Archive for the 'Family Values' Category

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!

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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.

02
Feb
11

Change the Label, Change the Law

I have decided that I will no longer refer to the man I married as my husband.  From now on, he will be referred to as my life partner.  I have made this decision in support of my gay and lesbian friends who cannot legally call their partners their husbands or wives, yet those people deserve no lesser title.

We are so hung up on titles and labels and the definitions of one thing or another.  We want to be able to categorize each other into neat little boxes.  We forget that people are complicated.  Life is complicated.  Let’s just decide to make this one thing less complicated.  What is a husband or a wife but a partner in all things?  If we have made a committment to someone and invited them in to every part of our lives, does their gender truly matter? 

Maybe if we change the label we can change the law.  If we allow the words “life partner” to mean the same thing as “husband” or “wife”, we take the power away from the words, lessening their meaning, and enabling people to feel less defensive toward them.

18
Jan
11

Arizona

I haven’t posted about the Arizona shootings because I wasn’t quite sure what to say.  I have been grately affected emotionally by the tragedy, and considering I don’t personally know anyone involved, I’ve been trying to figure out WHY it bothered me so very much.

Blaming Sarah Palin seems easy, and as much as I dislike her, I don’t really think that she can be blamed.  Her Crosshairs ad was certainly inflamatory, and many commented about the wording and the visual image.  It does SEEM to promotre violence against members of the government, but more importantly, it makes a pretty strong statement about the nature of politics in America.  “Eliminate the competition” seems to be the accepted solution to political tumoil for the Republican party.

Maybe this guy was influenced by extremist rhetoric.  He was certainly insane.  But we have to take a good look at the media and the extreme way politicians communicate when a mass shooting happens in Arizona and the general response is, “Well, something like this was bound to happen sooner or later”.  Is that really where we are right now?  Are we seriously at a place where we can’t blame an insane man for being crazy because the outside influences are so extremist and violent that it’s possible he might have been influenced by a game, a TV ad, a movie….  Is this the world we want to accept – a violent. extremist, society in which this very thing can happens and we shrug our shoulders and keep our heads down?

14
Jan
11

Active Parenting

One of the reasons why some of my friends have respect for me a s a parent is because I spend so much time doing things with my kids.  I don’t mean I spend time with them.  ALL of my friends, mostly stay-at-home moms, spend nearly all of their time with their families.  My friends who work, and I hope to be among them again one day, spend all of their non-working time with their kids.  But not all of them are DOING things with them.

My daughter and I sing songs every day.  She’s still a baby, so we mostly focus on the basics.  She rocks the Alphabet.  My son gets Circle Time almost daily.  There’s the calendar, the money count, books relevant to what he’s currently interested in, pre-reading games, geography, and a variety of other activities.  We do arts and crafts, science experiments, and play extended games of hide and seek.  In addition to that, we stay current with what’s going on for cheap or  free, or (thanks to my awesome parents) with a membership to the Zoo.  Every Saturday we have some sort of activity – community days, walks in the park,  a LONG drive to the National Museums to see dinosaurs, air planes, moon landers (all on separate trips, mind you!), etc…  We plan things together as a family  based on what my son wants to learn about, and we try to make sure his sister is as included as a young toddler can be.

I believe strongly that active parenting must be ACTIVE.  The relationships we build with our children from such a young age determine our relationships with them for the rest of our lives.  Their father and I chose this path because we wanted to be included in their learning process and we wanted it to be only natural to want to spend a day in the park instead of an afternoon watching ___________ (insert sport, TV show, movie here).  The only way to foster that is to model it.  I don’t understand what that’s not evident to most of the parents I know.  We’re well aware to watch our language around the baby because we’re modeling speech.  Why aren’t we also aware to model active lifestyles around young children because we’re modeling LIFE?




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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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