SEX is Not a Bad Word

“Sex is NOT a bad word”… I shouted this… in my classroom… to 6, 7 and 8 year old students…. everyone froze, but only for a flash.  So, I had to shout it again, with just a bit more volume and conviction.

Moments earlier a concerned child told me that a classmate found a bad word in one of our library corner books. ‘Oh, my!’, I said… and I went to take a look.  Being unable to find the word myself (or the book), I instead, found the finder.  They were not going to talk and would not utter the word found, but they did point to a book that was a class favorite.  It was one of our heaviest hardback books, about 12″ x 18” and over an inch thick… a child’s encyclopedia of animals.  It really is a beautiful book, full of colorful, realistic drawings and photographs of all animals from amoebas to humans… it has tons of interesting facts and quite a few scientific words. My students pour over its pages, showing interesting pictures to friends.  It would not be uncommon for three or four students to be gathered around this book oooooing and aaahing for a whole reading period.  I grabbed the offending book.

A buzz was in the classroom, because everyone knew that our class favorite had a bad word in it, most of them had been shown the word, and the book may be put away behind the teacher’s desk (a veritable black hole of confiscated crap and stacks of books and papers) never to be seen again.

Here is how this went:

“What was the bad word”

“I don’t remember”

“You do, what was it?”

“I am not going to say it.”

“You can tell me, what was it?”

“It is a bad word, I am not allowed to say it.”

“It is okay to tell the teacher, you can tell me the word. You are not in trouble.”

“My mom said I am not allowed.”

“Okay, let’s find it in the book and you can show me.”

At this point he turns to an easily found page towards the beginning of the book (he had obviously become an expert at finding it from showing the rest of Room One the offending word).  It was the page on protozoans, sponges, or maybe some other basic sea creature and had a beautiful diagram of one such animal, labeled with all of it’s parts… Right there at the bottom of the page was the word, with a line connecting it to a blob inside the organism… SEX cell… There it was.

Okay… here’s what happened next…

“Ah, I see. That is not a bad word. You CAN read me that word.”

“No, I can’t.  My mom said it is a bad word and I am never allowed to say it.”

“But you can show it to everyone in class? Hmmmmm. I think you can read that word to me, because this is a science book in our classroom and I am asking you to read it. You can do that.”

…. we sat in silence for a long time… My student was set on not reading the word, I read it, I explained what that word meant in the book, and finally, in frustration, I shouted out “Sex is not a bad word” – twice… And then “Everybody stop what you are doing and meet me on the rug! Now!”

Quick as a wink, there they all were, staring at me as I held up the offending book.  We had a big discussion about what that word meant in that context… That humans are born to be either the male sex or the female sex, we all have a sex, and also sex is the word we use for how animals reproduce… then we talked more broadly about words and how many words can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how you use them and who you are speaking to. Words like stupid, hate, ugly, pig, rat and more can be used in a good way or a bad way… It was a deep lesson for young children, but our favorite book was back on the shelf and we have not had a ‘bad word’ incident in a while… No shit. 😉

Yes, certainly…

I love my job.  Every day is something different, a challenge, and often a joy.  Teaching young children I have the power to make a difference in their lives, the lives of their families, and hopefully an impact on society.  If you have read my blog before you know that I have very strong political opinions… I am a liberal, believer in universal healthcare, pro-choice, anti organized religion, LGBTQ supporting, science believing, spiritual, singing, dancing, mother, wife and teacher.  Most of those things I leave at the door.  I do not bring my politics and  other controversial beliefs into my classroom or impose them on my students.  I just don’t. It wouldn’t be fair or right to do so.

When my students cheered because Trump won the election I said that many people were happy and that I hoped he would be a great president.  I try to promote the idea that all presidents wanted to make our country a better place for us all. We wrote our letters of congratulations to President Trump on November 9th, and mailed them off to Trump Towers… it would have been nice to get some recognition that they were received, but oh well.

I am not giving up on what I believe is right for our country.  I am working in my own way to support the causes I feel most passionate about, to write, and to motivate… but I am also wanting to challenge the ideas of the opposition.  If we don’t continue to challenge them, if we just sit by quietly as health care is lost, people are rounded up, and our education system is decimated we will have no one to blame but ourselves…  But that is not what this post is about.

This post is about what we can do in our own towns and communities to create the world we want to live in and to leave to our children.  Sadly, not everyone is willing to do what is necessary… but in my small sphere of influence, I am working to make it happen.  The things I teach in Room One can be a guideline for making a better society… So, this is the beginning of a series of Room One rules that illustrate some core ideas about how to do just that.  Here is just one of my rules and my thoughts about why it is important:

  1.  If you get out of line you can have your spot back.

For years, teaching young children, I would hear ‘He got out of line, he has to go to the end!, ‘He got out of line and now he is trying to cut me!, or (with a bit of a shove) ‘He is trying to squeeze back in!’… I have heard many teachers tell their students that if they get out of line they would have to go to the end. In fact, I used to say that myself.  It just felt sad and sometimes I would make an exception… But now, in Room One, if you need to get out of line because you forgot to grab your coat, get a drink,  tell someone something, or for no good reason, you just need to say please hold my spot.  When you get back to the line you say, excuse me, may I have my spot back and the person is supposed to say (we practice this), “Yes, certainly.” Even if you forget to ask someone to hold your spot you can get it back… That is the rule.

It is not about eliminating conflict or complaining, it is not about where you stand in line or the reasonableness of why you got out of line… it is about treating other people the way you want to be treated.  If you get out of line for any reason would you like to get your spot back?  If you forgot to grab bananas at the grocery store, you might leave your cart in line and run back to get them… imagine if when you got back someone had shoved your cart aside?  You want to be treated kindly. So, in Room One, everyone gets their spot back. It is polite.  It is the right thing to do.  It makes people happy and it is easy.

How can this apply to the world?  Imagine the on-ramp of your local highway, imagine the line at the bank, post office or market… imagine what is the right thing to do and make that happen… we have moved away from worrying about others’ feelings – political correctness has become a bad word – the pendulum has swung – pushed by some very angry people who would never give you your spot back… Time to push back and show what it feels like to say “Yes, certainly”, and really mean it.

 

 

Dishing it Out

It is so interesting that Trump and Trump supporters are calling foul when the opposition and news jump on his ‘missteps’ and ‘alternative facts’.  It is interesting when they shout unfair, untrue, and unpatriotic as he is called out and scrutinized by the public.  Have they forgotten the election?  Have they forgotten ‘Lock Her Up’ and ‘Drain the Swamp’, Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, and Lying Ted, ? Have they forgotten ‘ Look at that Face?’, ‘Snore Fest Jeb’… where were they? Where was he?  He spent over a year saying the most outrageously untrue things, calling names, and disrespecting  respected leaders in our government… how quickly they have all forgotten his SOP.

Trump and his supporters are concerned that there is an unprecedented level of fake news, yet they won their election by promoting fake news.  His head man, Steve Bannon, is the king of fake news… get a grip, people!

The problem is, that unlike Obama (who our current president seems to be obsessed with), Trump reacts, highlights and defends every bit of news that paints him in a bad light.  He is obsessed with the past statements of people who spoke out against him during his campaign which is why, after a month in office he has only appointed 14 people to key positions… he can’t find anyone with much experience who did not support one of the 17 other candidates!  His vetting process is whether or not they said something mean about him in the past.

Last night my husband asked me what HAPPENED in Sweden.  Nothing.  Nothing happened.  Is the media and public supposed to just ignore that.  Trump got his information from Fox News. I am not saying they peddle untruths, but Trump must not have really been paying attention to what the story was really about (an issue for him) and then repeated what he thought he heard to thousands and then millions of people.  HE IS THE PRESIDENT! It is our duty and the media’s duty to call him out when he says crazy s***.  Our DUTY!  This is not being unfair, this is about public safety and world respect. It is about holding our president accountable.

He was, and still is, great at dishing it out… if he can’t take the heat… time to get out of the kitchen.  All this whining does need to stop… Mr. Trump, enough is enough, stop whining!

Minor Inconvenience

Only a minor inconvenience… 90 days… that is nothing… people can be properly vetted and go back to their regular life… I am not sure why the country is making such a stink.  Okay, folks, here we go…

I am sure you have heard the stories of the Fulbright scholarship student whose plane was turned around, the Iraqi translator who worked for the US military, and the man (with an MBA) with his wife and three children who had waited two years to be vetted, sold his house and was pulled off the plane in Cairo… they have all been inconvenienced by this new policy and how it is being enforced across the world.  We are only protecting ourselves, keeping America safe… why should anyone be upset? This all because we have built up a collective fear of terrorists… they kill, on average, 120 Americans a year over the past 20 years (that is including 9/11)…  But wait a second… domestic gun violence kills, on average, 12,000 people a year… cigarettes kill, on average 480,000 people a year… and 2,200 Americans die EACH DAY from heart disease…

So, until we get a ‘handle’ on THIS situation, let’s put a 90 day ban on the sale of any new firearm, a 90 day ban on the sale of cigarettes, and a 90 day ban on the sale of animal products like beef… it is only a minor inconvenience… let’s keep America safe…

Oh, is that going too far?  It is only 90 days, and I don’t own a gun, smoke cigarettes or eat meat… so how bad will that really be?  It is really for your own good and the good of our country.

And if you think that this new Trump executive order will have any effect on our safety, I hope you realize that it will… we are in far more danger after this stupid move than we were Friday morning.  This just fuels the flames of radical groups, gives Muslims and Muslim countries reasons to fear and distrust us and puts our citizens and country in jeopardy…

This ‘minor inconvenience’ is just the tip of the iceberg… Stand up against hate, fear and tyranny… Trump has already proven he is unfit… continue to resist and speak out! His whole presidency is an inconvenience…

What Can You Say?

The events of the past several days have left me almost speechless. I was dumbfounded watching as four young people were shown to have live streamed the torture of a mentally challenged teen.  I wondered how anyone who saw that stream as it was being broadcast live didn’t contact authorities.  I wondered how anyone watching could not have taken action immediately.  And I wondered what could possible be wrong with those four young people.  How could they think that any part of this was an acceptable way to handle anger and frustration ~ and on an innocent person?  and live stream it? and not one angry person, but four, working together and all agreeing that this was okay?  How did we get here?

One way I think we got here, is by everyone feeling they have the right to do and say whatever the hell they want.  Tote guns around willy-nilly, shove past you and saunter through intersections. Decorum and civility have been left to the wayside and trolling, slamming, and denigrating others is commonplace.  Many of us have ceased to hold children to a high behavioral standard and expect that they learn things like that in school when, at five, it is almost too late.

The tragedy in Florida seems almost acceptable… the alleged shooter was obviously mentally unstable and had tried to get help… it does not make the horror or loss any easier to bare because it was a senseless horrible crime… but the torture in Chicago, it was not done by four mentally unstable people who all happen to know each other.  It was done by four people who knew what they were doing and didn’t care about the pain and hurt they were causing.  It was done by people who thought there was an audience for their actions.

We have created a climate where someone (many someones) think that being hateful is acceptable, even encouraged, and is part of our freedoms as Americans.  You see it when people post horrid things on the internet, when people shout at you for riding your bike, when people forget to check themselves, and when people do what these four young people did.  It is not.  Freedom should mean that we are free to live our lives without fear, where people treat each other with kindness and respect, and where a difference in opinion is not punctuated by violence.  We are all better than this and we must stand up to this hate… this action does not need to be condemned by one particular group… it needs to be condemned by all of humanity… Violence and hate are never the answer… believe it, teach it, stand up for it… and when someone strays… believe it, teach it and stand up for it that much more

What can we say?  Enough is enough!

Check Yourself

Check yourself… I say this in my classroom all the time… and we review what that means… It is my way of reminding certain people without ‘calling out’ any one child.  I teach the kids to ask themselves a list of questions when they hear me sing this out… 1. Am I in the right place? 2. Am I working quietly? 3. Am I bothering anyone? 4. Am I taking care of myself? and 5. Am I using kind words?

As adults, we too need to check ourselves.  Heading into the new year, having survived a tumultuous 2016, we need to remember that the world is changing and it is within our power to shape that change (or even counter it).  We can do that in the words we use, in the things we post and in the comments we leave.  Being part of a different generation is not an excuse for not being willing  to check yourself.   People who insist on holding onto outdated uses of ideas and language, who speak or post hate, who have decided that others’ freedoms take away from their way of life, need to check themselves. For us, for me, here are a few things it means: 1. Am I trying to help or hurt? 2. Am I doing enough? 3. Am I moving forward or looking back? 4. Am I being true to my beliefs? and 5. Am I  open to new opinions and ideas?

This last one is the hardest for many people because it can be threatening.   It requires that you consider the perspective of another,  that you question your own beliefs, and that you pause from defending your own stance to consider a different perspective. As this year unfolds I will challenge myself to do just that… to take a breath and consider… I challenge you to do the same… but even if you can’t get there, please remember to use kind words, that is really what will save us all…

Check yourself