Friday, October 24, 2014

The World outside my World

NGM Oct. 2013 print cover
So you remember this?
A neighbor gave our family a subscription to The National Geographic when I was ten years old. 

Well, I tell you what!

It exploded my small farm world and filled my mind with questions for which there no answers available to this farm girl. Each magazine was thumbed and read to pieces by the entire family.

“Class Artist” was my nickname then, because pencil and paper were always in my hands.  And now, the Nat’l Geo. was a powerful source from which images poured…flowers, towering trees, and exotic animals.

Then at age 17, a strange metamorphism happened.  The photos had always been my source; now the captions, stories, and the people hit me in their significance.  It was as if the faces and dark eyes leaped out at me, saying, “Look at me!  Understand me!”

Where my pencil had loved flowers and birds before, now my paper flew through fingers as I tried to capture the courage, sorrow, fear, grief and more of people far way.  Peering into their hollow pained eyes, I realized that glass-domed farm-world in which I lived was about to shatter.  At least for me, this would propel me out into other places.

Indian People
2014 NG photo contest winner

Villagers from Muslim communities affected by ethnic violence weep at a relief camp in Narayanguri village in Baksa district in the northeastern Indian state of Assam May 4, 2014. REUTERS Photo
Faces like these captured me.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday Words: Utopia

That New Utopia Show Is a Dumb Dystopia But Obviously That's the Point
It is a TV Reality Show!
Utopia…Utopia… Just thinking that word sent chills through Sir Edward St. James, as the steam engine carried him to the place of his dreams: Utopia. He smiled smugly, straightening his necktie, recalling how he obtained funds for this great venture.  After all, a little plagiarism to boost sales on my latest book should not surprise anyone these days.

The ideal society where logic and elevated thought processes was Sir Edward’s expectation.  A gleaming white hall with pillars would be filled with men of his class and intelligence, sharing discourse with the great thinkers of the 19th century.
The Great Awakening

As the train nudged to a stop, whistle sounding, Sir Edward settled his silk top hat and valise, preparing to step out into the 1872 version of heaven.  Not only did an intellectual paradise wait for him, but a mail order bride as well.  Cynthia Brighten was a devout spinster who would fulfill his selfish needs and do laundry.

Stepping out onto the platform, Sir James was immediately seized and squeezed tightly by an obese homely woman who covered his face with sloppy kisses. Cynthia?  Oh God please noooo…

Before he could pull away from the passionate woman, Sir James gazed in horror at what was the real Utopia.  A white crude wooden barn-like structure dominated the center of the town, and was surrounded by muddy streets. Fellow Utopians stomped through the muddy streets in their elegant finery, struggling to discuss Descartes and anything else except the hellish Utopia and its damn mud.

New Harmony, Indiana, 1831
 Sir Edward’s automatic response to this horror was to ask, “I would like a ticket back to Philadelphia, one way, for one person.  Immediately.”

Many thanks go to Delores at Under the Porch Light for her dedication in stumping all participants in "Wednesday Words".  Delores provides six words for writers to shape into poetry, prose, story, flash fiction... You will find some excellent contributions at her site above.  If you would like to jump in, please click on the Methodist Church in the right site bar.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Time of Purple Penguins

Purple Penguin Create

Ms. Tyrone nervously brushed her new shirt supplied by PTA funds, and glanced around the classroom.  This was her 40th year teaching, her last year.  With 100 sick-day accumulation, Ms. Tyrone would be teaching only 84 days.  How can I make it to day 84?...

She opened the door to Trailer 34 with a big smile, and received a loud welcoming and clapping.  Her 32 students wore shirts matching hers which pleased some parents but most parents were clearly unhappy.
Bath and Body Works Purple Penguin
Bath and Body Works

“Here are your desk numbers…Can you find yours!?”  Ms. Tyrone threw on a chipper, oh-this-will-be-so-much fun smile.  Confusion covered the children’s faces.  The parents who clustered in the back of the room were equally confused.

Finally smart 32 # raised her hand, bold and brave.  

“Mrs. Tyrone…why do we all have just numbers?
And why are the numbers followed by #, % or *?
And, why are we all wearing these tee-shirts of “purple penguins”?  And why…”

Ms. Tyrone held up her hand.  “I am to be called ‘Ms. Tyrone’ since that will not indicate whether or not I am married…er… 32 # .  The Purple Penguins shows all that being a girl or boy or one who is not sure, we all are exactly the same.”

Oh those parents are not happy, not happy at all.

Some really cute shirts

Ms. Tyrone continued, sweat covering her face. “Having a number completely eliminates having your own name, which invariably would indicate that you are a girl or boy or one who is not sure.” 

Dear Lord, I hate this, I hate this…

"And then finally, 32 #, we have these symbols---  # or a * or %--- next to your number. These will help me call you up by groups, to work especially with you or to arrange the desks.” 

I wonder how long that will last…

Some parents snickered, some looked confused, and a good number looked angry.

“Well, then!  26 % , will you please read the rules on the board, and we’ll get down to all the wonderful new history we will be learning this year."

I think I am going to vomit…” which she did, on 32 #.

Purple Tin Bucket / Pail
partyplace: nice stuff
"Purple Penguins" is also a computer game in which children can play with other children in a protected site and monitored by the parent.  That is all I know.  I'll ask my gr-kids. 

For further information on this issue in education, please go to these sites:

This is a huge issue in education, and will increase.  If you want to know more, access Google where both sides will be presented.  The above sites are a mixture.
                                                    And, now....

# * %... These are entirely my idea, maybe my projection into a time where this will become reality.  A bit of 1984  thrown in, followed with Attica, The Giver, Hunger Games, and with Animal Farm on the side.

Now, "Common Core" is radically changing education.  Please research this and come to your own conclusions.  And the Purple Penguins say, "Hi!"

 Twenty years ago in a staff meeting, the Principal informed us that there were some big changes in education coming in 15-20 years.  The NEA (National Education Association, one of the most powerful unions in California, if not all of the USA), along with many lobbyist and special interest groups, were promoting changes in the curriculum that would drastically change education to reflect new approaches, all of which would require revisionist viewpoints.  

I asked what-if questions:  What if the changes conflict in the teacher's  beliefs?  What if the changes eliminate or rewrite important elements of education ?  He told me (all of us), "Those are good questions."

As a teacher and a parent, I believe that math should be taught as math, not with an agenda.  Reading and writing should promote improved reading and writing skills, not a chance to indoctrinate.  History should reflect the history of our nation and world, including every single person in those events.

I also believe that any student who bullies another student should receive severe consequences.  Anti-bullying should become part of instruction in the classroom and at home.  Every child should have a safe classroom.  

What is deemed to meet these standards should be approved by independent educators, not special interest groups.

Parents should be given back the power they once had, and teach standards at home.  They must make the decisions that were/should be theirs to make.  

Source: Very Interesting

So here we are, and he was right.  I am retired.