Category Archives: Education

A Young Girl’s Christmas List

A blogger by the name of Possummomma posted an essay her daughter wrote in school. She called it a “pop essay”; the students did not know the topic in advance. Here is what Possummomma’s daughter wrote in response to the question: What do you want for Christmas?

What I want for Christmas, by Possum#1
There’s a movie that’s frequently shown in twenty-four hour blocks in which the main character, Ralphie, wants nothing but a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. Ironically enough, he’s asked to write an essay about his Christmas desire by a slightly shrewd teacher and told that he’ll shoot his eye out. As I glance around this classroom, I see that many of my friends are feverishly pumping out manifestos dictating what gadgets and goodies they wish to find under their Christmas tree on the morning of December 25th. My mind, however, is reeling over the presumption that my public school teacher has addressed our classroom and assigned an essay in which she presumes that the entire lot of us are Christian or celebrate Christmas.

I take another look around my classroom and notice that Mahmeed is absent-mindedly cleaning underneathe his fingernails with the cap from his pen. Emily is feverishly trying to catch my eye and, having done so, mouthing the words, “I don’t celebrate Christmas…I’m Jewish.” in a quizzical manner. Jayden is doing what he normally does during such pop essays: he’s looking out the window- probably wondering where his parents will get the money for January’s rent and feeling guilty for daring to think about a gift. He’s pretty sensitive.

I have never admitted it to any of my friends, but I think I must be an atheist. My mother is an atheist and has always told me to find my own path to spiritual comfort. I think I must be an atheist because I can’t fathom any God who would allow the celebration of the birth of his son to become a time when my friends are consumed with thoughts of how they can convince Grandma to buy them a new Nano Ipod while other kids are wondering how their parent will manage the rent. What do I want for Christmas, I want a less assuming teacher. I want a teacher who thinks past the standard “What I want for Christmas…” assignment when she’s aware that three out of her twenty students probably don’t celebrate Christmas. I want a world where my friends will be asked to write essays about how they might use their winter vacay’ to help other people. I want my mom to be healthy again. I want my grandmother to quit smoking. I want my grandfather to quite bugging her about it. But most of all, I want to not get an “F” on this assignment because you get angry with me for saying all of the above. Merry Christmas, Mrs. “X”* (name changed to protect identities).

Possum #1 makes us proud.
Reposted with permission

If that don’t make a momma proud…

The teacher wrote this at the end of the student’s essay:

[Possum#1], thank you for your thoughtful remarks. I don’t think you’re an atheist but I respect your empathy for your friends. Please see me after class today. A+

Possum #1 reported that the teacher said she couldn’t be an atheist because her “ability to care for others feelings isn’t an atheist trait.” The teacher attributed the girl’s compassion to her own god, calling it a “very Christian attitude.”

Happy Holidays.


Teacher, Teacher

It’s been a exhausting but productive day. Homeschooling will be a major adjustment for us, and the more prepared we are, the better the transition will be. I’ve been working on a new blog today. I need structure in order to function, and this blog will be a great way to stay organized.

The one nagging question on my mind is, “Can I do this?” Having my son’s education resting solely on me is a huge responsibility. If I fail, he fails.

This old 38 Special song kept playing through my mind while I was working on my new blog and researching online teaching sources. I never thought much of it back in the 80’s, but it came to mind today with an entirely new and much more profound meaning than it ever had way back then.

Anyway, here it is. I’m pooped. Good night.

Teacher, Teacher
38 Special

Just when I thought I finally learned my lesson well,
There was more to this than meets the eye.
And for all the things you taught me, only time will tell,
If I’ll be able to survive. Oh yeah.

Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Can you tell me all I need to know?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
Or will I fall when you let me go? Oh no.

Am I ready for the real world, will I pass the test?
You know it’s a jungle out there.
Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop me, I won’t be second best,
But the joke’s on those who believe the system’s fair, oh yeah.

Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Can you tell me if I’m right or wrong?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
I wanna know what’s goin’ on, oh yeah.

So the years go on and on, but nothings lost or won.
And what you learned is soon forgotten.

They take the best years of your life,
Try to tell you wrong from right,
But you walk away with nothing. Oh oh.

Teacher, teacher, can you teach me?
Can you tell me all I need to know?
Teacher, teacher, can you reach me?
Or will I fall when you let me go?


Lottie’s Texas Homeschool

I’ve decided to give it a shot.

Back in October, I wrote a post about how I was thinking of removing my son from public school and teaching him at home. In that post, I explained some of my reasons and said that I would give it until Christmas and then re-evaluate the situation.

Well, Christmas break is here, and I have decided to start homeschooling on January 5th, when school reconvenes. As previously stated, I work from home so I have the flexibility to manage it. Mike will help via the internet until he is able to to join us permanently.

Quite a lot has transpired since I first wrote about this. Not all of it was bad enough to qualify as any kind of deal breaker, but it certainly didn’t tip the scales in the school’s favor. I won’t bore you with everything that got under my skin, but I would like to talk about the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Apart from the rampant bullying, potential gang activity which no one at the school seems to know how to handle and the other problems I mentioned in my other post, many of the staff members seem incompetent and out of control.

Of course, there are some very good teachers there who have been just great and I mean no disrespect to them, but they can’t control or make up for what I see as abusive behavior from the others. Simply put, many of them just don’t seem to understand about appropriate boundaries, much less recognize when they’ve been crossed. Not surprising, though, considering the type of leadership they have.

As mentioned in my October post, the Principal announced that parents had better not call and “complain” to her about anything unless we were willing to help out by volunteering at the school. Yes, we should all leave (and possibly lose) the jobs that we get paid for to come and help them do what they get paid for. Otherwise, we’d better just keep quiet because we’re not bieng team players or something.

That aside, the final straw came this past Thursday. I received a call from the school informing me that my son had been given ISS (in-school suspension) for an entire week and would not be allowed to attend the school dance that afternoon. Why? Because he had been late to gym class that day.

I thought this was extremely harsh and disproportionate and I said so. The secretary explained that there are “just a whole bunch of kids who are constantly late” so they made an “administrative decision” (translation: knee-jerk response by the Principal) to lock the doors as soon as the bell rang. Anyone left outside would be dealt the same punishment regardless of how many times they’d been late because — get this — they don’t know which of them are chronically late, because they don’t record tardies. They don’t follow any sort of protocol for dealing with it at all.

So, because of their own haphazard administration, and finally getting fed up with the result of it, they decided this was how to handle it. But that’s not all.

My son was late that day because the teacher of his previous class had kept them after the bell. He had never been told anything about being late, didn’t know it had been a problem, and didn’t see this coming at all. When the students who had been locked out were taken to a secluded area, the Principal shouted out them, “You have pissed me off! And you don’t want to piss me off!”

Now, I’m no prude when it comes to language, but this is a school Principal addressing students, for crying out loud! This whole ordeal demonstrates poor leadership abilities, lack of professionalism and plain old bad judgment.

I will not go along with this extremely harsh and disproportionate measure. And I will not frustrate myself by attempting to reason with a woman who has consistently displayed irrational thought and behavior. So I contacted Pupil Services to inquire about my options for a transfer to a different middle school.

The only option available to me at this point in the school year is an “administrative transfer” which is based on “evidence that either a safety/emergency and/or a medical condition exists which hampers a student’s educational success”. I thought I could make a good argument for it being a safety issue because of the bullying and a few other things, so I asked to have the forms sent.

Well, guess who has to sign off on an administrative transfer? The Principal who we’re trying to get away from and avoid dealing with. Catch-22 anyone?

Yes, after I submit the request along with “substantiating documents”, it will be reviewed by Principals at both campuses. I will then be called for conferences at both schools. Following that, the Principals will contact Pupil Services to confirm the conferences and offer their opinions. Pupil Services will then make a final determination and contact me in writing with their decision. Meanwhile, my son is to remain enrolled and in attendance.

I don’t think so.

Is it just me, or is something inherently wrong with expecting a child to remain in attendance pending a transfer request based on a safety/emergency or medical condition?

Besides that, I’ve had it. They don’t own me or my child and I’m tired of having to comply with their ridiculous demands while also having to tolerate their irrational behavior. I’m not putting myself through this process or forcing my son to go back to a place that we both feel is unsafe, where the person in charge behaves no better than some of the students I don’t want my son associating with.

I am sending a letter of withdrawal, and will begin homeschooling on January 5th. As of now, this is a temporary arrangement; I am also planning to move to an area where he can attend a different school without having to jump through a bunch of flaming hoops.

I’ve done a lot of homework on this and still have a lot to do. I am currently working on putting together a curriculum, some of which will be internet-based. I have a lot of ideas that I think are very good. I’m getting excited and will write more about it as I’m working it all out.

I’m sure you’ll be reading more about this in the days and weeks to come. Any suggestions or feedback you may have will be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Marijuana Treats Fibromyalgia

Since I’m always looking for ways to manage pain, I wonder how I missed this:

Marijuana-based Drug Reduces Fibromyalgia Pain, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2008) — Patients with fibromyalgia treated with a synthetic form of marijuana, nabilone, showed significant reductions in pain and anxiety in a first-of-its-kind study, published in The Journal of Pain.

Fibromyalgia syndrome has no cure, is difficult to diagnose, and effective pain management strategies are a must to help patients cope with the disease. An estimated 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia, which is characterized by widespread muscle and joint pain and myriad other symptoms.[…]

The drug was well tolerated by treated patients, which the authors characterized as reassuring since fibromyalgia patients are sensitive to most medications and have difficulty tolerating side effects. The downside, however, is cost. In Canada, nabilone would cost about $4,000 for a year’s supply.

SceinceDaily

Kind of makes me wish pot was legal. Wonder how much it goes for these days.

I should probably say, just so there’s absolutely no misunderstanding about this: I would never use an illegal substance! Not even if it would take away my pain, and not even if I thought said substance should be legal. I simply would not risk losing my child over it.

Interesting article, though.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Raining On The Christmas Parade

I confess to not liking Christmas much. All the compulsory gift-giving, mandatory office parties, forced and uncomfortable family gatherings, crowded stores and general holiday chaos and hoopla is quite a bit more than this cynical introvert can cope with.

That said, I do still participate in the festivities to a degree. I started the whole tree and presents thing when my son was a baby, and I don’t think it’s fair to abruptly snatch it all away just because I’m beginning to like it considerably less with each passing season. But I am trying to gradually tone it down with the hope of eventually bypassing it completely.

It’s interesting, though, to observe and listen to Christians discussing the holiday and what it “really” means, occasionally reminding each other not to forget the “Christ” in “Christmas”. Having been a practicing Christian for the vast majority of my life, I know that this is a reminder that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Savior of the world who was born of a virgin in a manger in Bethlehem and, well, I’m sure we all know the story, Christian or not.

The really awkward part of that whole “reason for the season” is the fact that the circumstances surrounding this miraculous birth are neither original nor unique to Jesus or even to Christianity. I’ve known this for quite some time, but a post by my friend, Gary, entitled Christmas and Mithras got my wheels spinning again and there’s no time like the present to go ahead and write about it.

Gary talks about how he very nearly became infected with a Christmas bug upon seeing some pretty lights on a tree. He was quickly cured before too much damage was done by watching a video clip from QI, which Gary has embedded in the above-linked post for your viewing pleasure.

In it, Stephen Fry and those on the panel discuss why Christmas is celebrated on December 25th. In doing so, Fry also outlines some of the characteristics of Mithras (2000 B.C.E.) and the story surrounding his life:

  • Called Savior
  • Sent to Earth to live as a mortal
  • Through him, sinners could be reborn
  • Died for our sins
  • Came back to life the following Sunday
  • Born of a virgin in a manger or perhaps a cave
  • Attended by shepherds
  • Known as the light of the world
  • Had twelve disciples with whom he shared a last meal before dying

My goodness! Where have I heard that before?

But Mithras wasn’t the only god to share these striking similarities. Horus (3000 B.C.E) shared them all and the following as well:

  • Mother’s name Meri
  • Annunciation by an angel to his mother
  • Heralded by a star
  • Announced by angels
  • Witnessed by three solar deities (wise men)

More here and here.

There was also Krishna (1200 B.C.E) who shared most of the same attributes, plus these:

  • Second person of the Trinity
  • Adoptive human father was a carpenter
  • Spirit or ghost was his actual father
  • Was without sin
  • Criticized for associating with sinners

More here and here.

So, you see, the so-called “Christ in Christmas” did not originate with Christianity at all. The story behind the Christian celebration of Christmas is a scrapbook of hand-me-down legends and myths that predated the Jesus figure by several millennia. In fact, the tenets of Christianity most significant to Christians; the very foundation of Christianity itself — the virgin birth, and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus — are all borrowed from previous religions and gods.

Now, I say this not to criticize Christians for their beliefs or religious practices and celebrations. The fact that the story of Jesus is not original or unique doesn’t matter one bit to me. I do find the parallels very interesting, however, and of equal or perhaps even greater interest is the fact that so many Christians who make an effort to focus on the “reason for the season” seem completely unaware of it all.

But celebrate or don’t for whatever reason you choose, or for no reason at all. Whether you gain a new perspective from reading this post or dismiss it altogether, it doesn’t really matter: I am writing this for informational purposes only. Do with it what you will.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or Bah Humbug; it’s all the same to me!

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Abstain If You Will

I have written several posts about my opposition to abstinence-only-until-marriage “education”. I oppose these programs for a variety of reasons based on strong evidence and sound reasoning. Today I would like to discuss the subject of abstinence until marriage from a slightly different angle.

I have never intentionally implied, nor would I want it said, that I oppose abstinence. Well, I oppose it for myself, but I’m a forty-two year old woman who is well-informed, mature and responsible enough to make that choice. Oh, and I’m married, but as you may already know, marriage is not a deciding factor for me when it comes to making decisions about sex.

What other people choose to do or not do, and under what circumstances, is their own business, though. And that is the subject of this post.

According to an article by Julie Sternberg, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, by age 20, 75% of Americans have had sex without being married. By age 40, that number increases to 95%. Premarital sex is a cultural norm in the U.S. — and has been for decades.

That said, it has never been my intention to criticize those who do choose to abstain until marriage. If that is important and right for you, then that’s what you should do. But you should also realize that your choice is not based on science or facts, but on your personal values and ideologies that may not be shared by the next person — and that’s OK!

We are all entitled to our own views about sex and marriage, and to make our own choices about them. But what abstinence-only-until-marriage programs try to do is take moral and religious ideology and dress it up as science in an attempt to frighten, control and manipulate people into following a religious moral code. That is what I have a problem with, rather than with people abstaining for personal reasons.

Abstain, if you will. You don’t need to explain or justify it to anyone. It is your choice, and your choice alone. You don’t even need a reason, much less a bunch of factually incorrect reasons. And if you abstain because of your religious beliefs or your faith; because God says premarital sex is a sin, shouldn’t that be enough?

It seems to me that you do your faith a huge injustice and undermine your god by attempting to justify your decision in some other way. Especially when that way is a lie.

Bottom line: do it, or don’t. I support your right to make that choice for yourself. But don’t lie about it, and don’t try to impose your moral code or religious principles on me or my child, especially not on my tax dime.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On


Body-Swapping Experiments

I feel absolutely terrible today. I don’t know what I’ve come down with, but I’m totally miserable. I’ve sent an email to my boss requesting a sick day. While waiting to hear back from her, and cruising around the intertubes, I came across this interesting article under Strange News at Live Science.

What an odd coincidence for someone who wishes she could switch bodies with someone today:

Strange Experiments Create Body-Swapping Experiences
Robin Lloyd, Senior Editor

Scientists now have manipulated people’s perceptions to make them think they have swapped bodies with another human or even a “humanoid body,” experiencing the sensations that the other would feel and giving the illusion of being inside the other’s body.

The bizarre achievement hearkens to body swaps portrayed on numerous TV shows and movies such as “Freaky Friday” and “All of Me.”

In real life, the cognitive neuroscientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet succeeded in making subjects perceive the bodies of mannequins and other people as their own. The illusion also worked even when the two people differed in appearance or were of different sexes. It also worked whether the subject was immobile or was making voluntary movements. However, it was not possible to fool the subjects into identifying with a non-humanoid object, such as a chair or a large block.

Full Article

No problem — I already feel like a large block. Or something.

Maybe my boss has written back by now.
Update: Sick day approved. I’m going to back to bed.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On