“Educating our Teens”

I watched “A Raisin in the Sun” yesterday.   I don’t think anyone could watch that movie and not be riveted by the performances…..the actors were stellar.   Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil as the wise mother.  I thought to myself, who wouldn’t be affected by this; couldn’t this be used as a teaching tool to make students see a piece of life some may still associate as their own, or at least recognize it in our nation today.

School curriculums have changed in recent years.   The classics, the Dickens, the Brontes, the Robert Louis Stevensons…..fallen by the wayside.   Much as it stabs my heart to write these words…..I understand.   I understand how a kid in an inner city has nothing in common with Mr. Darcy’s English estate and lady friends.   Dickens writes of the impoverished, the struggles ……..but Victorian London might as well be the Lunar surface for some who care not to open a page and look inside that time in history.

But Sidney Poitier, lamenting over his shriveled dreams might sound closer to home than the moon.

Kids who hear their parents speak of the short end of the stick might identify and want to sit and listen……maybe, just maybe……..even read the original play.

Let kids watch Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird”………… don’t ban these books from the shelves of school libraries, bring in the DVD’s to classrooms, put the pages to prominent library shelves.   Kids today want instant visual gratification, let that visual be riveting and they might just soak up more than you would imagine.

Today, our youth is not attending balls to find their own Mr. Darcy……they might be dodging bullets in a dance of survival on the streets.   Their fathers might be struggling to obtain their own seemingly unreachable dreams…….just to get a little bit ahead in this world.

If we want our youths to move ahead in this world, we have to keep their desire for learning nurtured.   Some schools now opt for students to choose their curriculum.   This is wrong.   Some schools keep teachers’ hands bound tightly to what is the accepted schedule each term.   This is wrong.   Entrust a teacher to determine what is best for his or her class;  yes there must be some boundaries to respect.   Most entered this field with dreams of their own……which are becoming more and more illusive in this troubled world.   I come from a long line of educators, teachers, principals, professors.   Many taught in the toughest inner city neighborhoods.   An uncle of mine became Godparent to one of his pupils,  the lines of color disintegrating.

This nation is disintegrating…….literally……………………

Parents are too busy working, grandparents live across the country…….who, then, is left to sculpt the minds of our children……..A sculptor works best when given the right tools, the perfect piece of marble, a place where his mind can imagine.   Give that to our teachers,  give them good classrooms, truthful textbooks; let them carve the path for every other profession in our world.

 

ShirlP1070588

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“Educating our Children” (Violence in our Schools”

The world hasn’t changed, it has always been a shadow dance of good and evil.   There was always violence, before guns, swords, before swords, clubs, rocks, fists.

Education has changed since my childhood.   My school days were technology free, except for the manual typewriter I wrote papers on in my parents’ basement.   Those keys were so hard to strike, the ribbon would need to be rewound, getting ink all over my fingers…..

My research was done at my parents’ encyclopedia bookshelf or in the library.  I learned a variety of skills in school, from science to sewing.   Home economics and wood shop were always offered; not every student had a mind for numbers, but hands and eyes skilled in creating beauty in his own unique way.

There was auto shop for blossoming mechanics.   Sadly, auto repair involves more computer reading than wrench wielding these days.

If you were unlucky, you were bullied.   I know, I was.   But at least, the bullying stopped when the school day was finished, it didn’t continue on to the pages and pictures on the web…….Spiders spun webs in my day……not bullies.

Kids who don’t fit in with the crowd are trapped in a different web today.   A web where scenes of violence are viewed so often that the mind is numbed to the horrors of it.  They are trapped in a web of isolation, sitting alone in their rooms creating scenarios of getting even for all the hurt thrust upon their own hearts.

Somehow, finding a way to spin these isolated strands back into the web is needed…..every child needs to feel a strand in that web is his and belongs there.    We may have created wondrous achievements, but, still the simple artistry of a spider’s spinning can never be rivaled.   Each child should be nurtured and educated to spin his own beautiful creation in this life, or the threads of civilization will keep unraveling in the darkness of evil.   Teachers have an arduous task; they must find those strands and weave them into a classroom too often crammed with too many.

I am reminded of the adage…….it takes a village.   Well, it takes each single strand to weave a healthy web…….A web of kindness, cohesion, and acceptance.   There will always be evil, there will always be some kind of attainable weapon…..Yes, stronger gun laws are necessary, but the web of our society must be nurtured so troubled hands no longer think to reach for one.   How we accomplish this, I do not know.   I do know it will be in the hands of a lot of spinners……from parents, to educators, to law makers, to Presidents. A spider weaves with eight eyes……..we need the eyes of billions…………..

Shirl

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“Imbolc”

One of the nicest energies in Ireland was around trees……
They have wishing trees in Ireland, certain sacred trees, respected and cherished. The black hawthorn is considered one, and wishing hawthorns are adorned with beribboned presents and possessions. These hawthorns are given tokens of respect, promises of wishes to be granted, bestowed on their sacred boughs in the Irish woods.
I saw a couple of wishing trees on my trip. On the way to Leap Castle, we saw one. We were supposed to stop and visit the next morning, so I wondered what gift I could leave behind. We were told fairy snacks were quite acceptable.
I had a package of Welch’s fruit snacks in my suitcase. That evening, I took the identifying ribbon off my luggage and tied it through a hole in my snack pack.
The bus driver took a wrong turn the following day. We never made it to the wishing tree.
On another bus tour, we drove past St. Bridget’s shrine. There was a sacred well where pilgrims quenched both thirst and faith, and a sacred tree, with tiny snippets of brightly colored cloth blowing in the wind.
The legend is told that Saint Bridget was an extraordinary beauty. Her focus in life, was not on attracting the opposite sex, but helping her own….. especially young, unwed or impoverished mothers and their babies. But Bridget was smart; she used her beauty to garner funds. She would visit the wealthy men of the area, tell them that she would remove one piece of clothing in return for a donation to her charity. Lustful eyes could not refuse. They donated, she then would tear a tiny snippet of cloth from her ample outfit…….cleverly fulfilling her promise.bridgets-shrine
Today, still as reverence for her work, pilgrims leave tiny snippets on her shrine’s tree.
Today, I believe the intention of wishes can travel across the ocean.   Though not a Blackthorn, I will place a gift of food with twine on a backyard pine, perhaps scatter some fruit snacks on the ground.   She will be my wishing tree, providing nourishment for the birds and squirrels,  (and perhaps the fairies ) who face much more hardship than I when snow is laden on the ground.

Blessings on this February 1st, known as Imbolc or the Day of St. Bridget’s feast.   It is now we celebrate our mid journey through winter towards spring.  Let us hope for longer days of kindness and the warmth of spring…….for the shortness of winter anger and tempers must cease.

Shirl

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“Last Night’s Grammys”

How I long for the old days of music……the moon in June love songs……

Last night, from the get go………like a shot out of a cannon….the bombardment came……the political activism, the moral injustices, the inequalities in life.   I am bombarded with politics, abuse, cruelties of the world every browsing moment on the Internet……can I have a couple of hours of love songs and escape from reality..

Sigh……..I really felt old last night.    Remember the time TV banned Elvis’ gyrating hips……..it is hard to fathom what is acceptable nowadays…..even harder to fathom that Miley Cyrus in a ball gown was one of the most prim and proper performers of the night……….

I clicked off the TV after that song……..went to read a book……..at least I usually know where the story is heading…….which is something, unfortunately, I cannot say about our world……………….

Blessings,

Shirl

 

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“Good-bye Yellow Brick Road”

In the news this week, two legends are retiring.   Sir Elton John will finish off the next few years of commitments and call it quits.   Neil Diamond, facing Parkinson’s, realizes his touring days are behind him.

Those of us of the same generation are saddened by this news……To us, our rock stars are forever young, dancing and belting out ear deafening rhythms on stage.   When we see them succumbing to the frailties of age, we have to face our own demons.  The music of our bodies, the crinkling knees, the popping joints, these form our cacophony of tunes.  All of my generation know some days are better than others; some mornings, more notes of pain play the melody of our day.   Now, imagine if you had to go on stage and face thousands of fans, waiting for you to relive the days of your youth each night.   It is no wonder these legends are tired.   Attention is alluring, but there comes a time when the years take their toll.  Bidding farewell to adoring fans screaming and dancing for you must be an enormous challenge from which to turn one’s back.   But we have lost a number of legends recently; I am sure other aging musicians are haunted by this fact and wish for a few years of quiet away from the road.

We all want a few years of quiet, sprinkled in amidst whatever youthful energies we can muster on our own time worn road.  All except Jagger.   When his skinny butt stops shaking on the stage, then it’s time for all of us to step quietly away from our travels, wherever that yellow brick road has taken us.

Blessings,

Shirl

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My new book…..”Yes, I Knit Blankets for Squirrels”

Available today……….. My first full color childrens’ book…..although ALL ages will enjoy and laugh along through every page.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692970371

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“The Blackest of Days….The Whitest of Snows”

 

 

Tomorrow,  the anniversary of one of the blackest days of my life…….
I lost a grandbaby
Steve’s father crossed
And my dear friend told me she had been diagnosed with ALS……..it was like a sledgehammer had been flung at my heart.
Today the winds are swirling snow like the Arctic tundra…spirits are swirling about me………….
The whitest of flurries, the darkest of days announces its ascent……………row upon row infrared
Shirl
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