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Mom's post about her chronically ill child is just one reason 'attendance awards' need to go

As a student, I always thought perfect attendance awards were dumb. Then I became a teacher, and I still thought they were silly. Then I became a parent and the full scope of how ridiculous they are became crystal clear.

Apparently, I'm not alone. A mom's post calling out perfect attendance awards for how they impact her chronically ill daughter has gone viral, with thousands of people agreeing with her.

Twitter user Kat (@chronicparent30) wrote, "All the kids with 100% attendance at my daughter's school get an Easter egg this week. The rest don't. I despise attendance awards. Anyway today I'm going to go buy my daughter, who'll never get 100% attendance due to chronic illness, a huge Easter egg."


Her post received more than 545,000 likes and 43,000 retweets.

Perfect attendance awards are presumably supposed to encourage good habits in kids. But there are two main reasons they need to go.

The first, as this mother points out without saying it directly, is that they are unfair. Children have very little control over when and how they get to school, so who is really being rewarded or punished for attendance? Parents? But the kids who get the reward are the ones who are able to get to school every day on time because they are privileged in some way—they never get really sick, they don't have any ongoing health issues, they don't have any tragedies that occur during the year, and they don't have a parent with a disability/mental illness/work schedule/etc. that might occasionally impede a kid getting to school.

Not everything in life is fair, of course, nor does everything have to be. But if we're rewarding kids for something that's largely out of their control and for something that requires a certain level of privilege to attain, that's not the kind of unfair that should be accepted and perpetuated. We're literally teaching kids that privilege should be celebrated. Gross.

The second reason perfect attendance awards should be eliminated is because, rather than encouraging good habits, they actually encourage unhealthy ones.

Kids should absolutely not go to school sick, and they certainly shouldn't be incentivized to do so. That was always true, but it's especially important now that we've experienced a global pandemic. If you're sick, you should stay home. Period.

There's also real value in taking days off sometimes, even if you're not physically ill. I've written before about how grateful I was to my dad for letting me take a mental health day when I was in high school. I was an honors student, very involved in school activities, and I broke down in tears one day on the way to school. I told him I needed a break, and he immediately turned the car around and headed home. It was the kindest thing he could have done, and it also taught me a valuable lesson about taking a break when you need one. Giving awards for perfect attendance discourages mental health care that some kids desperately need.

As a former teacher, I understand that it's easier when kids always come to class. It's extra work to help get a kid caught up on what they've missed. But I would much rather one of my students miss my class because they're sick, overly stressed, visiting grandma on her deathbed, going to a doctor's or dentist's or therapist's appointment—or heck, even going on a family vacation during the off-peak season because it's what their family can afford—than to feel like they absolutely should never miss a day of school.

School is important, absolutely. But so is health. So is family life. And perfect attendance awards send the absolute wrong message that it's somehow desirable and praiseworthy to never take a day off, even when you have good reason to. That's a toxic message that none of us should embrace for our kids or for ourselves.

We have enough overworked, overstressed adults who don't know how to care for their physical and mental health. We don't need to instill into kids the message that taking the time you need, for whatever reason, is some sort of moral failure or that ignoring your needs is the right thing to do. Kids and parents know that kids need to be in class the vast majority of the time, and the kids who get perfect attendance awards aren't the ones with attendance problems to begin with.

It's time to just drop the whole idea once and for all.


Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

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Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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