Disclaimer: Some content is inappropriate for readers under 18 years of age or those offended by swear words, references to sexuality, atheism, and libertarianism.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thank God for stupid kids.

My favorite type of stupid-kid stories are the ones where they try to get away with things but are impeded by their obviously low ability to reason and avoid making a complete ass of themselves. It's that kind of behavior that gives us hope that should they become criminals some day, they will be easily apprehended and the world will be a safer place.

Examples:
Student skips (or "ditches" as we used to call it in MY day) a class and stupidly walks past the class in question in full view of the teacher.

Student skips a class then makes it onto the school's daily TV announcements filmed in the school hallways during the time he's supposed to be in class. Added bonus that he was grinning and waving into the camera like a complete idiot.

Student can't formulate a sentence using words that have more than one syllable, and yet produces homework with sentences such as this: "Intrepid Polynesian sailors in outrigger canoes were the first humans to reach the Hawaiian Islands". Riiiiiight.

Best Served Cold.

"Hey Student. How're you doing? You okay?"
"Yeah."
"Sorry to hear about your cousin."
"It's okay."
"Don't worry. I'm sure the police will catch the guy who did it."
"They better not."

I puzzle over it then understand.

"Don't do anything stupid, okay?"
"I won't!" Big grin.

Another teacher approached me yesterday.
"Hey, did you hear? That kid who killed Student's cousin? He got shot dead."

I bet there's another kid hoping the cops don't catch the killer.
Damn, cycles are hard to break away from.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Whatever happened to Tough Love?

Children seek boundaries like Arabs seek chic coffee shops. The twain shall always meet, given appropriate adult guidance or a lazy summer night. They test them, step over the line, get a smack on the back of the head, then get back to whatever they were supposed to be doing. Generally speaking, obviously it's not always that easy.
It is now argued that instead of the metaphorical smack on the back of the head, we need to give the figurative kiss and cuddle when they break a number of laws. Call me old fashioned if you will, but I always thought that you responded to good behaviors positively in the hopes of reinforcing them. If we respond to crappy behavior with a freaking X-Box, DVD player, and trip to Disney World with the cast of Sesame Street (okay, I made up the last one) I fear we are saying the behavior was permissible and even worthy of such rewards. What are the well-behaved kids to think when they see little shits who smash into churches and vandalize them earn expensive hardware for their troubles? What are they to learn from the situation? It would as ridiculous as a tresspasser suing the business he illegally gained access to because he hurt himself on their premises...
Oh wait, that already happened. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stop saying we're violent or I'll kill you!!!

Okay children, for today we're explore the concept of irony. My objective is that you will all understand the requirements for "irony", use an example to illustrate it, and in the process have a pretty good idea of what a dumb-ass sounds like.
In order to construct an ironic situation, let us look at it from a literary perspective as stated by dictionary.com : a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.
In my previous post, I described the kind of propaganda exposed through the media to various Arabs on a daily basis. Samples of these soaps and public declarations were shown on an American TV talk show hosted by Glenn Beck. His aim was to explain the thinking behind the people we fear the most. He did not create the clips himself, he did not have them mistranslated, he simply showed them for what they were. Because of this, he and his family have been threatened.
I don't care what your individual politics may be, but surely you can see the irony illustrated here... If they ("they" being people who support genocide and the use of terrorism) believe all that crap to be true, they watch it on their TVs, they hear it from their religious or political leaders, they sing the songs, burn the flags- why threaten the guy who shows all that to others? Is it because they know their bull has been exposed for what it is and now everyone knows what manipulative, lying, pieces of crap they truly are? Are they actually ashamed that their kids are being shown on international TV singing about the slaying of human beings? Because shame would stem from a cognizance of guilt, tantamount to an admission of wrong-doing. So now they have a new target for their blame. God forbid they should take any responsibility for their own actions and put down the sword to pick up their children?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wake up and smell the guhwa

How gullible is a whole population willing to be in order to place blame on others and avoid taking responsibility? How much common sense do they sacrifice to feel self-righteous in their ignorance?

I have recently had the opportunity to witness some clips of Arab soap operas in which Jews are depicted in an almost comical extreme as the Bogeyman of the Arab-Muslim world. Such gross caricatures are simplistic to the point of being childish and grotesque, and it's pitiful to think that any mature individual would believe that any more than they would believe in a monster under the bed.

Do they REALLY believe that Jews drink the blood of gentile (non-Jewish) children? I'm not asking for an opinion of the existence of Israel as a nation or the actions of their army, I'm asking if they REALLY think that Jewish people sneak around in the shadows and make matzo-balls using the blood of kids? Also, do they REALLY believe they pluck out the eyes of Palestinian kids to implant them into a Jewish kid?

It was that kind of shit that they were showing on these shows and I find it patronizing that the writers of the shows would think everyone would be so ignorant, so ill-educated, so backward as to not only put up with hearing that kind of crap, but put credence to it. I guess some of them do... The media treats them like children, contorting their views of reality in order to get them to do exactly what they want them to do. If they are so naive as to only see in black OR white and never gray, then they are like children who believe in pure good or pure evil when, I assure you, neither exists on this world.

Don't think I don't paint all media with the same brush, because as horrific as the terrorists are depicted, I have a hard time believing they are all the spawn of Satan and that even their mothers didn't love them. Someone loved them, and they loved someone too, but their hate overrode all sense of identity until they just became a collective pawn of the propaganda they were fed since childhood. Even the cartoons depict suicide bombers in a favorable light, and I can't begin to describe my disgust at seeing that.

Which brings me to my next point: Children. Obviously, the education of children is high on my list of priorities, but what kind of ignoramus thinks there is any room in a child's upbringing and learning for hatred? Whoever held a newborn in his/her arms and thought "Oh the rage I will put in your heart, the dangers I will expose you to, and the blinkers I will put to your eyes" and yet that's exactly what they do. A speaker on TV urged all the parents of Palestine to teach their children to hate with every breath they had, and remind them every night before they go to bed that they should hope to become "martyrs" in the name of Allah. Is that REALLY what they want for your children? I don't care how much they despise the Israelis/Jews- there is no reasonable, pardonable excuse for sacrificing your own child's chance of happiness and life itself.

I understand that life is excruciatingly hard in Palestine, and I'm not excusing anything carried out by other nations or peoples, I'm just addressing what some Muslim Arabs do that no other people do quite the same way- Blatantly teach hatred to the young in school, in the home, and in the media, robbing them of the childhood they deserve. Children shouldn't start their school day singing about killing another human being. Children are flowers growing out of garbage, they bring beauty to a place by their sheer existence and these "adults" have no right to turn them into garbage too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cycle of suffering

I'm eternally grateful for the twist of fate and the wisdom of my mother for the fact that I was raised in a safe, loving environment. I don't think I can even begin to understand the hellholes some of my students come from. I don't understand their enjoyment in dog fights where the losing dog is either gutted by its opponent or shot by its owner, I don't understand their infatuation with Scarface's lifestyle, I don't understand the pleasure they gain from the fights they witness or participate in, or the glee in which they revel in stories of the latest shooting in the neighborhood which they then pin to their sleeves literally with t-shirts depicting the deceased whom some of them barely knew, but want to absorb some of the coolness associated with knowing someone who had been shot to death. We've often struggled in our attempts to teach these kids that fighting is not the way to resolve a conflict, but how can you contest with "my momma told me: don't take no crap from no-one, you got to fight and get your respect"? Who are they most likely going to side with? Their mother or some middle-class woman who has no inkling of what they go through each day, trying to save face and their lives.
This isn't a "culture", it's a blight. I'm not being culturally insensitive to say this is wrong and children shouldn't live this way because their parents insist on perpetuating the limitations they place upon themselves which they then go and blame the government for. This cycle of failure and violence is perpetuated in various races/religions and in various ways, but this particular video depicts an African American instance of passing on the concepts of violence, racism, and poor expectations of each other. What will it take to break this cycle? What's my answer to this generational concern?
Boarding school. I'd rather spend my tax dollars on prevention than on incarceration.

"IF" I Only Had a Brain (and a book deal detailing the crime I got away with)

As a special educator, it warms my heart to read news items that show that the cognitively disabled can still make a "success" out of their mentally challenged states.

Geez, what a freakin' idiot. Actually, maybe he's the opposite... Hm.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How NOT to be a pervert teacher.

I just got the best piece of mail in my teacher mailbox... It's about avoiding false allegations of improper conduct with students and the title is the absolute best...

Teach But Don't Touch.

I couldn't have come up with better myself. Niccccce.

Oh my God, it gets better...

"... But as a general rule, it's best to avoid most forms of physical contact, especially kissing, hair stroking, tickling, and frontal hugging (what, is spooning okay??). And use common sense: a "high five" to acknowledge a job well done is fine; a slap on the bottom is not."

Holy crap, what freaking teachers tells a kid he's done a good job by groping his buttocks?? We reserve that kind of behavior for staff parties.

The Emotinally Disturbed- Fun for all the family.

Another quirk of the education system is the recent idea that inclusion is a great idea for kids who are Emotionally Disturbed (ED-not Erectile Disfunction). They may be convicted criminals, biologically imbalanced or have come from a life of hell and re-enact what they know. They are also a great source of entertaining stories because they have such amusing contributions to make in classes.

A friend of mine used to teach ED kids when they used to have a classroom all to themselves and weren't out amongst the rest of society unless they earned their way out with appropriate behavior, which was far too logical an idea to continue to follow. The Powers That Be decided it would be really great to just dump them out into mainstream classes and let them drown... But I digress. It was back when ED classes still existed that this brief story originates.

Ms. Teacher was administering an important exam to her students and even they realized its importance and sat quietly, getting as much of it done as possible. All that could be heard was the rustle of papers and the scritching of pencils, when all of a sudden, one of the students had to let off a little steam in the only way he knew how. He stood up, took a deep breath and bellowed:
"C*cksucker!" before sitting back down and quietly finishing his exam.
Oh how I'd love to take a page out of his book during some of the teacher workshops I have to endure for hours on end.

Parents know best?

For those of you who don't know, inclusion is a movement in the education world and the philosophy behind it is to include students with various disabilities into a "regular" classroom with the help of varying levels of accommodations and modifications supplied by people like me. The point is that if we provide them with the right amount of support, they can do what everyone else is doing. You wouldn't make a legless person run in a race (you sick bastard), but give him a wheelchair and he's raring to go.
The problem is... Who can be included and who is so far out in left field that you'd end up designing an entirely independent mini-class in the corner so that "inclusion" is not happening in the least bit. That's when parents dive in and give you an answer you can't turn down! Stick their child in there anyway!
Yes, it's genius like that which has led to my having a student with severe mental retardation, an inability to speak, doesn't use his signs unless prompted to many times, bites himself and others, and has only recently mastered the ability to go to the bathroom when told to - If not encouraged, he's very likely to have an incident- He can barely identify numbers, and doesn't have the ability to write.
Instead of going to the classes that are designed to advance students like him both in academics and in life skills, his mother insists that he not only be "included" not just in regular classrooms, but at the college preparatory level! FREAKING GENIUS! So while the students are preparing for their SATs and other life changing learnings and assessments, this kid can sit in the corner and drool, squeal, grope, grab, and maybe get some academics done with his one-on-one aide.
Don't get me wrong, the lady who is assigned to be at his side at all times is a wonder to behold, but there's not much she can do in a classroom that isn't designed for a student like him to learn. The mother thinks he's doing great because he's learning to function appropriately in front of "normal" peers. So the kid has no friends, but he's learning to not act TOO retarded in front of other kids. Glad to see the mother has her priorities straight.

Now I ask you, are there many instances when you feel you're more of an authority than an experienced professional? Do you barge into doctor's offices and tell them what medications they should give their patients? Do you leap onto Broadway stages and stop the choreography because they're interpretation of Fosse just plain sucks and you can do better?

I try to look at it like this... I'm an interior designer and some doofus has asked me to paint her walls hot pink and put zebra print all over the place, and even though I think she'd a f*cking idiot, I nod and say "yes ma'am" because she's the customer... Except this isn't drapes we're talking about, it's a child, and God help this young man when his parents die because he won't know what the hell to do.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A lesson in safety.

I feel like I took a bit of a cheap shot going onto the subject of abortion the other day. It's such an easy target for discussion that I feel a little disappointed in myself. I'll try not to let that happen too often.

Instead, in this post I shall share a lesson the security members of our school learned the hard way:
If you're going to tase an enormous student who's going ape-shit in the hallway, make sure all those security staff who are desperately trying to subdue him by hanging on for dear life LET GO FIRST. Ouch.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm pissed.

One of the few good things that could come out of Democratic power didn't... 5% of America's adult population still don't have the right to marry the ones they love - phew doesn't that make you feel better! That gay people can't go marrying other gay people? Because if they could, locusts would plague our lands, the rivers would dry up, the whole fabric of time and space would unravel.
Also, more children will be murdered. Oh I'm sorry, did I say murdered? I meant aborted. That sounds so much neater and clinical. Funny how killing a pregnant woman can be 2 counts of murder, but when a doctor does it it's called a "termination" or "abortion". For those of you who don't know about partial birth abortion, you should. If you really, really believe this should be allowed, then you can stomach these illustrations.
What really pisses me off is that this is yet another example of how people today avoid responsibilities. What if we adopted this philosophy in other areas... I take in a roommate, but he kinda cramps my style because he won't let me party anymore, so I shoot him in the head with a .38. Problem gone, bring on the beer bong. It's okay, he wasn't married, had no family, no one wanted him, and he had no job, and was a die hard Trekkie, so he wasn't really living. And don't worry, if I make the mistake of getting another nuisance of a roommate, I can do it again.
Don't get me wrong, I believe there are grey areas too that would justify the sacrifice.
I'm not religious, I don't do this because some dusty old book says it's wrong, I say it because I believe that ending a child's life is WRONG and arguing semantics is just a pathetic way of avoiding responsibilities.
However, if you're willing to consider my proposal for LATE late- term abortions, I have some prime candidates here at the high school...

Monday, November 06, 2006

The kitchen appliance of DOOM

Rarely does such legend grow around a household utensil as one has in the case of... THE MICROWAVE. In my house, our first microwave sat atop a kitchen counter before our awed, slack-jawed faces much like the monolith intimidated the apes at the start of 2001:A Space Odyssey.

"Don't look into it, you'll get cancer in your eyes, and for GOD'S SAKE, don't put metal in it."

The mind boggled at what exactly the disaster would befall us should we dare to defy the Rules of the Microwave and offer up a spoon to its insides. Would the aforementioned piece of cutlery burst into flames? Nah, it was metal. Would sparks fly? Would the whole house wink out of existence?
I think despite its great use in warming up my mother's many fantastic leftovers, I always had a touch of fear in my heart reserved entirely for our cancer-causing, exploding, flame-inducing kitchen device of death.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Taking the piss

A few years ago, a student of mine constantly tried to avoid work by saying he had to go to pee. He had run out of passes but continued to protest loudly that he had to "go". He eventually came to class with a note and a smug look on his face.
"I've got a doctor's note saying I have a medical condition, so you have to let me use it whenever I want."
I looked at the note. I reread it.
"Student, is this a joke?"
"What?" his smile droops a little.
"Was the doctor joking around?"
"Why?" he started to get angry.
"It says here 'When student drinks a lot of water, he needs to urinate.'"
"Yeah?"
"Student... When ANYONE drinks a lot of water, they need to urinate. This doesn't tell me that you have a medical condition."
"Oh."
I don't know if the doctor used poor wording or if he was a genius.