July 2014

18 articles in July 2014

Wwebster defines normal as: the regular or normal kind or as average intelligence and sound in body and mind. After that definition one is pushed toward Webster’s definition of average that is something usual in a group, class or series.

In other words, average is being ordinary or normal.  With this in mind why would anyone want to be normal? Normal shouldn’t have anything to do with statistics. In other words, if 90 % of where you live is blonde hair and blue eyes does that mean this physical description has to be normal. If this was true does this mean that anyone who has black hair and brown eyes should be considered abnormal?

I’m bald with gray eyes, which would make me even more abnormal. There are many examples of what we, as a society, think as being normal. Most of the people living in the United States are Christian. Does this mean that anyone who is not Christian is abnormal? Do Moslems or Atheists believe they are abnormal because they are not part of a majority? I am saddened to say many people in our nation believe this.

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Oout on the Nevada ranges he would run. He would steal mares from neighboring ranchers and fight for other stallion’s mares. If you saw him, you would think it was remarkable that he did not have more scars on his beautiful body from fighting. Even in the winter his coat would shine reflecting the brightness of the snow.

George made his way out West the hard way. He had many jobs along the way; he had been a lawman, a wrangler, even an outlaw. He married and settled down on a ranch in Nevada; it wasn’t much but it was his. George and Mable scratched a living on that ranch, until their fingers bled. There was growing and harvesting hay for the animals and growing and canning food for the winter.

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Ii am only a teacher. I’ve only been a teacher for the past three decades. I, as you should be, are concerned with the implementation of “Common Core Standards”.

 

What gives me credibility is I was also concerned about the 2001 implementation of “No Child Left Behind”. We all know how that came out. I fear the new program will make a lot of money for the businesses of education and once again leave our students weakened and confused.

It is estimated that the program, “No Child Left Behind”, cost our nation $25 billion annually. Since I work in a school that was built before the 1930’s, and is in dire need of replacement at a cost citizens of my district simply can’t afford because they will be allotted no help by the state; spending $25 billion dollars a year on nothing makes me a bit ill.

Since most parents know little about this newest fix to public education let me attempt to answer the question, “What are the common core standards?” Simply put they are educational standards set as learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. It should sound good so far. These educational standards should help teachers ensure their student have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. These standards should also help parents understand what is expected of their children.

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Pprimary 3 had been on a nature walk, to study flowers in the small park close by the school building. They were now back in class and now around a table busy painting colourful pictures to go up on the wall of the classroom.

Sarah was pleased with her yellow primrose and it was the first finished picture to be pinned up and admired. Roses painted by Jayne followed and added a deep red and soft pink tone to the wall. Derek stood up with his dull-green and jagged nettle. He had even put in nettle flowers: white ugly blobs at the top.
“I’ve finished mine too,” he grinned
“That ugly stinging nettle isn’t going up on our wall,” said Jayne and everyone at the table thought the same.

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Tthe car rocked back and forth with steamed-up windows until finally Shaun managed to zip-up his trousers. Every morning he unfolded his body from the squashed position he’d slept in; he used his jumper as a pillow and his coat as a duvet.

“Ridiculous! A 40yr old man reduced to sleeping rough in his own car,” he would say to himself.
It was 6am, and like every day for the last 2 months, he started up his old Citroen Dolly and drove to Princes’ Quay shopping centre to use the public toilets, which of recent time had become his bathroom. Most days, after he washed, he’d walk around town searching for work. However, today he was going to see his children; it seemed so long since he’d had a family life, a job, and a home.

When Lisa and Shaun divorced, Shaun’s money problems had started. Maintenance payments left him skint. He didn’t have the qualifications or the skills for a better job, and found work where he could, sometimes distributing leaflets though peoples letter boxes or cleaning or gardening for the “well-to-do”, such as the Moore family at Bilton House. Things really started going downhill for Shaun after Christmas. He had spent far too much buying lots of presents for his two children. “I’ll soon pay it off,” he had thought, but he had been made redundant from his latest job, and odd jobs had dried up.

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Wwebster defines regret as: sorrow aroused by events beyond one’s control or an expression of sorrow. The problem I have with the term is it has to do with one’s past.

This means there is not a damn thing one can do about it because it is done and over. Other than learning from it, why would anyone expend any energy obsessing over what could have been. I checked multiple web sites concerning this problem of regret. To my surprise there were many. Then thinking back over what I could have regretted I came up with the following: Staying in a bad relationship.

The basic problem with this regret is everything changes and nothing stays the same. In other words, what may be a bad relationship now can evolve into something quite remarkable if it is not eliminated. In today’s society as soon as one feels difficulty it quickly eliminates it.

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Oone of my favorite times of the year is finally here – the end of another school year. It is the one time of the year when I actually feel young again because, even though I am now in my sixties, summer vacation always brings back memories of a time when I wasn’t the teacher but rather the student.

I can remember my first experience with summer. I was seated at a long wooden picnic table, on a connected bench that had more splinters to it than seat, and all my family was around me. I know I was little because I didn’t care what I was wearing or how the hell I got there. The older I get the more this attitude has a tendency to reappear. I remember all that was going on around me.

I watched my two sisters in their bright yellow dresses and white straw hats covered with plastic flowers as they whispered to each other about things I would never know. I also remember my father in his shorts and funny cook’s hat, standing at a smoking black grill. In one hand he held a spatula and in the other a can of beer. Since I do the same thing today I assume it must be genetic.

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Iialways make the same mistake! Coming from an Italian family I should know better, but once again I decided to wear a white shirt on the day we invited our friends over for an Italian banquet. For once my wife didn’t notice either but then she was in the process of creating the entire feast.

Our friends arrived early in the afternoon and the first thing I did was open a nice bottle of Banfi Chianti. Under normal circumstances this would have been an easy task. For non-Italians I have to explain that a bottle of Chianti is always wrapped in a wicker basket. The basket is held to the bottle by two small bands of wicker. When one opens the bottle one should never hold the bottle by the wicker but by the stem of the bottle. After I cleaned up the mess I correctly opened up the second bottle of Chianti!

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Hhow did something that small hurt so much? I held onto the elbow of my right arm after I accidentally bumped it on the corner of a lab table. It felt like I had been hit by a sledge-hammer.

When tears came to my eyes a student asked me what had happened. I explained that I hit my arm on the table and he looked at me with an expression that had little compassion in it and whispered. “What a wimp.” As he walked away I reminded myself that I had not always been a wimp and there was once a time when pain didn’t hurt. The first time I remember feeling pain was when I was a young boy of about eight. I was standing in my favorite place that was the batter’s box of my little league baseball field.

The pitcher had just struck out the sides for the second time and it was now my turn to see if I could get my bat to touch the ball. The pitcher was huge. He was supposed to be only nine because that was the oldest any player could be in the league I was in. Looking up at him as he was about to throw the ball he looked at least fifteen.

He threw his first pitch and to my surprise and the shock of the pitcher I actually hit it hard. Of course it was foul but just the concept that I was able to hit his pitching made all involved in the game applaud, with the exception of the pitcher of course. His next pitch was outside and low and I let it go because I never even saw it. His third pitch was outside but closer to the plate. The umpire behind me yelled: “St-ri-ii-ke two.”

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Tthe sun has long been set behind the tall, forest trees and the stars are in quilted abundance above. It is dark inside too. My hand feels along the wall until I find the switch to the porch light.

I open the door as quietly as possible and the light streams in from outside. A swarm of night-time bugs has gathered, in the short time that the light has been on. I make my way off the porch and into the yard.

The cool grass feels good on my bare feet compared to the humid summer air as I make my way over to the wooden fence that separates our two yards. The house on the other side of the fence has been vacant a while. I am by now out of the small circle of light from the front porch as I feel my way along the fence. It is a short time until I am at the end. I have reached the hill at the end of our property and run down, feeling like a kid again. Countless times I have run down this same hill. When I reach the bottom, away from the houses, I pull out the flashlight from my pocket, and it stretches to the trees that mark the beginning of a small wood.

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