Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey for One

I have had the best Thanksgiving! School got out on Tuesday and the Fearsome Foursome headed out for some celebratory ritas and enchiladas. Nothing like starting an American tradition in the Tex-Mex way :-) I was so looking forward to five whole days of nothing to do! By nothing I mean I planned an entire list of "To-Do's" to get done.

Since this year, I was not going anywhere for Thanksgiving, I had planned to spend the five days powering through my list and relaxing. Now, I love spending time with my family and my family has always come first, but this year it was nice not to have to haul my rear around the country like a turkey with it's head cut off. I spent Thursday knitting, watching movies and cheering on my beloved (yet losing) Aggies as they once again lost to Texas. Judging by the fact that I never got out of my Pj's ~ it was awesome!

Now, there is that "To-Do" list I was talking about. Being the anal-retentive-control freak that my mother raised, I have a pretty long list of things.

The list looked something like this:
1. Clean out and organize personal files
1a. remove outdated files
1b. make new folders for old kept items
1c. make new folders for non-filed items

2. Balance and prep budget for upcoming holiday season
2a. checkbook update
2b. holiday spending list
2c. Estimate Birthday money wind-fall :-)

3. CLEAN (not clean, but scrub the ever loving daylights out of type CLEAN) the house
3a. clean & Detox cat box
3b. dust, vac, and mop all surfaces
3c. Clean in this order: Living room, bdrm, ktch, bath, then cat stuff

4. Laundry ~ including mending and ironing
4a. dryell
4b. bleached items

5. Update my knitting on Ravelry (knitting website)

Told you I was annal about it. I like to think that in a past life I would have been Martha Stewart or Leona Hemsley.

Here is what I have actually managed to accomplish:
1. Ate an entire package of Sultana Biscuits (my favorites that I get in Bonaire)
2. Knitted the bodice of two sweaters (waiting on yarn to finish one)
3. Finished reading "Shopaholic Ties the Knot"
4. Slept
5. Watched Cake Boss marathon ~ all 12 hours straight!
6. Made napping an Olympic sport.

Since I am now three days into my five day holiday break, I am thinking I am not going to make a dent in my actual "To-Do" list. Being one who hates to do anything half-arsed, I think I will chuck the list all together. (Save those things for another more productive time.) Bummer thing is that I can't blame my lazies on the Turkey-trypto-thingy.

Here's hoping you had a Wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Will Read For Food

Once again this year I am teaching Language Arts. Ironic isn't it? Since I tend to be the Queen of the Comma Splice and the run-on sentence. Not to mention, that my writing style is so not exactly in line with the MLA style. But hey, you know what they say, "those who can do ~ those who can't teach". (Which is truer than you think.)

I also got tasked with being the "Reading" teacher. Now when I was a kid, by the 7th grade, most of us knew how to read, so I took that as an indication that my students would also know how to read. Yeah, I was wrong. I was thought that everyone valued an education...eventually. Yeah, I was wrong. Less than 60 years ago, we read pretty much as part of our daily lives. Until T.V. came into our world and started sucking our will to learn straight out of us. As kids we used to read from books! Not iPods, Kindles, or computer screens. And kids read things like Shakespeare, Keates, and Shelley; not Patterson, Rowling, and Meyers.

Today, I spend more time "dumbing down" my lessons than I do actually teaching. Remember learning to diagram sentences in order to learn about subordinate clauses, noun - verb agreement and dangling modifiers? Ah, we don't teach that any more. "It's too difficult" for students today to "grasp" that concept. Did IQ's drop suddenly since the 1980's? I have students who are reading "Curious George" because they can't comprehend a sentence structure that includes a noun, verb, adverb, and an adjunctive. They are still amazed when I tell them "She swam" is a complete sentence! I don't think any one of them today would be able to survive the educational process that was in place 100 years ago. Come to think of it, neither would I since I couldn't speak Latin if my life depended on it.

Education used to be HARD. If you were privileged enough to get any education, let alone a "good" one. Most people who were able to go, went to a one room school. Where all grades were taught simultaneously and no one gave a rat's ass if you were a kinetic, auditory, or whatever learner. You got what you gave and you earned your grade. Today, I have to give "participation" grades in order to even out GPA's and I am not allowed to "give" below a 50% on anything! This includes assignments where a student does NOTHING!! I have to give this "grade" when a student doesn't even TURN IN THE WORK!! Tell me, what I am "teaching" my students by rewarding them with a grade for nothing! WOW! If I had known I could get half my paycheck for doing half or none of the work, I would have been surfing the net on company time years ago. Yeah, that's a real life lesson. And it still doesn't teach them to read.

The students tell me they don't need to read because they can watch everything on the TV or listen to books on audio! I am beginning to think that one day job applications will be completely verbal. No writing, just answering into a little microphone your response to things like name, age, education level... Who needs a high school diploma or a college degree?

Sixty years ago not everyone went to college or finished school, but just knowing how to read, cypher and do math were impressive things. If you were blessed with the means, your education was more robust and harder. Seriously, anyone out there (other than MJenks) know how to read Latin? Speak two or more nonnative languages fluently? Know how to fence and ballroom dance? Can you run a household with a staff similar to that of a small business while maintaining proper decorum and finding a suitable mate before you become a spinster at the rip-old age of 20? How about knowing the simple basics of being a gentleman or lady? Don't even think this stuff is taught these days. I went to cotillion classes when I was in 8th grade. My students have never even heard the word cotillion. Please and thank you won't come out of their mouths without a crowbar and a jack hammer.

No Child Left Behind has not left our children behind, it has lowered the bar to the point that a slug could pass over it and be considered a rocket scientist. I hope one day we will remember that not everyone gets to be a rocket scientist and start making education worth earning. Not just a baby sitting location for children ages 5-17. Society can't handle a 30% drop out rate. The jobs just aren't there anymore and the military isn't a holding ground for them. I am off to figure out how to inspire a new generation to read and write, so that one day their generation will be able to take care of themselves.