Saith Me… Thesis Lesson # 11

As much as I dearly love my 97 page thesis, it has become quite tiresome to read it again, and again, and again.

However, on a positive note, the fibro fog with which I so often struggle makes each reading interesting because I quite frequently feel surprised at what I have written.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 . . . . . . . .

FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.

Stop Condescending the Youth

Stop Condescending the Youth – my thought on banning books. Inspired by John Green, after reading one of his recent tumblr posts and watching a 2008 volg.

Parents should have a voice in their student’s education, and balanced curriculum is vital, but at the heart of any book banning discussion seems to be the perceived notion that the youth cannot handle the material. Is it any wonder that so many 18-20 year-olds make terrible choices once they leave the confines of parental oversight?

I would rather have my youth confront life while still at home than to have them face it for the first time when they are on their own. This philosophy has not made parenting easy, but I didn’t sign up for easy.

I grew up in a very conservative community where one very conservative religious group dominated the society and the politics. Yet, I still read books considered controversial, some that have been on banned lists elsewhere. The best classroom discussions came from these books and prepared me for the great human stories I went on to read in college. More importantly, these books have aided me throughout my years as a mother.

So my take on controversial reading material – Parents READ the books, and then DISCUSS them with your teen before they discuss them in class. The shock you will receive from the book is nothing compared to what your kid already faces or will face in school, particularly in college even if they attend a very conservative/religious college.

The material that seems to be at the heart of this latest controversy pales in comparison with what my son encountered while taking classes at a nearby school. It was not material addressed in class but was the conversations and actions outside of class, and it shocked the administration when my son finally reported the language and behaviors he encountered in non-classroom activities. As a parent, I assure you, I would have been much happier if my middle-school child would have had exposure due to “book discussion” rather than exposure due to normal youth behavior. Normal had changed since I was in school and since the administrators had been in school. We were all shocked, dismayed, and deeply troubled by what we learned.

Discussion of the issues and norms needs to be part of a youth’s education. Maybe if the older students had been more aware, more educated, then they could have acted where adults could not have. We need to stop condescending our youth and instead empower them with knowledge gained from discussing hard, controversial topics.

Since I am personally acquainted with the people behind the latest petition to remove books from school curriculum, I would ask that anyone reading this avoid emailing the people directly, but instead only contact the school district in question with comments. While my readership is small, only a minuscule fleck of dust compared to John Green’s, I would not wish to cause issue for the people involved. Comments of criticism and/or comments of support should ONLY be sent to the district. Edit – it appears John Green removed the link to the petitioners. Good.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 . . . . . . . .

FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.

 

Outward Expression of Who You Are

I teach a simple statement to both my son and my daughter, “Your clothing is an outward expression of who you are.” This statement hinges on a very important factor – knowing who you are.

I recently taught my son’s youth class about how in everything we do, we are communicating something. Knowing what we communicate and how we communicate it is very important. I made the simple demonstration of putting on and taking off an oversized, black cardigan. The class was amazed at the transformation one garment could make in my appearance. I then proceeded to have the tallest, coolest boy in the class stand next to me. I asked him to read a passage and then I read the same passage. Then I asked the class what were differences about the two of us. This time the class was intrigued. Youth vs. age, male vs. female, pitch of voice, and the list went on; each of these things can affect the way people see and hear us.

How we dress, how we move, how we interact – great tools of communicating who we are and what we believe – BUT first we must learn to know ourselves. This is what I wish more parents and leaders would focus on rather than simply listing what today is considered modest or popular. Teach the endless possibility of Dos rather than always the specific Don’ts. Certainly providing boundaries and guidance is important, but more important is providing guidance on how to become the wonderful individual that each of us is. This guidance must include teaching our youth how to dress in a way that is an outward expression of who they are because then we are helping them develop of the courage they will need to be that person in the world.

In my experience, it takes much more effort to provide a creative, personal wardrobe than it does to provide either a modest or popular wardrobe. It does not necessarily take more money, but it certainly takes more time and sometimes more skill. It also takes a really strong parent/child relationship because it must be a team effort or it will not work. I have had a wonderful time working with both my children and will miss this part of parenting and homeschooling. In reflection, I believe I have learned as much as my children have, and that is truly a great blessing.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 . . . . . . . .

FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.

Saith Me… Thesis Lesson #7

Thank you archivists and dedicated graduate school interns!

My admiration for archivists and interns has abundantly grown in the last hour. When a document is placed on the web for public use, but not in a manner that facilitates creating a searchable pdf, it is a massive pain and reminds me to be forever grateful to those dedicated souls who transcribe original documents for public use.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

 . . . . . . . .

FYI: I cannot view, nor do I endorse any of the ads that are shown on my blog.

Saith Me… A Note to My Child

It is easy for people to hate when times seem tough. It is also easy for people to justify their hate because they are ignorant of real history – they only know the glossy myth. I am proud that you are not one of those people, but seek to love all of mankind. I am also proud that you seek out the history and culture behind the myth. I love that you ask “why” and have learned to chart your own course rather than to allow yourself to blindly follow those who would seek to lead you astray (even if they know not what they do). I am proud of you for who you are and who you will grow to be because of the choices you make, particularly the choice to love not hate.

A break from historical analysis…

Just as I passed the halfway point in my current research paper, family interruptions led to a very strange conversation about space exploration and conspiracy theories.

Yes, this strangeness which I am about to reveal is all my fault. I am easily swayed from my paper on CIA interventions, and my creative energy has been begging me to focus on something utterly ridiculous.

So with all the seriousness I could muster, I informed my family that a combined space army of Imperial Storm Troopers and Klingons were poised to attack. The Death Star was in position, cloaked, and ready to fire on the Earth. If, however, it failed to cause magnificent destruction, an enormous herd of Tribbles would be let loose on humanity, thereby eradicating the sanity of the Earth population and making Earth irrelevant to the intergalactic order.

This bizarre conversation, and sorely needed break from my less-than uplifting historical inquiry, inspired an odd thought.

Life is really just a conspiracy to bring about our eventual death.

Critical Thinking and Pleasant Articulation

In the attached article, a recently retired high school teacher explains the troubling trend in education because of the high focus on standardized tests. While he attributes the problems to the federal policies of the last decade, the focus on standardized tests is not new and the side effects were present even 20 years ago, just not a prevalent. In the 1991-2 school year, I tutored a college freshman who was failing her International Relations class. The problem, as it turned out, was that she had never taken essay style tests and had never been responsible for taking notes in class in preparation for an essay style test. Yet she had graduated with honors from one of the best high schools in the nation.

The concerning issue highlighted in this article is the notion of “bad writing” as a scheme to excel on rubric graded writing. I am seeing the results of this type of thinking in my husband’s undergraduate classes and my graduate classes (online education affords us the opportunity to evaluate the other student’s ability to write). I have even had one graduate level professor criticize my work (with rubric attached) highlighting the dysfunction of the system.  While I do not claim to be a literary genius, it is very disconcerting when a young professor is more concerned with checking boxes than with evaluating form and function. While more experienced professors seek a well-supported thesis, the younger ones are concerned more with whether every point of a lecture is covered, almost in bullet regurgitation in order to stay within a prescribed word count.

But this is not a completely new problem, just one more common as all facets of education require ease of grading.

Not all disciplines follow the same writing style and the variations can be troublesome for students who have not learned flexibility in writing. Many years ago a great conversation with a fellow student highlighted this point. She had received a poor grade on her paper and had been told to see mine for a comparison. She was appalled to find out that I had not followed the same essay format she had learned in high school English class. I explained that the standard essay she had learned under the strict tutelage of her high school instructor was not what our International Relations professor wanted us to write. He wanted us to write a critical essay highlighting what we THINK!  What a notion – someone not only asking us to think but asking us to write it down. Students need to practice multiple styles of writing in order to gain the comfort of flexibility.

Thinking and standardized tests can sometimes cause problems for students, as I have witnessed with one of my two teens. My son, a person who sometimes thinks too much, receives decent scores on standardized tests, but not the stellar scores his younger sister receives. The instructor in the Washington Post article mentioned some of his students had taken Algebra in eighth grade. My son was taking physics when he began taking his ACTs and had a real struggle with the math section. It had been too long since he had seen simple math problems. Once he pulled out his old books and spent some time reviewing the simple, his math scores came up to snuff.

My daughter’s experience with the testing is slightly different because she likes to avoid analyzing but loves data. She is my ultra-creative child who has a near perfect memory.

My goal has been to teach my children to think, analyze, and then think some more. This had not been an easy task. My dedication to this task has left my children less prepared for the standardized tests they are required to take in order to get into the schools of their choice, but it was a risk worth taking. In the long run test scores will do little for them, but critical thinking and pleasant articulation will serve them for a life time.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/09/a-warning-to-college-profs-from-a-high-school-teacher/