Saturday, April 24, 2010

Coexist XXIX - Toward a More Civil Discourse

I have been writing a story based on the events of May 4, 1970 at Kent State. I was a young teen then, but remember all the protests and concerns of young people at that time. It was good thing, but often they were misunderstood and, of course, the tragedy at Kent State was an unnecessary response to peaceful protests and innocent young people. I digress. I'm concerned about where the "freedom of speech" is going when you can now join a Facebook group that calls for the death of our President. I see very young teens I know joining these types of groups in response to some radical and fanatical thinking and trends that may be getting out of control regarding our government. My concern is not that opposing viewpoints are being heard, but that we are moving away from civility and respect for our government and each other as citizens of this still free country. I wonder what it is like for young people to hear and see all the media they encounter now whether they seek it out or not. Facebook is certainly full of political opinions, and these young teens may be excited to express themselves in this way. But I wonder if they realize what they are really saying. Are we on a downward spiral?

"We live in a climate ripe with noise. Media outlets and 24-hour news cycles mean that everyone with access to a computer has access to a megaphone to broadcast their views. Never before in human history has an opinion had the opportunity to reach so many so quickly without regard to its accuracy or appropriateness.
It is difficult to hear anything when everyone has a megaphone. For young people trying to learn how to speak and listen, this is an especially complicated business."

Kate Shuster Ph.D
from Teaching Tolerance spring 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Testing Rant


This is the week I like to call Official State of Ohio Torture Children Week. It is the week, as a special education teacher, that I get to hand out a reading test on the fourth grade level to students who are reading at a 1st-2nd grade level. It will have no less than SIX 3-4 page stories that I will ask them to TRY to read (with 2-3 pages of questions attached) They will stare up at me like I am crazy and they will wait for me to help them as I have been for the past 30 weeks. But I will say - go ahead - read it yourself! I imagine it's similar to being handed a book written in Russian and told you can read it if you just TRY HARDER!

The next day I will give them a math test that includes algebra, reducing fractions, elapsed time, probability and those great story problems. The thing is that some of my students are still struggling with skills in addition and subtraction.

To me this all reinforces their belief that they are stupid and failures before they get out of elementary school. Then we wonder why they drop out.

I am all for schools being accountable, for special ed kids too, because they CAN learn. They have learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol prenatally, or struggle with ADHD every day which interferes with their learning, but states insist that they should take the same tests and progress at the same rate as all the kids who have none of those handicaps.

I will say that the state is beginning to introduce value-added status which measures yearly growth. This is good start - but my students are still expected to PASS the TESTS. If they don't I look bad, which makes my principal look bad, which makes the district look bad, which gives us an inferior rating, which is published in the paper, which causes the citizens not to vote for levies, which puts the district behind - again.

Maybe someday it will all make sense - but it will most likely be long after I am retired. My simple solution is to give them tests on their skill level and the next year show growth.
(There are also science, writing and social studies tests - and we all know you cannot possibly have a successful life without passing a social studies test. )

Saturday, April 17, 2010

If Women Controlled Medicine



. . . Except he'd be screaming and never go back :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Soliloquy


". . . I was a flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

Molly Bloom's soliloquy from Ulysses by James Joyce.
Painting by Marc Chagall

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Inspiring Words for a Tuesday

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."
Gilda Radner - actress and comedian 1946-1989

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"No one is uslesss in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else."
charles Dickens

Saturday, April 10, 2010

God is Love and....

You can safely assume that you have created God in your own image when God hates all the same people you do.
Anne Lamott

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Raising Kids

I don't know about your community but we have a lot of cars around here with bumper stickers that say "Proud to be the parent of an honor student." While this is something to certainly be proud of, I am looking back as the mother of two grown children now. I reflect often on my effectiveness as their mother. I blame myself for every little obstacle they face, wondering if I did enough, if I encouraged the right things, did I push hard enough when needed, or too hard?

The other day I saw a bumper sticker that read :"I love my kids whether or not they are honor students." I smiled at this because now that my children are well into adulthood I realize the greatest joy in my life is knowing that I raised two good, kind, loving people. In the end what matters is the person you helped form, not how much money they make or what school they graduated from. If you have a child who is content in life, a child who takes time to visit their grandparents, a child who will still confide in you - you've done something right. I guess I did.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eggshelland Update



We were out and about the other day and visited the 2010 Eggshelland. The theme is "we can fly" - all birds! My favorite little creatures on earth. Happy Easter!