by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide
This section makes me angry.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I taught for 7(ish) years in a low socioeconomic status, urban district in the alternative education high school.
Surprisingly – or not surprisingly – I HATE most popular teacher memoirs that fit the following trope:
1. Well-off, white, young and strangely idealistic teacher decided to go save the poor minority students in a rough district.
2. Teacher does the bare minimum of preparation required by the state or Teach for America.
3. Teacher shows up and is surprised – shocked! – that the students don’t take to them immediately and generally call the teacher out for being a crappy teacher.
4. Teacher finds out that students are people, too.
5. Teacher is “saved” by the students the teacher set out to save.
6. Teacher writes crappy book to inspire others to start at step 1 since the teacher is now out of education after 2 years in the system.
Why do I hate these books so much?
It’s NOT OK to USE the most vulnerable people in a society. That’s what the teacher is really doing – using the students to make themselves feel better or accomplished or useful.
But Debi’s ok with that. Let’s hear her views on learning.
Practice Makes Perfect:
Homework Time: Go out and earn some money. Take that small sum and plan to have four families over to eat. Not families that make you feel comfortable, but families that need someone to be their friend. Do all the preparation before and cleanup after.
- Don’t earn a lot; it’s not like the poor/marginalized families deserve a good meal.
- Make sure you have to scrimp and save. After all, dried beans are cheap.
- Don’t embarrass yourself in front of friends. Pick people who can’t complain without losing face.
Stretch the Dollar:
Homework Time: Go out and earn some money. Find a family that is struggling financially. Tell the mother you are doing a Preparing to Be a A Help Meet Project and want to see how much you can buy for her kids on a limited and fixed budget. Get their clothing sizes and any preferences they may have. Tell her that it is her lucky day, because as a learning project it is important that you cover all expenses. Look around until you find a good secondhand store or look for garage sales. Start shopping. Learn to stretch the dollar. Learn to please every kid. Learn to make wise decisions quickly. Make sure you buy something for the mama.
- Find a poor family. Tell them to be grateful you are going to buy their kids some nice clothes.
- Ignore the awkward feeling you have at the idea of telling an adult woman that you – an unmarried teenager most likely – totally get what her life is like. If you keep ignoring that nagging feeling of guilt or embarrassment, eventually you can pass out advice like Debi!
- Don’t give the money to the family – that’s not the point. The point is for you to learn using them as toys.
- Buy the kids about one used item each. Hope you know what makes good used clothes….and what the kids actually need.
- Be sure to plug Debi’s book – sales are important.
Homework Time: Tell your parents you want to learn what it is like to have the entire responsibility of caring for a family for one week. Let them help you choose a family. Volunteer your services in accordance with when it will be most convenient for the chosen family. Most overworked moms will jump at the opportunity. Go ready to clean, cook, wash clothes, keep kids, homeschool, car-pool, and even keep Grandpa. Be a servant and let them grade your services. Don’t be offended when they say you were edgy or too slow! If you are offended at their grade, you will spend your first years of marriage offended. Part of the class is to learn not to be offended when judged and found wanting.
How is that getting the “entire responsibility for a family”? Shouldn’t the parents just leave for a week and see what happens?
I also have a hard time believing the target audience needs more practice at housework and child care.
I don’t want to leave a teenager in charge of home schooling, car-pooling or taking care of Grandpa. Each of those sound like a disaster in the making.
If your husband judges you and finds you wanting, tell them to do whatever you are “wanting” at themselves. That’ll stop him pretty quickly.
Homeschooling for your future children starts today! Many years ago I read a book on how to introduce an infant to great music and instill in them a natural musical talent. When my first baby was born I had already purchased old records and a record player from the Goodwill store. In her first hours she faintly heard strains from some of the best violinists in the world. Did it work? It did.
I didn’t know science was that easy!
Thesis title: “Does introducing newborns to violin music at birth lead to natural musical talent?”
Thesis: Yes. It does.
Thesis defense – think a oral interview from hell:
Q:”What the hell have you been doing for 3 years?”
A: “Listening to violin music with a baby.”
Q: “Wait. How many babies?”
A: “One. For 20 minutes on the day they were born.”
Q: “How did you test the natural musical talent?”
A: “Oh, it was obvious.”
Q: “How was it obvious?”
A: “The music listening babies clearly had more talent.”
By the time my second child was born I had read how to introduce a newborn to math. That works as well.
On a totally unrelated note, many studies by actual child development experts have show that infants have both basic math skills and an appreciation for music. Of all of Debi’s quirks, this one is at least fairly harmless.
The time to read up on subjects like that is now.
I often wonder what could have been for my children if I had learned all that information before I had married.
Well, if your techniques worked, it would have been exactly the same. I don’t know of any studies that have demonstrated in utero learning plans….
Good homeschooling does not come just from textbooks; it also comes from research and life.
I just remembered Debi home schooled her kids. (I block the thought out as much as possible because….no one should be educated by Debi.)
Start today going up and down the library aisles and plan to introduce yourself to a new subject each week. Or, if you are computer-oriented, spend your time studying vital subjects rather than idly “surfing”. I was a young mother when I decided to stop wasting my time with entertainment and start trying to learn. My first subject was mushrooms. It was fascinating. The mushroom subject of different kinds of fungi. This past year, as we harvested our corn, I noticed a few plump purple kernels. I quickly put the strange corn into a pile for burning. It reminded me of the barley fungus blight that hit Europe several centuries ago didn’t destroy the grain; it just caused a few grains to take on a strange looking fat-looking shape. It was the common folk who finally realized it was their diseased grain that was destroying the brains of the people, making them go totally crazy.
You are describing ergot poisoning. Ergot is a separate fungi than barley fungus blight. If you were collecting home-grown wheat, rye or barley, ergot is a real concern. Ergot can infect corn, but it’s pretty rare. You were probably seeing either cross pollination between sweet and Indian corn which can happen very easily if a neighbor is growing an Indian corn that pollinates at the same time as your sweet corn is receptive. Look at how strange some of the kernels can look:
On the other hand, maybe she had corn smut – which is a different fungus that either of the other two. It’s also edible and can be sold for up to a few dollars per ear.
Either way, it’s kind of sad. Debi thinks she knows a ton about fungus, but really doesn’t know much at all.
Over the years I have covered the strangest subjects, some of which have come in handy at the oddest times. Almost forty years ago I started studying herbs; now two of my children are herbalists. Later I studied space, air movements, and flight. One of my sons is a pilot. My study became their school.
My dad studied history and English. My mom studied theology. I’m a teacher/scientist, my twin sister is a special education teacher and my brother works in logistics…..
I don’t think career choices follow a Lamarckian evolution, Debs….
And yet, Debi scorns advanced education. I find that really sad because she clearly has some native intellect and curiosity. Imagine what she could have accomplished in her life – and for her kids – if she had taken some accredited college classes in any subject.
Why do I tell you all this weird stuff? I want you to know that walking through the door of knowledge will make you a stronger, healthier, smarter and more resourceful person. It will make you a more capable wife, a wiser mother and an interesting person. It could save your life or that of your child.
The AntiPearl for today captures why I think CP/QF families really homeschool – and poorly at that.
AntiPearl: Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.
George Washington Carver
Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide