Douglas Adams. “In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Month: November 2001
Alan Kay. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
Just testing to make sure that the changes I just made don't muck up my home page rendering in the cloud…
Testing a problem editing posts which have paragraph breaks…
This is the 2nd paragraph. It worked!
There's a picture of me on this Google Image Search. Can you spot it?
Robert Frost. “A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.”
“I remember that when she saw me finishing the math work quickly, and sitting bored and sad, she decided that I should do the first and last problem on each page, then go to the back of the room and work on an independent project.
“What a relief! I was acknowledged as a person and permitted, even encouraged, to express myself and to do something useful and enjoyable. Was it fair? No, life isn’t fair. Her concern for me was more than fair, it was liberating and permitted me to see myself as outstanding rather than wierd.”
I missed a couple of other posts in reaction to my outlining story (due to an email outage here on my LAN, the details of which I won’t bore you with):
Donald Larson told a terrifying story about an unjustifiable beating he took from a Nun at his Catholic school at age seven. It was 1957 at the time. Donald, who is now a parent, wrote:
“Let me tell you what I learned from it. If anyone had ever touched my daughter with intended harm, they would have answered to me.”
Also, Ian Bickling wrote:
“…I would have reacted similarly to that situation, I think — though I was (thankfully) spared such tedium in my early education…
“Composition and the forming of independent thought are incidental to this sort of education, but they should be absolutely central. But these are not often taught skills, and when they do show up in curriculum it usually results in touchy-feely results that don’t accomplish much of anything. Fostering independent thought is constantly challenging, not just for the student but also for the teacher.”
“Peter [my younger brother] was asked to outline Time magazine articles. This seems reasonable until you try to do it. In fact, [the Time magazine] articles are headed not by topic sentences but by catchy phrases that have little to do with the content. The stories flow in a conversational manner, designed to hold your attention, but defying logic. Amid frustration and tears, we agreed that no outline was possible. ‘Just write something down,’ didn’t satisfy either him or me. Now Jake writes programs to write outlines to permit orderly work to continue. I wish I could write outlines and try to maintain parallel structure in sentences and in the world. I’m not sure that Pete even thinks about outlines.”
She followed this up with an outline of her life: “Will I filll in this outline? Perhaps, but most likely not in an orderly way. How many levels are there? Countless levels of complexity and of memory…” How true.
My mom posted this, this evening. I thought it would be interesting for some of you following the debate that’s been going on here over parenting, authority figures and teaching lessons to your kids, to read what my mom has to say about my fourth grade “You’ll never amount to anything” incident…
Well, here’s Jake’s Mom at last.
Of course I remember the story somewhat differently. The set-to with his 4th grade teacher was only one of a series of misunderstandings between Jake and his teachers. Several of Jake’s teachers had trouble with him. His kindergarten and first grade teachers were fortunately experienced and accepting of kids many variations. They saw him as a bright ,sensitive, generous child and gave him the respect and encouragement he needed and deserved.
His second grade teacher was new and young and didn’t know how to listen to her students. She wanted them to compete and play motivational games rather than just learn. She didn’t understand his urge to read just one book, on reptiles, 200 pages, from cover to cover. “Don’t you want to put lots of leaves (representing appropraite 10-15 page 2nd grade books) on the tree and win the prize?” His honest reply – “No.” She wept in frustration because he wanted to read rather than win and got so upset she accidentally broke his potteryart project by hiting the desk with it. He was frightened and upset. too. I know that she grew more preceptive with maturation; he has too. But when he was 7 and she 22 (so young) she was supposed to be the grown-up and he the kid.
What about the “He’s just like you….” statement? I remember that as distinct from the outline episode, but most likely in the same year. We were in a scheduled parent-teacher conference with his TAG teacher, Jan. I remember workbooks as the immediate issue. I don’t remember anyone shouting, but adult disagreement is out of line and may seem loud to kids. I also don’t remember my response to the statement …he’ll never amount to anything.” but I think it was, “Now that we’ve established that, what shall we do next?” Sarcastic, yes, but hardly scathing. Jan backed me up by asking whether he has a grasp of the concepts that were being taught and the teacher replied, “Yes.” “Then let’s just throw the workbook away and let him do something else,” Jan suggested.
The most important lesson I learned was that advocacy for your child is the essential element of parenting. Don’t abandon them to the system. Instead, help the system understand their indivudual needs, find additional expertise to back them, and you, up. Listen to them. Help them. Commiserate when you can’t change the circumstances. Kids are vulnerable, easily intimidated. It’s unlikely that yours is the worst in the world or that he will never amount to anything. Care of your children is your most important responsibility; don’t abandon it just because an authority figure asks you to.
He’s just like me; he amounts to a great deal.
Geoff Allen wrote to Dori Smith: “I’m not a ‘know-it-all’ parent like Dave Winer complains about, not at all… But I do know that one thing we must all learn in life is that the world is unfair, illogical, and doesn’t behave in the ways we want it to. It’s much easier to learn this as a child than as an adult!”
While I agree with this basic sentiment, there are times when you don’t have to just go along with it. In fact, there are times when you shouldn’t just go along with it.
Most people have heard the serenity prayer at one time or another: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s not good enough to just do everything you’re told. To do that is to sell yourself short, and to disrespect your own life. To truly be alive, it’s important to ask the “why” question: that’s the wisdom part. Then you must choose whether a situation demands courage or serenity.
Here’s a link from Aaron: Top Ten Mistakes in Education. “Mistake #9: Schools believe discipline is an inherent part of learning… The threat of a ruler across the head makes children anxious and quiet. It does not make them learn. It makes them afraid to fail, which is a different thing altogether.”
Aaron has lots more links here.
BTW, Geoff: Please turn on your discussion group.