Zia Hassan

Best Finds Of 2020

Three things I learned this year:

  1. Certainty is an illusion made possible by routine.

  2. Vacating can be spiritual if not physical.

  3. You can warp time if space provides the necessary conditions.


Three things I made this year:

  1. A book on education and technology called Inventing the Modern Classroom that I spent a year writing.

  2. A musical album called Welcome Emotion that I spent every day of the pandemic recording.

  3. Over 100 blog posts, which came from subtle glimmers and glints from the world around me.


Three musical recordings that will stick with me:

  1. Burt Bacharach and Daniel Tashian – Blue Umbrella (full album) for its simplistic beauty.

  2. The Night Game – A Postcard from the City of Angels (album) for its ear worminess.

  3. Benjamin Scheuer – I Am Samantha (single) for its heart wrenching storytelling.

Three career growth points:

  1. Got to help school districts and universities figure out how to serve students in a pandemic. I felt like I had something to offer of value, due to the circumstances.

  2. Got to experiment with my own remote teaching ideas with my college class, which many of my students seemed to enjoy.

  3. Did my first voiceover, and although I don’t have the security clearance to see what I look like animated, was still very fun.

  4. Got to help the Aspen Institute pick virtual exchange projects to fund, meeting a lot of interesting and diverse people in the process.


Four TV shows that will stick with me:

  1. Ted Lasso, for its leadership lessons of vulnerability and respect. Pure medicine.

  2. Haunting at Bly Manor, for its non-linear storytelling and haunting aesthetic

  3. Dash and Lily, because it wrapped me in a very warm blanket

  4. Midnight Gospel, because it removed me from the universe for 25 mins each episode.


Three new skills I acquired:

  1. Powerlifting, which it turns out is just as much a mental game

  2. Life/Engagement Coaching (on my way to being certified), which is a superpower I can’t get enough of

  3. Video editing, during the year when teachers became content creators.


Three Podcasts I loved:

  1. Akimbo Podcast w/ Seth Godin – Episode: The Zoom Revolution, which explains why online meetings could be so much more

  2. Upaya Zen Center Podcast: Waking up in Gendered Bodies (May 10), which explores gender from a Zen buddhist perspective

  3. Poetry Unbound: A Poem for What You Learn Alone (Jan 27), which profoundly changed how I think about learning vs. education vs. school.


Three books that will stick with me:

  1. Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, which taught me how to release energy

  2. The Highly Sensitive Man: Finding Strength in Sensitivity, which has helped me understand myself better than I did before

  3. The Courage to be Disliked, which has perhaps the most important lessons and advice on parenting, plus my first real deep dive into Adlerian psychology.


Three video games:

  1. Celeste, for its perfect mechanics/controls and excellent soundtrack. It taught me how to grind.

  2. Animal Crossing New Horizons, for being gorgeous and a truly safe space to be myself and experiment and play.

  3. Journeyman Project: Legacy of Time, which is over 2 decades old but still provided a time travel escape with an old friend over Zoom, something my teenage self would have been thrilled by