"Ask an impertinent question, and you're on your way to a pertinent answer." —Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man
As of October 2015, my goal for this blog is to ask 101 impertinent questions.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Apologies To miner5

Following my first blog, I received this comment from a teacher, miner5.

"There was a fight in the hall over a stolen $20 mp3 player....A colleague of mine was...knocked down the stairs and trampled by students in a hurry to see the fight. The students were given a stern talking to and the next day (it was) business as usual. My friend and colleague suffered several tramas to the head, has severe headaches and vision problems." miner 5 went on to say she left that high school and took an elementary school position. She then adds, "we are in crisis mode here and I don't know how to impart this to the public." But her reason for writing was not just to lament the problems because she concludes that what resonated with her was my comment that children are not our future but our present." miner5, you are experiencing the same grief over what's happening to children that motivated me to create this website. Yet, I didn't respond to you. I'm sorry.

I myself knew a teacher who was stabbed and another who was beaten up. By the end of my career in the early nineties, most teachers I knew were so demoralized by the lack of discipline and emotional abuse from students that they suffered varying degrees of the psychological condition known as "battered teacher syndrome." Why didn't I respond to you, miner5? I created my website to promote conversation about how We the People can demand better schools. Yet I turned away from your grief and frustration and began to tell a story. Yes, the story will offer insight into what's missing from our education system. But philosophy is not reality.

You know, as I know, miner5, that no meaningful change will come to our schools until we realize as a people just how desperate the situation has become and how damaging schools are to our children. I heard you, miner5. I will continue telling my story in another blog. But I will resist the temptation to turn away from the fact that the history of violence in America's schools shows that no school is immune from the possibility of tragedy. Certainly, media reports also confirm that our children are falling behind the academic achievements of every nation in the industrialized world. But the real problem is not that our children are falling behind.

The real problem is that school administrators lack the skills and will to solve the problems in our schools. Because of this lack of leadership, teachers are not receiving the support and training they need to give our children the education they need and deserve.

Suddenly overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem and the faceless world of the blogosphere, I fled the issues and ignored your lament, miner5, for our children. It is my lament as well. Starting tomorrow, The Gullog will be back on track with The Daily Squawk about business as usual in our education system.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Changing Brain Lanes

The Gulliver Initiative website (www.joancutuly.com) is my left-brain analysis of why our education system has become a national disgrace. The Gullog is my right brain reflecting on the matter. It didn't start out this way. But in the midst of my third blog, I just got tired of hearing myself complain.

Starting 11/15, I invite you to follow my serial blog entitled "The Romance of the Netartians." It's the story of a shy, middle-aged urban woman who was in a serious depression after being banished from the teaching profession but then fled her lost life and broken spirit to a small unincorporated town by the sea where she found love in a most unexpected way and experienced many small but magical wonders that taught her about what's missing from education reform in America.

In your face, Reality TV!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Face Time with Oleg and Henry

Yesterday I signed up for Facebook. I went with a moderately eccentric sixty-something image and suddenly felt anxious about not getting friended. What a stupid term, anyhow. Suddenly, anxiety turned to panic when the "recent activity" on my page showed that I'd changed my profile picture five times. How insecure is that! And silly, since I moved to a small rural village to avoid the social dance. Finally, I figured how to delete "recent activity." But other problems arose. I phoned a friend who friended me electronically. But she’s also coming over today to help me learn the electronic ropes. That's what friends with flesh and heart do.

Earlier in the day, I'd spent several hours with my webguy trying to master the technology of arranging my blog site. It's slow going, but I hope to have the site tidied up in the next several days.

Why am I doing this? I came here to live the contemplative life. If Thoreau were living today, would he blog? And why should anyone care what I’m barfing up in a blog about education reform? The closest we’ve got to caring about education reform as a people is Waiting for Superman—a sentimental docu-infomercial for charter schools that tugs at the heartstrings of viewers by telling the sad stories of children living without hope or opportunity. The filmmaker bashes public schools without a single word about the abdication of leadership or lack of a just and rational education policy over the last fifty years. He concludes by saying that the one-word answer to the problem is—“YOU.” Huh?

Last night I heard on the news that two assailants beat the Russian journalist and blogger Oleg Kashin more than fifty times with a metal bar. For speaking out against government policies, Kashin got his skull, jaw, and ankle smashed. His fingers were also broken and some of them torn out.

U.S. blogger Ariel Cohen wrote, “Kashin was my Facebook friend, although I don’t necessarily like his writing that much. But it was a shocker to found (sic) out that someone whose face you see online almost daily was almost murdered.” http://blog.heritage.org/2010/11/10/oleg-kashin-russian-martyr/

We don’t get our skulls broken in America, although one guy stepped on the head of a young woman dragged to the ground for protesting alongside Rand Paul’s car. More often, we get our faces laughed at or rejected. Was the Waiting for Superman filmmaker trying to say that we all need to go out on a limb to demand better schools for our children? Why didn't he point out that we've never been taught in recent years how to care for ourselves and our principles as a people?

So why do the five-hundred residents of my small town care about each other even if they aren’t best friends? Maybe living by the Pacific reminds us that tides change and that the sea and the slippery shelf offshore are unpredictable. What I learned in the ten years since moving here is what I wish I’d learned in school. Beginning Monday, I will be sharing these small-town lessons with you. Like how Mrs. Smith, the spunky Blue Swede ruled with an iron feather. And what a field of cows taught me about education reform. My hope is that the blogs may become an entertaining and provocative diversion from all that face time.