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Posts Tagged ‘education’

Our youngest grandson/son/ward is still struggling in school.  Having only been educated to a 2nd and 3rd grade level by the time he was 13, when he came to live with us, has been near impossible to make up.  Even the two years of nearly private teachers in Jr. High, could not make up his being approximately six years behind in education.

He is currently failing history.  My oldest grandson had a history teacher who would dress up like a Civil War Soldier and come to class and teach all about why the war was going on and how the battles were fought, and the consequences.  Our boy has a teacher who gives his tests on what year the battle took place, how many soldiers enlisted, how many soldiers died; and all this for five to seven battles at a time.

Obviously, our boy does not have a great memory and I’m thinking this teacher isn’t the best either.  To be fair, this is the side of the story I am getting from youngest boy and another mother.  I do not sit in his classroom.

The discussion always comes up, how many good teachers do you remember?  Just ponder that for a minute.  How many teachers did you have that you actually felt made you learn to think for yourself and made learning fun?

I remember one.  I think she was my fifth grade teacher and, when you read a book, if you were tired of writing reports, you could draw a picture or do a diorama, or anything you could think up to show what you thought was important in the book.  She kept a file folder for each child and taught each child.  No child was “left behind.”

Mostly I remember teachers like the coach/health teacher who chose one child every year to humiliate in class.  Then there was the history class where every day, every class was the same with the first person in the row reading the first paragraph in the history book,  and on down the line.  I remember several other idiot teachers but why go there.  I would rather focus on good teachers here.

Never mind that she is my daughter, read this good teacher’s blog at Cool Moments in Teaching « Braindebris’s Weblog and tell me what you think?  Is this not what we would like to see all teacher’s be?

In the meantime, in his freshman year of high school, youngest boy had the biology teacher from hell who was rumored to have passed four children total out of all her classes and “left” the job at the end of the year.  I knew the first day I met her, she would be a problem as she had come from a seminar and wanted youngest boy to answer a seminar problem, and he had not been at the seminar.  The next year he had another problem teacher who “left” at the end of the year.   This year he apparently has a teacher who is trying to teach him to memorize instead of think.

You know, maybe if we start paying our teachers, as if they were important (let’s see, how about we reverse the income of AIG professionals and teachers?) just maybe we could get more good teachers.

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We have taken on a roll that many adults now hold, and that is grandparents who become parents to their grandchildren, as well as taking care of their own parent.  It is one thing to raise a child from birth, or a young age, and it is another thing to take on a teenager.  I mean, come on guys, the world is WAY different now than it was when I was a teen. 

 

The deal with these guys is their previous upbringing, or lack thereof.  There was a big focus on being obedient and saying “Yes, Sir” and “No, Ma’am.”   While, we feel it is more important to have respect and give respect than it is to say meaningless words that you are beat for, if you do not say them. 

 

The boys did have varying degrees of influence from us.  They were with us, for their first: nine years, six years, and three years respectively.  The youngest does not remember living with us at all.  The oldest made a fluid transition to our home.  He did not make a fluid transition to school.  He once did a whole semester of homework, without ever turning it in to the teacher.  This is something only a homeschooled boy would do; or an idiot.  And, he is not an idiot.  We found out about it because we had four teachers tell us, at his first public school conference, that he was a genius.  I could only look down at the F’s across the page and ask “Why this, then?”  Not turning in homework will make even a genius fail. 

 

What worries me is the lack of “love of knowledge and education.”   It was more important in their stepfather’s home, to fear than to love.  Fear Stepfather’s belt and retribution, fear (for girls) of not wearing prairie dresses and head coverings.  Fear of the word “Foolishness.”  That last one is because it means the “rod of correction” is going to beat it out of you when your grandparent’s leave. 

 

These three are safe now and have varying degrees of success.  They do not know how to judge people, as their past experiences consisted only in friends like themselves.  Which consisted of other ultra conservative Christian home schooled children who are protected from the world out there by paranoid parents.  So, we are now locking our doors and covering our windows so the Bi-Polar ex-girlfriend of EMT will leave us alone, perhaps proving that it is not so bad to be paranoid.  But, it is not a good way to live.  He trusts everyone and is friends to everyone, even someone who is in need of commitment (even her mother says so at this point). 

 

I do not understand why these parents, who isolate their children from modern society, do not realize that their children must go out and live in the world we all live in and if you do not provide a child with the tools to recognize and understand that world, that they will have a hard time getting along in it.

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Once, through a totally insane decision, I was involved in rehabbing a house. The only good part of rehabbing a house, is burning the scrap wood when you are done. The worse part of rehabbing is when you are stupid enough, or desperate enough, to live in a house while you are rehabbing it. There is absolutely nothing exactly like listening to a table saw eighteen hours a day. Thank God!

 

The tenants had moved out of my house; taking the interior doors, cabinets and water softener with them. I don’t even want to know what they were doing with them. When I called her to inquire into her health and what I thought she could do with it, her response was, “Just try and find me.” 

 

The insurance company told me that someone had to live in the house to insure it and I didn’t intend on returning to Indiana for six months. A young man needed a place to stay and was (Ha! Insert me laughing insanely at this point.) going to pursue a life in the building trades, so might prove helpful in exchange for a free place to stay.

 

The problem with this was, well, EVERYTHING! The boy was lazier than mud and he was totally insane. He got up around two in the afternoon, and would walk in the room, would hip chuck me out of the way, and grab whatever I was holding to make it look like he had actually lifted a finger to help. He obviously has a problem with women because I was the only one he physically pushed/shoved, told filthy jokes to and laughed at. I have since started lifting weights and it will never happen again.

 

An hour later, he was off to a class, which he was most likely failing, as it took him six years to complete an associate’s degree. I was going to help him once with a problem he was having in class and asked to see his text book. He told me he didn’t buy them because the teachers all told him that books were optional and you didn’t have to read them. I guess, that is why education is so expensive. The publishers are able to sell books the professors never have you read.

 

When he arrived home from evening classes, he cooked himself a meal which consisted of cooking the vilest smelling wine poured over what must have been rotten hamburger. And, the above, lists the good points of having him live in my home.

 

His stay in my home ended because he had taken to damaging the stuff I worked on. This led me to believe that the kid had some type of mental problem and one of us had to go or the other would end up in jail. 

 

 

His damage consisted of: I finished mudding the bathroom and the next morning someone had taken a flat head screwdriver and dented the ceiling in numerous spots. Since there were only three of us in the house, I was able to isolate the cause. There was no way that was an accident, nor was it an accident several days later after I finished sanding drawer fronts, and stained and applied urethane to them, only to wake up the next morning to find a nickel size, deep gouge out of one drawer. It was right in front, of course. I could never have missed seeing that.

 

By this time, I figured the kid was just plain mean and stupid. Other things were damaged, but the final straw happened as he was moving out. I had sanded a door down to fine grit, stained it and applied urethane to it. It was ready to be hung. Since it was the front door, I had been extra particular with it. We were outside seeing him off. I went inside to crack the champagne I was going to celebrate with when he left, and there, on my beautifully finished door, was a line of black marker from top to bottom.  Luckily he had driven out of the driveway already, thus saving me from a murder rap.  

 

When a rehabbed house you are living in is complete you have the joy of sitting around, in a near empty house, and waiting for your realtor to call. The good part is that it is much easier to keep a nearly empty house spotless. The bad part is that there are a lot of hours after that and only so many relatives you want to visit. I purchased paints and canvas, set up a still life and painted. The odor of solvents is not the odor you want people to associate with your house when they have a decision to make between one house and another. That is when I began to take my writing seriously.

 

I had read every Mystery that the Lake County Public Library stocked during the remodel.  I often found myself saying, as many writing inclined people do, “I could do this.” I did. It needs some major work, but at the time Eleanore Taylor Bland, critiqued it at A Dark and Stormy Night Conference in Chicago and gave me the name of her agent. They were not interested. I did so many things wrong, from plot to final edit to critique letter. I was so excited, I didn’t take it seriously enough. 

 

The house sold. We drove back to Wyoming with money in the bank and began looking for a new house. The first property we viewed was fifty-three miles down the road, twelve miles down gravel and three miles down dirt. I got out of the car, let out a deep breath of air, for the first time in years, and listened to the sound of silence. No table saw in sight. It wasn’t the property we could get but I took out my camera and my soul thanked me.

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I spent several days at my oldest daughter’s house last week.  I love education/learning, and  could be a full time student. So, I was very excited to attend my daughters “Master of Education” graduation ceremony at Notre Dame. She actually received her Master’s degree from Indiana University but the pomp and circumstance was at Notre Dame. The trip was my mother’s day gift to myself.

I love solitude and the four hour drive was great. I listened to one CD Cannonball Adderley’s finest hour, and drove in silence during the rest of the trip.  I am the kind of person who needs quiet time. I disappear during family reunions to recharge. The amount of noise produced by a room full of people is incredible and I sometimes think my head will explode if I don’t get away. I’ve always felt that I would thrive at the top of a mountain by just sending my work down. It should speak for itself anyway.

The solitude of my childhood may have contributed. My brother was six years older, and my sister did not grow up in our home. We lived semi-rural, with a farm behind us and empty lots on each side. TV was a constant. One of my favorite things to do now, is to turn off the tv, the minute other people leave the house. I do love movies though and Sharon, my daughter, and I spent the time together watching “chick flicks” and knitting.

Knitting is a new passion for her. Her teaching partner got her hooked and she is determined to do it with perfection. I take a bit more of a relaxed attitude with knitting. It is a hobby. I am perfectionist in my painting, and make many things I do more difficult than they should be, but have found out that you may see every imperfection, but others don’t usually. It doesn’t stop me, but I try. At this time my daughter  has four tiny needles surrounding the opening of a pink sock. She gave me a sock kit for Mother’s day. I usually knit sweaters. So, I strained my eyes with my new book, needles and fantastic yarn.

The yarn is varigated and I love the colors. “No” I answer my daughter, “I do not care that one sock is starting blue variegated and the other is starting more green.” (As I said, I am not a perfectionist. Intentionally, not. We did go visit a yarn shop and it was a feast for the eyes. I love colors anyway. I begin my paintings with washes of pure color. When I was “on the art circuit” and painting ten or more hours a day, I would be talking to someone at a reception but my mind would be painting their face. “Hmm, a bit of Thio Violet here and a shadow of green there.” I have been told that other people do not see these colors in flesh, but the world is a riot of color for me.

And, one more thing, as long as I am rambling. My daughter’s sixth grade “gifted” class has done some reviewing of my young adult novel. Good reports so far and some wonderful critiquing. My daughter has also made some suggestions and I was able to come home with a new idea to add to the book. Thought of, during the quiet moments in my car.  Hope you all take a few moments of silence to recharge your brain.

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