Staying Independent

5

July 4, 2019, Saugus-

I will continue (go back to) my photo blogs, in the next few posts.  Jumping ahead to the Fourth of July just seems best, though.

I had a conversation with someone very close to me, during the family gathering at a niece’s home, this afternoon.  One thing rings very loud and clear, from this discourse and from other conversations I’ve had, these past few months:  Many people are feeling put upon by aggressive individuals and groups, who take a point of view opposite that which they happen to hold.  Many individuals and groups ARE resorting to the use of force, when confronted with those taking such opposite viewpoints.

I was raised to hear other people out.  My parents, social conservatives, made a great effort to understand even the most seemingly ludicrous viewpoints.  I have maintained an open mind, as a result, throughout fifty-six years of adolescence and adulthood.  Civil Rights have long been a matter of supreme importance in my life, and that cuts both ways.  The Right cannot bully people of colour, of Faiths other than that of the majority in a community, or those living a lifestyle different from that which is conventional. The Left, likewise, cannot deprive people of more traditional bearing, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Violent behaviour, on either side, is the stuff of fascism (even when the bully calls self “Antifa”)

I am, as it happens, an obstinate soul, when people without authority try to force me to do their bidding.  Additionally, I question those who DO exercise authority, as to the ethical basis for their actions.  That is what I get from both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.    That is what I get from my Faith.

So, to my family-my elders, siblings and cousins:  You all matter, greatly.  Your point of view has at least some validity and is worth hearing, and pondering.  Our family is large, so there are all points covered, on the political spectrum. I will not plug my ears to any of it, so long as you do not ascribe to a coda of violence or or a policy of defamation against your opposite numbers.

To my children, nieces/nephews, and “grands”- You are, one and all, a great hope; you are people of immense promise and, especially if you are feeling vulnerable,  are worthy of all the support and love that we, your elders, can muster.  We cannot spare you from life’s ups and downs, but we can point towards the light. This is the very least we can do, in building and safeguarding your own sense of well-being and independence.

Most of the problems we face, when it comes to intolerance and reactive violence, seem to stem from the violent ones acting out of insecurity.  In truth, though, i have to ask, “How does a person expressing an alternative point of view, in and of itself, constitute a threat to my well-being?”  It may be annoying, but it is not a threat-unless accompanied by force-which then makes it an entirely different matter.

Staying independent means, to me, that one takes the time to carefully examine issues and evaluating a variety of points of view.  It also means extending that right to independence to every one else.  These are my thoughts as the Sun goes down on another July 4.

Inside, Outside

7

September 14, 2017, Prescott-

Perhaps my own wandering nature

and tendency to hang back,

in novel situations,

are partially to blame,

but all my life,

I have encountered situations,

mostly at work,

where a small group of insiders

has kept me out of the loop.

I can even recall one occasion,

where I confided in my wife,

that I was not sure that I could

trust the school district administration.

I was the principal of a one-school district,

unable to trust the people who hired me.

Frequently, here in town,

I have felt the same.

Valued by the students, parents, and my peers,

but seemingly held in disdain,

by a small, elite group,

who have been here way too long,

I’ve hung on.

The latest such situation ended, today,

and I will now be working with

members of the same, appreciative

and open-minded group,

with whom I happily worked in Spring, 2016.

I wonder what happened,

to the in-crowd,

who obviously love children,

at some level,

even if their “My Way or The Highway” mentality

sets the children off,

so unnecessarily.

Why are their wagons in a circle,

so that my job becomes

“do what you’re told and keep still”?

I’m grateful for my new/old team.

It’s not an age thing,

because, while the team lead is a Millennial,

there are others in their 40’s and 50’s,

and I will be 67, in two months’ time.

It’s not a gender thing,

because, while I am still the only male,

I am not excluded by these ladies,

from any aspect of the work day.

I’ve come to the conclusion

that insecurity breeds insularity.

The Road to 65, Mile 299: What Is School?

4

September 22, 2015, Chino Valley- I am gratified that my sleep and energy levels are proving more than adequate to do the job I have been given- and will get more in tune with the students and their needs, in short order.  A lot of time and energy will need to be devoted to shoring up their skill levels, to say the least.

Much has been said about the “dumbing down” of the curriculum, with an idea that the common denominator, in a polyglot world, is pop culture.  There are uses to which phenomena, like Hip Hop can be put, but seriously, I see no good use for lowered expectations,double negatives, coarse speech and mangled grammar.

A longtime friend complained today, that teachers are getting all the blame, for students’ lack of success, and that people should stop crying Victim, every time they are criticized.  She is right on both counts, and I attribute these phenomena to false pride, if not narcissism- and both are rooted in insecurity.

Teachers are just part of the team that raises and nurtures a child.  Parents, extended family, community members, and the child herself, are equal partners in this effort.  No one should get off the hook, when a child fails.

I will need to do a lot of one-on-one and small group tutoring, both during, and outside of, the school day, in order to bring my students up to speed. There will also need to be consistent parental encouragement and efforts to provide a stable home life.  The child needs to be taught responsibility, as one of the finest supervisors I  have ever had kept saying, day in and day out, in the Fall of 2001.  That supervisor was 18 years of age.  She was a prodigy, and is now a Master Teacher, at age 33.

School is more than just a building.  It is a community, a center, a medium of exchange (in the ideal sense, not in the financial sense).  It needs to be a refuge of hope and of strength.  We have a long road ahead.