Tag Archives: Daily Prompt

No Homework. An Argument in the Social Media Circus.

The first time my son heard the word “Homework” he screamed, ran to his bedroom, slammed the door and locked it.

He was three years old and his older sister decided it was time he got some homework too so she told him she was going to give him homework. That’s when the screaming began.

What does it really mean when schools, teachers, and advocates cry, no homework?

no-homework-jpg

We’ve all either been there or seen it. Seemingly endless hours of homework awaiting you. The desire to turn away from it burns so fiercely that you actually shove it to the side and watch TV instead. Maybe you just go outside and play games or just lie there on the ground thinking of creative ways to get out of ever having to do it at all.

As a parent and a teacher, I always feel conflicted about any subject involving homework.

On the one hand, I’ve been up until midnight, helping my child finish homework because the teacher never even taught the lesson assigned for homework. I know this because the teacher admitted it as if it was perfectly acceptable to do such a thing.

On the other, I’ve considered the whole idea of assigning nothing for homework and I do that but only sometimes. However, the bottom line remains that there isn’t enough time in the classroom to reinforce and cover everything. The other problem that now exists involves social media and electronics.

You see, savvy parents and teachers know something very important about homework. Without it, our children won’t read books, and they certainly won’t relinquish the highly addictive realm of electronics. In fact, most children become so lost in this world that it’s almost a losing battle to try and take it away from them.

Homework fixes that fast.

Parents and teachers who are truly honest with themselves know this.

So when I look at all the books and arguments that pundits such as Andy Khon make against homework, I really do sympathize with the argument for no homework, but I can’t agree.

The real problem is teachers who don’t support children or give them a chance to make up work. The real problem is an educational system that doesn’t understand a child’s life may be very difficult so too much homework won’t help them.

Andy Khon makes some good points about just how disconcerting the system is.

However, without homework, children lose too much.

So, what then is homework for?

  1. They need to read and not just in school. Without reading assignments, many parents just won’t encourage children to read. They’re too busy and tired, so it’s very easy to just allow them to play video games or play on their iPad—where they watch endless hours of YouTube, which can be valuable and can also be a bottomless pit of nonsense, some of it shocking depending on the perspective.
  2. They need reinforcement. There are a few ways teachers know how well their students understood the material taught in class. One very valuable tool is homework. Through that, I can help them better understand vocabulary or concepts that I thought they understood but didn’t.
  3. They need training. They are growing so fast that soon they will need to set aside time to study for quizzes and tests. How do they learn to do this? By getting bad grades? Or, by doing some homework? It’s the same thing.
  4. They need opportunities. If handled the right way, students use homework to raise their grades and learn creatively through projects and guided assignments that help them flourish.

Social media has a way of making us believe ideas are great momentarily. We like it. We share it. We reblog it. We repeat it. We follow it.

When, in reality, all these naysayers had to do homework to be able to write and speak the way they do. Many of them don’t have to grapple with the day-to-day problems parents, who work until late at night and can’t spend time with their children, have to deal with.

Argument

If teachers and parents work together, homework actually benefits children and helps them grow and become better in every subject, which in turn helps them find their purpose in life, whatever that may be.

What’s your argument?

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The Green-Eyed Monster: A Letter to People with Straight Hair

I just got my hair cut and I loved it…when it was wet. When it dried, when the humidity settled in, I wore a beautifully highlighted but not so cool Afro. As much as I love Afros on other women, which we’ll talk about in another post, on another day, I don’t like an afro on me. I don’t look cool or sensational in mine like the boys from Unlocking the Truth or stunning like Beyonce.

Taking the world by storm and Unlocking the Truth.
Taking the world by storm and Unlocking the Truth.

So, I’m jealous, too jealous, of all of you straight-haired wonder beings out there. You foreign creatures who need not straight iron but only do it if you feel a stray hair is out of place.

Too abate my jealousy, I became the unofficial stylist in my various groups as I was growing up. I was the girl with the frizzy hair who braided all the other girls’ hair.

I needed to feel the soft silk in my fingers and imagine it was mine. All mine!

My eyes are green, literally, and I truly felt like a Green-Eyed Monster. I wanted their hair. When my grandmother told me that it was the crust from the bread that made my hair curly, I ritualistically broke it off my sandwiches and waited for my hair to uncurl. But, alas, it never happened.

Yes, it was that bad. And, as much as I’d like to say I’ve gotten over it. I really haven’t.

So, I’m going to spend a ridiculous amount of money and get the keratin treatment everyone’s raving about. I will hopefully say goodbye to my curly hair and have a glorious go at straight hair heaven.

Inspired by the Daily Post Challenge.

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The Best Summer Ever

The great part about being a parent is always the intensity with which kids force me to have fun. They bend my perception of myself backwards to a time when I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to stand like that or say those things.

So, here’s what happens when you spend summer with kids.

1. You learn the meaning of freedom. You swim!

Kids see water and jump in. No wondering if their thighs are too fat or if the water’s too cold. They go for it. So, for those of you bent on hibernating, remember, this is summer so swim.

This is me documenting it via Vine…all because of the Weekly Writing Challenge. Thanks for the spark.

2. You make movies.

They don’t just watch movies, they make them. My sister taught them how to think like filmmakers and this is one of their awesome creations with her help.

3. You eat ice cream and you’re messy about it.

The messier the better.
The messier the better.

Everyone was being so neat and nice, so polite. But, my son indulged in his cotton candy ice cream cone and made a mess. I did have to stop him before he got out of control.

4. You build a Lego Ship.

In lieu of homework, mine negotiated a challenge, “We’ll build this Lego ship.” So, they conveniently stretched the construction period out to four days long, but the results speak volumes.

5.  You day dream.

Tilt your head back. Close your eyes or stare off at something in the room or at the ceiling then let your mind wonder to those places we rarely speak of because we’re too busy going from here to there or trying to meet a deadline.

6. You draw or doodle.

Sketching your favorite cartoon or TV character when you should be focusing on work keeps you relaxed and sometimes refocuses you if you’re struggling to finish writing. If you’re listening to someone who’s thoroughly boring, then doodle.

7. You dance.

Dance. Wiggle. Move. And do it often. Smiles follow.

8. You watch Nacho Libre, a lot.

Nacho Libre starring Jack Black became my son’s obsession. Thank God it was a funny one.  Interpreted, this one means find a movie you really like, that makes you so happy you want to see it over and over again and do just that.

9. You’re gross.

Pick your nose and fart if you feel like it. Just promise, don’t be ashamed. Kids never are—at least not during summertime.

10. You sleep, a lot.

Go to bed late. Sleep until noon. Need I say more?

For a double whammy, I’ll use this time to say that I’m so proud of them. Without even knowing it, they’ve managed to give me amazing moments to write about and give you a laugh or two–thank you to the Daily Post Challenge.

Dream Home in Venus Domes

Tucked away somewhere in Florida, there’s a place called Venus. In particular, it’s the Venus Project created by Jacque Fresco. Dreams live there.

And, the homes do too.

They’re domes and at first glance they look like igloos, but in Florida that would be a paradox to say the least. I found out about these futuristic homes when my sister last visited because she and her boyfriend were trekking over to see the Venus Project first hand.

When she first showed me a picture of the homes I shunned them and thought, I like my box. But the more I read and learned about the ideas that Jacque proposed,  the more I like the idea of domes.

English: Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows at ...
English: Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows at The Venus Project. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) proposed, then the more I returned to my own home, my box, the more I dreamt of a dome.

The global vision that he created with the Venus Project condones living in harmony with earth by embracing technology. It quite literally creates your own little world for you. The homes mean less environmental damage and also more safety. It’s hard for a tornado to pick up a dome and domes clean themselves. Leaves float off. Life flows.

When I look at my children, I think, where will I live when I grow old? I don’t want to burden them. I don’t want to burden anyone, not even the Earth. I also think, I want to have a sanctuary, a place to live, a place of my own.

The way our Earth holds us, the dome cradles us. I dream of domes with anticipation in a future where, well, we aren’t cruel or greedy, where the news isn’t all about hate, death, damage.

I dream domes.

Wild Women and Mad Men: Bite the Change

mouth
mouth (Photo credit: Darwin Bell)

Since Saturday, I’ve been upset and I didn’t want to write about it because I knew it would’ve been unfocused. I also don’t want this to be a place for readers to have to endure endless rants. So, I’ve been reading fellow writers’ posts while attempting to sedate the anger I still feel. But, as I was browsing the blogs I follow in my Reader, I came upon the Daily Prompt: Be the Change. It asks the question:  What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

After quelling my initial outrage over a long-awaited yet horribly disappointing Saturday, here’s my answer to this question.

This blog should change every reader’s perspective. What you once thought to be true or real should change because you read about a strange but inspiring moment. You should laugh like a mad man or a wild woman and do something spontaneous. You should find solace in it all because you feel comfortable being different and take pride in yourself even if others won’t ever see it.

In short, this blog should inspire resilience. Without it, you’re doomed.

I write this now, two days later, more clearly and focused, well, because of the prompt and because of the distance from Saturday.

On Saturday, November 10, I got up at 6 a.m. to drive across town to an Idea Expo for teachers. In a fog of fatigue after teaching all week, I told myself this was too important to miss. I did find inspiration in the Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools Alberto Carvahlo’s well-delivered speech. It garnered a standing ovation from the audience of teachers.

But, that was it.

Fifteen minutes later, I sat in a boxed room with a teacher sharing a lesson on Dracula, one of my favorite classics, which she purportedly teaches to middle-school students. I thought, okay, I’m gonna like her because that’s daring.

But, I didn’t like her.

I wanted to bite her.

Instead, I bit my lip and left for the day. She would be the next speaker for the next presentation, and I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut for that long.

Here’s why. She showed us a sample of the lesson she prepared for her students. She showed us a prompt about horror, which we had to answer. Fair enough, I thought. It was when she asked us what controversy meant that I flinched for the first time. She told us she was modeling the lesson for us. Okay, fine, I’d heard that before. I didn’t like it but okay. Then, she asked for responses, which we gave. After that, she said, if her own students couldn’t answer the prompt, she would let them copy off the student next to them.

I flinched again. I few curse words flew through my mind.

Then, she showed us her list of vocabulary words and said that she didn’t believe in letting students struggle with words because sometimes they mispronounce them. Fine, fair enough. Again, I just needed to give this a chance, give her a chance. She’s a teacher. She deserves my respect.

As she reviewed the list of words, she said, “Aqueese.” Just like that. Aqueese.

I jerked my arm and stabbed my paper with my pen. I shut my packet.

The word was acquiesce.

I make a lot of mistakes. I encourage my students to correct me if I misspell something on the board. I’m a writer, so I know how misspellings happen. But, if I’m teaching pronunciation then I’d better get it right. If I’m teaching spelling and I suck at it, I’d better study those words or admit my weakness.

It was too much to bear. I grew up loving literature so much that I passed my days in the library. I skipped science class, not to go to the beach, but because I snuck into the library to read. I lived inside these books, and she had proceeded to mutilate what I loved.

English: Billie Holiday, Downbeat, New York.
English: Billie Holiday, Downbeat, New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I left.

I walked to Starbucks and listened to Billie Holiday belt out her piping-hot tunes. I pretended none of this just happened and settled into the sounds around me.

But, the anger lingered.

The fumes gathered and swirled.

I looked at my own children and myself as a child. So many teachers had disappointed me the way this woman did that day. So many teachers have handed my children misinformation on a silver platter and lauded themselves while doing it.

I could and can only think:  Resilience. Laugh out loud, relentless resilience.

The only regret I have is that I didn’t speak my mind. In an effort to be polite, to tame the fire in my belly, I bit my tongue.

And, in honor of Dracula, I should have bit her.