Current/Recent Reading List

21 July 2009

Summer Sketch #2

Lord, it just makes you worry for your children, every day, when you can‘t even trust people. And here she was just doing what girls her age do, babysitting for family friends. I’ll tell you one thing, it won’t two minutes after he heard about it that Tom tore out the parking lot - he didn’t even tell the other assistant manager. He didn’t run to his car, but walked fast and steady, legs trying to catch up with the rest of his body, which was lurching forward like it sometimes does. And here Tom hasn’t talked to the girl in months; she won’t have nothing to do with him since he showed up at the house drunk when they were having her sixteenth birthday cook-out. And she barely had anything to do with him before that. I don’t need to tell you her mama never speaks with him except when she has to.

But when he heard, he tore off, and I only learned the full story, little by little. First he tried to call Sherry while he was driving, but couldn’t get through. He left a message for her, blubbering and stammering, but I don’t know what he said. Anyway, in about fifteen minutes he’d made it to packing plant, where that Davey fellow worked the afternoon shift. Tom knew he usually worked the fork in the back, and so he just hopped the fence into the loading dock and walked around. Davey was sitting on the bench having a smoke, and Tom didn’t bother speaking to him; he just come up from behind, grabbed him by the collar, and slung him into the back of the fork that was parked there. Davey never knew what was coming, and Tom kicked him so many times in the ribs and the gut that he never had a chance. By the time they pulled Tom off, Davey could barely sit upright, and Tom was screaming and sobbing all at once now, screaming, “She used to love to chase your dog, David! Remember?! We’d hold her hand, and walk to the pond, and she’d break away and chase your dog… Remember?!”

They say the look on his face was the most pitiful, all purple-veined and twisted red, beard matted in sweat and tears. Ever notice how at the end of a fight nobody ever looks like they found the relief they were looking for in the first place? Tom did right though, I won’t deny it. Maybe it won’t the smartest way to go about it, but I won’t deny it was right. There's no telling what will happen to him in court. I hear Sherry still won’t talk to him, and she may not yet, considering her state of mind, poor thing. But he showed her something, at least.

Lord, it just makes you worry for your children.

16 July 2009

Facilitate This

Our school district is now requiring high school teachers who have honors classes to be certified in teaching Academically Gifted (AIG) students, something previously only required of elementary and middle school teachers, since in high school there are no "AIG"-only classes. However, since we all run across AIG kids in our honors classes, the county wants to make sure we can say we are challenging them sufficiently (and not doing anything to cause their parents to threaten lawsuits, as well, I'm sure).

O.k. fine - we get credit hours for completing the certification training, and I'm never going to complain about a central office push to pay some more attention to gifted kids and challenge them (which goes against the general grain of educational emphases over the last 30 years or so). I attended a couple of half-day sessions last week, and now have to develop two steroided-up curriculum units for a review in September.

One bone to pick, though (sure, I could pick many others, but won't). We were told last week that these units would ideally allow the kids to mostly work independently, and that we would serve more as facilitators than teachers. In so many workshops over the years since 2002, I can't tell you how many times I've heard this: with coming technology, we'll be facilitators; through online learning, we'll be facilitators; in 21st century classrooms, we'll be facilitators.

This bothers me on many levels. For one thing, most teachers who hear this find it demoralizing because a) it sounds as if there is a desire to devalue our knowledge, skills, and even (hopefully) wonderful personalities in the classroom, which means that b) we sound more replaceable. I don't think this is truly what is intended - in fact, what is intended is to push teachers to move away from too much lecturing and notetaking, because today's ADHD-electrogadgetized students allegedly can't learn this way. Fine, but I still can't figure out what the hell is the problem with the word "teacher"? Is directing students during a project, or meeting one-on-one with them for feedback, or pointing the way for research solutions, or looking at rough drafts, or setting up the context for a unit not teaching? Even in an online class, which has the regrettable defect of missing out on flesh and blood interaction, is there not teaching going on. What is wrong with this word? In our overly scientific age, does teacher conjure up too many ideas of wisdom, experience, respect, leadership, indispensability, and that all mysterious human touch?

I don't know, but I attempt to be a teacher, dammit. I ain't no stinkin' facilitator.

10 July 2009

Quick Shout Out For Me

Just wanted to inform everyone that here at the homestead yesterday I successfully handled my son and two of his buddies all by myself for a large chunk of the day, with nary a mom-type figure in sight. I successfully fed them, I successfully set up a slip-and-slide for them, I successfully monitored their slippy-slidiness, and I successfully watched them play the Wii (a lot, actually), all without a major altercation, major dammage to the house, a call to the sheriff, or a hospital air-lift incident.

Yes, dammit, I do feel empowered, thank you very much...