Archive for December, 2012

December 21st.  It seems to me that everyone has heard about this eventful date.  It’s right around the corner.

My favorite astrologer, Susan Miller, says that the world is not going to abruptly end, as so many suspect.  Nevertheless, end of the world soldiers are hastily preparing for the apocalypse and stocking their hiding places deep under the ground.

What if?

What if in the wisdom of the Mayan’s enumerations and calculations, it’s not a literal “end of the world,” but rather, a metaphor, a big fat mockingjay pin that represents a breakdown.

A breakdown in the fibers of the world.

A divergence from unity, from brotherhood, from family values, and ethics.

A catalyst signalling a subtle yet staggering shift in focus, in theories, in perspectives, toward a darker, more Harrison Bergeron, Orwellian, Ayn Rand setting.  What’s that short story, I believe by a South American man, about the futuristic, very censored government run society, about a guy and a letter either for the girl or by the girl, and he’s a loyal government employee who zealously does his job reading letters and marking “problematic” ones???  I can’t remember the name of the story or the author to save my life…rats!

There have been several senseless and inexplicably horrible events locally, and around the world that might just point in that direction.

I woke up, after a dismal and restless night, having nightmares that combined several different violent events that happened with some that hopefully never will, and this song was stuck in my head.  It still is.

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I was planning on writing about my infuriating experiences as a teacher with credit recovery, after reading the Wall Street Journal article below, but it’s Monday and I don’t want to set a negative tone for the week.

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/02/cheating-students-in-d-c-with-phony-credentials/

(Since I’m not subscribed to WSJ.com, I’ll link it through Diane Ravitch’s blog, where I initially came across the opinion piece)

Instead, I’ll release from my psyche an incident that was minor in the great cosmos of the universe, but significant to how we approach education.  I liken it to Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, which I linked on my blog this summer, its subject focusing on how our education system in America stifles creativity in children.

Since I am an unemployed educator at the moment, I have had to take my daughter out of her wonderful Emilio Reggio Spanish Immersion School (wow, that’s a mouthful!).  She is two years old and attended for one year.  I find it to be similar in style to the Montessori method, which most people are more familiar with.  At its core, it is structured to encourage education through play.  It strongly encourages natural exploration of the world, and there is no rigid curriculum.

Consequently, my daughter, who appears to be developmentally sharp, soaked up the Spanish immediately, without suffering any lingual confusion with us at home. There are millions of wonderful things I could say about her experience and how beneficial it was for her, but sadly, without a job, I could no longer afford to keep there and justify it.

So, being the obsessive person that I am, I wiped my sorrowful tears, and set to researching activities to engage my two year old in daily.  My stay at home mom days were over a long time ago, and my teaching job for the past decade consumed my life so much, I couldn’t believe how much I relied on other people to raise my child.

One of the activities I thought would keep the social aspect alive was story time at the library.  So, one day we ventured out to do a Fall themed story time activity of books and songs for her age group.

In the activity room, the  moms and nannies shuffled in with their tots, looking cute as cupcakes.  The librarian began with a song, which was wonderful, and then proceeded to read a story that was far too advanced for toddlers and their attention spans.

Nevertheless, my daughter did what she would normally do at her old school.  She was dancing like the leaves in the book, remembering the song (about leaves) and dancing around and then stopping to touch the picture on the pages, etc.

Everyone in the room looked at her like she was an aberration.  The librarian had to tell her twice, which was enough for me, that she would have to sit down and behave so others could enjoy the books too.

Of course, I understand.  The other kids couldn’t see from their sedentary positions on the floor.

But for my daughter, as for all of us in my home, and at her old school, reading was alive and vibrant, filled with color and song, and isn’t it just like American educational standards to expect children to be all lined up in a row, in silent obedience?

So we left and I felt a weight bearing down on my chest.

Since that day, we have not returned to story time, but we may try other libraries and see if it’s less rigid.  I don’t know.  Perhaps.

Ultimately, this reminds me of the coursework I have taken years ago, and the pedagogy of how children learn, and the variety of learning styles.  Sadly, our country has adopted a once size fits all, and the ones who don’t fit are labeled.

Story time stared me in the face again the other night as I watched a new show called “Scandal”, an interesting show, and last week’s episode featured a billionaire who was suddenly acting out of character, and doing crazy things like driving around in his mansion, and having fun.  His proper family wanted to have him committed, but he fought back and at the end he told his son that he’s not crazy, he simply spent his whole life doing what was expected of him, and raising his family, and managing the millions, but not living. And for once he was going to do what he wanted to do.

Wouldn’t it be great to get out of the pegs everyone expects us to fit into and dance around during story time, as freely as leaves?

Dancing in the leaves, courtesy of mirror.co.uk

Dancing in the leaves, courtesy of mirror.co.uk

Check out this lovely blog I came across this morning, and this short but poignant piece, “What Should a 4 Year Old Know”.

http://magicalchildhood.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/what-should-a-4-year-old-know/

All parents need a copy of this.  I needed it for sure.  Good week to you world!