When I was about 10 years old, a well-dressed white lady walked into my dad’s corpse-scented taxidermy shop reverently holding the body of a hummingbird that had smashed itself into her picture window. “How much will it cost me to … Continue reading What the Taxidermist taught his daughter about value
Children naturally compete for resources like food and attention. They are programmed by nature to do so. If they have enough and they feel safe and loved, many children naturally and good-naturedly share what they have with others. Children are naturally openly curious about those different from them, and may look shocked and surprised or ask embarrassing questions. Children often do not naturally make judgments about whether a person is more or less valuable than themselves. This is learned behavior. Human beings have many natural tendencies and learned behaviors that can be nurtured or squashed. SO WHY DO SO MANY … Continue reading are we teaching more than competition?
Today’s journal prompt was about the ways in which we are smarter than animals, and the ways in which they are smarter than us. Here are some results from my 7th and 8th graders: WAYS HUMANS ARE SMARTER: “Better technology.” “Complicated buildings.” “Written language.” WAYS ANIMALS ARE SMARTER: “Animals don’t judge each other.” “My dog knows what I’m saying when I ask him to take a walk. But I don’t know what he is saying when he is barking. Maybe we just don’t understand their language.” “One thing that is better about animals than humans is disagreements; humans fight and … Continue reading are humans smarter than animals?
I teach middle school, y’all. These kids are full of energy and potential action; they need to be actively taught how to deal with life’s travails, not taught to avoid all discussion of the Big Issues like religion and politics, as my generation was. The way to do this is NOT to show them footage of horrifying things and shame them for not caring enough. (I learned this the hard way). It is to give them ways to engage with tough information, then show them ways to direct their frustrations and energies in constructive rather than chaotic ways. Karneval/Fastnacht in … Continue reading Rosenmontag; Art as Protest
from facebook, February 15, 2017 After decades of struggle with depression, I have spent the past year coming into a sense of personal peace. I felt for many years that I was standing on a tiny, shrinking island of safety in a boiling tar pit of nothingness. I was unconsciously holding onto my privileged, unrealistic delusions from childhood, and the cognitive dissonance was destroying me. I was trying to escape from everything and everyone, thinking that if I could just stop the stressors, I could be safe from the Nothing. One beautiful day last spring I took a long lunch … Continue reading The Nothing.
In an episode of the Simpsons, Lisa is trying to figure out why the bully, Francine, attacks some victims and ignores others. Through a series of experiments she finds that Francine does, in fact, smell fear, and then attacks her nerdy prey as a hawk would. As a middle school teacher, I can attest to the truth of this. Bullies can smell fear like sharks smell blood in the water. Bullies are needy humans; what they need, first and foremost, a sense of self-worth, so they don’t have to suck the blood of others to get it. I can sniff … Continue reading “I smell you.” Meditations on the Simpsons and True Detective.
March 2, 2019 some of my students were calling each other ghetto yesterday a flow of words coming through the door scrutinizing hair and clothing for signs of poverty then we watched Lion , and they saw the ghettos of Calcutta they asked why people washing clothes in the river why that boy wore the same thing every day and I told them how so many people don’t have running water hundreds of people bathing, pooping, washing clothes, all in that same river and my students’ flow of words slowed. ***** When I got home the water was out workers digging through … Continue reading taking water for granted
March 1, 2019 Your attention is valuable. Yes, you. There is someone in your life today who would really value your listening ear or undistracted eye; someone you can learn from. I met an interesting older gentleman today at the coffee shop. He talked of his mother, who he calls a queen of Kinloch. She died sixteen years ago. He was wearing a warm hat and nice glasses. He is gay. He is diabetic and has a number of other ailments. He showed me his medications in his backpack. He said that the doctor said he needed to take better … Continue reading People need to be seen and heard, y’all