Jan 31, 2011

I WANT AN INSTRUCTION MANUAL

I really think we need an instruction manual in life. I seem to spend way too much time trying to make sense of things, no matter how small. Buy a piece of electronics and no matter how complex I can figure it out, but post a news item and I will spend hours trying to determine whether it is the truth or a lie. The thing is that there is no truth anymore. Things are now supposed to be in flux, a compromise between the extremes of right and wrong. Likewise there are no more good guys and bad guys. Even the bad guys are given their dues for traces of good.

Maybe Star Wars is to blame, after all, Luke had to save his daddy, Darth, despite the havoc Darth caused from the destruction of the Jedi Knights to the death of Luke's friends during the first DeathStar battle. Evil is evil, and while Luke "felt" the element of goodness still in there, what it did was show to all that there is no goodness and evil, just a snapshot that can be interpreted either way. And that creates confusion. Do I hate Darth? Do I like Darth? Should I consider Darth a special case, sort of like giving mass murderers clemency because after all, it was not their fault that they had a rough childhood. Do you see the dilemma?

We take these truths to be self-evident, or so it says in some antique American document that has lost reason and truth to legality and confusion. And if you confuse people enough they just give up. It really is a strong pull to just give up. There are days I want to just hide my head in the sand and not think about it anymore.

And so I believe that an instruction manual would be of immense help. Give me the ground rules so that I may decipher the path I must follow, not even for happiness as much as for sanity's sake.

As I watch the political (including educational) landscape peppered with half truths, agenda items, strings attached financing, score outcome assessments, and promises that never ever can be attained, not because of the lie of the person doing the promising, but for the utter chaos of the process that makes it impossible to achieve anything progressive (rather than regressive), I once again want to stick my head in the sand. Maybe that is why people go around singing ABBA songs - mindless and happy melodies that mean nothing but stop you thinking about anything else because the song won't leave your thoughts.

I guess it is my "Waterloo". Are you hearing the music yet?





- MisterWriter

Jan 26, 2011

NO POLITICIAN LEFT BEHIND – THE EDU PENDULUM IS ABOUT TO SWING AGAIN

 Click the cartoon below to visit Randy Glasbergen’s site 

After a decade of the education terror known as “No Child Left Behind” that should have been named “Every Child Left Behind” or “No test Scores Left Behind,” the government is now revamping it, considering a variety of new directions and new strategies that will have schools districts, teachers, unions, and book publishers everywhere buzzing, whining, applauding and vomiting, sometimes simultaneously.

Bush’s “Highly Qualified Teacher” may become a thing of the past in favor of more performance oriented assessments and status certifications. I could go on, but why bother… it will be years of debate that will culminate in some middle of the road law that appeases parents and legislators, gives the impression of growth while not addressing any of the fundamental problems in education like the one giant question all teachers wish they would ask:

“What makes students learn?”

Of course we could have millions of dollars spent on studies, and former educators cashing in with spiffy programs that produces a whole new vocabulary of edu-speak – you know the secret language used to make parents feel teachers are really, really smart – and then endless in-service hours of training in order to get every teacher on track, rated, assessed, programmed and ready for action. After all, are we not racing to the top?

And by the way – the answer to the question is…. “Because they WANT TO.”  Create an education model that makes children want to learn and they are more than happy to do so.  Of course many seasoned teachers already know this, but no one ever asks them because they are just… teachers.

I just can’t wait to see what will be left behind this time! Read more HERE

Jan 18, 2011

IT IS THE CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER THAT REMAINS PROBLEMATIC

MLK said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” and that quote, so illustrative of an intelligent insight has been so abused over the years by those who linger on the part that discusses “The color of their skin” and omit the part about “The content of their character.  For this is the issue by which not only African Americans are defined, by the amazing speech of Dr. King, so quoted out of context, but also the very fabric of the nation that lacks so much in character as it does in the ability to discriminate with any intelligence, not that discrimination is a matter of intelligent revelation. But listen; Dr. King spoke the words of accuracy for we are the sum of our character, both individually as well as collectively as a nation and we have failed in that regard.

It is our character that allows racism and hatred, ignorance and sloth to rule. We have a black president, many fine black actors, politicians, doctors, lawyers and so on, and yet the perception of ignorance remains pervasive. How can hate linger so much? Or is it fear of that reflection we see in a mirror when we ponder what we are as a nation?

Schools teach “Character Counts” and yet evident in the media, celebrity and the headlines, character does not count. We choose the easy way out, the fastest way to success, the shortest workload, the easy path, the path of least resistance because we do not want to upset the order we have been trained into.

I would hate it said that I am racist for talking about it. I would adopt a child of a different race in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself. What I hate is ignorance,across the races, all clinging to the blanket of justification, all expecting some special treatment, absolution or some favor because of race or creed. I am mixed, a mutt of races that have served their time in the global hatred of humanity, whether Jew, or dark skinned, whether full or half breed; I have seen the stench of hatred and the fear that rides that cloak. We will never advance while we retain the labels we cling to; those old tags that identify heritage as a reason, forgetting that humanity crawled out of the same wilderness eons ago, all tied genetically and culturally to one clan, one color and one creed.

So no it is not the skin color that changes anything; it is the character that rides alongside. For any man, woman and child can become the ideal; when their character shines through, but so long as we justify a lack of character as a basis of discrimination, and especially cloaked in a skin color we are identifying our failure to change the ideal, the norm and the standard to something all Americans can aspire. We then fail to become better than what we were before.

And that is perhaps the greatest sadness of this age. One where intelligence has learned little.And I did not have that dream…just that hope.

Jan 13, 2011