…claim to be an expert if you’re not one

…use weak qualifiers like “I believe,” “I feel,” or “I think”—just tell us!

…provide facts, evidence, and statistics to support your position

By the logic of this images, the way my friend and I turned our cigarettes away from the mosque as we walked by was a sign of our deference to religious extremism. The way we raised our hands and offered a prayer after a meal, the way we greeted each other with the Arabic greeting “assalam alaykum” was a sign of our lack of secularism. Every action in public and in private is coded in these ways. It is impossible to know who to trust. No one knows who will be arrested tomorrow and forced to inform on his friends and family. There is no recourse to justice. Guilt is easy to assign and impossible to escape.

…use strictly moral or religious claims as support for your argument

…provide reasons to support your claim

These new restrictions on naming are particularly onerous for Uyghur men, since traditionally Uyghurs have stressed that the names of male children should be found in the Quran and, at times, be associated with the grandparents of the child. When parents go about selecting a name, they often consult with a local imam. The imam in turn is tasked with verifying the origin of the name in question and conferring the name onto the child during a ceremony that occurs seven days after the child’s birth. Uyghurs I interviewed regarding the importance of naming practices noted that choosing a name was often seen not only as a marker of religious piety but also a way of maintaining ties to familial tradition. Since Uyghurs take on the given name of their father as their surnames, family names shift with each generation. It is important to name children in way that reflects the family lineage, so that the names of ancestors are carried forward into the present. These new restriction on naming throws this rite of passage into question. Imams are now being asked to direct parents away from names that reflect religious piety no matter the familial legacy of those names. Parents are thus explicitly being asked to cease reproducing many of the Islamic social norms that have dominated Uyghur society for centuries.

…assume the audience will agree with you about any aspect of your argument

We still have other intrinsic motivational strategies, scaffolding, and documentation to add to the mix but let’s face it, we’re just like our students; we want to hear how this supposedly magical grading system will take the issue of grades off the table.

…address the opposing side’s argument and refute their claims


I know. That sounds crazy. But humor me. What if…?

An award-winning Uyghur farmer painting that responds to the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s for the Uyghur masses to slaughter Uyghurs suspected of terrorism like vermin.

We’re teachers. We care. We’re in it for the kids.

If you were the sort to believe our education system is both adequate and acceptable, I’d admire your resolve in reading this far but would fail to comprehend how you’d arrive at your conclusion because it doesn’t take much of an investigation to discover that our standardized education system treats kids like interchangeable parts passing through the educational equivalent of widget factories, established by , molded by the tenets of , and found worthy or wanting by the almighty testing industry.

And after all, if we won’t try to reimagine it, who will?

Purpose isn’t something we add to lend credence to our intent; Purpose (with a capital P) is the cornerstone of all we’re hoping to achieve. Purpose is where we begin, what we lean on, and why we’re willing to consider embracing these wild ideas.

I can't wait for the next article.

In the decades after the death of Mao in 1976, the socialist cultural industry became a way for Uyghur farmer painters to achieve province and country-wide recognition in propaganda painting contests. Villages and counties competed against each other to see who can produce the most and the best forms of propaganda. Not only did this production promote the ideological agenda set in Beijing, it also became a tool of distinguishing the cultural acumen of local communities. As the successive waves of “hard strike campaigns” were put in motion in the 1990s to root out ethnic separatism, religious extremism and, after September 11, 2001, terrorism, Uyghur cultural production units were given even more incentives to continue to produce paintings and murals. This is why, even today, local propaganda production reaches the most basic levels of social life in Southern Xinjiang. Small children to elderly farmers who have never learned to speak Chinese understand what is being communicated in the paintings and murals. It is how the state communicates the vision of its project, how people communicate their own positions within the engineering project and one of the ways people learn how to perform within the limits of what is permitted.

There’s nothing hypothetical about this crisis.

What if we invited our students to help us reimagine education as they enter our self-paced, student-centered learning environment on the first day back at school next fall?