Archive for the ‘Middle-of-nowhere School’ Category

Left Behind

May 18, 2011

I read an illuminating and provocative essay recently about how, and why, the No Child Left Behind Act has failed—and I thought it worth sharing in this space.  It happens to have been written by my older son, Nate Dolin, as a paper for his Junior year history class.  He became interested in this issue having volunteered in several public elementary school classrooms, having worked with special needs/autism spectrum children and tutoring kids who struggle in their public middle school… and having been faced with numerous inequities, subsequently found himself wondering why things are as they are.

So, if we want our kids to be encouraged to consider growing up to help, perhaps even to step up and educate, the next generation of kids… our future grand children, we are well-served to deepen our understanding of why things may be as they are.

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Left Behind

The No Child Left Behind act seeks to leave no child behind in terms of academics, but the intentions of the act will never be met.  Even though President Bush claimed that the act was having a “dramatic effect” in 2008, the average white student scored 28 points higher on the reading section than the average African American student, and 26 points higher on the math section.[i]  Since the White students are obviously not inherently smarter than the African American student, what is causing the immense score gap?  Is every child in America really treated equally?  If society believes all children should have an equal opportunity for education, why are the most disadvantaged children being left behind, why is excessive testing proving to be more harmful than beneficial, why can’t the “supposed” intentions of the act be met, and why do some argue that the act was intended to benefit the economy rather than the children?

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The Lizard Brain is a Lonely Hunter

January 19, 2011

Goal:  facilitating calm and ameliorating fear, which I hold to be at the scene of every crime of every magnitude—from the cold shoulder to ghastly violence.  Hurt people hurt people; scared people scare people.

Today’s particular focus:  loneliness.  From modern alienation (intellectualized isolation) to primitive dread of annihilation (unconscious fear of disintegration—think panic attacks) we are wired to attach, and thus we are wired to feel our hearts come into our mouths and our guts drop horribly at anything that triggers us to feel cast out from the mother, which is akin, later, to being outside of the group.

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Triumph of the Will… to watch horror films

June 23, 2010

Welcome to Privilege of Parenting’s blog on the first of weekly rather than daily blogs in the service of both sanity and our collective children.

To kick things off for this solar year, I could not be more thrilled than to introduce a guest blog from my thirteen-year-old son, Will (who besides being my kid, is also one of my absolutely most favorite people on the planet).

As a matter of full disclosure, this guest blog came about when Will was asking for ways he might earn a little money this summer.  Besides washing the windows, I suggested that I would pay for a guest blog ($5.00); he answers my challenge today (and thus today he’s doing better than most of us in the cash for words department).

Readers of PoP may be aware that I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to horror films, yet this past year I have watched more than one or two with Will, and so his blog arises from, and weaves back into, the very fabric of our relationship (which mostly just distills down to how much love we love each other).

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Why I like horror movies

I am a true horror movie fan. I have loved this type of movie for about 2 years now and before I liked it I had the same question as a lot of people. “How could anybody like horror movies?” Well in this blog I am going to do my best to answer that.

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Hotel Rwanda

June 8, 2010

Life is a dream-like poem; the trick is in learning to simultaneously live it and interpret it as it’s happening—and in learning to trust the dream’s architect rather than in making constant changes to the plans.

On Memorial Day I was turning my tumbling composter as a squadron of WW II planes flew directly over my head in formation.  I have come to expect this Memorial Day sight, and yet I found myself, heart pounding, imagining what it might have been like to have nowhere to run as they dropped bombs on you—to be their enemy rather than their appreciators.

Will is supposed to inhabit a character from any book or film his humanities class read or watched this semester.  Cool assignment.  He decided to be the cameraman from Hotel Rwanda.  I had missed that film when it came out (more like dodged it because I just wasn’t up for more bleakness at that particular time).

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Arrival of the Fittest—childhood evolving

June 4, 2010

A reader sent me a link to a Salon interview by Thomas Rogers of Melvin Konner about his new book The Evolution of Childhood.  A few things stood out to me; Rogers asks, “What’s the evolutionary purpose of adolescent rebellion?”

Konner replies, “In our culture, we give kids the message that at a certain point they’re going to be on their own and that involves breaking emotional ties with their parents. So it’s kind of like, ‘OK, you’re going to kick me out soon, so I’m going to reject you before you get a chance.’ But one of the big discoveries in the last decade in child development research is that there’s a lot of brain development after puberty, approximately between age 12 to 20. The brain, especially the frontal lobes of the brain, which are involved in suppressing impulses and organizing behavior in a rational and mature way, continues to develop during that time.

But now the age of puberty is two to three years younger than it used to be — it used to be 15, but now it’s about 12 and a half, or 13. We’re walking away from the evolutionary background that we had. Now the surge of testosterone that occurs in both girls and boys at that time, which facilitates aggression, is happening against the background of the less developed brain. Many psychologists are sensibly, I think, arguing that we should take this into account in criminal cases that involve teenagers and the judgments they make. They just don’t have the brain to make decisions in the same the way that an adult does.”

Rogers follows up with:  “So teenagers really are becoming more obnoxious,” to which Konner concedes, “I think it’s fair to say.”

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Sweet still at sixteen

June 3, 2010

Andy and I were talking and she suggested that it might be nice to post something on how kids, even at they continue to grow (and despite being intermittently mouthy, rude, entitled and impossible) actually remain cute and sweet to us parents.

When our little crawlers were still in car-seats, the big boys and girls kicking up sand at the park and racing up and down the slide represented a stark contrast between our kids (cute and adorable) and those other kids (brutal and rather advanced, maybe even talking in sentences, not always kind sentences).

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Middle School Masochism

May 27, 2010

A recent New York Times article, “Teenage Insults, Scrawled on Web, Not on Walls,” by Tamar Lewin looked at a burgeoning internet trend wherein subscribers to sites such as Formspring can get anonymous (i.e. uncensored and brutally honest… or perhaps cruelly dishonest) feedback from others, which they can then elect to delete from their private in-box or post to a public profile on themselves.  Interestingly, albeit depressingly for parents, many kids seemed all too willing to post mean things about themselves, leaving parents in dread about comments so horrible that they would get deleted, but not before leaving deep scars.

Of course middle school kids were then free to post all sorts of mean comments, everything from snarky comments about your leggings to withering critiques of breasts and teeth.

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Taking the BM out of Bar Mitzvah

May 19, 2010

On this, the last day of Momalon’s five-for-ten, Theme: Yes, I turn to a right of passage that I tried with all my heart and soul to say “no” to, but failed.

Today marks the 36th anniversary of my Bar Mitzvah, that strange day when, as a little Jewish boy, I had to stand up before the congregation and, with a squeaking voice say, “Today I am a man.”  Hah!

I begged my parents to let me out of the whole ordeal, but my father said, “My father got Bar Mitzvahed and hated it, I got Bar Mitzvahed and hated it and you’re going to get Bar Mitzvahed and you’re going to hate it.”  To me it was like being in some fraternity that I couldn’t remember pledging.

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The Postman Hardly Rang Once

May 17, 2010

Nearing the homestretch of Momalom’s five-for-ten challenge, the theme of lust knocks furtively upon Monday’s door…

It was late in seventh grade when I was invited to my first “boy girl party.”  I was thrilled to be included, but the murmuring rumors about what might happen there echoing along the green linoleum corridors of Lincoln Hall put a lump of fear in my throat.

I had heard that at a recent party, one of the many to which I had not been invited, one of the cool boys put his tongue in a girl’s ear.  I’d never heard of such a thing, nor could I imagine why George or the girl would want anything to do with that, but George was clearly someone who knew what he was doing and I clearly was not.

In the Wednesday fish-stick smell of the cafeteria we sat nerdily discussing if there would be spin the bottle at the boy girl party.

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That time when my dad was wrong

May 15, 2010

I’m eleven years old and I am in flight, having just launched off the upper level of the Allstate parking lot—sailing with handlebars raised to a setting sun.

This is the perfect wheelie jump, dropping a couple of feet over a four-foot wide strip of round stones to the lower level of the Allstate parking lot.  And I am in the middle of my greatest wheelie ever, astride my greatest bike ever:  a green five-speed sting-ray with a banana seat, the apotheosis of noble steeds of biking steel circa nineteen-seventy-one.

No doubt my Herculean effort is because my father is watching, Zeuss-like on his blue Schwin—not quite paused to watch, but circling near the landing zone with a vague promise of attention.   With my little brother watching as well, it’s only me and the sky and a faint possibility of the moon.

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