a sad realization​…

Try as I might to blog on a more regular basis, school has really been ramping up and when looking for ways to squeeze extra minutes from the daylight hours, small spaces like this one get pushed to the back burner, then the broom closet, perhaps put in the trunk with the clothing donation I still need to drop off…

Applaud if you can relate…! =)

I am enjoying my cross-cultural education class, as well as the inquiry-based technology class this term. But I have a small seed of unease growing in my tummy, right nest to the watermelon seed I accidently ate last summer… As I turn further away from the mechanics and beauty of the written and spoken word to focus on hypothetical classroom scenarios that will apply to, at best, 10% of the graduating teachers who land sought after spots in affluent districts, I realize a little more of my spark is extinguished each day. I am most emphatically NOT looking for that cushy job with a Keurig in each of the 4 teacher’s lounges; instead, I am searching for the poorest school, the one in which the children desperately need every moment of instruction that I can dole out, until I finish the Doctorate program, after which I can live my passion by relocating and working for a Tribal school out west, where my heart resides and is whispering to me still…

Here is a statement that is going to break the internet… but I need to say it, because I am exhausted by the now-familiar undertone that my professors and classmates alike have when speaking to my specifically. It is not my fault I am white…

I am a 40soemthing, white woman. I did not order this body or these life circumstances, but I am in possession of them, and like people of every other color out there, I am trying to live my best, authentic life within the confines of said life. Every suggestion I make, no matter if it comes robbed shamelessly from the professor’s textbook itself, is met with “Well, ok, but the kids REALLY don’t need another white teacher to go in and save them.” Ok, valid point, but I do not want to SAVE them, I want to EDUCATE them. Maybe then, with a solid background and degree, they can go back to their towns and teach their children in a way that I cannot because I do not share their cultural similarities. Additionally, I am not looking at a “me versus them” scenario, instead I see myself as a resource that ALL my students can utilize to reach their own, best potential. I have to say it just one more time, I am not white because I tried to be white, I am because I was born this color, and no amount of tanning will erase my Scots lineage. And I am exhausted beyond belief from constantly apologizing for myself, and trying to smallerize my big and happy self in order to appease other students, who are getting a mere fraction of my GPA. Perhaps if more time were spent in studying and pursuit of the A, and less time criticizing my innate desire to push forward equality, everyone would have the grades I work so hard for, and the opportunities and scholarships these hard-won grades have EARNED me. But today, these “perks” are not seen as my hard work, but as something I was handed, due to my skin color. What no one in class sees is my anxiety over how I am going​ to pay rent without working and thereby making myself ineligible for thousands of tax-free scholarship dollars, or how my insurance tax credits got revoked, cancelling my policy, because I earned $499 more dollars, for a total of $17,620 in 2015. Or the fact that I take care of my car because it is an affordable lease that I am trying​ to keep spotless so I do not pay damage fees when I return it, even though it has a smooshed front bumper from a trip to the grocers. They do not see that I am a part-time mother​ who sees her child on the weekends only, during which time I am frantically working to keep that GPA up in my 6-7 classes a term, while my contemporaries take 4 classes and live on campus. I do not wear fancy clothes or have a nice haircut not because I am “old and lazy,”but because I simply cannot afford​ them. Funny… were my skin ANY other color, I would be told I am being marginalized. But I am white, so I am merely complaining.

And this group of “peers” is the ones who I will be spending the next 3 years with. No, they are not the teachers and families I will be interacting​ with in South Dakota, or New Mexico, but it is a long, hard road to that point, and I am tired. So let’s just say that skin color has nothing to do with one’s​ ability to be exhausted by the bullshit that life throws our way in the form of small-minded people. And maybe, in the future, we can celebrate our differences, and when we see someone trying to help those who have been given less-than, we can support them, regardless of their age, color, or pant size.

haiku…

Tuesday looms ahead,
Park, walk, vote, hurry straight away…
Exercise your right!

I know, way too formulaic and without a shred of creativity, but brain being utilized now with research pertaining to environmental history; not much else left in there.

I will not presume to tell anyone how to vote. I will not presume to know the path best for this country. I will not presume that I could do a better, or more inclusive, job. BUT… I will say that the citizens of this country have not only rights but responsibilities. I will say that even when we want to hide under the bed until December and hope this was all a bad hallucination, we are RESPONSIBLE for maintaining our current government until such time as we see fit to COLLECTIVELY change the status quo. I will say that if you hate the candidates PERSONALLY so very much, perhaps try to separate​ them from their stance on the issues. Make a spreadsheet, circle those opinions which align with your​ own, tally up the circles, and vote for that candidate. FORGET party lines, personalities, crude remarks, questionable attire, smiles that seem too sincere, or not sincere enough. THINK about what is important to you and yours. THINK of what you hold most dear, and how to either maintain or improve upon it. THEN… if you STILL cannot find a way to get yourself​ to the voting booth, understand that opting out is not an answer, and it might be time for you to put your money where your mouth is. To advocate for change, run for office, support third-party candidates… the list goes on. But by all that is holy and for fuck’s sake, peeps, DO SOMETHING! Because sitting on the couch in your pajamas, eating cheese curls and flinging them at the television in disgust while whining is simply NOT going to create a nation anyone wants to inhabit. Love to everyone, and much respect. Please remember your voice this coming Tuesday, and take one second to be thankful that while we live somewhere imperfect and broken, we STILL have a chance to create a better tomorrow. Namaste!

learning inside the box…

I awoke this morning to sunlight trying to stream past my curtains. It was peeping around the corners of the window, bright and happy-making. At first I was so thrilled to see the sun again, I missed the other obvious cause for celebration… I had SLEPT ! Nope, it was not Melatonin, a glass of wine, or a hot bath that did the trick. I simply downloaded free games onto the iPad and played until past 12:30 am, until my eyes closed repeatedly and I dropped the tablet on my face several times. Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right ? =) I usually have a pretty rigid sleep schedule that includes lights out at 10:40 every night, so this was very late for me. It worked, and while I know it was a one-time deal, I am in such a good mood from rest that I have no worries about tonight.

I was reading articles on NPR last evening, and was focusing my attention on education related information. Hey, it’s what I do… One piece in particular caught my eye, and after reading carefully, I thought to myself “No shit…!” The gist of it was that if politicians throw too much decontextualized content into the K-12 standards, they become bogged down and ineffective.

A hundred years ago, our children who went to high school were learning Latin or Greek, Rhetoric, and advanced mathematics. This applied even to most rural schools, as a portion of the students were being groomed to become teachers themselves, in a few short years. Not everyone had the opportunity to take advantage of such an education, but it is something our nation prided itself on. Now, colleges are teaching remedial classes, for no credit, and many students who need this service enroll in more than one subject area. What caused this shift, and can we get back to a more rigorous content ?

Part of the problem is that in years past, students were not studying in so many different content areas. History was in depth, but also included writing, studying the relevant speeches of the era, grammatical instruction as found in the words of leaders and political science. Mathematics was the only stand alone course, and this inter-connectedness allowed students to more fully grasp their studies as a whole, rather than separate parts.

Today, we are throwing topics at students, rather than teaching them. A set of defined points to cover, pass out a worksheet, read and take a multiple choice quiz. Ok, everyone got that… let’s move on. There is no coherent instruction, and each year begins with a 3 month review for the children who did not pick up the concept in the previous year. What about the children who know these concepts like the back of their hand, and are merely sitting, doodling and bored, day after day until the new materials are presented ? Nothing about this system makes sense for any child, nor does it prepare them for their life after school and college. How can you live up to your potential if you are merely following regulations and regurgitating pablum ? Where is the original thought, the critical thinking skills that allow successful adults to make well-informed decisions ? We are removing a child’s innate ability to process information, and form ideas on their own.

On to the Common Core Standards. They were created, like most innovations, with the best of intentions. A way for all children in all states to be better prepared for the rigors of college. A way of ensuring that all children get an equitable education, rather than those who are economically advantaged being given the best. Sounds so good in theory… But we have taken this ideal and created lists, rote memorization of separated facts, and there is no interflow of ideas. Learning can come only from connections, and when we remove any connection, we are once again left with a list to memorize. Is this what 12 years in school should be producing ?

I do not pretend to know what standards should be in place, or the way we can implement such standards. But in a time when over a dozen states are proposing the removal of the Common Core Standards, it is clear that we need to step up and be decisive about where our children are headed. Why we teach the way we do, and who exactly we are serving with the current system. I realize I am passionately idealistic when it comes to education. But this is what I do. I know not everyone has the resources or ability to home educate. But the fact that my child has such an edge over the majority of her peers is heartbreaking. Does my foxing deserve so much more than is offered to others ? I do not believe so, I am just fortunate enough to be able to give it to her.

mourning a loss…

The world is a bleaker place today… Yesterday Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. Between ending apartheid  and connecting all of South Arica into a single economy, Mandela was certainly the most important political figure in all of South Africa’s turbulent history. He was so much more; a very real humanitarian directly responsible for raising the average income of Africans over 90% in a mere 15 years. Under his guidance, the country’s electrical usage almost doubled, and secondary school attendance rose 20%. Intra-regional trade and GDP growth rate also increased sizably.

He was not a leader without his faults; mishandling of the aids crisis resulted in 1 in every 10 people being infected today. Unemployment is still ridiculously high, and as in most countries, there remains a huge discrepancy between the lifestyle of poor versus rich citizens. In short, he was a man, fallible as all men are, but also a visionary who was generous with love and respect for his fellow man. His death is a loss that will be felt world wide, but under the right leadership, his legacy can live on, rippling future generations with the change he fought so gallantly for.

Anything else I might have to say this morning simply is trite compared to this man’s incredible life. I plan to discuss Mandela with my foxling today, and spend some contemplative time remembering all the good that one brave person can accomplish, if one has the right issue to believe in. Please make the most of your one and only today… life is a finite journey.

To Whom Much is Given…

Access to basic human rights should not be left to chance, or accident of birth.  I was recently thinking of my foxlings basic rights… to education, food, health care… to be free from abuse… to speak her mind without fear…  She was born into her life granted these things without thought, yet there are millions of children her age who cannot claim to have ever known even ONE of these precious resources.  She has never been hungry.  She has received low cost immunizations against disease that claims lives around the globe.  She has never been exploited, and has two parents who keep care of her, ensuring her safety to a degree unheard of in over 88 countries.  She lives a charmed life.  We must not forget that many children will live and die according to whim, weather or chance.  Are not these unnamed children as precious, and worthy as my own girl ?  My girl, who thru circumstance, could be any one of these beautiful and exploited children?  Sobering thought.  They could be her.  They could be me.  They have a voice, and need to be heard.  Consider supporting Doctors without Borders, Global Citizen, Causes.com… Be aware of the beauty in our world, without a doubt.  But educate yourselves of the tragedies that are facing a huge percentage of our worlds’ peoples.  Share info with those you love, put the word out there.  Children need to be protected.  ALL CHILDREN.  As I prepare our dinner tonight, I will be thinking of our bounty.  And thanking providence that I have a voice…  Peace to you all…

 

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