Thursday, March 25, 2010
I know we are doing whatever it takes to teach children to read, but do we really have to sacrifice science, social studies, movement and the fine arts? How are we going to solve the environmental crisis if the students don't know what is involved in habitat? Will they care about people in Ghana if they don't even know the difference between a country and a continent? Students who cannot read can draw, sometimes very well. Students who have athletic ability deserve a chance to use it, and physical exercise will keep them healthy until they are old enough to qualify for Medicare, which may be age 80 by then. Music is the most effective teaching tool we have, and a recent study showed that children under the age of one move to music spontaneously (http://www.sciencefriday.com/videos/watch/10289). What are we doing with what we have? We have 1660 minutes per day to teach our students how to be reasonable human beings with a desire to learn whatever they need to learn to survive in a global society. Education has been charged with teaching citizenship, basic skills, love of learning, a need to serve others, and an appreciation for life in all of its multitude of dimensions. Are we missing the boat?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I was going to quote William James on the importance of habits, but I cannot find the quote I had been told was his. Interesting, how we go on doing things on assumptions without questioning them. I can't tell you how many years I have used the incorrect quote to motivate me to change. In short, our habits have a profound influence on what we do with our lives. If you can get into a good habit of exercise, eating right and getting enough sleep, you will have a much easier time with old age, when these things become requirements for health. If you come home and sit in front of the TV every night, it is very easy to let work pile up and lose energy for life. Taking for granted the opinions of the media and not researching what is going on in government from a wide variety of sources would lead one to become passive and accept that things have to be a certain way. The only certainty in life is that things are changing at this moment and if you are not changing, you will have a rude awakening at some point. I was smug when I discovered the joy of a budget and not overspending my teacher's income. I thought my credit would be safe because, after all, I had not missed payments or defaulted on anything. Then the economic crash shocked the world, and I realized that there was no way I could pay off my house if I had to, no way I could pay for my mother's nursing home if I had to, no way I could remain a homeowner if the banks crashed. As it is, the government keeps overlooking the fact that inflation is not at zero. If prices remain the same and salaries fall, that is a clear picture of inflation for all those of us with less income than we need. Yet I take heart in the perseverance of my students. Although they struggle to learn and relearn basic skills, I know God will not desert them, so God will probably take care of me as well. It would be sad to see democracy become a thing of the past, though. Have you read something about the health care bill this week? Do you know what it is they are voting for? How it will be paid for? Whether the monopoly laws will be changed to include insurance companies? Don't just vote, write, call, study, discuss. This is your country.
Monday, March 1, 2010
I took my mom to the doctor today for an eye check. The ophthalmologist sent her to the retina expert, who happened to be two floors down. A few decades ago a diagnosis of macular degeneration was like a sentence of punishment. My former grandmother-in-law gradually lost all of her vision. Today, the doctor said he has medication that will slow or stop the progression of the disease. I felt like a miracle had occurred. I am not sure what the future brings, but I worry that my grandchildren will not be able to receive the same quality of care that my mother receives. If it were your vision, what would you like to have happen? It is time that we all become active in the health care debate and think about whether we want to return to the days when the poor couldn't afford good medical care, so they suffered.