Category Archives: Education

“Look at me. I am beautiful.”

Today was the last day of school for my students. As is the custom, I displayed a slideshow of all the photographs I took this year of the students and played music.

I liked my class this year. Other teachers liked my class too. But there was one boy who truly made it difficult for me to like. He complained to his mother and then to the vice principal about me. The boy had no humor, seemingly, and didn’t understand that yes a teacher is indeed there to teach academics. Despite that, I actually liked the boy.

The last couple days, however, truly brought out his true colors. He lied, wrote nasty things in someone’s yearbook, and generally was unpleasant.

Today, I noted, whenever a photograph of him would appear in the slideshow he would say, “Look at me. I am beautiful.”

I didn’t address that. From what I can tell, no one else gave it any mind either.

What an odd thing to say aloud.

The woke preach this. And while I am not of the feeling that one should be counter that, I also do not think it needs to be proclaimed.

I wonder how this will affect this child going forward. He seems quite taken with himself, but he has at the same time alienated himself from the group. Others have picked up on his behaviors.

While it crosses my mind, it’s not an issue I will ever see resolution to. My participation in this widget making is complete. Onward he goes.

The Curious Case of Mike

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On the last day of school, sometimes students present teachers with gifts. I think it’s a nice touch, but one for which I was not prepared for when I began teaching.

This year one of my students handed me the above envelope. When he did, the writing was upside down. I didn’t see it until after he had returned to his seat.

Mike.

Mike?

The boy’s name was not Mike. I have no Mike in my class this year.

While the students were at special, I investigated. His middle name is not Mike. His father’s name is not Mike. I had a secretary look up to see if there was a brother (I was certain he was an only child). There is no Mike.

So, I asked the boy at the end of the day about who Mike is. He didn’t know.

And that pretty much sums up some of the weird stuff that occurred this year with this class.

Generational Differences

At college, for a final in Pat Spang’s philosophy class (19th Century Philosophy, I think), I wrote about red m&ms. The point I made was that with the recent inclusion of red m&ms in packages of candies, the children of the day (1987) would have a different outlook on life than those of us who were older.

Why? Because a nine-year old in 1987 would think that red m&ms were new much like blue stars being added to Lucky Charms cereal. But the rest of society knew that red m&ms were being reintroduced after being off the market for 11 years. The red dye was claimed to be carcinogenic in 1976. It was never proved to be the case and the Mars Company didn’t use that dye, but pulled the candy nonetheless.

Anyhow, we now had two perspectives on the same event—forever a rift in understanding between the generations. I am certain it was not the first nor will it be the last.

I use that as a preface for as a teacher I have noted some differences between my students and the rest of us. This year’s students have introduced a new difference. I have never encountered this before.

Sometimes we speak in vagaries. We’ll say something like I bought a bicycle five or 10 years ago. That sounds like a normal sentence to us.

My students this year would say that sentence this way:

I bought a bicycle 10 or five years ago.

Huh? Why the larger number first? This isn’t a one-time thing. This is all the time with the majority of my students. Where does this come from? How do I correct it?

Trust me, I have emphasized that we always begin with the smaller number first. That has not produced results.

I also don’t remember ever being taught this. What has happened in our society that produced this shift?

I Miss Consequences

The consequence of a liberal society is saying “Yes” to everything.

The Paper Chase

The above quotation is one I have longed pointed to. It’s fruit is bearing presently.

  • Lose the school’s pencil case, there is no consequence.
  • Don’t return library book, there is no consequence.
  • Write something inappropriate in someone’s yearbook, there is no consequence.

The Chicago PD just updated its policy of foot pursuits. If a person flees, the police are forbidden from chasing. Stop or I’ll . . . let you go.

I see this close at home. My daughter has not suffered consequences. She is a master manipulator. Things done have never been her fault. There are always extenuating circumstances that always fall in her favor.

I’ve done her no favors in acquiescing to some of her antics over the years. But even the one who scolded me for being a poor role model would concede (I think) that I have attempted to hold her accountable.

The other day I was speaking with a retiring colleague and another teacher. Somehow the conversation shifted to responding to some of the behaviors that are encountered within the school system both from students and administration. We three all acknowledged that as older faculty members, the behaviors have little effect these days. We attributed it to the wisdom of growing older.

While I think that is involved (ultimately, none of this matters), I think there is a kernel of not caring that sets in. Johnny isn’t sent to the principal’s office any longer because the desired result is not found there. Johnny’s parents aren’t called any longer for the diatribe that is returned doesn’t produce the desired result either. Now Johnny has learned that his behavior is tolerated. That which is tolerated is gotten.

Vehicles drive all our town without licenses because there is no consequence for doing so. The police aren’t even permitted to pull these vehicles over.

I miss consequences.

Inconsistent

Each day from today until next Thursday the students have early dismissals. It occurred to me today that if the public were to ask, “Why?” the response would be to provide the teachers time to break down the classrooms.

Five partial days to pack up the classroom plus a day (next Friday) to put away the stuff.

Yet, we are provided no time to set up the classroom in September.

Some might point to the half day that we have in the classroom that we do not have to attend meetings as time to set up the classroom. The problem with that time, however, is that it is also Open House time. That means that parents and students come into the classroom to meet the teacher, see where the desk is, etc. While I am meeting with parents and students, I am not setting up the classroom.

If it takes five partial days plus one full day to break down a classroom, it seems reasonable to think some time is needed to set up the classroom.

Precipice of Adulthood

Beetle had a meltdown this morning. She is stressing about college. She sees money issues regarding college. I think it is good that she is aware of the cost. I had no clue when I attended college as to how much it actually was. I knew the dollar figure, but I didn’t know just how much of a commitment that was.

I recall interviewing for my second masters program. The dean highlighted my undergraduate GPA and the GPA for my first masters. She asked why I thought there was a discrepancy in the two numbers. “Oh, that’s easy. My parents paid for my undergraduate degree; I paid for my masters.”

Beetle has heard me speak of avoiding debt. Because she did not heed my guidance to go for a college she could afford, she is stretching her budget. She didn’t understand that the way the school presented the budget to her to get to a number she thought she could afford included a $5,000 annual loan.

Now she’s stressed about having loan payments after college.

Her first plan (have me pick up the tab) did not go so well. I said, “No.”

Her second plan was to have her parents split the $5,000. I said, “No.”

I had had thoughts of coming through with the money. But then the other side of my daughter presented itself. It was a reminder to me that she has never had to be responsible. Because of that, she has quit everything she has ever been involved in. Yeah, I am not tossing any more money into the pot at this point.

There is enough money for Beetle to go to college. She has done what she has always done: pushed the limits. She’s going to end up with debt, I suppose. Despite that, I think it will be good for her. Having firsthand experience with this I hope will provide the lesson early that carrying debt is a burden.

Given the way our country is being run, it is likely the government will excuse Beetle from the debt obligation. I am also open to helping out more in the future, but I want to see results first. Go to college. Earn good grades. Want to return for your sophomore year. Then we’ll talk. I already have lots of money invested in her education. Use that before I put more in.

And if I understand what Beetle is being told, it’s quite possible her mother will pick up the difference. But that is where the meltdown ensued.

She knows she has to rely on her mother and Beetle is not comfortable with that. “She doesn’t follow through” was one of the many things Beetle whined about. Yeah, I know.

Beetle absolutely pegged Gert. Beetle sees what I spent two decades experiencing. I am basically free of that these days, but Beetle (and Fritz) are in the throes of it at this point. It’s frustrating for them and it’s frustrating for me to witness.

I counseled Beetle, as she is on the precipice of adulthood, that she is responsible for herself. If you are reliant on another, then you are at the mercy of their flaws. I reminded Beetle that with a driver’s license Beetle would have more freedom than what she perceives to have. With a college degree, she can do as she pleases.

In all this, I received a most welcomed compliment. Beetle asked about getting an apartment and how it works. She said it must have cost a lot of money. Then she whined about the stuff at the house. She said she wants things to match and look nice like my apartment. 🙂 Yeah, I did that!

I then walked Beetle through how almost everything she sees at my place was purchased since the divorce. I took little from the house. Most of what I took has been replaced. I control what my living situation looks like. I make it clean, organized, and matching. I am beholden to no one. Likewise, her mother does the same. And when Beetle pays for her own roof, she will be able to determine what her living space looks like.

Welcome to adulthood, little one. You’re learning isn’t over . . . it’s just beginning.

Educational & Political Cluelessness

Dear reader, do not believe what the gasbags say.

Last week tragedy struck Uvalde, Texas as 19 students and two teachers were gunned down. Since then, everyone and their mother has offered their opinion. Another call for gun control has captured the nation’s attention. Just today, actor Matthew McConaughey spoke at the White House regarding “responsible” gun reform.

But they all are merely posers.

If there was indeed concern and a desire to prevent school shootings, then what happened today in my town (and I suspect in many) would not have occurred.

Since Uvalde, we have been instructed not to prop open doors. We have been instructed regarding that for years, but another push was made a few days ago.

Then today, upon entering our school, we saw that doors were unlocked, voting machines prominently displayed in the lobby, and the public just waltzing in as it pleased to vote in the taxpayer-mandated primary elections for private organizations.

If we are concerned about the children, this would not have happened.

Lip service is all any of this is. Public education is riddled with disregard for what is publicly proclaimed. Student safety is no more the focus than academics are.

Electing candidates for an election trumped student safety today. Don’t let those same politicians tell you they care about the children.

Earthquakes

22-06-06 Earthquakes

We have been studying earthquakes. Students were then challenged to create a two-story structure that could withstand an earthquake. The structures were made out of marshmallows and toothpicks. The ground was several boxes of Jello.

Fun activity.