Friday, September 30, 2005
Chinese Class - Again
UPDATE: Read the comments. Tango has many good points about raising IQ, etc. (BTW, for another interesting read, see what he says at Jones Blog in comments on many posts. They're an interesting pair discussing education.)
Hope you enjoyed the post below - The Underclass: A Personal Story. I got feedback that my habit of capitalizing words for emphasis is getting annoying. Since I want you to stick around, I'll stop that.
LO and I went to Chinese class again today. It is a long day for the parents and kids. We had a substitute teacher, but it looks like next week the class will be split up into two groups. The orginal teacher will take the older kids, another teacher will take the younger kids. For those of you who haven't heard me talk about it, LO is taking Mandarin through the local Chinese Association. LO is pretty good with his pronunciation and still likes to go, so for now all is well.
Do you remember my post, "Eyes Wid(er) Open?" Tomorrow I take LO and two other kids, whose parents can't be parents right now, to the diner for breakfast. We'll go to the library afterwards. I don't know what to expect. I'm tired. Gotta go to bed...
Thursday, September 29, 2005
"The Underclass" - A personal story
Who is 'the underclass' and why should we sink significant resources to help them? We keep hearing about the turnaround cases, those success stories in the news. What about all the statistics that say most of the 'underclass' are doomed to repeat the same mistakes generation after generation? Sound harsh? That's what I keep reading, so you KNOW I HAD to comment. The Wall Street Journal story, "The Hallmark of the Underclass" in the Opinion section said this:
"Perhaps the programs now being proposed by the administration will help ordinary poor people whose socialization is just fine and need nothing more than a chance. It is comforting to think so, but past experience with similar programs does not give reason for optimism- it is hard to exaggerate how ineffectually they have been administered. In any case, poor people who are not part of the underclass seldom need help to get out of poverty. Despite the exceptions that get the newspaper ink, the statistical reality is that people who get into the American job market and stay there seldom remain poor unless they do something self-destructive. And behaving self-destructively is the hallmark of the underclass."
"An Uprooted Underclass: Under the Microscope" "An Uprooted Underclass: Under the Microscope" in the New York Times' Week in Review asked the question, "Will moving the poor out of New Orleans help them rise?
"Blogging of the President" defines 'the underclass.'
"They are the people who never seem to break free of poverty. Neither do their children, nor their grandchildren and their parents were poverty struck as well. They are born to poverty, and it seems like it is their heritage, one they can never shed; a curse unto seven generations."
He goes on to say,
"The best predictor for success in America is still (barely) education. The best predictor for education is… your parents education. Location is what matters here...Real love of learning starts in the home. Children whose parents read, read. Children whose parents don’t read, don’t read."
Well, I find all of this 'discussion' very interesting. Let's talk a little more (and more and more) about how REALLY poor Americans' odds suck. And while I appreciate the value and virtue of statistics, I'm disheartened that statistics are relied upon to tell the story... How helpful is it to know that their odds aren't great? Don't we know that? What is more helpful, to me, is the fact that when you mix education, exposure, and a little bit of opportunity, some children GREATLY benefit and can translate those benefits into success for generations to come. Why am I so passionate about that? I'm just ONE generation from being in that group of folks who aren't expected to do anything, but with a little luck and intervention by individuals who cared, I have had access to great opportunities.
I'll tell you my story. My little personal story is not exceptional. I haven't written books, or become a PH.D or risen to the executive ranks at work (yet), but my family has come a great distance to allow me to get where I am. I'll tell my mother's story because it is more illustrative of the point.
My grandparents and parents grew up in the South during segregation in America, so clearly they did not have the benefit of 'good housing values' to support their schools. Although I won't go into detail here, I believe they were part of what others define as 'the underclass.' On my mom's side, my grandfather had a third grade education; my grandmother had an 8th grade education. My mom has (had) two brothers and two sisters. (Her two sisters passed away from breast cancer. My mom had cancer too - asbestos in the house they grew up in.) My mother is the third child. While neither of her brothers went to (or considered) college, she mentioned to her high school teacher that she thought she might like to attend college. He told her what she needed to do. Lesson #1: Individuals who mentor/provide resources/provide support for a young person can COMPLETELY change their life in ways that they could never imagine and probably will never see. Her parents neither discouraged nor encouraged college to my knowledge. Her church, a church of about 20 families, gave her a scholarship of $150 to go to a somewhat local historical black college. For her annual expenses, she was told that if she could pick a bale of cotton, she could keep the money for her expenses during the year. She worked her way through college and when she graduated, she went with her roomate North to a 'big city' - which she thought was a big time opportunity. Lession #2: Having exposure to a culture of job stability and that values education can CHANGE values. She later married my dad, who was from the same area. He grew up in 'town;' my mother grew up in the country. He had a master's degree and was much older (I think about 14 years). Although my dad wasn't into private school AT ALL, my mother insisted. Both my brother and I went to private schools and my mother insisted that we spend our LAST DOLLARS on school and piano lessons and all kinds of other activities. LESSON #3: Investing in education doesn't always work, but when it does, it pays HUGE dividends. Here's the interesting part. Although my parents didn't really read that often to us, (My grandmother NEVER read to my mother) I 'got' that education was important, and I learned FROM MY CLASSMATES what the role of a parent being instrumental in a child's education looked like. Other parents help their kids study, played puzzles, went to restaurants and vacations, put together albums of poetry and sayings, etc. My mother of course didn't know anything about that stuff. Now I did OK in school. When I graduated from college (thankya laudy), my mother HOUNDED me to go to grad school, and because I heard someone else talking about it, I decided to get two masters.
Now that I am a mom, I have a sense of what it means to sow seeds of education early. Perhaps I overemphasize education because I see the wonders it has accomplished in my own family. I don't care what the statistics say about the likelihood that education and exposure will impact the lives of children of the underclass. It doesn't bother or impress me that groups and churches AROUND THE COUNTRY that are directly intervening to support families are getting warm and fuzzy coverage. The truth is that sometimes these efforts work and sometimes they don't. When they do work, the results are significant and lasting. The Wall Street Journal asks, "Have We Rediscovered the Underclass?" No. The face of the underclass has been there all along. You probably look at it everyday. It's me. It's lots of others. We just don't recognize it.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Back to Breakthrough Thinking
As I have mentioned before, I have NOT been creative in my teaching of math concepts. It's not my strength, so I'm at a loss. My strategy has been to follow the Shiller's Math program (listed to the left under "Montessori Math at Home"). We're doing better with counting and adding in our daily activities, but that's about it. What follows is an example of teaching math through asking a logical series of questions that helped lead a THIRD GRADE CLASS to a pretty advanced discovery - binary math. (Thanks TangoMan!) Interestingly, this is similar to Meep's 'what if' exercise which she played with her dad as a child(now it sounds like she's a 'quant jock').
The following is a transcript of a teaching experiment, using the Socratic method, with a regular third grade class in a suburban elementary school... The class was conducted on a Friday afternoon beginning at 1:30, late in May, with about two weeks left in the school year. This time was purposely chosen as one of the most difficult times to entice and hold these children's concentration about a somewhat complex intellectual matter. The point was to demonstrate the power of the Socratic method for both teaching and also for getting students involved and excited about the material being taught. There were 22 students in the class.
The experiment was to see whether I could teach these students binary arithmetic (arithmetic using only two numbers, 0 and 1) only by asking them questions...
It's amazing, and can clearly work when you are Richard Garlikov. But, how am I supposed to pull this stuff off I ask you??? Let's face it, I'm NOT LOGICAL (no comments about that please) and DON'T have a natural interest in math (at least I don't think so). I'd like to try this, but probably need a script. If anyone can source other examples, I'd appreciate it. I'd like to do enough to stir up for LO an interest in 'the wonders of math.'
LO and I are back to our old schedule. We worked on a little poetry today. We used to write a story or a poem once a week - we had a whole Saturday morning ritual. We haven't done that in a few weeks. Here's his masterpiece of the afternoon:
"Writing Poems with Students - Adventures in Poetry" (See hyperlink to the left)
As big as kid’s dinosaurs
As small as a mouse
As strong as a giant
As fast as a cheetah
As loud as a fire drill bell
As sweet as honey
As sour as a lemon
As soft as fur
As slippery as mud in the rain
As happy as a kid at Adventureland
As sad as someone who lost their house in the Katrina storm
As angry as children not getting the toys they want
(I started to get the hang of the exercise midway through. Instead of, 'what's big', I started asking, "what's the loudest thing you can think of?" "When were you the happiest?" Much better.)
As strong as a lion
Hangs as well as a sloth
Eats lots of leaves like a giraffe
Plays like a monkey
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Eyes Wide(er) Open
Sister Josephine is an African American woman who works at the church I've been going to recently (we're relatively new to the area). You could say it's her 'calling' to take care of children. She's about 60, and everyone at church seems to know her and respect her. There were about 10 African American children at her house who ranged in age from 8 to 15, and no one there but sister Josephine.
I understand that one person simply CANNOT give the kind of attention to 10, 20 or 30 children that you can give to one or two - this is one of the challenges of our teachers. And further, it's MUCH easier to continue to encourage reading and an interest in math and science if you've been doing it from day one even with a larger family. (The Headmistress and Spunky are examples of that.)
But Sister Josephine really inspired me today. No doubt, she has her work cut out for her. She is dealing with what she was dealt. TangoMan rightly points out that,
"the culture you can create is malleable. Schools have to play the cards that they are dealt.."
So I started thinking, what would it take to introduce the idea of reading children's literature, or exploring natural sciences, in a way that the parents would be OPEN? I wouldn't mind including (a few) other children into our world of literature and discovery. It would have to include children of parents who wouldn't think I'm a complete wacko though. After all, they MAY have other issues higher up on their 'to do' list and what I'm suggesting may seem over the top.
So, I'm going to ask to at least take her younger two boys to the library with LO this Saturday, and just see what's up. I'll ask sister Josephine if I can take them out for breakfast and then to the library on Saturday. We'll see...
I'm doing all this talking about black children in America - how I don't want LO to fall through the cracks (and by the grace of God and my analness, I believe he'll be just fine.) But what about the sea of other kids who have little hope of getting a leg up. It's true I DON'T have much time. But again, "what matters?" Those two words keep coming up for me. How am I suppose to teach that lesson to LO, if I'm not willing to embrace that idea myself? Maybe I'm spending too much time playing safe. OK, LO comes first, but maybe - for now- I should just consider the possibility that I could help another child too. No commitments right now. Let's just see where this takes us...
Monday, September 26, 2005
Does Your Child Have Heart? - The OTHER kind of intelligence
I'm pretty sure we need to start thinking of math ability as a Spectrum Talent.....some people have lots of it, other people also have lots of it, too, but not at the 'learn it by smell' level of the whiz kids. This second group, the 80 to 90 percentilers, need teachers. Good ones.
The big bulk of people in the middle have whatever level of natural math ability the big bulk of people in the middle do. Singapore's students probably tell us what level of math achievement the big bulk of people in the middle have when they've got a good curriculum & good teachers.
I guess what I'm saying is: Confessions of an Engineering Washout tells me that we have a math teaching problem at the professional level as well as the elementary, middle, & high school level.
I think we need to think of math the way we think of athletics.
Yes, a brilliant athlete is born with something the rest of us aren't.
But none of the greats get there on their own.
They all have coaches--good ones--showing them how to do what they do.
And I intend to be LO's coach #1 for the long haul (well, as long as he'll let me). :-) It's terribly important to me to know my child's learning style and play to that, to figure out what works and what doesn't and to be flexible enough to make changes when needed. At this point, I've spent several posts talking about the time and energy I've spent ensuring that my son, my little one (LO), has a solid foundation in the ACADEMIC fundamentals. I don't apologize for that. I want him to be able to pursue whatever dreams his brain can conjure up, and at least what he has a natural interest and talent in. Keep Kitchen Table Math bookmarked (I am) - it's an interesting and refreshingly unique site that focuses mostly on math and some grammar, but looks at other subjects as well.
Today, I got yet another lesson in "what matters" from my best teacher (LO). I noticed today that LO is starting to get a little overwhelmed by the new additions to his intellectual diet - Mandarin Chinese classes and piano. Well, that's my interpretation. I probably haven't been doing a good job of putting things in their place. Chinese and piano have their place, their time, their emphasis. After that, I need to let go. None of this let's practice characters in the diner stuff when it should be one of those few precious opportunities for FAMILY TIME. And I need to watch MY ability to be patient. After all , he is 4. He has said a few times now that "he wants to do it perfectly", he doesn't want my help, and is getting frustrated more easily. It makes me ask myself again, what's important? What are the things that I think are most important in raising LO? Am I really emphasizing most the things that I care most about? Don't get me wrong. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY, LO is not going to have a solid understanding of math concepts, and constant and ongoing exposure to what I'll call 'timeless literature.' But today, I don't feel like he gets what matters most. (Remember my post about Katrina?) He's not getting that we are part of something bigger in this world, that people MATTER, and then that the academic fundamentals are also important, but secondary in our quest as human beings to be great and Godly and humble. Now that I think about it, I know a lot of miserable, smart and successful people (I'm related to several of those). But I know few folks that are REALLY grounded, and that genuinely care about others with open hearts. And, by the way, wouldn't it be great if LO were smart, but 'got' that his smarts were the least of his strengths? Let's face it, eventually, its going to take a strong character, a pull from somewhere DEEP inside, and a confidence of steel to pull himself through when (not if) life gets ugly. I can't forget to plant THOSE seeds early too...
They should go down the deepest.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
What Do You Mean PART-TIME Homeschooler?
The idea of homeschooling is not new, but there are as many different approaches and reasons for homeschooling as there are families that engage in the practice. One of my personal favorite approaches is John Holt's idea of "Growing Without Schooling." He is regarded as the father of the 'unschooling' movement (a child-centered learning style of homeschooling your child). I also like the classical educational approach. (I know they seem like opposites, but I DO use both - I'm a radical.) And why do folks homeschool you ask? There are the families that live so far away from schools that it just doesn't seem practical. There are also a growing number of families that don't think traditional schooling and its environment is the best way to LEARN. Margaret Mead once said," My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school."
I realize that most define homeschoolers as families that physically take their children out of school. I did too, until I went to my first homeschooling conference, and my first homeschooling group. What I have said before, I will say again here. If you want to see some dynamic, in charge, empowered women, go to a homeschooling conference. Those women OWN their children's education and they DON'T PLAY! What I found out was that what distinguished these women from other parents who supplement their child's education is that homeschooling moms take 100% responsibility for their child's education. And, by the way, I noticed they defined this broadly, to include being able to look things up in the yellow pages, wash clothes, use a map to get where the family needs to go and so on. I remember a mother talking about her two teenagers that she homeschooled. One was a pilot, the other was about to go to school for art and art history - she had spent hours and hours drawing and reading about art every day because she could.
In many ways, this is the sort of model I am following. Sure, my son goes to preschool, but I take 100% responsibility for his education and learning. I won't rely on his traditional schooling for a solid foundation in reading, sciences and math. He will get that from me through literature, natural sciences and math concepts. At the same time, I will continue to follow and encourage his interests (with some guidance) like dinosaurs and take that as far as he wants. As you may have seen in past posts, LO has learned more and more easily through his interest in dinosaurs than through school drills and worksheets. My latest focus is to get him more involved in chores and all kinds of planning of family activities.
Now you may say, "it's too much." Children will just get burned out this way. I disagree. My son is not just developing his interests, he is learning how to develop himself. And incidentally, it's a great source of pride for him and for inventive play. So I'll continue on my journey until sometime when it doesn't seem to work for us anymore. So far, so good.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Breakthrough Thinking: what if...
Here is an example of creating an environment for Breakthrough Thinking from Meep. Below are examples of the kinds of conversations Meep had with her father. (Since Meep mentions it, I give some of our best loved dinosaur resources below.) Any other examples of creating an environment ripe for Breakthrough Thinking in children?
I put this reply on my livejournal, but I realize that you wouldn't get comment notification like I do...
So here's the reply:
Well, usually it would be on something like "What if we lived underwater?" (that's where the deep-sea farming came from)..."What if we ran into space aliens?"... (and this continued through reading sci-fi which has a whole bunch of what-ifs, some useful, some not.
Since LO is interested in dinosaurs, you could walk through -- "What if dinosaurs hadn't gone extinct?" There's lots of places you could go with that. Would people even exist now? Would they be on a continent separate from people? Might dinosaurs have evolved human-like intelligence? Perhaps we 'do' have dinosaurs now... (i.e., birds) And so forth. What if dinosaurs did live at the same time as people -- would they eat us or vice versa? (Consider that goes for big predators currently extinct). Would the World Wildlife Foundation be producing pamphlets: "Save the T Rex! Big predators in danger of extinction!" Why did big dinosaurs go extinct and other big animals are around today (sharks, for one, predate dinosaurs)...
Lots of stuff to think about. Can look up history of when various species came around (when did elephants, tigers, etc. come around? Blue whales?) - when various dinosaurs died.
And the Museum of Natural History has such an awesome dinosaur floor, which has many of these issues presented there. I've kind of soaked it up from all my visits there...
Being open to new ideas, thinking them over, throwing them around and comparing to what we know and researching... these are what education should be about. Yes, you need the basics like reading, writing, math, logic, and just pure fact knowledge. But that's useless if you never think about when one should use this, that, or the other.
Thanks Meep! I'll share another tomorrow.
Dinosaur Resources (that LO loved): Safari Carnegie dinosaurs. It doesn't matter what brand models they get. This brand is solid though. LO loves them all. The Melissa & Doug wooden dinosaur jigsaw puzzle. (48 pieces). I'd say that this is for a 3 or 4 year old. There are several different dinosaur scenes. The puzzles are thick wood and last forever. A little more difficult, is the Ceaco dinosaur glow puzzle . The puzzle has "glow in the dark bones". LO gets a kick out of putting the puzzle together and turning out all the lights the see the BONES glow. The box says "ages 6 and up", probably 4, 5, or 6 sounds right. The puzzle is not wood and so isn't as durable, but still fun for LO. The BBC Complete Walking with Dinosaurs Collection is OUTSTANDING! It is violent in places (the dinosaurs eat each other.) It obviously is not for all kids. I wish I could find the BBC CD that has video clips from the movie. It also includes a game CD called "I see Sue" and a CD with songs and other games. LO loved the songs. As I remember, there are three songs: one is a blues song, one is a rock and roll sounding song and I can't remember the third. LO sung those for about a year. Someone recommended dinosaur songs on the album Trout Fishing. I've never heard them, but you could try them as well. And lastly, I think I said in a former post that LO just read all kinds of dinosaur books, now I'm remembering that we began with some early readers on dinosaurs, which introduced some of the vocabulary you see in the more advanced books. One was Step into Reading 3: Dinosaur Days.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Breakthrough Thinking for Kids: It ain't sexy
I think that the concept of breakthrough thinking underlies much of what education theorists think of as "sexy." Now, Samsung has definitely created an environment that facilitates innovation but they have also now skimped on the other necessary components - intelligence and knowledge... It's not that "sexy" to work on fundamentals and to acknowledge that brighter people comprehend concepts more quickly and can extend the concepts in novel ways.
Before LO can be creative, in a useful way, he needs to understand the prior art and then he'll be properly positioned to extend it. He doesn't need to independently discover how to calculate the area of a circle - he simply needs to understand the concept.
I completely agree with you that innovation is of no use without the fundamentals. I get it. What I am saying is to bring your child to the next level of thinking, it's NOT a linear process, and tends not to happen in the 30-45 minute class.
Breakthrough Thinking Example: Here's the best kids Breakthrough Thinking example I can think of: it's like learning a language. You're dropped into a whole new culture, where everyone is speaking a different language. You learn a few words, but certainly CANNOT express yourself. Slowly you learn a few more words, and a few more. You still CANNOT express yourself. You get frustrated because your language ability doesn't seem to be progressing. Still you are immersed in the language. And you still are learning - vocabulary, phrases, you may understand a little bit more. One day, out of nowhere it seems, (maybe it's three or six months later) you have a conversation and realize you can express yourself, you are conversant. It's a breakthrough! It's not sexy, you didn't miss the fundamentals, but your learning was NOT about just sitting in a classroom for an hour every day for years. You were IMMERSED in the language. (Sound familiar Katya?) What I'm talking about in this case is 'literary immersion.' We take for granted the capacity of kids to grasp pretty complex ideas.
In the blog I talk about simply understanding The Hobbit. It's not a sexy idea, but- for a four year old - heady literature that he CAN appreciate if I follow this sort of immersion principle I described. Eventually, he can make pretty big leaps, what I'll call a 'breakthrough.' That's what I mean.
Tomorrow, I'll feature someone else's example. It will be a math example.
Chinese Class Update: Remember I said the teacher in LO's class was loud and STRICT! There are about 16 kids in the class ranging from about 4-7. Until next week, it's a 2 1/2 hour class (7-9:30pm). Next week, the language portion will be 2 hours with a 10-15 minute break. Many of these kids have been up since 6 or 6:30 am. They are tired, and some are plain fidgety (they ARE kids after all). In some ways, this teacher is really exceptional. She has lots of clever ways to keep them engaged. Anyway, the teacher HAS singled out a few of the kids and yelled. "If you are not putting your feet down UNDER the chair then you are WASTING MY TIME!" Maybe you should just go home. I'm not describing it well here, but some kids have been shamed and if she did that stuff to LO, I'd be mad. (But I know I have to sit DIRECTLY behind him and coach him the whole time.) Well, the parents today (mostly Asian- except two, me and a white mother who adopted two Chinese girls) decided to meet with the teacher in the third period. The white mother said she just wasn't coming. Then another mother pulled me aside and wanted to know if I "had her back" in the meeting. I wanted to say you MUST be CRAZY, but settled for "I don't think it is a good idea for me to be a spokesperson." In the end, the teacher was so mad to be caught off guard like that, she almost cried, but it looked like she instead chose to be mad and walked out. The one Chinese mother from mainland China had No problem with the teaching style. She thought her daughter wasn't disciplined enough and needed someone to get her attention and behave. So we'll see. Next week, we may have the same teacher, we may not. Stay tuned...
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Encouraging "Breakthrough Thinking" - in kids
In the 75th anniversary (September 19th) edition of Fortune Magazine, there is an article entitled, A Perpetual Crisis Machine. The company is Samsung Electronics and according to the article, no other tech company reinvests in itself (i.e. puts a greater percentage of revenue in R&D) more than Samsung. One of the success factors Samsung points to is TRIZ.
TRIZ is a Russian acronym for Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. Its premise is that invention is NOT accidental. The theory teaches that there are COMMON processes and practices that OFTEN LEAD to invention.
Presumably, TRIZ uses some of the more significant invention processes and principles to "increase engineer efficiency" (its a techie process) and helps the engineers make a "sudden technological jump (or breakthrough) in a given field". So I started thinking... "How DO you encourage 'breakthrough thinking' in children?"
To use terminology from TRIZ (slightly adapted to suit my purposes of course), to follow the traditional approach to schooling is to compromise (less time, fewer resources, narrower scope, less follow through). That approach does not lead to a high level of imagination, discovery or invention. At Samsung, the difference - at least partially attributed to TRIZ - translates into being the world's leading maker of memory chips, flat panel LCD displays, color TVs and perhaps soon camcorders if you believe the article. For me, other parents and for teachers I hope, the result could be much more profound...breakthrough thinking in children for one.
The ideal in homeschooling households - as in the TRIZ concept - is to set the stage for a "destiny of a quality breakthrough". (Don't you just LOVE the way that sounds?) It's up to the family to decide what 'quality' means. I think I have some understanding of what that may mean in the context of LO's learning process. I'm open to other interpretations, but I'll share my thoughts.
As you know, I am religious about reading to LO. Sometimes I read at his level, but I often try to stretch him. Here's my example of "setting the stage for a breakthrough".
Our Breakthrough Story: As I've mentioned, we have read the Hobbit (as a book on tape) about 3x.
1X: The 1st time, we listened and I pointed out the things I thought he would 'get' and think was funny. I'll call that "the hook". (I apologize for the spelling, I haven't read the book, only listened.) The burps by Smaug (sp?) went over well, the "funny voice of Golub (sp?) saying "My precious", and the incredible first chapter were all easy hits.
2X: The 2nd time, I started pointing out more interesting things, like language. Smaug, the dragon, talks about himself (the details are a little foggy) Something like, "My CLAWS are like swords, my TAIL is like lighting, my WINGS are like HURRICANES. (What was that LO? Do you remember what he said? Hurricanes - what do hurricanes do... Oh, that's SOOO cool!)
3X: I started pointing out even more complex and interesting things. By now, since he didn't completely reject the book, he was starting to really follow the story. So I helped him zone in. For example, we spent more time listening to the riddles. It's interesting, I've now heard him tell some of them to other people and their shocked. LO likes to tell this one (LO's version):
What kills lions and giraffes and beats tall mountains down? Give up? -- TIME! ("Over time", he explains, "lions die, giraffes die and mountains change their shape". Since then he's been making some more complex associations similar to those from the book. It is important that this is a solid book. (The Complete Book of Dragons that we're reading now isn't doing much for him. It might be OK for you though.)
Anyway, I'd like to hear from all of you (PT homeschoolers, FT homeschoolers, teachers others. How do you set the tone for breakthrough thinking????) It would be great if I could post some of these. I would benefit if no one else! Any takers? Headmistress? Kenneth? Meep?JennyD? Redhog?
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
A Reason To Blog: Welcome to my world!
Just so you know, yesterday's blog, "Is It Cool To Be Black AND Smart," is a conversation that I would almost never have had in person (regardless of race). I would either consciously choose not have it, or if I slipped, it is very likely that someone would have stopped me before I finished (my perception of course!) All I can say is that this is one of the clear benefits of blogging. I can express myself intimately and candidly (and not just walk around with those feelings). For you, well, you can 'get into my head' so to speak. (That may be an advantage, or disadvantage for you - sorry!) I guess by my age (let's say pushing 40), folks are getting alot more guarded in general, and its a rare pleasure to be able to share openly.
I really struggled with whether I wanted to 'publish' that last blog. I wondered what you all would think and readied myself for who knows what and repeats of what I'd heard before: "She pushes LO too much." "He probably doesn't have any fun." And "don't start all that talk about race." And my personal favorite "Calm down". What surprised me most is that I received NONE of that sort of feedback. One hundred percent of the feedback was supportive, and I have the side benefit of having gotten it off my chest. Hmmmm...another learning. As much as I am discouraged by the things that people sometimes say and do to make life even more of a challenge, I am again re-invigorated and inspired by the human spirit and its capacity to uplift.
Thanks for all the support. I'm still on a high!!!
RESOURCES: Headmistress Zookeeper sent me a great link. I've posted it up on the left. Amblesideonline.org. She also has a blog The Common Room
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Is it Cool to Be Black AND Smart?
I'm home today cleaning the house. (Boxes everywhere, kitchen to be renovated and therefore in disarray, furniture strewn about without order - THIS MUST CHANGE TODAY!)
TangoMan posted a few days ago:
I'd be very interested in reading your thoughts on whether you think it is possible to fully embrace African-American culture and still excel academically. How is culture shaped, if not by one person, or one family, at a time? Can certain practices or beliefs be abandoned without feeling like it is a rejection of heritage?
Sadly, as an African American woman I have NO good answer to this question. My only way to approach this is to look at an extreme. Take one family member who is a brilliant engineer. I watch him manage how he is perceived. He works HARD to be perceived as cool in settings of African Americans (my perception). And I can think of several others who do the same. Interestingly, he also works very hard among non-African Americans, but the strategy is different. He takes the subtle insults or assumptions (that's more common) and skillfully turns them around with ease (with both groups). He has obviously learned that its important to do this. On the other hand, it doesn't necessarily help if you are a complete dummy. There is alot of pressure to 'fit in'.
What concerns me is how we teach children to deal with this reality. They won't feel like it is a "rejection of heritage" on their own. Others will tell them they act white (or sound white, or is their boyfriend/girlfriend white etc.) It will be consistent and upleasant over a long period of time. At the same time not all, but some white Americans will reject them as well. LO's Montessori school director, pulled me aside a few months ago. We received the brochure, we got a tour, we got the costs and decided to physically sign LO up. She carefully wrote down an itemized list of all preschool expenses because she said she wasn't sure of my "financial situation". (BTW, I don't think I'm so scary looking, but it WAS a bad hair day.) Not good and not so uncommon. AND SHE'S RUNNING THE SHOW. But she is a human being living within the institution. On top of all that, it is an unwritten social rule that you are not supposed to talk about race in polite conversation, except for the most benign references. But NO EXCUSES - it is what it is and I'm obviously still learning how to manage it all as we go.
My hope is that LO will learn to be confident, smart and kind in spite of all the things he will have to encounter as a human being in this world. It is yet another reason to homeschool part-time or full-time to really make sure your kids are prepared with LIFE SKILLS. Quite frankly, that's why I am working so hard to make sure LO is exceptionally prepared, and that's why I'll work so hard to make sure he has ample exposure to his community. And that's also why I'm spending way too much time thinking about it. I'm a mother after all. And he's my baby.
Monday, September 19, 2005
A Case for Unit Study
Study after depressing study confirms what has been painfully obvious to millions of parents, teachers, prospective employers and students. Every year our schools turn out more than a million young adults who cannot keep up with the intellectual demands of an increasingly technological economy or with their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan. In addition to the 700,000 who, despite twelve years of what passes for formal education, have such poor reading skills that they cannot digest a newspaper or fill out a job application, an identical number drop out, forfeiting whatever educational benefits might be osmotically obtained from simply showing up for class.
The article goes on to suggest as root causes: the lack of investment, the cost of maintaining the schools, the need for Head Start programs and others.
Whatever... It's a debate I'll let others simmer over. To me, we're talking about incremental changes and they don't do me much good. Nice to talk about if you are interested in institutions at large and have 5, 10 or 15 years to check out the results, but not if you are looking at a unique child in front of you today and want to make a difference that will follow him for the rest of his life. And, don't talk to me about all of the special programs that could or should be implemented to "narrow the achievement gap". I'm not particularly thrilled with the location of either side of the gap.
Here's another case for homeschooling, specifically unit study. My son, my little one (LO), from a young age has had an interest (to put it mildly) in dinosaurs. You can call it a child-led, but parent-encouraged unit study. He wasn't interested in puzzles until I found dinosaur puzzles. He was ALWAYS interested in reading if it involved dinosaurs and could stomach an incredible amount of dry detail (flying reptiles, dinosaurs, mammal-like reptiles, which dinosaurs lived in which period of the dinosaur age, where in the world are paleontologists finding fossils, even dinosaur anatomy.) It stretched his memory, and his ability to understand more complex ideas.
I'll give you a perfect example that happened today (that impressed me BIG time!) Although his interest in dinosaurs is nowhere close to what it was, it is still solid. We've been reading these introductory "I can read" books. It's the right fit I think, but still slow going and I'm not going to push. I spend every bit of effort I have to make the 'wig on the pup' exciting (and I'm entertaining.) But today, LO sounded out DIPLODOCUS -on his own, without encouragement! He opened a book and that was it. There was a picture of the dinosaur and he thought the name should say Mamenchisaurus, but it started with a "d" not an "m". What did the word say????
Di-plo-do-cus. OHHHH Diplodocus! We struggle through 'the wig' and 'tag the pup', but somehow diplodocus was what HE wanted to read.
HELLO - another $100 - $500 per student won't get you there and neither will an extra Head Start program. Don't get me wrong, keep them up and keep them going. I am just convinced that parents have to take control of their kid's education whether they do it full-time or part-time. That goes triple for African American, Latino children, and disadvantaged children. BTW, it works if the child is YOURS, it also works if you choose to MENTOR (which I'm going to try to do in my 'spare' time as my one hobby).
RESOURCE RECOMMENDATIONS: Per the request of Mz. Michaela in New Zealand. Here are a few dinosaur resources... Walking with Dinosaurs. The CD is a good introduction (Can't find it, but it includes "I see Sue" and "Dr. Digs", songs and other games. The DVD is a bit violent, but AWESOME. We all sat with our mouths open. It's that compelling. Also try Magic School Bus In the Time of the Dinosaurs There is also a book by Aliki. I can't say he had a favorite book.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
What Do You Choose?
Now that we have started preschool and the little one (LO) is taking Chinese and a music class once a week, I'm tired and can't fit in everything I want to fit in. (I hear you thinking - DRAMA QUEEN!) Maybe. I'll give you that one.
I'm feeling like I need to start over with a new model. The problem is that I FEEL the benefit of reading and stretching LO with more and more complex literature. (We've read the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe about 6 times. I don't think he really understood what was going on until about the fourth or fifth time. We've read the Hobbit about 3 times - all until LO got it. He is starting to make some cool associations) I also FEEL the benefit of taking a subject and immersing him in it. For example, when LO showed interest in dinosaurs, we rented movies, we read every book we could find, we bought kid paleontologist kits, found dinosaur songs and games, found dinosaur coloring books and puzzles etc until he started losing interest. As soon as that happened, we let go. Now LO knows EVERYTHING about dinosaurs (small exaggeration). That's learning. Who will do this at a traditional school?
Since I'm the primary caregiver, that gives me room for about one hobby. Maybe one and a half. And work - let's just say I'm not on director track. That's the compromise part. But what to do? I'll keep doing a few things that bring me joy and try to develop to the next level; get some insight from it.
DETAILS ABOUT MOMMY CURRICULUM (i.e. skip if this is not your thing): Right now we're doing a unit study on Ancient Egypt. LO knows alot about mummies at this point. A decent amount about hieroglyphs, and the other stuff - so far he tolerates it, but doesn't request it. His favorite books are Seeker of Knowledge, The Usborne Time Traveller Pharohs & Pyramids, Step into Reading Tut's Mummy, and of course the all popular Magic Tree House Research Guide: Mummies and Pyramids. Also, we just got a nice birdfeeder. We replaced the old one. We've been looking up the birds we see. We're starting to notice some new birds so we went to Barnes & Noble today. I bought our very own book, "Birds of New York." Someone is pumped up about making his very own nature notebook.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
One Good Thing about Katrina
I was just speaking to a friend of mine in England. It sounds like there has been plenty of coverage overseas on the hurricane's aftermath - the destruction and the violence. What hasn't gotten as much media attention here are stories of rape and violence taking place in these enormous 'holding facilities' for all kinds of people like this one. Let it be known that there IS an ugly race and class divide in the United States. We as a nation have been put on a pedestal by other countries (sometimes we put ourselves there). But we are a nation of human beings -- that brings the good and the bad. What I hope is that we take the opportunity to teach our CHILDREN that it is EVERYBODY's job to help others in need.
I was reading Nicholas Kristof's article today(?) in the NYT A Wimp on Genocide I believe Bush could take more of a lead in publicly speaking against the Genocide in Sudan. Kristof has reported on the atrocities repeatedly and has brought to light personal stories again and again. He's right to do so.
Can we take a look at the (wo)man in the mirror? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could join together as a nation to impact THAT tragedy? I understand that Katrina is local. It's our problem. But when we, as a nation, join together, we can do extraordinary things.
Do our children know where Sudan is? My little one DOES know that bad things are going on there. (We found some benign pictures for him to look at.) I want to do more than give money (and anyway, is it clear where the heck my money is going?) I understand there are programs like this one in New York where you can help families who have left Sudan or other war torn countries. (Anyone have any experience with the IRC in NY?)
Not to diminish our issues at home, but there is a world out there with big problems too. Some of those countries have issues with even greater breadth, length and depth. Soon the media coverage for Katrina will die down. There will be another 'big story' in the papers and on television. Let's continue to help and pray for the families who have been impacted by Katrina. And let's not forget the others who haven't been lucky enough to be 'local.' We have the means and the hearts to impact those as well.
Friday, September 16, 2005
comments below. I appreciate it.
Today I visited the local public school which is reportedly a wonderful school in an exceptional district. I wasn't impressed. I can't say I can point anything out that was overtly bad. Then again, nothing excited me. And now I feel ridiculous expecting a public institution to make learning exciting. I asked questions and more questions about curriculum and the schedule of the day, about club and after school care. I didn't see an encouragement of curiosity or discovery. I DID see standard boring letters on the wall, a rigid daily schedule, workbooks, yelling and repetition and raise your hand blah, blah, blah. Don't get me wrong, as a teacher with those resources, responsible for THAT many children, what choice do you have? Also, I admit that I was there for a limited period of time (a few hours). It is an environment where your child will learn the basics. And with alot of help from outside influences and motivation, a child can do well. What I wanted, was to find an environment where my child could THRIVE. Perhaps I'm too idealistic (although I think I'm too old for that). And, slowly but surely, I'm starting to really 'get' the case for alternative education.
On a different, but similar note, I saw an interview of Chris Whittle who founded Edison schools over 10 years ago. He was founder and chairman of Whittle Communications, one of America's largest student publishers. He was also chairman and publisher of Esquire magazine. His schools are mostly public, but there are some charter schools in his portfolio. He is trying to revolutionize public education by privatizing it, but talked about all the obstacles. Here's a few unique offerings of Edison schools:
- Edison schools have a longer school day and longer school year
- It's programs and curriculum incorporate a number of research-based practices
- Staff receives 4-6 weeks of training prior to the opening of a new school
- Computers and training are provided to teachers, student and families.
Still Chris Whittle believes that the bureaucracy specifically of the public school system in many ways PRECLUDES him from providing the best education model to the students. In the interview, he suggested as ideal having a formal curriculum for half of the day and more free time to explore in the afternoon. (How about a few hours of children's literature, or a nature project?) BTW, he also talked about tripling teacher's salaries. He chose public schools because he thought that he could make a bigger impact.
But he can only do so much. That echoes what I've seen so far...
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Reading is Fun (Sometimes)
Learn more about the books by reading Amazon comments. A more detailed description of the philosophy behind the books here.
I can't forget play. LO and his daddy had a great time being silly and rolling around on the floor today. Their cute, and sometimes I wonder who's having more fun. He (LO) is such a free spirit. I'm trying to be very careful to protect that. But today, I started thinking... What about MY play time? How hard am I working to protect that? I ran across this quote:
-- What do most Nobel Laureates, innovative entrepreneurs, artists and performers, well adjusted children, happy couples and families, and the most successfully adapted mammals have in common?
They play enthusiastically throughout their lives.
-- What common denominator is shared by mass murderers, abused children, burnt-out employees, depressed mothers, caged animals, and chronically worries students?
Play is rarely or never a part of their lives.”
It might do me a bit of good to spend more time on the floor with LO (and daddy). It also would be nice to spend more time thinking about other ways to preserve and enhance MY unique identity. No doubt about it, this blog is helpful. I just have to keep telling myself that being proactive with play and friendships is as important as anything else on my 'to do' list. It's a journey...
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Taking You Life Off Hold: A mother's story
In the New York Times from Sept 11 there is an article about a women who wanted to work from home when her kids were young. As most of us, she was not pleased when she saw what that work-at-home arrangement meant. (Been there: How many of us have looked at flexibility as a great option, but didn't take it because of the poor hourly salary (which is particularly stinging because you work full-time anyway), (part-time) benefits, career prospects (you're now first in line during lay offs). etc......
She decided to start her own company. With hard work, smarts and alot of luck, she has her own international company. See the article here
Sometimes it takes life's surprises to force us out of our traditional lives. You might think that moms with young kids have to put their lives on hold. (I've heard lots of moms declare that they won't have a life for 10 YEARS!) For others, that's when they break out of the traditional and into the AWESOME. That's what I like about the homeschooling movement. Many of the books and materials you see are WRITTEN by moms who homeschooled or are homeschooling. The conferences are arranged by moms. And, you want to be surrounded by a bunch of empowered, serious, focused women, go to a homeschooling conference. They OWN their children's education and its no joke.
I've heard working moms talk about scaling their career's back, but building side businesses like making quilts, or purses, or starting a blog. I remember one friend who started her draft of that book of poems she always dreamed about. We don't have to go at the speed of light. Whatever it is, let's have SOME time for US before we forget what that feels like. I bet our lives will be richer for it (that's what I'm going to believe anyway). I have to keep saying this to myself or I'm afraid I won't believe it.
BTW, here's a site on a classical literature book club Anyone interested in started this with the little one and I?
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Howa bout a revolution?
In other words, the study looks at the gap between Black and White students, Hispanic and White students, and economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students. They count a gap only if minorities and/or disadvantaged students' scores increased (not if the other group scores decreased).
An interesting article at
A few points from the report:
-- Ten (10) of 203 school districts reduced their achievement
gaps between not just one set of subgroups, but two (black and
white, Hispanic and white or economically disadvantaged and
non-economically disadvantaged or all students);
-- One of 203 school district across all 13 states has managed to
narrow the achievement gap between all three sets of subgroups
-- More districts have made progress in reducing economically
disadvantaged achievement gaps than black-white or Hispanic-white
Here's my take away - For whatever reason, there are only a few school systems able to even begin to deal with the complex issues of race and class in education. The consequence of that plays itself out everyday and consistently across the country in actual scores. Unfortunately this impacts EVERYTHING that these students will hope to aspire to and accomplish for the rest of their lives. I'm not saying testing is everything, or that there aren't plenty of examples of folks whose high/middle/elementary school performance was only adequate, but who were able to accomplish amazing things afterwards (Colin Powell for one.)
Here's my point: If you know walking into school that your child is a member of one of these subgroups, and that they are therefore more likely than their peers to fall through the cracks, isn't it our job as parents (and a community for that matter) to counter this likelihood at every turn?
What to do? Moms who could use the help don't have time. And, just try to be 'revolutionary' by regularly reading the classics to your child, working with puzzles and introducing math outside of the school system. How is it that the University of California at Berkley student body is something like 50% Asian (their smart), but somehow we look down our own noses at our community for trying to give OUR children a leg up. Can I go through the feedback I've gotten so far
- My son is going to turn out like Carleton on the Prince of Bel-Air
- My son is going to become a freak because no one will be able to relate to him
- Chill out, your son will be fine
If that's the feedback I'm getting, what about parents who never heard about supplementing their child's education? What about the parent who would never think about books on tape, or reading even 30 minutes every night?
I think an idea is brewing... Stay tuned...
Monday, September 12, 2005
Remembering September 11 (On the 12th)
Someone quoted Rick Warren last week to me and it seems to be appropriate here. "Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." This is a good time to practice. Alot of folks need help.
Read the whole thing - Been there.
If you knew that your would die today
If you saw the face of God and love,
Would you change? Would you change?
If you knew that love can break your heart,
When you're down so low your cannot fall,
Would you change? Would you change?
How bad, how good does it need to get?
How many losses, how much regret?
What chain reaction would cause an effect?
Makes you turn around, makes you try to explain
Makes you forgive and forget, makes you change?
If you knew that you would be alone
Knowing right being wrong,
Would you change? Would you change?
If you knew that you would find a truth
That brings up pain that can't be soothed,
Would you change? Would you change?
Are you so upright you can't be bent?
If it comes to blows are you sure you won't be crawling
If not for the good, why risk falling?
If everything you think you know
Makes your life unbearable
Would you change? Would you change?
If you'd broken every rule and vow
And hard times come to bring you down
Would you change? Would you change?
If you knew that your would die today
If you saw the face of God and love
Would you change? Would you change?
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Books on tape have been important in stretching little one's comprehension. What he might not sit and listen to as I read it, he would listen to in the car strapped in his carseat (The Hobbit, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland etc. - more complex books). I've tried to stay away from the Disney books (although I understand they have read that stuff at school. Also, the other big learning I've gotten from the homeschooling community is how to encourage curiosity, and 'real' learning. By 'real learning' I mean not rote learning, but also life skills learning (washing clothes, using the yellow pages, making breakfast or lunch etc.)
If anyone's interested I can talk more about that later. Now, I'm beat.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Ni hao - LO Learns Mandarin
The class is scheduled for 7:00pm to 9:35pm every Friday. The first two hours (45 minutes, 15 min break, then 50 minutes, 10 min break) is the Mandarin lesson. The third hour is a Chinese "cultural activity". My little one could take Kung Fu, or Chinese painting, or Chinese chess etc. It's a long night. You might be interested to know that his teacher is loud, strict and scares the heck out of the students. I quite enjoyed that part. As for the social part, I think its going to take some time for the students and the parents to get use to us.
The class is weekly and there is homework. I'll tell you one thing, my son will NEVER be behind. It's a weird feeling I have about that. First, I feel a little like my son is on display. People want to see how he does and are paying attention. Second, the stereotype is that Black kids are not so smart and undisciplined in general, but the stereotype is particularly strong in this culture. In reality, some kids will work harder than others, and some will just not have the interest. Very logical, but I simply CANNOT confirm the stereotype! We'll quit first. For now, we're in.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
"The Things that are Most Important are Invisible"
The day started by dropping my little one (LO) off at preschool - his second day. I should say that there are three schools in one building where LO attends Montessori school. There is a day care, the Montessori school and the local gifted and talented school. It's only 15 minutes away from our house and since I believe in alternative education, am the primary caregiver here responsible for all child logistics, AND have a healthy mistrust of the public school system, it made sense to at least ask about the local school for the gifted and talented. (I'm also considering other alternative schools like "The Progressive School" and a Christian school close by.) Anyway, as it turns out, you need a 130 IQ to get in. It's just ridiculous. What are you going to test a 4 year old about to determine (and quantify) their intellect? I went through the process. It's not really a test of intellect, it's a test of exposure and parenting (with a little bit of intellectual challenge thrown in). "How many days in a week? What's the largest ocean? What are the names of the seasons?" My little one (LO) made a 129 which I guess makes him borderline. He scored in the 99th percentile in verbal and the 94% percentile in "performance" - whatever the heck that means. I've read to him an hour a night for the last several years, and before that 45 minutes a night and before that 30 minutes a night. But I have mixed feelings about the test. On one hand, I'm elated because the time we've put in has paid off, but I'm also angry because what about other children - poor children- who haven't had parents who read to them an hour a night or expose them to different things?
Today I spotted an African-American couple dropping their daughter off at the school for gifted and talented. It was clearly the first day of school there. This couple was taking pictures of their daughter getting in line and walking into school. I had to ask. How did they come to their decision to send their daughter there? Were they concerned about the intellectual diversity (or as many people have pointed out to me including my pediatrician, the lack thereof). It was a very interesting conversation...
Essentially, they had no idea what I was talking about. They had a Caribbean accent and it was clear that they JUST wanted to give their child opportunity - the best opportunity they could afford. They said - and I'll never forget it- here our daughter WILL be challenged intellectually. She WILL have the opportunity to go as far as she can. When she leaves she WILL be PREPARED. I got the point. I wonder if my relatives down south who never finished high school, or can't READ would ever spend the time to fret about not sending their child to the best school possible because it's "intellectually homogenous". Can't go because she's not prepared - absolutely! Can't go because we can't afford it - yes. Can't go because we can't get her there - maybe. But, can't go because she'll be surrounded by children who care about learning????? Get over yourself! Hello - for most African American children in this area, public school is not an institution of diversity. In any case, it occurs to me that no matter where we send LO, I won't be a fan 100%. So I'll check out my options, visit lots of local schools and pick the best fit. That was my morning.
Remember last night, I'd given LO a hard time for not caring about the victims of the hurricane? Well this morning we went on the NY Times website and looked at EVERY picture on Katrina. When I picked him up, the teacher wanted to speak with me - ALONE. LO didn't finish his lunch. He said he couldn't eat because all those people who lost their houses in the hurricane were "in his mind". Oooops. I guess I went a little overboard. Now, he doesn't even remember what he said, so I assume he recovered quickly.
Here's the interesting part. (It's going to come together so sit tight.) We're reading "The Little Prince" tonight. The fox says, "Here is my little secret. It's quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."
So the bible verse comes clearer to me:
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a (wo)man, I did away with childish things.
In light of the tragedy of Katrina (and FEMA) I am reminded of what matters, good schools are cool, knowledge is cool, caring for other people and having heart is all there is... Will LO remember?
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Those Were My Words
There was a big storm in places like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The storm was so big, they gave it a name. They called it Katrina. This storm was a terrible storm that brought the ocean down on top of the houses and streets - just like the "big wave" Tsunami (I know it's not the ocean, it's the gulf, but he doesn't know the difference - O.K.?). I asked him, "Do you know what that means? If your house is under water, you can't go to the refridgerator to get a drink if you are thirsty, you can't get food if you are hungry, you can't play with your toys, and you can't sleep with your snuggly blanket."
He seemed to get it. I said we should do something for the families. To be fair, he first suggested that we buy wood and build them new homes. "We don't know how to build a house" I said. "Maybe we should get things from the store that they may need." Here he suggested that I go ahead. I didn't need him to do that, and anyway its just television, it's not real. Even if it is real, couldn't I just turn to a different channel and talk about something else?
Let someone else help. - Those were my words...
Needless to say, we had a long conversation and went immediately to the grocery store to purchase essentials for some of the families that need them. And, I didn't care that it was bedtime. My son and I will start volunteering this week. It was a chilling look in the mirror. Welcome to the world of living souls - finally.