It's all about perspective

Archive for the ‘School’ Category

Similarity is not Equality

It’s Roller Derby time boys and girls. Yet while I waited patiently for that 7pm whistle last sunday which started the rekindled sport my mind wanders to thoughts of gender equality. I know, boring, but hear me out. I’ve been noticing an upswing in articles related to the oppression of men and this all-women sport has rekindled my interest in the subject. Now before you go off laughing about how its impossible for men to be the subject of oppression based on their gender, I would have you stop and think about this for a moment.

I am, due to my own history with the state and childcare, an unflinching supporter of Father’s rights. In this instance I am absolutely convinced there is a biased view of parenting in this country which favors the mother. Does this happen all the time? Not hardly. Does it happen enough that it should be investigated? I say a resounding “yes.” While going through the custody process myself I encountered several avenues of assistance that were available to the mother, that were not available to me, which were based solely on her gender. Furthermore, the prevailing child development model at the time was one that claimed children were developmentally disadvantaged when separated from their mothers. This standard was absolutely biased against fathers and thankfully is beginning to change.

In part, I believe it is changing because of the drastic difference in education based on gender. Last year I read several articles and blog posts about how the current model of education; one that many believe is detrimental to boys’ learning, is not being studied on that basis of gender [1]. In my own recent attempts to join the K-12 teaching ranks, I have found a great emphasis on race and class, but no one is talking about gender. For this reason alone I feel there should be an open discourse about it.

Now, it appears this may actually happen. (more…)

The Speech

On September 8, 2009 President Obama will give this speech to schools around the U. S. This speech is designed to:

Help get America’s students engaged! On Tuesday, September 8 — the first day of school for many students — the President will talk directly to students across the country on the importance of taking responsibility for their education, challenging them to set goals and do everything they can to succeed.

Ever since the announcement there have been people screaming about how it is illegal, immoral, and just propaganda. This, coupled with the Right’s attempt to paint President Obama’s health care initiative in a similar light, just goes to show how far they have actually fallen.

Let me assure you, it is not illegal. The President is not setting curriculum. To do that he would have to say something to the effect of “Today all science classes will now teach Intelligent Design.” This is not something he’s doing, nor will he ever. The President is not changing all schools over to the metric system. He is giving a speech. About personal responsibility. Something that I will agree should be taught by the children’s parents, but a concerned country and member of this society can only blame the parents for so long until action must be taken.

For that reason alone, it is not immoral either. The right wing, and many others, in this country want the government out of their lives. I can understand that and can even sympathize with that. I want corporate control out of my life and feel that’s a much bigger issue than government, but that’s an issue for another time. However, personal responsibility, a skill that very few members of my generation learned and thus, were not able to pass on to their children, is something that must be taught. If we did not learn it from our parents and we did not learn it from school, where were we supposed to learn it? So as a concerned citizen and leader of a society President Obama is stepping up to address the challenge of that very question. He’s not trying to supplant parents, nor is he trying to supplant schools, he is merely challenging the youth and future of our nation to do better than the generation before them. What loftier goal is there?

As far as propaganda is concerned, yes it is a bit of propaganda, but so is education. In fact, every educational system on the planet is designed to lay out the propaganda of that society. “U.S.A. is #1!” The pledge of allegiance and all that jazz. Yet President Obama is not putting a left spin or a right spin on the speech. He is trying to use his own experiences and the experiences of others like him to motivate our children to do better. Not because they’re failing and not because they’re lazy, but because as a parent he knows, just like every parent out there knows, that our children can do better.

It is a speech to our kids about something important that the vast majority of you never would have even hinted at to you own children, but because someone else is doing it, you have to scream and whine and moan about “parent’s rights” and “government influence.” Get real and wake up. There are far worse influences than the government speaking to our children every day.

As a final note, I would like to challenge everyone out there who is a member of the “screaming me-me’s” to tell everyone else where they were when President Bush did the same thing? Where were you when any President addressed the nation like this? I’ll tell you where you were. You were safe at home, or at your jobs, or at your bars not worrying once about it because that time it was “no big deal.” That President was just “one of the boys” what harm could he do?

You don’t say…

So I’m checking my email this afternoon and get a reply from a professor regarding a really late paper I turned in. (It was due November 10 and I turned it in yesterday.) At first I was completely terrified of reading his reply. I was so afraid he was going to tell me that I was going to get no points for the paper or that I had to have some serious audacity to turn in the paper so late. Surprisingly enough, none of that was in his message. It was short, to the point, and completely unexpected. In fact, I’m still dumbfounded and reeling from my initial read-through of his two sentence email.

He called me brilliant.

Updates, conferences, and vacations

It has been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy with school and frankly I had nothing to write about. I had meant to do some blogging while attended the Midwest Sociological Society’s annual conference the weekend of March 28th, but the hotel did not have free wifi and I refused to pay $10 per day to use what they had. It was the best time I’ve had in years.

I’ve gone to a couple of conferences before for the Student Government Association when I attended O.T.C., so the general format I was prepared for. It’s quite simple; people present their research for review to an audience. Sometimes it is under the umbrella of a theme and other times it stands by itself. What I was not prepared for was how open and willing to talk to me everyone was. It was an atmosphere thick with legitimately intelligent people who wanted to talk to other intelligent people about their passion. I was like a kid in a candy store. I talked to as many people as would talk to me and I had such great fun.

The highlight of the conference for me was twofold. First I attended a session titled: Research in American Indian Communities. First, a woman by the name of Susanna Carlson presented her paper about how “agents of the law have interacted with Native Americans in reproducing identity,” then Mrs. Carlene Sipma-Dysico presented research on “education and the juvenile system in South Dakota’s Indian country,” and finally, Dr M. Kayt Sunwood presented research on “culturally responsive curriculum in Alaska native schools and communities.” Fucking brilliant from beginning to end. This session just hit home for me and refocused my attentions. Ms. Carlson started discussing a historical view of how the image of the Indian has been formed through a semi-symbiotic relationship with authority, and then Mrs. Sipma-Dysico began speaking of how Indian children in public schools are treated with institutionalized racism and are being groomed into the Indians the whites want them to be, and finally Dr. Sunwood brought it all together by presenting the research she co-authored in Alaska about using Native cultural icons to help teach children the basic units of school. Take note that none of these women had planned this or collaborated on what they were going to present or how it was going to be presented; in fact there were supposed to be five presenters and two never showed up. But there it was: from the historical roots of the modern Indian as created by white dominance to the tree of institutionalized racist policies that grew from them and ending with research that showed a more than promising solution to the problem! Just writing it down almost two weeks after the fact gives me goosebumps. It was a very moving experience, but the second, and ultimate, highlight came when I was able to talk to one of the presenters from that session several hours later.

I went to another session, the last round of them that day, and saw Mrs. Sipma-Dysico walk in and sit in the back. The last presenter to this session had shown up late and had just started to talk when I saw Mrs. Sipma-Dysico head for the door. I knew seeing her was providence and so I excused myself from my companion and bolted after her. What followed was the most fascinating conversation I have ever had with another human being. I had wanted to talk to her about an idea for a paper I was working on to present next year, and since it was on the image of the Indian I thought she would be an invaluable source of information. Not only did we talk about my paper but we talked about everything else you aren’t supposed to talk about with a stranger: religion, sex, and politics. It was the best three hours of my life. Yeah, we sat outside the conference room on a rather uncomfortable bench for three hours laughing and talking about everything. My only regret was I never had a chance to see her again before my group had to leave.

More than ever I am confident in my choice to go on to grad school. I’m looking forward to the summer intersession when I am going to drive to the west coast to step foot on some of the schools I’m courting for my masters degree. The first week of June I’m going to Washington State University in Pullman, the University of Oregon in Eugene, and then Colorado State University in Fort Collins. It’s going to take me about 5 days of driving time and I’m giving myself around 7-ish just to account for whatever might happen. I’m really looking forward to it as the farthest west I’ve been is Salina, Kansas.

This is the route I’m planning on taking:

Eventually I will be able to append Dr. to my name. This makes me giggle internally because even if it takes me the maximum time, about 7 years, I will still get the degree before my ex-girlfriend does. I know that is horrible, and it isn’t the reason I’m going for the degree, but it will give me a small sense of satisfaction when I get to mail her letterhead from the institution I’m teaching at with Dr. appended to my name in the salutation. It is the small things in life that make me happy.

The day of Saint Valentine

How I despise this holiday. Just to be clear, this feeling does not stem from the lack of a significant other. I have hated this holiday from the first time I celebrated it in Kindergarten. The western tradition of St. Valentine’s day is nothing more than a celebration of corporate exploitative greed designed to line their own pockets.

In Kindergarten we exchanged valentines. Those little mass-produced cards featuring the faces of our favorite sesame street muppet or cartoon star with their oh too cute messages of friendship and infantile love. I got none. As we went through school it became a popularity contest. There were those who received so many their decorated shoe box was almost overflowing. Then there were those, like myself, who got a few token valentines from people who felt bad knowing we did not get any. Part of me is glad our schools don’t let this kind of thing happen anymore. Everyone knows the sting when you did not get the valentine from someone you liked. And I would be willing to wager we equally know the horror of getting the valentine from someone we did not like. Somewhere along the line I decided not to participate in the ritual parade of my social ineptitudes.

The first time since school I felt the need to give a valentine I decided to do something wholly unexpected: I made my girlfriend a valentine. I spent days working on the design and coming up with the right words. Along with the card I gave her a single purple tulip I found from a garden several blocks away. I thought since I made it and went to the effort to find her favorite flower in her favorite color, she would at least be appreciative, but no. After receiving these things she asked where her real present was. Up from the devastation in my heart through the bubbling rage in my voice I told her she was not getting one. Ever. Again. And then promptly I left the room.

I swore valentine’s day off at that point. Even with my last girlfriend who I loved dearly and very passionately; I flatly refused to participate in the holiday.

Every year decorations and cards for valentine’s day go up earlier and earlier. Christmas had not even come and Wal-Mart already began lining their shelves with Cupid’s merchandise. The really sad thing is, once you start buying valentine’s day gifts, you have to keep buying them. And you can’t keep buying the same one. You have to buy something different, unique, just like all the other stuff there is to buy, or you have to continuously outdo your previous purchases.

Give me someone: who would be grateful to have a significant other in their life who takes time out of their day to think of nothing and no one but them, who does not have to have every little thing the corporate conglomerate says you have to have in order to feel loved, and who is not so jealous of what others have they can not appreciate what is right in front of them.

I spit on what the corporate giants have done to this holiday. A holiday with no ties to the people it is named after. A holiday only recognized by the entities who stand to make the most off of its plundering: Corporate America.

Getting the business end of college pt 2

My faith in humanity has not quite been restored, polished slightly, but not fully restored.

I phoned the Dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies at my school this morning. He promised me I was his top priority. He took it upon himself to ensure my file was in order and when he called me back about an hour later it was to inform me I was fully admitted and that my money would be replaced in my account.

A huge weight has been lifted from my chest knowing this whole sordid affair is at its end. Yet I still feel somewhat cheated. The matter apparently had to involve a Dean, and all he did was get these people to do their jobs. I was lied to, blown off, treated like an imbecile, and all this caused me quite a bit of undue stress. Yet everything is supposed to be alright now that the boss stepped down from the pedestal to tell everyone to get back to work? It may be a small victory, but it feels very hollow.

My gut tells me something more needs to be done or said to someone. Maybe once I’ve slept on it the internal matter will either resolve itself or come to its conclusion.

Getting the business end of college

College is a business. There is no way around it anymore. What astounds me is that higher education refuses to admit it.

Students are customers, and should be treated as such. A college education is quite possibly one of the most expensive “items” on the capitalist market and students are treated as so much idiotic garbage. I am 29 years old and have been treated like I am 12 twice now by my institution.

The first was when I tried to get a private loan because the private institution I attend is extremely expensive. The loan had to be verified by the school and initially it was. When I received the check it was mysteriously $3000.00 short. I immediately went to the financial aid office in a storm demanding an explanation. All that I received was treatment like I am a twelve year old in need of a spanking for dipping into dad’s wallet once too often, a guilt trip for asking for the extra money in the first place, and I was told, “well at least you won’t have to pay all that extra back.” All I could think was, “Did this jaba the hutt looking woman really just treat me like that?” These people’s mistake cost me: rent, utilities, and my car insurance for four months.

The second time was all in the last two weeks. I decided to transfer to the night school at my university. I enrolled in classes and they told me at the time I would not have to fill out an application or pay the applicant fee. I was traipsing through my online account checking for my end of semester grades before Christmas and found a discrepancy. On my financial aid profile it had originally listed four separate sources of funding: a Pell and Missouri Access grant, and an unsubsidized and subsidized Stafford loan. This profile has shown these sources and the amount they were awarding me has stayed the same since the end of Summer 07. Mysteriously enough, my profile now showed the grants (the ones I don’t have to pay back) gone. Just wiped away like they were never there. (more…)

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