Category Archives: public education

A Crisis of Childishness.

 

Kindergarten.

The term itself is Germanic in derivation and, I believe, the concept as well.

Children, able to be separated from their parents for a single school day, brought together in groups according to their chronological age to be led by a competent adult, because socialization is considered vital to the success of an earthly civilization.

I remember what we did in Kindergarten. The year was 1962. Mrs. Williams’ room was the largest one at Lincoln School, with the bay window where the painting easels stood.  We each had a spot on the rug, sat cross legged, and faced her laced up shoes as she stood in front of us. We always opened each morning with a song, then the day of the week and the weather. We always made pictures, had a nap, played games and ate a snack.

But, beyond all this, a sentient sage compiled all the things that made it truly important and put them onto a lovely poster: “Everything I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. Herewith, a couple I’d like to add to that list:

a.) Keep your hands to yourself.

Goodness. Need we say more?

b.) Be kind.

How about:

c.) Tell the truth.

Are there any questions?

Does everybody understand?

Over the past couple of decades, I have watched the nation I call my own collapsing into a puddle of human depravity. This has made itself manifest in the form of fundamental behaviors we used to tell children were unacceptable.

Grown ups, touching each other inappropriately, but with sophisticated persuasive tactics that would make a chemist blush. And, then, going to equally intricate lengths to scrub out the crayon mark tracks they leave behind.

Alleged adults, grasping after power over one another’s things, taking what doesn’t belong to them with such drooling greed that even the 5 year olds would stop, stare, and wag an admonishing finger.

Moreover, the leader of our country, who is supposed to be the model for doing what is right, paying money to keep quiet those who would tell on his bad behavior to the people and then saying to everyone that, even though a girl said a man didn’t keep his hands to himself, we should let him into the little club where they make all the rules for good behavior for the whole country.

In fact, just today, all the leaders of the other countries laughed at him.

I don’t know about you, but I am embarrassed.

I’m mortified.

I suspect the Chancellor of Germany is appalled.

Our country is remedial. We need a retake, and a redo. We could do well to start over. Before we know it, the bell will ring, and school will be out.

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© 9/25/18   Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

The Numbers.

“Forty six, forty seven, forty eight, forty nine, fifty…”

The FitBit wasn’t worth its price tag of $350. I could count. Out loud. Extra maxillofacial muscle exercise never hurt a girl, anyway; Lord knows, our ability to use our voices had always been our truest arrow. Best to keep that one sharp.

On the way home after the walk, behind the wheel of my 10 year old Pontiac, I heard Fareed Zakaria using his to expose two far more alarming numbers.

The first came from an author named Jonathan Haidt, whom he was interviewing. Did we know that the suicide rate among American girls was up 70 per cent since 2011?

Instantly, innumerable faces came into my frame. Sixth, seventh, eighth grade teens, at the school where I’d spent the final 12 of my 25 years in public education. The ones whose eyes were half shut, bodies immobilized by heroin, sitting like mannequins in the middle of music class.

Fareed had already moved on. Did we know that 90 per cent of all Venezuelans lived in poverty?

No. I was sure that we did not.

There was much that we Americans did not know. We persisted, however, in crowing on about what we thought we did. The less about which we were sure, the more plentiful our public pronouncements.

In fact, the media was rife with these. We’d managed to elect many, with skills well honed in the craft of selling the official statistics on any number of issues over which our vote should apparently have some control. And, they were eager to tell us all about it.

I was almost home. The idea for this piece already taking shape, I knew I’d probably gather the 26 pairs of drip dried underwear into their drawers and then set my seat down in front of the screen to write it.

Rain was pretty much scheduled for the rest of this Sunday. Would I be counting any more steps, or just fretting over the absence of sun drying options for the remaining laundry? The dryer could be repaired for about $230; a new one, installed, for about $520 with tax.

These numbers were disparate enough. They created distance, between me and those who wanted my money. Venezuela could use some American charity. American girls needed more than funding to reduce the number of their diminishing lives.

Counting the cost was up to me.

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© 9/9/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo   All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Please respect original material. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

It’s Official!

[Final edit]

I’m no sports enthusiast.

But, I do know that those who judge the plays and fouls used to be called referees. Now, they’re all called “officials”.

I’m guessing that’s because, according to the rules of the game, theirs is the official decision – on everything that happens. The official word. From God’s mouth, to our ears.

Oxford’s says that “official” is “having the approval of an authority or public body”.

I note that the keyword appears to be “authority”. Or, is it “approval”?

From my short stint in the world of graphic design I am reminded of a concept. We called it “truth in advertising”.

Except, beginning in the days of MAD MEN, the phrase actually meant something.

The product had to be everything the ad claimed. The company which made the product was believed to be everything the product represented. And, the people who ran the company were trusted, by the long line of consumers who proudly purchased their product.

The word of the producer was good. It matched that which the product had to offer.

Trouble is, now the world is so big that even corporate conglomerates need their own refs. There is so much distance, between the consumer and the place where the product they buy is made, that whole departments have to be put in place to represent their word.

To my horror, even as I type these words, I now see the perfect subject for this piece: Tennis pro, and multiple champion, Serena Williams’ contention with her grand slam referee.

(Can we say “100th Monkey Phenomenon”??) (Hold on. To those who may not know: said phenomenon speaks to a thought or behavior, showing up simultaneously in two entities, as first demonstrated between two primate tribes living an ocean apart.) ( No; this is most definitively NOT a slur.)

I was going to take this all the way to the issue of “public” authority over truth, i.e. the official position of a ruling body representing fact. And then, further, to the real, palpable danger in this allegedly official truth.

But, now, I don’t have to hypothesize; sadly, we have more than one living example.

These officials, wearing the moniker of authority, have begun to abuse their power in the world of competitive sport. (Remember LeBron James’ final game at the 2018 NBA Championships?) And, the irony is: with sophisticated playback technology, every observer can see all the evidence, from every angle.

Yet, the official word in any arena, my friends, is at the very least subjective and, at worst, may very well be a bold faced, broiled lie, grilled to perfection.

Author Don Miguel Ruiz, in his contemporary classic The Four Agreements, has the better idea.

Beginning with each of us, he challenges, let every word be impeccable.

Would that we all showed such enthusiasm for the truth.

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© 9/8/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo    All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, permitted. Please respect original material. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com