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. 😉

No Intelligence – Give Me A Break

No intelligence… I heard CNN newscaster, Don Lemon utter these words.   As he was interviewing a Trump spokesperson about the claim that our former president ordered a wire-tap on Trump’s phone at Trump Tower, he simply asked the spokesperson if President Trump had any ‘intelligence’… and then “So, what your saying is that he has ‘No intelligence’.”  I laughed out loud and I am sure that once he said it he knew what it really meant.

Of course our president has no intelligence.  Conspiracy theories, die-hard supporters, poor judgement, and a quick finger when it comes to Twitter – he has those in spades… but intelligence he is lacking.  He is surprised at the complexity of our healthcare issues, shocked that people are concerned about his connection to Russia, and has mentioned our former president more times in the past six weeks than Obama mentioned Bush in his entire presidency.  He is becoming more unhinged as the days pass.

We have weathered more White House scandal than we have seen in decades… and he is just getting started.  Wait until he gets on a roll!

Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills, the ability to deal with new or trying situations.  Intelligence is what is required to process and synthesize information, to sift through a problem and come up with reasonable solutions.  It is the ability to rise to the occasion, use clear language and speak to a topic.  It is what we need as a nation.

A man who leads without intelligence is a danger to us all! We are being led by someone with no intelligence… and those who surround him are continuing to make excuses for him and cover it up…  Those who surround him need to take his phone at night… give us all a break!

Fake News

I was certain, when I turned on the television this morning, that what I was getting was ‘fake news’.  It HAD to be.  Certainly it was put forward by those Trump hating, rainbow bleeding, far-left leaning, CNN loving, paid protestors and other subversive organizations who scream ‘Not My President’ and wear those horrid ‘pussy’ hats.  The story was so outrageous that it must be fake…

CNN, The New York Times, Politico and other news organizations had been banned from a press conference.  Only Trump-friendly press were allowed to be at the briefing.  What does this mean for you?  Well, if you are not interested in truth and only want to see news that supports our president and you are willing to take what he says as fact without question, then you are good.  If however, you wonder what the hell is going on in Washington, then you should be very upset about this latest development.

Let me be clear, CNN is not going anywhere… they are on right now, reporting on the DNC election, on statements released by the White House, and by actions that are happening every day… what we won’t get to see is the White House and President having to answer questions that challenge them and make them uncomfortable.  Those banned news organizations are the voice of critical thinkers and, yes, the opposition.

I understand that part of the competitiveness of media is getting the scoop… it would have been nice if the reporters and the organizations they represent had made a statement by saying ‘if they don’t go in, we don’t go in’… sometimes we need to step beyond our rolls and join in the action.  It is time for the press to step out from behind their cameras and note pads and stand up for what they know is right.  As much as our President likes a crowd, speaking to an empty room just might send a message.

We believe in the free press… they are integral to our democracy whether you agree with them or not.  If you don’t like their slant you can change the channel. The ‘fake news’ needs to be challenged and if all we have are Trump-supporting news organizations doing the reporting, all that ‘fake news’ that originates from the White House, will be all we hear…. SAD

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.

 

 

What’s Wrong

Trump supporters are eating this up…. his behavior, tweets and bizarre ‘press conference’ will never sway the Americans who voted for Trump.  We live in a society with Kim Kardashian, the Big Brother House, and Duck Dynasty… We hang on whether or not Brad and Angelia are splitting up, and whose dimpled backside dons the cover of People Magazine.  This president is just the typification of our obsession with uncouth overexposure, saying whatever pops into your brain and an America where people can do whatever the f*** they want because ‘it’s a free country’.

I’ve seen great t-shirts these past few months… one of my favorites is ‘Make America Smart Again’… even better would be ‘Make America Polite Again’.  We have lost the core of American society and it has nothing to do with Christianity.  It has to do with the loss of decorum, the unwillingness to find common ground and the rallying cry of Trump supporters that people who are demonstrating against our current president and all that he stand for are crybabies and whiners.

I am not a whiner… as of November 9, 2016, I am an activist, a nasty woman, persistent, pussy-hat wearing, believer in science, immigrant loving, LGBTQ supporting, educator who will not be silenced.  Sorry if that interferes with what you want to see on Facebook or what you want to believe about me… my goal is to find the middle ground, to educate and have an open dialogue so that we can bridge the gap that has formed over the last 20 years and has been highlighted by this ugly moment in US history.  Time to put on your big girl panies and get to work… bridging the gap will be harder work than we have ever seen because the gap has become a casism.  Trump supporters seem to be giving him a free pass, believe his every word, and are cheering him on as he wreaks havoc on our civil liberties, our constitution and our American values.  I don’t get it, but I am willing to listen, to look at the other side and to try and bridge the gap…

My only question is, if you are all deleting me from your FB feed, how are we even going to begin?

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

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

It was suggested to me recently that my blogs are dominated by divisive talk, hateful rhetoric and judgemental fingerpointing. That I am obsessed with the election results and with Trump becoming our president.   It was also suggested that I stop sharing my blogs on Facebook because I am opening myself up to people who disagree with my strong opinions and their reactions may upset me.  It was also suggested that I blog more about the happenings in my classroom because those stories, I presume, are more fun and entertaining to read.

Yes, I am far more engaged in what is happening in politics than I have ever been… I watch more news and read more about world issues… I also have more discussions.  After looking back at my blogs I can see that many of my posts during and after the election were challenging to people who hold a different opinion.  They were meant to be.  If you read them to the end, for the most part, they are a call to make the world a better place, become active and to pay attention to what is going on around you.  If you don’t agree with them, they were meant to make you uncomfortable.  Because, if you know and like me, you might wonder why I hold such strong opinions that are different from yours.  My hope is that my blog makes you think more deeply or just from a different perspective (not to suggest that you are not a deep thinker).  The title of my blog is ‘Look for the Joy’… and even when my blog is a frustrated rant, there is that spark in there of hope and joy… you can choose to see it… Yes, I was and still am, frustrated with the America who voted for Trump… did I write about that… of course, why would I not. Did you have to read it – no, you did not.

This is my platform, my blog and my thoughts.  You are free to read or not to read.  If you just want to be entertained by funny quips and silly stories then this is not where you will find them. If you choose to distance yourself from me, my ideas and my family then that, too, is your choice.  This is me speaking my heart… about life, politics, loss, love, hope and joy… I am willing to take the heat for my ideas… But if you know me,  just because I disagree with someone does not mean that every encounter or any encounter needs to be an argument… that is a choice as well