Spread of Covid-19

Stuck in another gruelling semester of school, it's striking how a minor schedule change can completely disrupt time and energy. I'm falling asleep as soon as I get home! But that's also from additional stressors, like all the rapid tests being repossessed by the Ford government for business use only. We need PHUs, school boards, unions, and businesses all to stand up to any governmental rules that support business at the expense of our children, despite any consequences they may incur. That's courageous leadership. We need free rapid tests in our community, HEPA filters in our classrooms (or at least a Corsi/Rosenthal box), mandatory vaccinations for staff and students over 11, and mandatory N95/KN95/KF94 masks worn in the building at all times. OR we have to acknowledge that we've decided to tolerate this virus longterm. 

It's become so painfully clear that Ford will always favour profits over people. Businesses get the perks, and children are left to their own devises. Nothing has been more demoralizing to me than knowing a team of volunteers brought rapid tests to kids to prevent the spread but then "got caught" with the contraband and were stopped from distributing them. Part of the argument for denying children access is that kids don't get as sick, so don't need them as much as adults do, BUT 1. there are adults in schools, 2. kids can spread it to parents and grandparents, and 3. many kids who get a mild case or are completely asymptomatic end up with LongCovid, which could mean a lifelong disability. Always keep in mind that creating a system that doesn't work can beautifully pave the way towards privatization of education. We have to be ever alert to that covert plan.