Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Are you Serious?
You are Supposed to be Leaders
Lead by example. Two wrongs do not make a right.
Today was a normal day. In my mailbox there were four political flyers promoting candidates for the upcoming elections. Three of these were high-quality, 8.5" x 11", color flyers printed on thick paper. I have probably received about 20 of these over the past few days. Although about half of them have had a positive tone, I could not help but notice that the other half have a very disrespectful tone. One of these flyers caught my eye, and seemed especially disrespectful. In fact, I would classify it as EXTREME BULLYING.
I have been an educator for 12 years and I have always done everything possible to advocate for the students. I went into teaching because of the fact that I love working with students and helping them to become happy and successful adults. I promised my students when I began teaching, that if I ever thought that I was unable to help provide them the best education possible, I would resign and work hard to make change. Last year was the first year that I had trouble looking students in the eyes and telling them that I thought the schools were helping them to become happy and successful adults. Due to an increased obsession with standardized testing and a fictional world created by Universities, I feel that the education system has come close to being dangerously irrelevant. I followed through on what I said, handed in the keys to my dream job, resigned, and have been working as hard as possible to inspire and implement change in education through public speaking, consulting, and founding AssistEd Shift, which is a website I am working on which will empower educators and students.
I live in a city in which we have had multiple ( at least four) children commit suicide in the past few years. Two of these suicides were at the middle school which I taught at. In my opinion, the number one factor associated with teen suicides, is bullying. The following is an excerpt from the Psychiatric Times website:
Studies show that bullying behavior in youth is associated with depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. These associations have been found in elementary school, middle school, and high school students. Moreover, victims of bullying consistently exhibit more depressive symptoms than nonvictims; they have high levels of suicidal ideation and are more likely to attempt suicide than nonvictims. - See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com
Technology, which is a wonderful and necessary tool for students to learn in order to be successful in our digital world, has also provided opportunities for cyber bullying. This has made bullying easier, more public, and more frequent. Although the schools have received a lot of criticism for "allowing bullying to take place", this is nonsense. It is impossible to stop all of the bullying that takes place in school, out of school, and through technology. If anything, I feel that the schools have worked EXTREMELY hard to try stopping bullying,
Although some bullying will probably always take place, I believe that everyone needs to work together to stop bullying. Schools, parents, community businesses and organizations, community members, and politicians.
This is the reason that I found today's mail exceptionally disgusting.
One of the flyers showed the following pictures:
I think that it is probably quite obvious that this candidate did not hold up signs that said these things about himself. This obviously implies that someone took the time to manipulate these photographs to "BULLY" this candidate in hopes of demoralizing them so that the candidate they support can win. This is childish and unacceptable bullying.
Although I am not friends with this particular candidate, I do know who he is. In every encounter I have had with him, he has been an extremely nice, respectful, and caring person. Last year he volunteered to come in to our project-based program for high school students and spent a good part of his day talking to them and answering their questions. It was quite obvious he had respect for the students and I admired that. Again, this does not mean that I am endorsing him or even voting for him, as I am allergic to politics, but I speak about him as a person; a person, with feelings and emotions. I will admit that he has made some poor decisions over the past couple of years, but is there someone out there that can honestly claim that they have not made some really poor decisions? The terms used to describe his actions portray a much harsher than reality.
One example is:
This candidate is "anti-women"? When my wife was going through her battle with breast cancer, he was very kind and supportive to her. I have seen him interact with men and women and always appear very respectful. Also, I believe he is married to a woman.
This is a classic Straw Man Fallacy and is a classic form of bullying in which one greatly exaggerates another person's position in order to make it easier to dislike, dismiss or refute them.
In the heat of a political moment this candidate said an inappropriate statement to a female colleague on the floor of the legislature. This candidates statement was a form of bullying and was childish and unacceptable, but it wasn't derogatory specifically to women. This action does not qualify him as being "anti-women". I would bet all the money I have that this candidate has never filled out a survey saying he is "anti-women" and has never claimed that he is "anti-women". If he would have made these statements to a man on the legislature floor, would you have accused him of being "anti-man"?
This is also an Ad Hominem Fallacy in which his opponents are trying to tear down his character (BULLY) in order to claim that he is unable to do his job properly. This is bullying.
More wasteful spending? There are a lot of problems in this world including children in poverty and an underfunded education system, and the maker of this 8.5" x 11" high-quality, colorful flyer is talking about wasting money? Ironic. I would classify making a plethora of color copies on high quality paper and sending them to everyone in order to bully another human being as "wasteful spending". This seems like an odd example to point a finger at someone for.
One last thing I noticed on the page is pictured above. Let's teach him a lesson? This sounds revengeful. It sounds like a way to rally people against another human being by discrediting him. Will we ever have a politician that wins because they are "more awesome", instead of trying to prove that the other candidate is "more horrible"?
In conclusion, by the time I had looked this flyer over, I was disgusted. Bullying continues to devastate children and ruin people's lives. In the midst of this, the role models that our children have to look up to include the "supposed" leaders of this country who are attempting to get into office by bullying others, and making it seem like an acceptable way to benefit yourself? These flyers are laying around many houses and children see them. They also see the countless advertisements on television that act as tasteless models of over-the-top bullying.
At this point I was DISGUSTED by the candidate that would create this flyer. I now wanted to know who it was and contact them to see if they would ever consider explaining why they are a good candidate instead of tearing down and bullying their opponent.
I looked for the candidates name. Then I looked some more. I couldn't find it! That is strange, I thought. Then I noticed the fine print on the top of the page which read this:
Paid for by the American Federation of Children Action Fund.
Time out! The American Federation for Children is responsible for the worst case of bullying that I have seen in politics this year? This makes absolutely no sense. Is this a federation that stands for children? Or, is this a federation that stands for a different agenda and hides behind the guise of helping children?
I didn't know much about this group so I decided to look them up. Their mission statement, on their website (http://www.federationforchildren.org/about-us/mission/) reads:
The American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice seek to improve our nation's K-12 education by advancing a systematic and sustainable public policy that empowers parents, particularly those in low-income families, to choose the education they determine is best for their children.
I figured they had to have some political agenda. On this same URL they had a section titled "WHAT WE DO", but I did not see "bullying" anywhere in that paragraph.
Perhaps this organization should consider:
- Changing their name to the American Federation of the School Choice Agenda
- Stop bullying other people using fallacies,. making it seem acceptable.
If you truly want what is best for children, you should consider growing up, stopping the bullying of others, and trying to set a positive example for children.
I fully understand that writing an opinionated piece like this could have a negative impact on my career and reputation. I realize that this organization could turn the tables and bully me, which is something they seem very good at. In fact, I wrote this post several days ago and have considered not posting it for this reason. It is time, however, for us to STAND UP to bullying and advocate for our children. If we wait for the politicians and the supposed "child-friendly" organizations to stand up for them, it may be too late.
Learning Facilitator, Speaker, Writer, Consultant, Innovator, advocate for students
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Education Reform Cannot Wait!!!
Did I miss a memo? At what point did the K-12 public schools become the "Minor Leagues" for colleges, universities, and the workforce?
Please wake up!
we need education reform
- The divorce rate is out of control
- The number of suicides in the past decade is unacceptable
- The number of people with depression & anxiety disorders is alarming
- Communication skills are deteriorating
- Creativity is an endangered species
- Students are disengaged at school
- A large percentage of students cannot identify what they are passionate about.
Is there a breaking point when we decide that it is more important to teach students to be parents, spouses, self-advocates, voters, citizens, friends, consumers, etc... instead of playing this giant game of minor league insanity. Even if we are to remain a farm league for universities and jobs, please consider the following:
Approximately 50% of the students who begin 4-year colleges do not graduate. Maybe we should worry less about getting students into college and start preparing them for the skills necessary to succeed at college if they even decide to go there.
Approximately 55% of the jobs that exist in 10 years are ones that do not exist now. How can we prepare students for future jobs when we do not even know what jobs exist?
In my opinion, this giant push to have everyone "college & career ready" seems selfish and ignorant. Are the K-12 schools getting commission from the universities? If so, please consider reinvesting it into education reform before public education becomes irrelevant. We are putting the cart before the horse and it is not working......AT ALL.
CALL TO ACTION: DO SOMETHING
These are children that we have in our classrooms. They deserve better than what we are delivering them. They deserve to come to school passionate, engaged, and confident that we are preparing them for their futures as PEOPLE.
What are you doing to help education reform? To believe in reform, but not take action, is cowardly. To stand and watch this happen, without taking action towards education reform, makes you an accomplice to one of the most unfortunate developments of the 21st century.
Students need you right now.
Students need you right now.
Do you disagree? Let's talk. I have an open mind and I would like to hear the other side to this story.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Education Reform: Moral Imperative
I have had the opportunity to work in public schools for the past 13 years and I have absolutely loved it. I will teach again, and I will always put 100% of my energy towards representing the students and their best interests. Over the past couple of years our project-based learning or problem-based learning program partnered with over 100 businesses & organizations in the community. I asked all of them (and others) what they thought students need to learn, while in school, in order to be successful in today's changing world. The answers were always the same. They would say:
1. Technology - how to use it...and not just for selfies, tweeting, and texting.
2. Know how to LEARN - in this day and age, the amount of facts you have memorized isn't as important, instead it is more important that you can learn new things effectively and efficiently. Learn how to learn!
3. 21st century or soft skills - communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, ability to ask good questions, etc...
|I feel like I'm taking crazy pills" - Will Ferrell|
I am confused. None of these critical skills are emphasized in schools or required by local, state, or national standards. Why? It is for this reason that I have decided to take a year of leave from teaching to help initiate and inspire change in education. Other skills that I would add to the list of things we should teach include the teaching of INTEGRITY, CHARACTER, HONESTY, PASSION, and COMPASSION. With the high divorce rates, suicide rates, anxiety rates, I think it is time for education to start acting like we are teaching young PEOPLE and not just acting as a minor leagues for the college/career world, and trying to program a bunch of robots.
This is why I started implementing ComPassion Based Learning and I am very passionate about this concept. I am focusing my efforts on education reform. I am hesitant to use this phrase, as education reform has become a joke over the past couple decades. Usually this is associated with political agendas meant to make the politicians look good at the expense of schools, teachers, and students. Maybe it is more appropriate to call it education transform .... because it is a complete transformation that is needed.
I love hearing insight from the community. The opinion of everyone in the community is so important for education to stay relevant. I am sick of pet theories from PhD's dictating the agenda for education. Why don't we start asking the people involved? Talk to the community, the parents, the students. Our education system has come across as extremely selfish and ignorant. Despite exponential changes in the real-world, the education system has been completely stagnant. The schools are often viewed as brick buildings with locked doors. Nobody is welcome in to offer their expertise and suggestions because "education knows what they are doing". I am done believing that. It is going to take feedback and insight from everyone to determine what our students need to be successful in a future that we cannot imagine. We should start by treating them like people and not pawns in a fictional power struggle.
What are your thoughts? What do you feel that we need to prepare students for the future? Am I crazy? Do I keep fighting for change? If you disagree, I would love to hear your opinions. I have an open mind and actively continue to seek what is right for the students. Now, I will just have a little extra time to figure it out.
CALL TO ACTION: DO SOMETHING.
How can I help you? Honestly? How can I help improve the education that students are receiving? Are there people I should talk to? Are there lessons you need created? Are there tutorials, professional development, or resources you need? As stated in the beginning, I am taking a year or two off of teaching. I am not; however, taking a year or two off of education. I will be moving forward with 100% effort. I will be passionately doing everything I can to empower students, improve education, and help assist those who are also trying to improve education. Please let me know how I can help you!
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