My Zunivers

04 September 2009

I'm Confused....

I'm very, very confused. Very confused.

Barack Obama wants to talk to schoolkids, making a speech that he hopes will be broadcast to classrooms all throughout the land.

Also, parents are throwing fits.

And for me, this doesn't add up.

Many parents I know defend sending their kids to school-- viciously. Their ferocity make me wonder if they really actually agree with me about primary and secondary education and just get testy because they feel dirty inside. If you tell them schools are dens of sin and rebellion they tell you kids need to learn how to live around that sort of thing. If you tell them that works in the real world where there is heavy moral coaching but fails in an abnormal environment that, rather than mimicking real life, breeds social norms and standards of its own-- guided only by large hordes of same-age child or adolescent peers-- they shrug and say that's just the way life is supposed to be. And they tell you that really, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what happens to their kids at school because they, as parents, know that they can just filter whatever their kids pick up from everyone else.

Look, people-- have you even considered that school might be hurting your children simply for the fact that school is rooms full of kids? No? But then you think you can just undo anything bad? And then you think you can't filter out a little Barack Obama speech? Is that the biggest problem you can see with your childrens' schools, that they might see a President on TV? You send your kids to school to make them more mature by having them learn to get along among people you disagree with, but you can't have them hearing a politician you not only haven't heard but you already know you disagree with just because he is who he is? Are you acting this way to try to prove that schools can teach your kids about maturity better than you can?

I've met five year old kids who make more sense. My mind boggles.

Go away and come back when you make some sense, please. For the love of everything good and purposeful, go away and come back when you make some sense. Please.

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03 September 2009

Surprises From Old Friends

This week I made a rather random discovery on Facebook. I found the now grown-up daughter of my favorite professor ever. Okay, I admit... it was sort of intentional. He had a weird last name.

Why did I look for her instead of for my favorite professor ever? For those of you who don't know me, my favorite professor ever died in 2002. He was only about 45 years old, and he left behind three wonderful children and a wife. At the time there was no way I could help them other than to pray. He had such a great family, and he lived for them and his friends and students (who he counted as friends). Even when he was ill in 1999 and 2000 he always used it as a way to make people feel better about his life and their own. He was always joking about the possibility of his own death-- how the time to find a replacement would be one more chance for the college administration to save a buck, how someone else would need to clean his office, and how it sucked to be us because we would have to live with it and he wouldn't. "It's only death," he said often. "Worse things could happen to me." My comfort with real-life morbid humor reached its peak when, after his surgery, he howled with glee as I told him that while he was jaundiced and gaunt I had, behind his back, referred to him Big Bird and talked about the chances of his being Snuffied out. (He was physically built like Big Bird and he knew it, so it was pretty funny.) That was one of the lessons I learned from him-- you can't take yourself seriously until you can laugh at yourself. The reason I want to teach at a small college is because if I'm a scientist I want to be one like him. I know I never will, but I can always try.

Anyway, Abby is just as perky as ever. She had a baby a couple months ago and seems to be in good spirits. I can't really imagine what it would be like to be a kid and lose a dad. But her life is going okay. She isn't homeless or addicted to crack or anything like that. Her mom is doing alright too, although her face has aged more than someone should in eight years. I still haven't asked her about her brothers, but I'm hoping they are doing well. I'm sure all of them have quite a story to tell.

Just knowing that Abby is alive and well encourages me greatly. It reminds me that life can end up okay even after it goes what seems to be terribly wrong. Even in death my old professor is encouraging me.

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