When the last of your parents die it is often a mental game changer. The death of a parent is a tough although often sweet sadness after a long life. When your first parent dies you can often take solace in and with the second. When the second parent dies it quietly creeps into your mind that you are now the parent, the old one, hopefully the wise one , you are now the home you used to go home to.
I am writing this after the death of my best friend’s mother. Hell she might as well have been my mother too as I spent as much time at her house as I did at my own. She took care of me as she did her own, invited me to thanksgiving when my parents were out of town, even Christmas one year and when I acted up she wasn’t particularly shy about taking me down a peg just as she was with her own kids.
It was a different world then, a world with neighborhoods where 12 year olds were given guns and expected to not shoot each other , where kids could have paper routes and we were expected to walk home from school, no matter what the weather without fear but with responsibility . It was a world of holidays where cream, and butter , deliciously adulterated egg-nog for everyone even the older kids and cooking the turkey at low temperature over-night would not kill you. I am sure Bea was not a perfect mother, few are, but she was an honest one and in my memory you rarely had to guess about where she stood on any issue.
Her son and I growing up together did some dumb things, some exciting things, some things neither of us probably remember and some we would like to forget, but through it all we could always go home again. Being a parent can be both an awful and awesome responsibility that is often reflected in the kids we raise be they our own or someone else’s. The proof of the value of Bea’s life lies not in any obituary or eulogy it lies in her children and her grandchildren. The circle is unbroken the home has simply changed hands. Rest in peace Bea.
Dr. Gerald Juhnke of the University of Texas quoted in a Des Moines Register article concerning teacher killings illustrates just how far out of touch many college professors are with modern educational problems when he calls teaching a “peaceful profession.” It was a peaceful profession when I started in 1970 it is not peaceful any longer. Teachers are being hit from all sides by , politicians who have never been in a classroom setting policies whose impact they neither understand or about which they apparently do not care, administrators reacting to the NCLB with on time on task and on curriculum decrees that deny the very nature of children, parents who cannot or will not see beyond the end of their own or their children’s short term needs and desires, and finally children who are imbued almost from birth with instant gratification, a no compromise attitude, and pervasive violence in the media, the news and even their own homes that validates their violent behaviors.
Teaching is not a profession for gentle souls although most teachers are gentle and compassionate. It is now a rough and tumble series of problems that must be solved not in isolation but in the presence of 30 other children many of whom will have the same or a different set of problems. When I started teaching you might have one serious behavior problem a week now it is often one each period of the day.
It is very difficult to be fearful and a teacher at the same time. When a kid threatens to burn down your house or poison your dog, as I have experienced, and follows it up with a recitation of your address you have to pay attention. But the truth is, If you want to have any chance at all of teaching that kid you have to be able to look them in the eye without fear or the battle is already lost.
I used to honestly believe that if I kid threatened you or attempted violence against you, that as a teacher it was your fault for letting them believe that they could even think about doing that, I no longer believe that is true.
Our schools and our teachers are not responsible for the ills of our society it is exactly the opposite that is true.
Posted in education, Education Reform, politics, Society, teaching, The Future, Uncategorized
Tagged Death in the Classroom, Education, school shootings, Teacher killings, teaching, violence
For Teachers /Parents, The latest fad for better or worse that will swoon sweep across the nation is Standards Referenced Grading It is coming to a school district near you soon if it has not already arrived! Look at the “policies we follow” shown below from one district. These policies have surprising changes in how students and their work will be evaluated particularly when compared to the concept of school to work that swept the nation a decade ago. SRG is not all bad but it is a serious paradigm shift being made with what appears to be little hard research indicating where some of it will lead not for the schools but for our society!
You may view the whole powerpoint by cutting and pasting the link below.
Please read it carefully there are some huge unstated implications in here! For example the phrase “Homework will be used for practice.” # 3 below. What exactly does that mean? Does it infer that there will be no homework for those students who have met the standard? Does it mean no more term papers? Does it mean no more out of school projects? What does it mean? When you look at these policies all together not individually they are a ground shaking change in attitude and expectations.
Practices We Follow in Standards Referenced Grading
No Extra Credit
Homework is used for practice
Homework may be differentiated for student readiness
Late work is scored without academic penalty
Opportunities for resolving incomplete work
Multiple chances to demonstrate understanding
Most recent scores and trends are used to determine
understanding/mastery ( no averaging, total points or weighting )
Report non-academic standards separately
Do not punish academic dishonesty with reduced score
Do not consider attendance in score
Do not include group scores
Do not consider behavior in score
Organize and report by standards/learning targets.
Involve students in the learning process of setting goals and monitoring learning
This is but one example and not all of these will be present in SRG everywhere while others may be added.
I had a visit from some of my least favorite people last night. These particular visitors that almost always come after dark are persistent, uncaring and steadfast in their visitations. They crawl through the windows of your soul and get at your most private thoughts. Questioning, complaining and often irrational they go about their work robbing you of what should be yours and yours alone. Peace of mind and a good night’s sleep. Often, as they were last night, the subject of their conjecture could have best been forgotten, something so insignificant and trivial in the general scheme of things that further thought should not have been necessary. None the less there they were at 2:57 AM crawling into my head and endlessly reviewing my decisions from the previous day. Like a record caught in a groove over and over again questioning my past and casting doubts about the future. Refusing to go home even when the porch light was turned off and the doormat pulled inside. These night visitors for me are not nightmares filled with horrors of war or death as sadly afflicts others. Last night, as they are most nights, the visitors were sneaky, hiding in the shadows of my mind and waiting until I had just managed to reach that in-between state where reality and sleep touch only to reach out and touch me again just hard enough to bring me back from the edge of sleep and as usually happens for some reason every time they touched me again I had to look at the clock to constantly update its glacial movement towards morning. Finally at 4:00 AM the clock and the night visitors won and I got up and took the dogs for a walk, came home and begin writing this and yet even as I am writing this, the night visitors linger in the back of my mind, fuzzy and insubstantial, but still there waiting for that brief nap in the chair in front of the TV or most likely my next night’s attempt at sleep.
I wonder do the night visitors visit everyone, do they visit criminals in prisons, do they cause the cries of babies in their cribs, do they visit scam artists that rob old people without conscience? Do they visit our government officials or are they most often a malady of the common man, the common man who unlike others sometimes just doesn’t know if they have done enough or what is right?
“If it turns out that President Barack Obama can make a deal with the most intransigent, hardline, unreasonable, totalitarian mullahs in the world, but not with Republicans, maybe he’s not the problem!” – Jon Stewart
Perhaps he can make a deal because he’s giving the mullahs some of what they want? That often makes a great deal of difference when a deal is being made.
I find it interesting that both sides say no compromise but only the Republicans seem to be taking the heat. and those of you who believe that the Democrats would not do this same thing have very short memories. Like Social Security and the ADA the ACA is a pig in a poke, no one can tell exactly what is in there because so much is left to interpretation and because of this factor, its eventual application will most certainly grow just as SS and the ADA have.
Personally I believe that the Republicans are ill-advised to engage in this battle but I also know that it is not very often that you get something for nothing and that is what the ACA seems to be promising. More health care for less money. The major problem with the ACA in my mind is not what it is but what it will become. Something needed to be done about health care but this is an awful big chunk to bite off and it will become an entitlement that everyone expects to have in the future which will make it nearly impossible to change if we find that it is too expensive. An example of this is SS which provides an excellent lesson on what the ACA will become and as it expands the ACA just like Social Security will gain 3rd rail status politically. Touch it and you die.
As to the ACA being the law of the land…The House of Representatives holds the purse strings and no matter how scary that may be, that is also the law of the land. I did find it to be a nice juxtaposition in Stewart’s comment however where he in effect called Republicans all those names without actually doing it……. I am sure that Republicans have never been called terrorists in such a nice way.
At this point should the Republicans should get out of the way and let it go while prepared to carefully consider future interpretations of the law. Interpretation that will most certainly occur. But I fear that will only happen if the Democrats and the President are smart enough to figure out some way to let the Republicans save face instead of grinding them in the dirt. It has been my experience that when “No Compromise” is the mantra of both sides that at least one side will seek revenge down the road and often times both sides will engage in an unending circle of blame, accusation and nitpicking. Oh wait, that’s already happened it’s called the U.S. Congress.
Posted in National Debt, politics, Society, The Future, Uncategorized
Tagged Affordable Care Act, compromise, congress, Debt, House, John Stewart, Obamacare, Senate