28
May
11

Slam!

I made my students do a Poetry Slam. I forced them to watch one done at the White House by a very talented young man and told them to write a poem. What they turned in was crap and I told them so (in nicer terms than this). So I made them watch a few more videos (all COMPLETELY appropriate for the classroom), gave them a lecture about poetry not being all about rhyme scheme and repetition but about a visceral connection to yourself and your emotions. And I made them do it again.  They did, so I did :-)

I love teaching.  I LOVE teaching and every day I see teachers who don’t.  I see teachers who have lost sight of the student, who are just coming to a job.  I see teachers who blame 16-year-old kids for not giving a crap about their education without stopping to discuss the clear fact that NO ONE in this country gives a crap about their education, sometimes not even their parents.  I see teachers who are more worried about the terms of a contract than the needs of a student.  I see teachers who use all their sick days and personal days, too.  I see teachers who get pissed off when they know they’re going to be evaluated because it means they actually have to teach something.

And I see teachers who are moving from sub job to sub job because they dared to move mid-career or decided to spend a few years at home with their children.  I see teachers with experience and degrees left on the sidelines while recent college grads get the few contracts available because they’re cheaper.  I see teachers trying to find a way to reach growing classes due to a shrinking staff and juggle the modifications from 15 IEPs.  I see teachers become mediators, nurses, counselors, mothers, and disciplinarians all in the span of 60 seconds and hear them turn boys into men in less than a sentence.

I see an industry in serious need of reform on every level and a country that can’t see its way to doing anything other than blaming the teachers.  I see an industry that is ruled by politics and not be knowledge, more interested in money than books, and more occupied with answers than with questions.  I seen an industry that no longer serves the public in the way that it should or could and must be changed NOW.

And most importantly, I see the student, the child waiting to be lead in the right direction.  I see the student whose search for knowledge survives even the worse teachers in the worst schools in the country.  I see the student who finds his own books when his school has none and the student who gets up before 5 AM and rides the bus for over an hour to get to the charter school across town and NEVER misses a day.  I see potential.  I see the future and I DEMAND to be a part of it.  Give me a job!

20
Apr
11

Tea “Party”

I think it’s a little unfair that the Tea Party gets to categorize themselves as a third party when all of their candidates are running as members of the Republican Party.  If they want to call themselves a party, the need to see if they can stand on their own and win on their own.  I don’t think they can, and I think they know it.  I wonder why the media has not called attantion to their differences from the GOP while mentioning that they are still running AS the GOP.

07
Apr
11

Discuss…

How do we convince people who do not derive power from it or lose out as a result of it that the White Male Privilege does exist and that it would be almost universally beneficial to eliminate it?

03
Apr
11

What Zuckerberg Did

I saw an article this week on Facebook Depression – basically the idea that people who don’t have many friends on Facebook or whose friends don’t interact much with them can become depressed and suicidal. I suppose if you’re socially awkward or withdrawn normally, your Facebook life would reflect your normal life. Everything we do is a reflection of us anyway. The article makes a valid point, but omits one glaring and serious fact – our experience is what we make it.

Facebook may be depressing for some, but for others, it is amazing. For others it is a way to connect with friends all over the world that they might not have been able to afford to call or wouldn’t have felt comfortable writing. Facebook has made it possible for people to look up relatives they knew existed but had no idea how to contact. It has made that initial reach out to someone you wish you still knew just a little bit less scary and therefore; infinitely more possible.  It has renewed relationships and friendships that people thought we lost and provides hope that we may get so see someone again, someday… if they’re on Facebook.

Sure, we may get annoyed when we see a lot of negative statuses, but Facebook forces us to accept that some people are complainers.  If we cannot accept it, Facebook gives us the option to walk away, unseen, unnoticed, until we choose otherwise.  It gives us an opportunity to support each other that we didn’t have in the past, not because we didn’t care, but because we didn’t know.  We’ve learned that we can empathize with people we haven’t seen in years and simply because we were once on the same team or went to the same school.  Those people, even if they exist in your life only when you want them to, by extension, enrich or diminish that part of your life only if you let them.

I can’t ignore that a lot of my friends are struggling, but I know for sure that Facebook is not the cause of their struggle.  Their struggles are with their health, their relationships, their jobs or lack of them, and the frustrations of every day.   Facebook allows us all to garner the support we need to wage daily war against the harshness and cruelty of life, even if it’s just in the knowledge that someone else is going through that too, and there is someone out there who does, indeed, know where we are coming from.  Their status proves it.

Does Facebook cause depression?  Maybe for some people it does, but it also weakens it.  Facebook virtually fills the holes where depression would entrench itself until people we are connected with in the real world can take over.  Our experience with Facebook is about how we choose to use it.  Zuckerberg gave us a power we didn’t have – to positively or negatively affect people’s lives without being in the same room.  How we use it is up to us.

23
Mar
11

A Crisis of Faith, Part 1

Having been raised a Catholic in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I’ve been following the recent scandals quite a bit.  I can’t imagine the grief felt by the core group of victims. What a hardship it must be to see an ideal of perfection in a form that it so completely fallible, and in way that so violates a sacred bond of trust. I wonder, though, about the private emotional battles existing in the minds and hearts of many area Catholics who are questioning their faith in a system that may not have their best interests at heart.  If the image of the Church has been put above the welfare of its parishioners, how can it possibly see for the beam in its own eye?  Part of me stands in awe at the ability and ease with which the Church sought to cover up these allegations and in wonderment at the parishioners who knew what was happening to the victims and SAID NOTHING.  What do you say to someone to convince them that an act so deplorable should not be openly condemned?

09
Mar
11

Violence

One of my students was shot and killed yesterday just standing on the corner with his friends.  He was dedicated to turning his life around after making some bad choices as a very young man. Violence is a real problem in America. I believe education is the solution, but I’m open to other suggestions.

19
Feb
11

Education

People travel the world to study the artwork and music of great men and women because of what it teaches them about themselves and history.  They climb mountains and trudge through jungles to seek out the knowledge of one philosopher or another.  They will pay thousands of dollars to hear a lecture by a great  professor.   There are beautiful minds untapped worldwide, and though they may be sparked by the law, by the microscope, or by the Word, they become flames by the work of the teacher.  If society chooses to build stadiums instead of schools and cases instead of classrooms, it has already passed judgement on the importance of what I choose to do.

Without knowledge of law there is chaos.  Without knowledge of medicine disease reigns.  Some teachers sacrifice time and money and energy to teach people to read, but others sacrifice EVERYTHING to teach people to live.  Education has built nations and lack of it has destroyed them.  Knowledge is so revered that many civilizations believed that only the gods possesed it, yet society places so little value on those who seek to distribute it.  If every last being on Earth were destroyed save two, they could recreate the world using our books.  I am human, I am fallible, and all I have ever wanted to do from the depth of my soul is to be good enough to inspire someone else to be great.  I would do it for free and unappreciated every day for the rest of my life.  I believe in education like you believe in God.  Judge me as you please.




Disclaimer

I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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