Posted in Life Lessons, Teaching

If they gain one thing, this is it.

An open mind. I would never expect students to change the ways they think. Instead, what I wish for them is the ability to see things differently. Through the eyes of another person. Maybe another way.

This week has been challenging for me. It has been eye opening in many ways. Things have happened to me personally which rocked me. Then in my classes.

If I am one thing it is idealistic. I never want that to change. It is the foundation of who I am as a person, mom, teacher, wife, and anything else one can come up with. I walk in and want to see the best in everything. It makes my heart hurt when it isn’t there. It upsets me when it falls apart.

I teach argumentative writing, so by default we debate. We were talking about communities in one of my classes. I wondered if our country had ever had or will have the feeling of community. I got a hard, “No.” I am not perplexed by this. Saddened, yes.

There was no further discussion. It seems that even in a room with students from all over the U.S. and a few from outside our borders there is the same sentiment. We are so far divided we can’t ever come back.

Yesterday was hard for me. It honestly broke my spirit a little bit.

Then today happened. Every semester I teach Dr. King and Malcolm X back to back. I LOVE those two pieces. Today was Dr. King’s “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression.”

Starting by identifying each way, this group had the best discussion. We talked about how groups can really be heard. What happens when it is time to make a voice heard? Some of them come from places which are far from safe. Their stories today were eye opening for some of us. However, those students who never say anything is class had lots to say. They were the ones with the ideas and could express what it really means to live under an oppressive rule.

What did that mean for me? They talked. They broke through the conditioning of their societies and came into my little weird bubble. Honestly, it healed me a little. See, this is what makes me idealistic. The fact we can have students who come over here for whatever reason and they end up not only learning themselves but teaching us more than we teach them.

If we would really listen to each other and not listen to respond there could be so much done. This is what happened today. Questions were asked. Real questions. The discussion was amazing. It was productive. It was honest.

I am going to take that into my other class on Monday and do argument games with it. Why? Because. I have students in there with such a closed view of what is and isn’t. How it should and shouldn’t be. Who matters and doesn’t. What equality means.

In the end what I want them to understand is this; we cannot move in any positive directions if we hold onto negative concepts. We must be willing to have an open dialogue. There has to be communication.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenting

Changing our daughters inner monologue

There has to be a way to change how girls are taught to think about themselves.  It is like magically at the age of 10 someone snatched my daughter and replaced her with one that thinks nothing but negative things about herself.

This is what I know about that.

  1. I have a pretty good self image, so I am not the one she hears, “I am fat” from.  If I am not feeling so good about myself, it is not because I am fat, instead it is because I am not eating well, or being healthy.
  2. I know how smart I am.  It took me 20 something years to embrace how cool it was to be a smart girl, so when my smart daughter gets knocked for it, I get pissed.  Seriously, I don’t care how smart someone is…there is a damn good chance there is someone smarter.  Be alright with that.  If you are the parent and you are teaching your child they are always going to be the smartest person in the room, you are setting them up for failure.  Teach them there is always room to learn more.
  3. Not all people who look a certain way can be lumped into one category.  Just because one was a certain way doesn’t mean a damn thing.  The same goes for any other stereotype related to how someone looks.  Never judge a book by the cover.  Some of my best friends are scary looking dudes.  Nicest people you will ever meet.
  4. Stop being sorry for everything.  I am not at fault for everything.  My mother drilled into me that women needed to be ladylike and feminine.  I am neither.  I am tired of apologizing for things that are not my fault.  I am smart, tough, and can handle damn near anything.  I rarely ask for help.  Seriously, I am not a damsel in distress.  I can and will do most everything myself.  Well, except drive a tractor…I can, I just won’t.
  5. When someone is being a shitty friend say something.  It is not your job to fix their issue.  However, 9 times out of 10 the reason they are being a shit friend has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.  It is their insecurities talking and not yours.  If they get offended, that is on them not you.
  6. It is alright to have more than one friend.  That whole besties thing and only friend thing is silly.  It is fine to have more than one friend.  It encourages communication and problem solving skills.  It also encourages cooperation.  There is nothing wrong with it.  Being controlled by friends sets us up to  later be controlled by a romantic partner.  Now, let’s all agree that this is a bad thing.
  7. The more kids are told they are perfect at home and have no consequences, the bigger assholes they are.    Not all of them.  Although, kids who have little to no consequences for shit behavior tend to repeat that behavior.  They also seem to believe they can do no wrong.  Even after they are punched in the face.
  8. Mean girls…enough is really enough.  When one encounters one.  There is no reason to be friends with them.  However, there is every reason in the world to stand up and say something.  Nothing is going to change unless they are called out.

Moms as a whole have to help with this.  I know I have mom friends who have no problem calling my daughter on her negative talk.  I love that.  I want that for her.  She needs to hear from other strong women that it isn’t alright to tear herself down.  We have to hold our daughters up and build them up.  Not over inflate them, but give them confidence.    It is time.