I wish I had a dollar for every time that I have debated and discussed what is a good school with parents, students and educators. I have always enjoyed the discussion even when there was some finger pointing. It was worth the time for three reasons. In all cases, the next day, teachers did a better job of teaching, parents did a better job of parenting and students did a better job of being a student. When people have to examine their own behavior they tend to live up to their highest expectations of themselves.
Does spirituality play a role in how well students do in school? Have I just opened up a can of worms by asking that question? Probably, but it's a good question. Parents should know the answer. I am treading on dangerous ground when I talk about spirituality and Native culture. I hope my Native friends will give me the benefit of the doubt and realize I am trying to make a point that spirituality transcends culture.
Remember when your parents reminded you again and again and again to say "please" and "thank you"? This was your parent's effort to hardwire your brain to be polite. Did it work? It sure did because now, as an adult, you say "please" and "thank you" whenever the occasion arises and, more importantly, you teach your kids to do the same thing. The whole country has a hardwired brain to call 911 when there is an emergency. The very first American 911 call was placed on Feb. 16, 1968, in Haleyville, Ala. Today it seems like kids are born with a 911 DNA chip in their brain.
It's that time of the year. It's always a good idea for teachers to go to school with a few good jokes up their sleeves. Some of these are really corny but that's fine. Kids appreciate teachers doing something to put a little humor in the classroom. One way of using jokes or humor is to see if kids can put two and two together. In other words, it's a higher level thinking activity to ask kids to explain why a joke is funny. Can a student explain the joke to others? Can they see the connection between the question and the punch line?
Most white people don't like to talk about racism for several reasons. First, it makes us feel uncomfortable. Second, we like to feel that we have had plenty of discussions on this topic and we want to put it to rest. Third, we may not feel we have enough information to debate its existence or nonexistence. Fourth, it makes us feel uncomfortable.
Many years ago I once remarked to Red Lake teachers that teaching at Red Lake was kind of like being on vacation. I think I got some weird looks. I went on to explain that if they were teaching in Germany or France or Spain, wouldn't that be like being on vacation? Think about it. You would be living in a different country. You would be experiencing another language. You would be learning about a different culture. It's the same when you teach at Red Lake—different language, different culture, different customs.
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying." Robert Herrick's poem, "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time," is a reminder to us that tomorrow is right around the corner, which brings us closer to snow shovels and subzero temperatures. While we still have time and summer has not yet passed us by, let's pledge to make the most of what remains. Here are some things you might consider doing while we still have time. How many can you accomplish before fall is upon us on Sept. 21? Can you do three or five or seven?
I never met a county fair that I didn't like. Want a summer highlight that just may be unforgettable? Go to your county fair. Big or small, they all have qualities that make each one the best. What's better than a county fair? The answer, not much.
What monuments in the United States do you think we hold most sacred? The Washington Monument? The Lincoln Memorial? Mount Rushmore? I would vote for the Statue of Liberty. Every once in a while we need to remind ourselves of the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. It reads, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." As much as we strive to do this, we know we have not always been totally inclusive in helping the tired, the poor, the huddled and those yearning to be free.
I purchased a tin sign at a garage sale showing some squirrels eating acorns. On the sign it says, "Welcome to the nut house." I thought it would be appropriate to post alongside my office door. I think my dogs and I could be accused of going a little nutty at times. so I said to Rascal, "Why not join the crowd, Rascal?" Who's Rascal?