Day: December 14, 2011

Declaring Independence

Gleek’s 5th grade teacher carefully established a classroom economy at the beginning of the school year. About three weeks ago, she started to give the kids taxes. At the same time she started having them memorize the first part of the Declaration of Independence. Then she raised the taxes. She separated the students into patriots and loyalists, then she pulled spelling words from the Declaration of Independence. This week she started levying fines and applying unfair rules. Today the kids were required to recite the Declaration of Independence.

This afternoon the teacher sent around an email saying in essence “Help! Your children are wonderful and obedient. I need them to revolt and declare independence before Christmas break. Please talk to them about unfair dominion and public responsibility.”

Gleek had a hard day in class today. She wants very much to remain a loyalist, but can not help seeing that the rules have become impossible to keep. (For example: You must maintain the quality of work, but I will no longer give you supplies and you are not allowed to bring any supplies from home.) My brave girl sneaked a notebook out onto the playground and wrote a note to the principal. Tomorrow Gleek will arrive at school with a backpack full of school supplies to share. This is in direct opposition to the new “bring no supplies from home” rule. Gleek will share these supplies openly and take whatever consequences come. My little girl is learning about conscientious objection. By the end of the day tomorrow I suspect the newly independent classroom will be ready to start their own constitutional convention.

I admire the courage of this teacher to follow through on such an ambitious educational plan. It is working and these kids will never forget.

Dec 18, 2011 Update: The kids had their revolution the very next day and the unfair taxes were repealed. Gleek loves her teacher again and learning will continue after the Christmas break.

I should also note that while I truly admire this teacher and this method of teaching, it must be handled with great skill and advance forethought. It puts a big strain on both the teacher and the students because the emotions involved are real. It can go very badly. In this case it did not.

How things are going and cool stuff you should look at.

I have a blog post about anxiety that I’ve been trying to write for two days. It is still a multiple-draft mess. The only solution is to put it down and move on. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back to it in a few days and pull the things I want to say into some better shape. This past week I’ve been carrying anxiety levels which I’d hoped not to experience again. The good news is that this is directly linked to me tinkering with my thyroid dosage. I’ve learned my lesson and now merely need to hang in there while the re-lowered dosages take effect again. Should be better by this weekend and normalized by next week. Also good news is that I spent enough time over the past several months in a non-anxious state that I’m able to recognize my anxiety this past week as Not Normal. This is a huge improvement over thinking that a racing heartbeat and shaky hands were just part of my life. Even more good news: exercise makes things better. Exercise is something which is in my control. So expect to find me dancing to exercise videos later this afternoon. BUT first I have to ship a lot of things, go shopping for supplies to make school treats, and shop for a few last Christmas gifts. (Am I ready for Christmas? The answer to that is still complicated and still wants a blog entry of it’s very own. I’ll add that to the bottom of the to-do list.)

In the meantime, here are three cool things which I’ve been meaning to tell you about:

Last February I was out to lunch with my friends Jessica Day George and Julie Wright.
Jessica was really excited because she had just received a cover image for her latest book, Tuesdays at the Castle. She pulled the image up on on her phone and we admired it on the tiny screen. “I just want to hug it!” Jess said. Both Julie and I agreed that the cover was huggable. That book came out last month. My pre-ordered copy arrived and I read the whole thing. My oldest daughter read it too. We both agree that the whole book is just as huggable as the cover. I love Princess Celie and hope that you will all go out and buy copies of this book so that she can have more adventures.

Last summer I got to read this story which my sister Nancy wrote. It moved me to tears and resonated very strongly with lots of emotional themes which have come up in my parenting. I suppose it makes sense that Nancy’s story speaks so strongly to me, we grew up in the same house, our kids face similar challenges, and we have similar approaches to tackling those challenges. But if you enjoy reading this blog, you will almost certainly enjoy reading Nancy’s story. It is fairly short, but well worth $3. Additionally, if you buy Movement in the month of December, Nancy will donate her profit to a charity supporting Autism research. If you happen to be a Hugo or Nebula voter, you may want to nominate this story. I’m certainly going to.

Most of my blog readers know that my husband Howard is an amazing and funny guy. So is Howard’s brother Randy. Of late I’ve had the opportunity to be in a writer’s group with Randy and so I got to read a draft of this book before it went live. It was already funny before Randy made it better. Mugging Leprechauns is a tweet-book. It contains bite-sized bits of funny which remind me of those Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy books. Even better, Randy’s book is less than $1. It’s almost like getting funny for free. Of course if you want an advance look at the jokes which will feature in Randy’s next book, you could just follow him on Twitter (@randytayler). That’s what I do and it regularly makes my day have laughter in it.