Small Things Part II: School-Age Children and Emotional Abuse in USA

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  – Nelson Mandela

Often as a nation our politicians and many others speak  about how they love and care about our children. Maybe they only mean their OWN children.  HYPOCRITES! Dare I say, LIARS! In the USA local government has to pay for almost all cost of education in every state. Who suffers the most? Our public school children, our small things!

small greenery

small greenery

To add to this insult, the Department of Education requires local schools to follow No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its testing, or often the federal government has withheld government funding. I call this testing: NO CHILD LEFT WITHOUT ANXIETY.  This is one of the cruelest things we can do to American school-age children. As far as I’m concerned, it is emotional abuse.

One year while I was teaching younger children in a public school, (prior to that time, I had taught mostly in private schools where there was no NCLB) I taught and prepared children for testing. I was shocked to witness that the last TWO months of the school year were dedicated to preparing for the test, administering the test, and then retesting. This is common across the USA.  In the state where I lived then, high-stakes testing began in the third grade. Many second graders there were anxious to move up to the third grade because of that high-stakes testing.

This is a website where you can read more about high-stakes testing in the article called:

Problems With Standardized Testing | Education.com

http://www.education.com › School and Academics › No Child Left Behind Act

small red fungi

small red fungi?

Today I have some hope about ending this high-stakes testing. In a few schools this year, whole grade levels of students are opting out of testing, and even some entire school districts are doing that as well.  This is happening in some places in the Northwest and in a program in Maryland.  Listen to this podcast from 2/27/15 that was on Here And Now called: “More Parents Say NO to Standardized Testing”.

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/02/27/opt-out-school-tests

Instead of the NCLB testing companies and their stockholders making money off of our schools and states and making public school children anxious about their education, and forcing teachers teach to the test, American education has other options: OPT-OUT of the high-stakes testing all together. This is a way to save our kids from anxiety and teach our children more thoroughly!

In other parts of the world, children have fear about going to school because of where they live: there is war, or extreme violence, and death around them every day. Why have we in the USA made our school-age children fearful and angry because we force them to take these useless tests? How insane are we? And who is benefiting from this? Certainly not the USA’s public school children!

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.”

–  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

 

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Small Things Part 1: New Life

New life in all forms of nature is precious. Mother nature at times can be hard on new life, depending on the winter.

baby fern

baby fern

The same goes for humans. How we treat new human life has long term consequences. For me I found being a parent one of the most challenging jobs I had in life. How I nurtured my child was absolutely significant.  One thing for certain, I made lots of mistakes along the way, but acknowledging those mistakes and trying to learn from them helped me to become a better parent.

baby

Baby

The needs of our children come first, but then life throws some curve balls: moves because of jobs, divorces, deaths, and health problems. Children are resilient, but we cannot just give them stuff and expect them to feel loved or cared for.

“Raising children is an enormously important part of life. I think one of the most  important, or the most important period.”  – Eric Braeden (Actor)

As a parent I felt I needed to be present for my child and observe what she liked and even ASK her  what she wanted (within reason). The “being present” part consistently was an area that I did not always succeed at because of work, money concerns, other family members, health issues, etc.

new fern

young new fern

The job of a parent is like walking a tightrope: you love your child and simultaneously you need to accept the fact that your child will NOT and can NOT behave perfectly. As a teacher I saw this idea: “my child is perfect” was not helpful to that child at all!  My daughter learned good manners and that life had consequences.  From this I hoped that she would be better prepared to deal with her own life. One thing I remember was how smart my daughter was, and how I had to keep learning about how to deal with her at every age and stage of growth.

This TED by Rufus Griscon and Alisa Volkman  speaks about taboo subjects in parenting that are very real:

www.ted.com/talks/rufus_griscom_alisa_volkm…

Finding a happy medium to rear new life is complex, and yet, the greatest joy and sorrow I have ever known.
P.S. You have your kids for LIFE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Imperfection

“Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”  – Marilyn Monroe

Today, for me the idea of imperfection is GREAT.  When we are imperfect, often we are being real.  When I have wanted the “perfect life” or “perfect” anything, I have set myself up for a lot of suffering and/or craziness.

fallen trees in forrest

the “imperfect” forest”

For example, you might look at this forest and say, “That is not how I envision a forest”. In this case the trees in a forest probably fell or were cut for a reason.

Growing up I did not consider myself to be perfect like so many models I saw in magazines.  I compared myself to those “perfect” images. Therefore, I suffered and was borderline bulimic because of my expectation of what it was to look perfect.  A need to look or be perfect haunts many of us. That’s why today I think imperfection is FABULOUS!

Please watch this whole youtube with Brene Brown; her insight about perfection changed her life; it could change yours, too.  It is: www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0

fern

“imperfect” fern

I’m not dissing people who want to do things well. However, this idea that we have to be and look perfect does not help us to accept and love ourselves, so that we feel OK. When I was dissatisfied with myself because of perfectionism,  I was not being grateful and did not feel happy or serene.

I don’t love Photoshop; I like imperfection. It doesn’t mean ugly. …. Perfection is just…boring. Perfect is what’s natural or real; that is beauty.”   –  Marc Jacobs

log

“imperfect” log

Embrace your so-called imperfections. Who made the standards about who is perfect, particularly in regard to humans? We humans are so diverse. That’s what makes us beautiful, distinct, and interesting.

 

 

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Delusion

view of city Eugene

View of city where I live

The camera was unable to capture the view of the city where I live.  Even though I could see it perfectly. It is really there; you just can’t see it.  Delusions are a lot that way.

Delusions are distorted ways of looking at ourselves, other people, and the world around us–like a distorted mirror, they reflect a distorted world. “~   Geshe Kelsang

seven mountain ranges

View of seven mountain ranges

Again the camera lied! There are really seven mountain ranges you can see from this viewpoint.

This is not as drastic as the lying I used to do to myself, and when I deluded myself about how I really felt about many things and what was truly happening in my life. I used to let other people determine what I felt, and still I chose them to be in my life. Much later in life, I have learned how to recognize and name what I feel and am learning what my own needs are and where I am still delusional. I’m beginning to learn to accept what is happening now more readily, and obsessing less about what I want or fear. Because of this, I am a happier person now.

As it turns out I’m not alone in deluding myself. Many of us humans seem to do this. I found this TED talk which was banned by TED called The Science Delusions by the speaker Rupert Sheldrake.

two rocks

two rocks

Which of the two rocks is heavier?  The smaller one. The larger one is volcanic and is lighter.

For me at times in my life before now, it was as if I would insist that the larger rock was  heavier.  I’m glad and thankful now that I am learning to acknowledge my feelings of my likes and dislikes without trying to escape from myself or judge myself and others so harshly. I’ve also discovered that I don’t have to act out my feelings, nor let my wants or aversions have so much power over me. I can let those feelings flow through me without resisting them. (Sometimes it has been painful.) And I am continuing to work to have more compassion towards others because I usually have  NO idea what their burdens are or what they are thinking.

Just the other day I caught myself in one of my delusions, believing I had caused something which I had had ABSOLUTELY NO control over. Now when I catch myself in such delusions based on old patterns of thinking, I notice them and then laugh at myself!

“When all else fails, there’s always delusion.”  –  Conan O’Brien

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hail to Rubber Sidewalks and Older Americans

All Americans, but particularly those of us who are heading for 65 or older, of which we soon will be about 20% of our population would probably love rubber sidewalks ( yes, they are real). Their knees, ankles, legs, backs, and insteps would be happy about this, too. Rubber sidewalks would also make our trees happier. However, older Americans will settle for wood chips, too.

wood chip trail

wood chip trail

The USA is a country that worships youth.  Because of this older Americans can be overlooked, neglected, and often as a group are scammed to donate to “causes,” some of which are illegitimate, or criminal.  Read this from the National Council on Aging:

http://www.ncoa.org/enhance-economic-security/economic-security-Initiative/savvy-saving-seniors/top-10-scams-targeting.html

Or older Americans would enjoy walking on earth trails with a touch of gravel.

earth trail

earth trail with gravel

Another old school way, besides the internet, hounds our elderly folks.  Seemingly legitimate groups use the mail and phone calls to intimidate our aging parents and older Americans and lie to them about where and how the donations they make will be used. They claim the donations they make will be sent to benefit, for example, American soldiers.  This NOT always the case. The Daily Beast exposed this group in this story:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/05/exclusive-pro-troop-charity-pays-off-tea-party-cronies-instead.html

A surface older Americans would like to walk on is the softer dirt trail next to the regular cement sidewalk.

trail next to sidewalk

softer trail next to the sidewalk

Another HUGE betrayal aimed at older Americans is that even some congressional members frequently threaten to terminate or reduce Social Security as a way to “fix” the federal budget deficit. Have the senators and legislators who propose this, thought about what will happen to the aging Americans, who have no other resources? These are Americans, who have paid for years into Social Security.   This is  just wrong, cruel, mean, and few other choice words. Who are these congress people representing? Certainly, not the hardworking American people.

Other cultures around the world take care of their elderly with a different attitude than we do in the USA. This article gives you an idea.

http://theweek.com/articles/462230/how-elderly-are-treated-around-world

I leave you with a song sung by a famous “baby boomer”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FOUqQt3Kg0

Thank you, Ms. Aretha Franklin.  RESPECT is what is missing for our older Americans!

 

 

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