The Chicago Public School Board of Education meeting on October 23, 2013 was a study in fascination and complete boredom. It reminded me of the day I first went to the DMV at age 16: I was excited to finally be getting my drivers license but boy was it a long and hard process to go through. The boring parts were the legalities and formalities: The gavel banging, the admitting of minutes, the roll calls and votes. And on the other side of the coin, what a great example of Democracy: It was amazing to see so many people expressing an interest and a voice in the educational process of Chicago’s public schools. Parents expressed both outrage and gratitude, horror and pride in their allotted 2 minutes at the microphone. The process of voicing one’s opinion in this public forum raised a few questions such as: Do people who have better educations and are better prepared to better express themselves heard differently than parents who are less facile with the English language? Does the opinion of an Englewood single mother of 4, who requires a Spanish to English translator, have the same weight as the voice of a father who is a white male professional from Lincoln Park?
"If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man’s future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual’s total development lags behind?"
Observing a Montessori classroom is a unique experience in education. Most notably, there are no desks. While there are a few small tables, the majority of the projects or “works” that children engage in are done on the floor. Under the guidance of the teacher, children are free to choose the works that most interest them and most of the works involve manipulatives, which In combination, make for a more engaged educational experience.
"Questions such as "What is art?" and "What is the function of art?" are relatively new. Creating art that defies viewers’ expectations and artistic conventions is a distinctly modern concept. However, artists of all eras are products of their relative cultures and time periods. Contemporary artists are in a position to express themselves and respond to social issues in a way that artists of the past were not able to. When experiencing contemporary, viewers use different criteria for judging works of art than criteria used in the past. Instead of asking, "Do I like how this looks?" viewers might ask, "Do I like the idea this artist presents?" Having an open mind goes a long way towards understanding, and even appreciating, the art of our own era." - reposted from the J. Paul Getty Museum website
I’m sorry that I was born white, that I was born male and that my children were able to go to great schools. But it’s not really my fault, well maybe a little bit, but mostly my dads. He unfortunately worked incredibly hard his entire life.
My dad was the oldest of seven children and grew up on a farm in rural Idaho. The two bedroom farm house had two beds: a double bed for my grandparents and a single bed for my dad and his baby brother. (The five sisters slept in a screened porch come rain or shine…or snow for that matter.) They all attended a one-room school house through the eighth grade before moving on to the high school in the nearby town. When he wasn’t working hard in a classroom, he was working on the farm or at one of several part time jobs: delivering newspapers, bread, and even earning money shooting crop-eating rabbits for nearby farmers. During college he continued working hard, living in a basement room and eating catchup sandwiches so he could pay his tuition. Eventually he earned a PhD in Chemistry and worked as a professor at the University of Utah for over 40 years.
His farm boy roots taught him the value of hard work and also the value of a dollar. He never owned a new car, or a car with power windows for that matter, in his 82 years. Hiring a plumber, electrician or any other handyman was unthinkable until at age 80, when he started using a cane, he agreed to hire a neighbor boy to mow his lawn. He helped me with a downpayment on my first house in a nice neighborhood and great schools; and when he passed away, he left me enough money to send my kids, with their academic scholarships and high ACT scores, to college.
I admit that I did contribute. With the down payment my Dad gave me, I bought, remodeled (remember, “we don’t hire help”) and flipped two houses while both working for over 20 years for paychecks that were good at jobs that were not. So, yes I did help, but he did more.
And as to being born male, I have no answer.
"Participatory democracy rejects exclusively formal and structural marker of self-governance in favor of people actually making the decisions that affect their lives."
William Ayers, Kevin Kumashiro, Erica Meiners,
Therese Quinn, and David Stovall
"Unless you are confronted with a genuine personal crisis, or freely choose to push deeper and ask yourself more comprehensive and disturbing questions about the genesis and justification or your own beliefs, your actual degree of self-awareness may remain relatively thin."
After reading Piper, I asked myself a few questions (not that I had many answers mind you): What do I believe, why do I believe in them and where did these beliefs come from?
We are all born into unique circumstances. Our family of origin, for example, shaped our beliefs in ways we may not even realize: our birth order, number of siblings, the gender of our siblings, the family’s religion(s) our parents race and sexual preference, the family’s income and educational level of our parents. The list goes on and on and on and on. In fact, I’d wager some hard earned money that nobody could ever make a comprehensive list of all the factors that shape a person’s belief system. For better and for worse we are who we are.
Do we have the ability to change some or all of our beliefs?
How can we make those changes?