“Time” for Summer Vacation Talk

23 06 2011

. . .and yes, that’s a pun of sorts. Lame but hey, it’s hot here. Be grateful I can work up a post at all. 😉

And do your reading so you can join the conversation: Time magazine’s The Case Against Summer Vacation

When a local actor-professor friend linked it on Facebook, this blurb appeared:

It’s an outdated legacy of the farm economy. Adults still romanticize it. But those months out of school do the most damage to the kids who can least afford it . . .

To which I responded even before reading the piece:

“Adults still romanticize school, too. 🙂
And family mealtime, bedtime, vacations.
Truth is that when school is better than home for some kids, we ought to fix THAT instead of just making more school. And when life outside of school is better (for kids like mine e.g.) then it’s summer vacation year-round and it’s amazing!
Everything is relative.”

Then I did read the whole thing. Twice. And came away with a strong sense that it’s two or more stories at cross purposes and the author doesn’t get it, that do-good public service types like me have been Read the rest of this entry »

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Spring Sprang Sprung! Doctor JJ’s Kids Bustin’ Out All Over

29 05 2011

Our spring showed color early and has been full to bursting since then, with performance, celebration, commencement, remembrance and rites of passage.
And hats.

(This will surely sound like one of those insipid Christmas letters listing stuff about a family you never see IRL, so feel free to skip it or make snarky comments — in the privacy of your own home.) 😉

Maybe the garden metaphor is less fitting than fireworks, or rocket launches. But there have been plenty of flowers, on hats and in centerpieces, on stage and on campus and filling our home. I suppose the season started with Favorite Daughter’s acceptance to grad school and her 21st birthday, clinching a job at the campus music library, apartment hunting for that first momentous move out on her own (she’s lived at home through university) all while sustaining her unbroken streak on the president’s list to lock up her perfect career GPA with a Phi Beta Kappa key.

St. Patrick’s Day was a whole week for both FavD and Young Son, an Irish stepdance marathon of performances for schools indoors and out, for nursing homes and assisted living centers and at two different citywide festivals. Thanks to unschooling, on the actual day Young Son was able to start at nine in the morning and dance straight through until almost ten that night.

Young Son's St Patrick's Day meant dancing for two and then some

I know how much he danced and how much energy it must have taken because I went everywhere with him; I was worn out even though I got to sit the whole time. 🙂

Meanwhile, rehearsals for their latest community theatre musical “CURTAINS” took up most weeknights and Saturdays through March and April, for both kids. (Favorite Daughter was dance captain.)

Curtains Can Can-Can! Favorite Daughter on far left

Young Son front and center

This time the show rehearsed in a vacant mall storefront, filling the atrium far and wide with song and dance, delighting mall-crawlers from all directions — mostly from Barnes and Noble and the sports superstore but also the little kid ride-for-a-quarter machines — whose stopped-in-their-tracks surprise was good fun to watch from a bench nearby while waiting to chauffeur one or both Ross kids to whatever awaited their attention next.

Curtains rehearsing in mall storefront: FavD in blue skirt, Young Son's right half on far right

Young Son took up another wind instrument this spring, in addition to the great highland bagpipes, hornpipes, penny whistles and baritone vocals he enjoys so much: the alto saxophone. MY alto saxophone to be precise. We found yet another tailor-made mentor/private teacher, a world-traveled former US Army Band professional saxophonist who’s now A.B.D. (all but dissertation) at the local university and has his own studio and instrument workshop at home.

Oh, and FavD quite unexpectedly acquired a new costume de rigueur as of April 20, perfectly suited to her scholarly librarian life: her first pair of glasses, which like Young Son, she wears all the time and looks somehow more like herself with, than without. 🙂

On the heels of that bespectacling, Read the rest of this entry »





Power of Story in One Teacher’s Century-long Life

17 05 2011

At 100 Still a Teacher, and Quite a Character:

. . . she recalled how difficult it was to get fully certified by a byzantine school bureaucracy. The examiners had her explain a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and told her afterward she had given “a poor interpretation.” Having been blocked once before because of a trace of a greenhorn accent, she refused to be stopped a second time.

So she did what any true aspirant would have done: she wrote a letter to Ms. Millay and had her evaluate her interpretation.

“You gave a much better explanation of it than I myself should have,” the poet wrote back, and the chastened examiners saved face by urging Ms. Kaufman to try for the license again.

This power of story goes beyond one poem and what’s in work-school words like teacher, certification and accountability. It’s about human identity, who we are and how we came to be and what to do with it.

Her grandfather was the great Yiddish storyteller Sholem Aleichem, a writer who was able to squeeze heartbreaking humor out of the most threadbare deprivation and wove the bittersweet Tevye stories that became Read the rest of this entry »





Spring Comes to Florida Despite Worst Governor Ever

4 03 2011

Young Son's reading tree in full flower as he reads Sherlock Holmes, of course (photo credit - Mom's phone)





Thinking About What I’m Thinking About

3 03 2011

Meta-minded JJ.

Snook just rolled to a pattern-perfect round number: 444,000 hits. It looks so neatly ordered that I might just leave the front page up without refreshing, until I get tired of seeing it.

Last night I passed this place again. A dozen serious young students in white, and I noticed how tall and slender yet well-proportioned, uniform in physique as well as, well, uniform!

Did they self-select into something that suited their body type in the first place, or did this activity affect how they grew and developed, making them better in such predictable ways that after the fact, it seemed they were born to it?

Which came first, I mused. The kickin’ or the edge? [groan]

And does that answer, whatever it may be, apply to our politics and religion, what attracts and repels us in life as we wind up living it, fashions and friends and mates and careers?

Everything is connected including this distracted and distracting brain-dump of a post. I’ve been hacking my head off for a week and it’s wearing on other parts of my body now. With every coughing fit, my lower back twinges; my abdomen feels like it’s herniating; my throat rasps and stings; my brain pounds inside my cranium; my ears ring and I can hear blood rushing inside. Plus the coughing has kept me up so many nights now that my eyes are red and bleary, my joie de vivre and general hygiene sinking toward apathy. I see and understand yet am helpless to resist . . .

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Bagpipes Supporting Civil Rights in America!

18 02 2011

Talk about Learning Without Schooling, one of my ubiquitous tags here. Those who complain there’s no learning happening in Wisconsin this week clearly have lost touch with what real learning is, if they ever knew in the first place!

Wisconsin firefighters march into the Capitol, bagpipes filling the rotunda.

Intelligent cock of the snook to Rachel Maddow’s blog, where you can watch a really moving music video in the best sense of the word, peaceful and committed young people out to make a difference, for the first time in a generation (okay, to be honest, more like two generations) and near the end, the same firefighter bagpipers show up, playing On Wisconsin:

(On Wisconsin! On America!The kids are all right.)





Noticing the Contrast . . .

14 02 2011

. . .between FL Gov. Rick Scott unveiling his anti-human government budget at a Baptist megachurch in tiny Eustis, for cheering TEA partisans, and President Obama doing his the-ability-of-a-human-mind-to-think-is-a-terrible-thing-to-waste budget right now, in a public middle school classroom near Baltimore, televised for all the people who still are able to believe in promoting, protecting and providing for one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all. And then to go learn how, and help do it.

See also Can Thinking Parents Save Generation Joshua?