Sunday, sitting there..

February 27, 2011 § 11 Comments

(from photo series of Valentine tulips, as featured in previous post, taken with lightbox and then playing with MS Digital Photo Pro.
Note: this is not an ad for it, however. And further, I barely know what I’m doing with this software which I’ve had for several years. I consider a lot of such use “cheating” but publications are rife with touch ups these days. Yet it’s given way and sway to a whole new type of artistry – those that are fluent in graphics, etc.     …..   onward…..)

Went to a coffee shop this morning. An odd choice, perhaps, but  the house was full of guests from yesterday’s get-together, ensuing bake-off in the kitchen, and a charity event last evening attended by 8 of us. So while they slept in and I made the breakfast menu, with everything at the ready, it seemed reasonable to head out for a little writing time.

At the coffee shop:  There was a table of ladies, among other full tables and booths, who segued from one topic to another and though I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, it was easier to hear them than to listen to the writing voice in my head.  And they got me to thinking.

The six women covered one topic after another, from their jobs and how they start their mornings, to reading elementary school students “grants” which one particular teacher had instigated in order to prep her little students for the real world, to eyedrops that come in a little disposable packets (what will they think of next? Everything is so darn “convenient!”),  to the new FroYo shop that opened up five doors away and what their favorite toppings were and you pay for it by weight, to fried chicken and where to get the best  (“but you shouldn’t eat the skin,” said one and the others put up such a hue and cry about that being the best part) …

…and I got to wondering, going back to the topic of the grant-writing…about a few things that teacher said…

She discussed how she chose her grant “winners.” Some of them, she said were awful and she set those aside. (My heart sank a little. How did she determine “awful”?)  Some of the little grant writers made her laugh or delighted her and those went into the “potential winner” pile. Others, she said,  had ho-hum topics – if only they had developed them somehow, with details or humor…

…I just wondered if she had worked with the students first and reviewed ideas and played with topics to give them an idea, taking  a few sessions over a week or WHAM, did she just drop it on them and wait to see what they did, what they came up with?

If the latter, then the teacher gets a zero from me.
But I’m sure she must have given them some background or encouragement. I’m sure she didn’t just drop this grant-writing idea on them (which is a very cool idea, having them write a grant to win a trip to the zoo, or a day of reading or whatever…), would she? Nah.

Why do some students get left behind, or never “develop?”  They have no guidelines. No purpose.
How often does that happen?

I don’t know.
I do know that a good teacher (under the best of circumstances) helps create the spark, and does not only fan into flames a spark that already exists.

Don’t get me wrong. I greatly admire the teaching profession. In fact, teachers (and nurses) do NOT get enough support, $ and attention in this present day world. (I was a teacher; I “dropped out” after 5 years to pursue a career in the Big City).

In fact, I honor the fact that we are all teachers and mentors in many ways.

Learned this morning:  I need to remember that during the work week. 
Am I giving my team the tools and ideas and mainframe and basics it needs to succeed, or am I just hoping they will hit the target and reward only those who manage to do so?
We cannot teach others to be like us, to do only what delights us; we must teach basics and inspire others in order to discover what they have to offer, things we never thought of….

Sheesh, what started this?
It’s always good to experience an unintentional wake up call.Obviously, I was meant to hear “connections” through the conversation at the other table and give better thought to how it applies overall.

And then there’s that new frozen yogurt shop I didn’t know about that requires some (immediate?) attention.

Book Recommendation:
AS Neill’s writings somehow found their way into my education during college and though not in agreement of all of it, had me thinking for years that I would start my own school.  You may be interested to see what he was up to, though wikepedia may not be the most reliable place to look, you can start here nevertheless or go to a “direct link,”  – here.

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§ 11 Responses to Sunday, sitting there..

  • jeanie says:

    Lots of food for thought here, my friend (not the least of which is FroYo). I would hope this excellent idea did get the advance work it deserved — great idea, but yes, to drop something loose like that? I think not.

    It reminded me a bit of my friend Richard, who until recently was a long-term volunteer in an elementary school where most of the families were low income and both financially and — what’s the word? Sociologically challenged? One of the things he would always have the kids do was work on a vision statement (these were third and fourth graders), with the idea of “if you have a vision, then you know what things you need to do to work toward it.”

    It’s a great idea for kids — but I wonder… does having a vision so young rule encourage you to “rule out” all the things that come your way? Things about which you have no idea right now? I don’t know. But I suppose it’s better grounding that simply doing your times tables or spelling — badly…

    • oh says:

      I have no doubt that Richard and many (most?) teachers have the energy and excitement to help guide the kids while simultaneously opening doors. We need these teachers desperately. How lucky we are for those who inspire because they themselves are inspiring!

      PS I still haven’t checked out FroYo. I have however, been fortunate to enjoy Nor’s Martha Stewart recipe chocolate cupcakes (from scratch) with miles of homemade butter cream icing atop!

  • Becky says:

    I really like this post because I agree with so much of what you said. I’m amazed to this day at the amount of people I’ve seen in the workforce that can’t write a decent email, much less a memo or paper about something. I always wonder if this was lack of trying, or just because they were passed over because their efforts weren’t “as good” as some of the others that were recognized.

    • oh says:

      Becky – Aha! yes, that’s the crux of the matter…lack of trying or lack (for whatever reason) of opportunity? I don’t know. Teaching is such a 24/7 job and requires amazing stamina. Oddly, so does being a student!

  • Richard says:

    The sad fact is that the larger the percentage of literacy in a given population, the lower the literacy level of the average person….the dummmying down of America continues. Cold enough for ya?

    • oh says:

      Yes, it’s cold enough and those are chilling words about the percentage of literacy vs the level of literacy. Egad. Can we get everyone to turn off the TV and games? Nah, that’s not the answer, is it?

  • shoreacres says:

    Grant writing? In elementary school? Really?

    I just felt strange, reading this. She “set aside” the ones she considered awful. Potential winners were the ones who delighted her, or made her laugh. I haven’t a clue what was going on in that classroom, but it doesn’t feel like teaching, from where I sit. I could be wrong.

    I wonder what happened to the ones she “set aside”? And why, at that young age, structuring learning to create a win/lose situation would even cross someone’s mind.

    I just don’t know. The thought of grade school kids focused on grant writing feels to me like grade school girls dolled up with makeup and sexy clothes to win beauty pageants. It’s not good for them, and it’s mostly for us.

    • oh says:

      Whoa. Thank you. I thought it was just me reacting that way. Honestly, maybe have them writing about their dream from their perspective, but to set aside something they’ve written because it’s not developed or communicated to delight the teacher, yeah, Houston, we got a problem.

  • Ruth says:

    This is wonderful. I actually love the idea of grant writing for these little students. I agree that setting aside as “awful” sounds pretty cold. Yes, it would be interesting to hear her talk about her methods for screening. But “awful”? I think teachers should be careful how they talk about their students, especially in public. My husband teaches fourth grade, and I’ll tell him about this. I like the idea of teaching a topic through a real world skill like this, without pressure, but exposing them to the concept and terms. Familiarity! My husband does a fantastic job at doing what you said, which I love: we must teach basics and inspire others in order to discover what they have to offer, things we never thought of…. ! Yes! He is always coming home with stories of ways his students are innovative. Just yesterday he read me a contract one of them created yesterday after she was terribly embarrassed over how unruly the class had been for their substitute teacher (who happened to be our son! :). It’s funny, and amazing, how much young minds can pick up and understand, if we just give them the chance. When they have freedom to create. I totally agree with you that their minds need a little tilling first. I needed that and didn’t get it. I had a lot of ditto sheets in grade school. Sigh.

  • Care says:

    YOU are a WINNER! (the D.V. book.)
    Love what you did playing with the tulip photo. And as to the education topic? Sigh… It is challenging, I bet it has always been challenging and will continue to be.

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