The dangers of a single story

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Literature

Today, we watched a video lecture by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , The dangers of a single story. In her lecture, she explains what how saw other people when she was a young girl in Nigeria. She then explained how she felt about herself and others when she moved to the United States. After that, she explains how here feelings changed as she learned more about people in other places. It is great that high school students are asked to watch videos like this to give students a broader picture of what people are like in different parts of the world. It is a wonderful introduction to the value of Comparative Literature. My student is also reading one of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books Purple Hibiscus. Reading world literature is important for students to avoid stereotypes and bad ideas about people in other parts of the planet.

Here is the video

I can help students read and understand texts in English, Greek, Spanish and Italian. I am very fortunate to have studied Comparative Literature under brilliant professors at UCLA, UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University.

For more about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, visit her website

Research Skills for Students

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Education

Research Skills

Helping a student do research to find the answers, access the necessary texts or other materials is more valuable than telling them the answer. I try to help students access all available texts, whether they are in libraries, or the internet, or elsewhere and improve their research skills.


Once the research is done, we discuss the topic and I try to help them get a better understanding and apply the information.

As Noam Chomsky says in this video:

Where to look, how to look, how to question, how to challenge. How to proceed independently to deal with the challenges that the world presents to you and that you develop in the process of your self education and inquiry and investigations in cooperation and solidarity with others. That’s what an educational system should cultivate.

Progressive Era Video Collection

Posted Leave a commentPosted in History


The Pure Food and Drug Act

Trust Busting

Gifford Pinchot

Upton Sinclair and The Jungle

Ida Tarbell

Florence Kelley

16th Amendment

1902 Coal Strike

Elkins Act

Hepburn Act

Federal Trade Commission

Clayton Act

The Northern Securities Case

John Muir

Federal Reserve Act

Conservation vs Preservation

Theodore Roosevelt

Carrie Chapman Catt

Woodrow Wilson

Robert La Follette

Alice Paul

Bull Moose Powers

The Square Deal

Louis Brandeis

The 17th Ammendment


Carry Nation

W. E. B. Du Bois

Margaret Sanger

Jim Crow Laws

Ida B. Wells

19th Amendment


Literacy Test, Grandfather Clause, Poll Tax

De Jure and De facto Segregation

Niagra Movement

Booker T. Washington

Tuskegee Institute

18th Ammendment

Physical and Chemical Changes

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Chemistry

I have been helping a chemistry student at High School 1327 (When I was a student there, it was Sir Francis Drake High School). Because of distance learning all of the labs are online. The lab that we are doing now is to determine whether changes are physical or chemical. The students are asked to watch lab videos on youtube, write down what they observe and state whether the changes are physical or chemical.

I found this page on to be helpful

These are the lab videos

Fun with Sodium Acetate

Tutoring during Covid and Wildfires

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Seasonal Report

At the end of June, the Marin County Department of Health gave me permission to resume tutoring as long as I do it in outside with masks and distance. At that time, I started working with a new high school student to help him with his writing. I also started working with two adult caregivers, one from Zimbabwe and the other one from Haiti. I am helping them study to take the GED. Now that the fall semester has started, I am also working with 4 middle school students and one high school student.

With the nearby fires, working outside in the smoke has been worrisome. I almost cancelled some appointments. I have been using the website to see what the air quality is like at different locations. Fortunately, each day, at each time and location, the smoke was not too bad for us and we were able to have good sessions.

I am very happy working with all of my students. For me, as a Sir Francis Drake High School graduate, the most interesting thing that I did this week was help a student research and write an essay on Sir Francis Drake. The most exciting thing for me this week has been teaching math to a sixth grader whose school is not offering a math class to him this semester. One of my other students is in the same predicament. The schools have decided to teach half of the subjects this semester and the other half next semester. I believe that it is a mistake to not have math every semester. I believe it is the same for foreign language studies. Perhaps for other subjects, the every other semester approach is ok. The exciting thing has been discovering how smart at math the sixth grader that I am working with is. Since, he did not have any homework yet. I spent my two sessions with him on Science and math. For science, we have been learning about wildfires For math, I quickly checked his multiplication. He seemed to have his times tables memorized. So we went on to fractions. He needed a little bit of help and quickly was able to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions. Since he was doing well with the fractions, I taught him how to solve simple equations with one variable. He mastered them quickly, so I added a second variable and gave its value. At the end of our first session, I felt I could teach him all of middle school math in one year, depending upon how much time we have after completing weekly homework assignments. In our second session, we reviewed fractions and the variable equations that I taught him on Monday. Then I taught him how to find the area of a triangle. We read a little bit about Pythagoras and I taught him the Pythagorean Theorem. He was able to use the theorem!

My schedule is almost full; I do still have time to help a few more students. If you know anyone that I can help at this time, please have them contact me. You can also tell them to visit my website



Mission San Gabriel Arcangel

Posted Leave a commentPosted in History

One of my students who goes to New Traditions Elementary School is doing a report on California Missions, specifically Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. I’ve been helping her learn about the mission. One thing that we read in Wikipedia today, I wish I had known about before:

Legend has it that the founding expedition was confronted by a large group of native Tongva peoples whose intention was to drive the strangers away. One of the priests laid a painting of “Our Lady of Sorrows” on the ground for all to see, whereupon the natives, designated by the settlers as the Gabrieliños, immediately made peace with the missionaries, because they were so moved by the painting’s beauty.[1] Today the 300-year-old work hangs in front of and slightly to the left of the old high altar and reredos in the Mission’s sanctuary.

If I had known about this legend while I was going to U.C.L.A., I probably would have visited the mission.

Reading Animal Farm

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Literature

One of my students who is a freshman at Raoul Wallenberg High School is reading Animal Farm in her English class. Today, we read the first few pages of the book together. By reading out loud, I was able to identify the words in the text that she was not familiar with. Towards the end of our session, I had her look up the words and write down their definitions. At the end of the session, I asked to look up who Karl Marx was and tell me in our next tutoring session.

Reading Plato

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Literature

This week, I’m helping a student read Book VII of the Republic. It was written by Plato in 360 B.C.E.. We are reading the translation by Benjamin Jowett. It is available online at the Internet Classics Archive.

My student’s project, for his Global Studies class at San Dominico School, is to create a video in which he explains the Allegory of the Cave and its moral.

Here is a good Wikipedia page on the  Allegory of the Cave.