Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Education Is...

Greetings out there!  Again, I do hope that there are actual readers lurking, so don't be shy.  I would love to hear from you!

So you'll notice the topic of this post is "Education."  That is something I'm passionate about as a retired educator and daughter of an educator and a strong educational supporter.  So of course I was stunned when someone tweeted an article on how many GOP'ers now consider colleges "bad for America."  Although the author engages in some speculation about the reasoning behind this trend, I just shake my head.  How could ANYONE not support education? I know how much I value my education, how much my Mom valued hers, and how my Dad valued the education he did have and sometimes wished he'd had more.  He certainly always valued learning. He often told me: ' Once you get it in your head, they can't take it out!" We should all realize what a real treasure education is.

So time to blog about education.  But surprisingly, the bulk of this post is not taking the form I'd expected.  It turns out I will be presenting a new poem.  So I hope you enjoy and maybe even find it enlightening or stimulating.

Education Is...

Education is priceless
But yours has been paid for by early advocates of free public schools
By those who resisted norms and regulations
Restricting or outlawing the education of enslaved Americans
By those who sought to open educational pathways
Where women and girls had been excluded

Education is a gift
But yours must be unwrapped
By your study and synthesis
By your questions and analysis
By your search for contexts and meanings

Education is more than simple recall of facts
For yours should include
Learning and study skills
Inquiry and research skills
Development of the habit of thinking critically
Learning when and how your knowledge can be applied

Education is transfomative
Yours should prepare you
But also challenge and inspire you
Open worlds before you
Lift you and equip you to lift others

Education should be a right
But yours should also be a privilege
Connecting you with what has gone before
Encouraging you to explore new trends
Fostering your developing mind and self

Education should be lifelong
Yours should not stop when formal school days end
Seek to grow and refuse to stagnate
Continue reading, questioning, researching
And engaging with the world around you

And now some references you might find of interest

Public Schools Rising

American Ed. History Timeline 

Education Under Slavery

Read of Mathematician Sophie Germain's dedication to learning despite early discouragement from parents! 

Note AAUW's first study: Higher Ed. did NOT damage women's health

Remember: Comments are GOLD and sharing is caring.  Do share any thoughts in comments! 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Never Forget!

Greetings, readers - at least I hope there are some out there! This post is a bit different, but these thoughts came to mind, so here we are.

Well, just what should we "never forget'?  Certainly, some things should be burned in our memories:  beloved family members and pets, important mentors and teachers, moments which had an oversized impact on our futures. It's even been said you never forget how to ride a bike (assuming you learned to ride in the first place!).  It's also been said, "use it or lose it" and I do believe there's lots of truth in that.  I have found however, that some remnants of things I've learned are still in my brain somewhere.  I haven't done Calculus in quite some time.  But I did have an opportunity to observe the one Calculus teacher while I was still working and although I certainly would need a refresher even then, I did find that what she was going over in class did at least sound some familiar chords.  And even though I haven't used or studied French in even longer, sometimes I can still come up with some words or even a basic sentence in French, which I find pretty cool. Now let me begin some further thoughts.

Never Forget Where You Came From

This really can't be said enough. Everyone needs to remember where he or she started and what had to be gone through to "make it" (assuming the person has indeed done just that).  Hard work at one's craft, studying, working through grunge jobs, whatever it took, NEVER FORGET.  Allow me to share this from my experience.  When I was first hired at the college I am now retired from, I wasn't hired on faculty.  I was  "tech assistant" and of course grateful for that position.  Wonderfully, a faculty job in my area opened up the next year and I was fortunate to secure that position.  Now when I was still a tech, there was some discussion of the tech and faculty joining together in one bargaining unit to have a bigger voice.  That issue came up and was voted on again when I and several other former techs were on faculty.  I voted to join together, but believe it or not, that was not unanimous among the former techs.  Go figure!

Those who come from privilege should remember that, too.  It's ok to be grateful (I'm only a 99%'er, but I'm grateful for many things, notably my late parents and my education).  But always also remember that many folks don't come with ready-made advantages.

I feel it is important to always keep in mind where you've been, and at the very least not advocate for dismantling programs that would help others rise or for policies which would place more roadblocks in their way.  We all also need to be aware of some subtle biases which lead to blaming the poor for being poor.  Maia Szalavitz discusses them in a very good op-ed for The Guardian.  She writes about "...the psychology concept known as the “fundamental attribution error”. This is a natural tendency to see the behavior of others as being determined by their character – while excusing our own behavior based on circumstances." She also mentions “...'actor-observer bias'. When we watch others, we tend to see them as being driven by intrinsic personality traits, while in our own case we know that, for example, we acted angrily because we’d just been fired, not because we’re naturally angry people."

 Never Forget Who You Are

You should never forget who you are, the unique person you have become over the years. Never forget that, in my college colleague, Dr. Fred's fine talk, that he told us that we are in some ways similar to all other humans, in some ways similar to some other humans, and in some ways we are unique persons.  Our challenge is to keep our individuality yet always honor our common humanity, respecting those we feel similar to and also those who might just be different!  Here's a nice piece by Arthur Dobrin that is worth digesting!

Never Forget What You Are About

You should never forget your calling, your dreams, your passions.  There is much work to do and I believe each of us has an individual calling with work meant just for him or her.  So you are needed as we face the challenges which are daily around us.  I remember what singer-songwriter Howard Jones told the audience at the excellent concert of his I was fortunate to attend.  He told us that if one has a dream - "never, ever give up!"  Those of us especially who fervently believe in social justice need to keep up the fight. To quote Bob Marley; "Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight."

So never forget where you came from, who you are, or what you're about. Take your history as a starting point and use your individual gifts to progress - as an individual and just maybe to also aid in societal progress as well.

Please - comments are gold (could use some encouragement) and sharing is caring!