Morning Fog

When I’m depressed, I spew words. So you know.

on April 15, 2008

I am a happy go lucky kind of gal. Most of the time. Oh, I might sound jaded and cynical and sarcastic sometimes, but that’s just my way of goofing around. I’m playing and when you play, you are happy. And vice-versa.

But I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders tonight. It all started in the faculty meeting, and it was like a damn broke in my mind. First the principal brought up how our nation lags the world in education. By a lot. That’s bad. We shouldn’t do that.

Then I looked up some stats to refresh my memory, and it turns out California ranks 46th among the states. 46th out of 50. This isn’t going well.

And I start putting pieces together…how unless you are Asian, for example, you almost can’t get into the good California colleges anymore.
How so many doctors here are from foreign countries.
How so many professors here are from foreign countries.
How so many high tech companies bring foreigners over here to work the big bucks jobs ( I lived in Silicon Valley for 8 years, I know this).

Then there is all the outsourcing and overseas manufacturing and the trade deficit.

We are disappearing.
It’s like the Planet of the Apes…in the future the apes spoke English and ran the show, while MAN had been reduced to an illiterate, caged animal. That is where we are going. Only it isn’t MAN who is in danger, it is AMERICANS.

High schools are full of drugged out, hungover, running wild teens. I know. I’m a teacher. I’m a mom who straddles the generations. I hear stories, I see things. Our kids are imploding.

We are the ONLY nation whose test scores go down continually from 4th grade to 12th.
What aren’t we doing?

It isn’t teachers. Teachers work damn hard. But it is an uphill and losing in battle in so many cases because the framework, the family framework, the societal framework, isn’t there. A teacher today had a great example: education is like a three-legged stool…the teacher, the parents and the student all have to do their best. If the teacher does more than her share, and the kid doesn’t apply himself, and the parents don’t care, the stool wobbles and falls over. Couldn’t have said it better my self.

I teach at a private school, and only in first grade. People pay to have their kids there, so you assume they want the best for them, right? Yet I already have cases of kids not doing work because they had dance class. Or a playdate. Or they don’t have crayons/paper/stapler/pencil/support at home. And a few parents really resent having to help their kids with anything at home.

The fabric of our nation is unravelling from the bottom up. What made us great, once upon a time? A solid work ethic. Self-reliance. Responsibility. Pride. Faith. Prudence. Respect. Family.
My dad grew up dirt poor in the middle of the rural midwest smack dab in the middle of the great depression. And learned more in his tiny little high school than most kids learn today. He took Latin for Pete’s sake. Who takes Latin anymore? He still remembers poems and scripture and plays he had to MEMORIZE way back then. Who memorizes much anymore? It isn’t about money, that’s for sure. It might be being afraid of the belt or the paddle or the back of your dad’s hand. NOT that I’m into that kind of thing, I’m not. But as one veteran teacher I know said, teachers used to get respect. I think that’s true of parents too. If our kids don’t respect us, how do we get them to do what they should when they don’t feel like it?
The kindergarten teachers lament how kids eyes aren’t even tracking the book page correctly anymore because they are so used to staring at TV and computer games.

Those things can’t be replaced with drugs, alcohol, parties, movies, rap music, shopping, TV and porn. That is a diet for destruction. Self-destruction.

Oh, and then there is all the food industry craziness. All the damage you can do to yourself with aspartame. The danger in high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and MSG.
The obesity epidemic and the fact that 30% of our CHILDREN are obese. OBESE. They shouldn’t have lived long enough to become obese, but they are!

We are becoming a nation of fat, slovenly, undereducated, narcisssitic, hedonistic greedy, obnoxious toads.

*sigh*

Now I need to sleep so I can give it my best shot again tomorrow.

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7 responses to “When I’m depressed, I spew words. So you know.

  1. Mel says:

    I had to sleep on this before I could possibly write anything, and it’s probably late enough that no one will read this, which is just fine as I’m writing because I have to, not because I’m trying to convince anyone (not that it wouldn’t be nice…).

    I am SO tired of people playing the ‘blame game’ where in everything has to be someone’s fault. Please note, I’m not even going to the place about it has to be someone ELSE’s fault. Why does there have to be fault, why does someone have to be wrong?

    Yes, most teachers are decent people trying hard to do a decent job. The same is true of most parents. We are almost all of us trying to do the best we can. We all have different definitions of doing the best we can, and we all place different priorities on how we get it for our children, but it is NOT fair to say that somehow all those teachers are really trying and all those rotten bastard stupid parents aren’t. YES there are parents who just don’t care, and whose behaviour is responsible for their children’s problem, but most of us are just decent people trying to do a good job by their children.

    It is also trust that most kids are trying to do a good job. They don’t have as many choices as the adults, they are limited by inexperience, by lack of strength, by their position in society, but still most children really do try to do a good job, to please their parents (up to a point) to do well in school. By, say, sixth grade many of them who feel they *can’t* do well in school have pretty much stopped trying, and heaven knows there are pressures and stresses on children that make them sometimes feel that school is irrelevant and unnecessary, but that is not the fault of the children.

    Blaming anyone, the parents, the children or teachers or principals is a copout. It’s a way of saying I don’t have to look at or think about what is going on because it’s *********’s fault. It is just cruel and unfair to characterize people as being bad just because it’s easier.

    There are so many ways of looking at the situation, and if it is broken it’s only going to be fixed if we learn to turn our brains ON, to think outside the normal channels. Maybe the whole system is broken, maybe how we look at children, and education is just wrong. Maybe children need more than school for education, maybe they need time to go off by themselves, to discover things by themselves, not to get led up to each new thing, and only those things that someone else has deemed good or worthwhile or appropriate. Maybe declining test scores isn’t a sign of anything being wrong. Maybe all education doesn’t occur in school and the parts that aren’t occurring in school simply aren’t being measured by the tests. Maybe children need something new, something different, maybe we need to try and do something different than simply trying to do the same thing over and over again, and when it doesn’t work, doing it again harder. Maybe the way things are is good enough and we need to stop trying to fix it and just get on with doing our own part as best we can.

    I don’t know, I’m not suggesting I have answers. I’m suggesting that sitting around nodding our heads sagely and saying we’re doing the best we can, it’s all the other guy’s fault isn’t fair, it isn’t right, and if we are trying to rear our children to be good, responsible people then don’t we need to set a good example ourselves by not playing the blame game, by encouraging ourselves, and others, and children by looking for what’s right, by taking responsibility for my patch and not spending my time critiquing the other guy’s work.

    There are so many problems out there that are too big for me to fix all by myself, or even by the effort of myself and all my fellow thinkers. Blaming people isn’t going to fix them. They probably won’t be fixed in my lifetime. I’m not going to say I wouldn’t like to change it, but I can sleep at night with that knowledge, and get up tomorrow and still do the best I can.

    And, as a final note and a slight detour, in response to a particular comment above, what in heaven’s name makes people think that homeschooled kids aren’t living in the world? Because they aren’t in age segregated groups with their time cut up into artificial blocks for learning different subjects and their ‘knowledge’ tested? At what other time in life do any of us exist in that kind of artificial environment? Most homeschooled kids (and I know quite a few) are actually out in the world, reading, learning, building, selling, practicing and making mistakes and picking themselves up and trying again. It’s a really bizarre fantasy that believes that school is the ‘real world’ and building rockets at home or breeding rabbits or baking bread somehow isn’t.

    I am not saying school is wrong or bad, I don’t believe that we should or could eliminate schools, or that all children should be homeschooled or anything like that. I’m saying that homeschooling is a valid choice and I’d really like to see people accept and respect that – as someone who was partially homeschooled myself and who has five homeschooled children (some now grown) who are learning or have learned to live in the real world just fine, thank you.

  2. ak says:

    I so love listening to you when you discuss things like this. I’m hoping (HOPING) that there is the slightest shift going on and the pendulum will begin to (slowly) swing back the other direction, with parents (and children) taking back responsibility. I’m not worried about the urchins ‘getting ahead’, I’m worried about them not being assholes and being intelligent, productive members of society. And that job is only 25% Yours. I appreciate all you do for ‘our’ children.

  3. wcdiva says:

    Oh I so agree with you 500. Many parents today are lazy, jacked in, jacked up, turned on, tuned out, wanting instant gratification for every thing they do. There’s no such thing as hard work.

    In our house school came first, activities came later. If the grades came down, everything else disappeared, sports, activities, friends.

    Thanks for shaing what needed to be shared. I know just listening to your words the differences you are making in the lives of many children.

  4. karmacat says:

    Unfortunately, I have to agree wholeheartedly. There are too many lazy parents and families who are never home due to multiple jobs or multiple social activities (parents and children alike).

    I worked with a mom who thought it was great that she could work hundreds of hours of overtime every year so she could buy televisions, VCRs, video games, and stereos for each of her son’s bedrooms. I always thought her children needed more mom at home, less home entertainment. Both sons were out of control, and one was “asked to leave” his high school. I guess they really can’t kick anyone out anymore. Of course, the mom blamed the school for not being able to control her children. Aaarrgggh.

    My brother and I were each involved in activities. However, we knew the law: School came first. If the grades came down, no more sports or activities. It made sense to us, even as kids. But I wonder if many families today still have that rule? (Also, my mother didn’t work outside the home, a luxury in this day and age, I know.)

  5. bluesleepy says:

    I agree with you on the schooling issue. I read back at what people learned in one-room school houses. Greek, Latin, little kids reading difficult passages. The kids could do it back then; why do we think our kids can’t do the same now?? Why not bring Latin back to grade school?

    I also agree with you 100% that parents aren’t pulling their weight. I think parents are too permissive nowadays with their kids. My neighbor’s sons are so rude to her, and she thinks it’s funny. It amuses her! They’re only 10 and 12 now; just wait till they’re full-grown men at 16. It won’t be funny then.

    We need to respect our elders, to know that when a teacher or a parent tells us to do something, that we do it. I don’t know how to get that back. I wish I did.

  6. l'empress says:

    We’re into the third generation now, of kids who don’t know how to be students because their parents didn’t know because their grandparents didn’t care… Who remembers when a teacher was supposed to be shown *respect*? Who remembers someone being thrown out of school because s/he didn’t follow the rules?

    I’ve been talking about this for years — especially when my kids were little — but I’ve given up trying to fix it. The only thing we can do is what Chaos said: they do better at home with me. I’m not talking about home schooling; kids have to learn to live in the world that’s out there. I suppose, in the teachers’ vernacular, I was “enrichment.”

  7. chaosdaily says:

    I have to agree with you. There are a few teachers who don’t pull their weight, but FEW. Learning begins at home. My son might be a creep sometimes, but he is all about getting into college, which is a good thing. There was a blurb on the radio yesterday morning about how parents should cut back on outside activities and have their kids spend more time at home doing chores and studying, that too much outside activity is detrimental to being a good adult…. My kids didn’t do much other than swimming lessons and maybe a season or two of soccer or gymnastics. They had much more fun at home with me!

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