Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Admit Inferiority

This clip about Finland's education system makes me wonder, again, why our education system in the United States is so lacking. Obviously there is a system that can be duplicated, a system that is doing things right, so why am I not hearing more about school districts in the U.S. following Finland's example?

Ah, yes, the citizens of Finland support the wonderful education system in their country, they are participants, they expect teachers to be professionals and they treat them as such. How are teachers commonly viewed in our own country?

If your child attends a public school in the United States, can you even imagine 3 teachers in their classroom as shown in Finland? A teacher designated to help struggling students? Amazing.

I pulled up this article to research Finland's school system a bit more: http://www.finland.fi/Public/default.aspx?contentid=162937&nodeid=41807&culture=en-US and what struck me is the time of day students get out, between 12 pm and 2 pm. They are not spending crazy, long hours at school in a formal learning environment. If you read the article, you will see the attendants are available at the playground after school, since most parents do work full-time. Children are still being children, playing, engaging, enthusiastic about the process of learning.

Is this Utopia? Obviously not, because it is happening, it is real, it can be done. Come on United States, admit you have a system that is severely lacking, throw up your hands, look to Finland and make our education system better for our children right now!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My brain is dead - I have no words to accurately convey my love for the movie Chocolat. I saw it when it first came out in the theaters and I remember leaving feeling completely inspired - and desiring really good chocolates.

Sophie watched it for the first time yesterday and we talked about the role an outsider can play in a community in which certain roles and rules are very clearly established. We didn't intend to be as nomadic as we've been, in fact, Steve didn't want his child to move around as much as he did as a kid, but that's how it goes and fortunately, Sophie has adopted a great attitude about it, saying, "I have friends in Utah and I have friends here!" (Friends in Texas and Ann Arbor, too!)

So here we are, outsiders in a community in which I was told one has to live 25 years before they can say they are "from" it. I've been an outsider before and I realize that, like the main character in Chocolat, I kind of like being the outsider, it gives one a lot of leeway. At this stage in my life though, I am tired of moving and setting up a new home, so I think we'll just have to be outsiders here for 24 years, then maybe we'll move on....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

All That is Lost

I am totally sucked in by the series Lost, thanks to my brother-in-law, who let me watch the series finale...yep, that's how I rumble. I also glance ahead to the end when I read books and I do it because it feels good.

So, I'm watching the second season of Lost and it's all about this hatch thing that they have found on the island. If you don't know the premise of Lost, here it is: plane crashes on island, some 40+ people survive the crash and live on the island and bunches of odd things happen. Ok, so they find this hatch and in the hatch is this man who has been living there for 3 years, pushing "the button" every 108 minutes to prevent an explosion to the island, because he was told, quite convincingly, that is what would happen. After he is discovered, the computer crashes and doom prevails. But really, seriously, pushing a button ensures their survival? They aren't taking any risks, they quickly get the guy who fixes computers, already the masses believe. Only one man, the leader of the crash survivors, points out the nonsense of this practice and yet, even he can't resist pushing the button as the clock ticks down, mere seconds away from...well, from who knows what, because it doesn't happen (maybe it does in a later season, feel free to tell me if you know...).

Of course this made me think of religion - what doesn't - and the practices we do, just in case. Whenever I get on an airplane, even days before, I pray, pray and pray...and I look for signs. There was the one time the kid with the Book of Mormon stood up from his seat, looking very focused and I was certain he was leaving the plane after a premonition, so I got up, too. Uh no, he was just moving to another seat. On another flight I found comfort when the Jesuit student, who reminded me he was not a priest, was on my flight and seemed to be at ease. Better had he been a full-fledged priest, but I'll take what I can get.

At other times I've lit candles, chanted mantras, fingered the mala, and yes, even genuflected (much to my Catholic-raised husband's chagrin), because it can't hurt, right? Just like pressing that button every 108 minutes can't hurt. I mean, lack of sleep, paranoia, senseless fears...those are all better things than what could happen if you don't follow through! If you don't follow through you could burn...FOREVER!!! What's giving up a few minutes in this life to ensure, well, first to ensure more of this life, but also to ensure safety in the next life? Sign me up.

Here's the thing: if you didn't know about the button, didn't know about the praying and the fasting and the bowing to the east and what could happen if you didn't do those things, where would you be? What about those people who perform the rituals but still suffer...were they not performing them correctly or with as much oomph? Certainly performing the rituals does not insure we are safe from the boogie man, whatever that may be to you, because plane crashes do happen, with no survivors and the odds are that many people were praying.

Some people say they find peace in performing the rituals and I say there's nothing wrong with that, except when we attach so much to the performance that we stop using commonsense or when we look down upon others for not performing the rituals and miss the bigger picture - that they can still be really awesome human beings who've cracked the code and don't need the rituals. Some people have waited out the 108 minutes and found that life goes along about the same, that what makes sense is what is real.

So, what is up with these rituals? Do we perform the rituals because we really believe performing them gives us an in, or do we do it to give our lives purpose? I get the latter reason, but truth be told, I do it for the former reason. Yep, I would be pushing the button.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Random Fun

I have tried to write 2 previous posts, dealing with very heavy topics and then I decided my heart needs something light and fun, like what Steve, Sophie and I did yesterday:

We delivered popsicles to some wonderful young people working on a house in Parma, Michigan! A friend of mine from Facebook - a wonderful woman I've never met in person - told me her brother was in Jackson with a group, helping to restore buildings in the area. Jackson? My Jackson??! How very cool! I told the family about it and we decided we had to take them a treat to thank them for their hard work and so I could meet the brother of this person, since I have yet to meet her.

Meeting these kids refreshed my soul, because there they were, working on the house of a complete stranger, having spent money to travel to this location, just because. The group was super nice and it did my heart a ton of good to witness the generosity and goodness of other humans. Let's hope some of it rubs off :)

There is a lot of goodness in the world, in this world - a lot of great people, kind people, people who are making the world better for those they don't even know. Those young people yesterday were doing something obviously good for the owners of the houses receiving work, but they also did me a lot of good...so a huge thank you to them!