Monday, June 14, 2010

To be loved...

I had great teachers in my life. When I became a teacher I had to make a choice. Well, actually, i didn't have a choice, I just had to come to terms. I realized that there were two kinds of great teachers: the ones you loved and the ones you respected. Think back. How many of you can name a teacher that you hated at the time, but what you gained from them you wouldn't trade for anything? They had discipline and knowledge. There was no messing around on their watch. They had something to teach and you were going to learn. Think back. How many of you can name a teacher you loved? Teachers who you would stay up late for to do an assignment. Teachers who you wouldn't think of messing around on their watch because you wanted them to like you as much as you liked them. They had something they loved to teach that you wanted to love too, and so you learned.

I had to make my students love me. I didn't have a choice. I tried yelling, dirty looks, never smiling for the first three months, all the things you think will inspire good behavior and respect. Nope. Not for me. I remember when I made the choice. I quit acting like the teacher who had the period before me. It was in school suspension. She would sit at her desk and yell. The kids would immediately snap into shape. I tried it for a few weeks. I didn't like it and it wasn't working. I changed tactics. I started moving around the room and sitting with each kid for awhile to see what they were working on, ask them what was up and help them with something. I got to know them and could make assignments suited to their tastes when they ran out of work.

I will never forget one boy. He needed help with math. Okay, not my strong point. He was doing percentages and I kept drawing pictures and coloring things in. He told me I was a really good teacher. I didn't have the heart to tell him I couldn't figure it out without the pictures.

Two weeks later I walked in for my shift. The teacher before me was trying to physically drag this boy back into the classroom. I asked what was up and she said, "The principal is on her way, he is out of here." I went and put my stuff at the desk and then walked back to the doorway that he was clinging to. I looked him in the eye and said, "go sit at my desk." He immediately released his grip on the door and walked back to my desk. I followed and pulled out his folder. I found a Social Studies Test that had a grade of 7%. I asked him what it was? He just shrugged. I told him to get out his social studies book and write in all the correct answers. He said, "But I won't get any credit for that." I said, "I don't care, you should have done it right the first time." He said, "okay."

I met the principal at the door and said everything was fine. She left. He spent the entire period correcting his test without a peep. I will never forget him. I have no idea what happened to him. But he taught me a great lesson. Something about kids. Something about myself.

My oldest son has become a Tween overnight. I realize I am in the same position again. I need to be obeyed. It is my job to teach some lessons. Discipline is a must. But you know what, it is the same story again. What is it they say about the insane that try the same thing over and over hoping for a different result.

I do not inspire fear. I have learned I don't have the muscle to back up my threats anyway. I am not the only one who learned that lesson. I must be loved. They must think of me and say, "I want to love what she loves. I want her to love me as much as I love her." And so I get out from behind the desk and move around and spend some time finding out what they need and what they are working on and help where I can. Every day. Every day for the next ten years, so that if the time comes and they are stuck between a rock and a hard place and I say, "Come sit by me." They will drop their fighting stance and come.

It is not the only way. But like it or not, I think it is my way. So it may sound easy. I am not so sure. How does one accomplish to be loved? Ask me in twenty or twenty five years. Maybe I will have the answer.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Core Principles vs. Narrow Minds

I think it is true, that if you want to know about the clock, it is best to study one well made clock thoroughly before moving on. Looking quickly at five million clocks will not teach you as much as the knowledge you could gain from studying that one time piece until you know exactly how it works, how it was made, how it breaks and how to fix it again.

Such is the theory behind the study of Western Tradition. The Liberal Education seeks to school its student in the foundation of Western Society. While I make no claim to being a scholar, I will say that the education I received helped to form core principles by which I seek to live. All situations I encounter are played by bouncing them off my sounding board to hear the pitch. Does it ring true or false?

No man alive today can know everything about everything. It is simply not possible with the amount of information to which we have access. The best we can hope for is to know enough about our core beliefs in order to make an informed judgement about the world in which we live. The truth is hard to find amidst the constant barrage of propaganda thrown at us from all sides. We must be able to look at the facts given in light of our core principles and make a judgement.

The process of doing this has been labeled narrow minded. I disagree. To ask if a law is just, a program necessary, or a public figure honest and to make a judgement based on our own core belief in the definition of justice, necessity and honesty, is not narrow mindedness. To stand on a solid definition of terms and a secure foundation of beliefs does not make one unintelligent, lazy or narrow minded.

It is simply judging a new clock by the standards of the old one we have taken the time to master. Is the new clock better or worse? One clock at a time. If the new does not meet the standards of the old, we certainly are not required to make it the new standard by which to judge. We don't have to compare every new clock to ALL the clocks in the world. It is perfectly sound to simply compare it to the one clock we know and make a judgement.

I will stick to the narrow, yet deep path rather than take my chances on the wide and shallow. I may scrape the sides, but at least I won't bottom out.

Response to the Response Going 'Round

I have no business background. I am the stay at home mom of five children. I eat bon bons all day and listen to Conservative Talk Radio. I would watch Fox news, but we don't choose to have cable. I think I read a book once in college, but I can't remember what it was, unless you count Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I read that five times. I am probably a racist at heart, except that one of my children is Asian and one is African. That causes a bit of a problem for me. I could figure out what to do about the contradiction, but I never actually think about anything. I would carry a sign with some bit of propaganda on it, but I can never find anything other than a purple crayon in my house.

In truth, I am pretty sure I have no marketable qualities what so ever. Yet, I have a stake in the future of this country. Those five little souls in my care force me to do so. I would like to think I have spent some time in forming my intelligence and character. The author of the response would probably prefer to believe me to be the bon bon eating, racist robot. Oh well.

Lou Pritchett, you scare me.
In many ways, you are probably no different from many other retired executives, but unlike the others, you scare me.
You scare me because you seek to leverage the credibility you achieved in the business world in order to justify your self appointed role as political commentator, despite the fact that you have not demonstrated that you possess the knowledge or the judgment to serve in that role.
As the main problem with the Obama agenda from the Tea Party Movement, be it cap and trade, health care, stimulus, or the take over of banks and car companies is economic, it seems that someone who has lived in the midst of the capitalistic system of America for so many years may have a stake and a credibility others may not. It is also his Constitutional right to express these views. Even Kyle in the basement can express an opinion in this country. However, if he begins to be listened to, he better watch his back.
You scare me because you do not have enough intellectual curiosity to look beyond the propaganda and lies coming from the right and actually take the time to pursue the readily available facts about our President before engaging in a misinformation campaign of your own. I see no facts in your own “intelligent” response.
You scare me because you have chosen to serve as a conduit for some of the most scurrilous lies and misrepresentations about the President, either out of ignorance or out of malice. Again, do you have proof or just left wing talking points as your own “intelligent” response?
You scare me because you challenge the right of all Americans who have spent part of their upbringing on foreign soil to call themselves Americans, including the sons and daughters of our service men and women, as well as the children of those in the our diplomatic corps. As you challenge the right of those who make their living in the business sector and the new media to speak as anything other than greedy hate mongers.
You scare me because you fail to appreciate the wisdom and judgment of everyday Americans, hiding behind the misguided assumption that good judgment and common sense can only come from “running a company and meeting a payroll”. Like the common Americans who are the vast majority of the Tea Party Movement?
You scare me because you dutifully repeat right wing talking points in your pronouncements, apparently willing to sacrifice your ability to think critically for the expediency of advancing a message already prepared by others whose primary purpose is not to inform, but to inflame. To agree with someone requires thinking. I find it a personal insult that because I agree with any or all that Rush Limbaugh may say means I have done no critical thinking. If I disagree with the slow and steady chipping away of the Judaeo Christian values, capitalistic private sector based economy and strong military presence in this country and abroad. This is not because I have read a sign or listened to the radio, but because I am a Conservative. The signs and the talking points reflect my world view, my world view did not come from them.
You scare me because you attempt to assign undeserved credibility to media figures who have achieved great wealth and notoriety, not because they are knowledgeable or enlightened, but because they are loud and opinionated and they have learned that commercial success comes from pandering to an audience that prefers to hear only one side of an argument, even when that side is based on lies. Have you ever listened to the commentators you despise? Case in Point: Harriet Miers. The commercial success of said commentators comes from the simple fact that they say things many other Americans agree with. Limbaugh speaks always and consistently from a Conservative perspective. This is not pandering. He makes no claim to running a debate show. Those who listen know which side of the argument he is going to make. He does not hide this fact from anyone. We do not listen to him to discover what we think. He has made his money by saying things we already believe. Successful Comedians do not make it by telling us what jokes we should find funny, but by creating material that reflects what people will find funny. Must we listen to jokes we don’t find funny to know what we do find funny? Must we listen to arguments based on communist, socialist and atheist core principals to know whether or not we still believe in the Conservative Christian way of thinking. We do not. Yet most of us are more informed than you may think.
You scare me because you are not able to distinguish between an honorable diplomatic policy that is based on diplomacy, humility and mutual respect, and an imagined policy that is based on whatever it takes to inflame the passions on the right. Or perhaps we look at History and see that it has never worked to try and appease those who hope to destroy the Jewish Nation.
You scare me because you are so completely divorced from the reality of policy proposals of the President, preferring to wrap yourself in the comfortable cocoon of lies and misrepresentations generated by the right wing echo chamber. Hu?
You scare me because you are so out of touch with everyday Americans that you cannot recognize that our current health care system is a recipe for disaster, and that any perceived need to involve government in health care is a direct result of the catastrophic failure of an inefficient, incompetent and corrupt health care industry that has proven itself unwilling or unable to regulate itself or to adequately provide for its customers. Mr. Well informed free thinker, have you seen the Conservative Proposals for health care reform that don’t have a price tag of a gazillion dollars?
You scare me because when you step forward as a willing participant in the organized misinformation campaign directed toward our president, you stand side by side in an unholy alliance with some the most extreme elements in our society: the white supremacists, the holocaust deniers, the domestic terrorists like Scott Roeder and Jim David Adkisson, and others whose stated goal is to bring about a change in society by whatever means they deem necessary, including the violent overthrow of the government. This bit of intelligence, free from malice and without the goal to inflame is above reproach. Give me a break. Last time I checked, the Tea Party was a non-violent protest movement: More like Dr. King than anyone else you mention.
And finally, you scare me because you represent a frighteningly large demographic of seemingly intelligent adults who have locked themselves off from open discussion and independent thought, choosing instead to filter out all information that does not reinforce deeply held prejudices and right wing talking points. Mr. Pritchett, there may have been a time when your opinions could have been taken seriously, but not anymore. In your letter I recognize the characteristics of yet another American who has sacrificed his ability to generate an independent thought so that he can worship at the altar of Clear Channel and Newscorp. I find that quite sad, because the ease with which seemingly intelligent Americans can be so thoroughly indoctrinated through controlled exposure to propaganda on radio and television is the most frightening thing of all.  We disagree with you. Period. You can attack our ability to think for ourselves until the cows come home. But you are wrong. Most of us worship God, I am sure you find that sad as well. We also believe and are schooled in the Liberal Arts and find our roots in Western Tradition. We find the Obama Agenda to be an attack on what we hold dear: Liberty, Democracy, Religion, Freedom of Speech, and the Spirit of Innovation fostered by the Capitalistic System.

To believe that the freedoms and rights and way of life we have come to have in America are guaranteed to last forever is a mistake. Study History. The American Experience is the exception, not the rule. Ours is a different foundation, but all foundations can crumble or be destroyed. Many of us feel that much of the current president’s agenda seeks to destroy that foundation. We find that scary, for when it falls, who knows what may emerge from the dust.