Sunday, May 10, 2009

Then & Now

hourglass Pictures, Images and Photos

Did you know kids now a-days sleep with their cell phones? I was shocked. It shows how totally out of touch with reality I am. Perhaps I should say I’m out of sync with an Ipod world.

I have students who feel as though their hand was created simply to cradle their cell phone during the day. Now it appears that the addiction is far worse than I first suspected.

Today I had a guest speaker come from Westwood college talking to my students about they should consider going to Westwood. He was very amusing and kept the kids focused and involved in his presentation. I was understood what he was talking about having been raised poor in a big family. I laughed when he talked about placing a nickel on my record player needle so my record wouldn’t skip. My students couldn’t imagine it. He also talked about things that kids could understand like current music, sports, and hanging out at the mall.

Sadly many people don’t like teaching the kind of kids I teach. For people who are about my age, imagine “Sweat Hogs”. Teachers generally like teaching the upper echelon of student. The kind who are accepted to Yale, Princeton, and Harvard and wax poetically about the classical literature they read on their own time. They pat themselves on the back and say, “Look how I have inspired my student’s to greatness.”

People who teach Vocational students like I do, realize that these over-achievers will bloom wherever they are planted. These kids won the lottery at conception given their IQ and parentage. The whole Nature vs. Nurture argument comes into play. Is the kid with the IQ a victim of his own environment when born to parents who are in and out of jail, drug addicted, and the child is born into poverty? Our administrators tell us to ignore the scientific fact that innate IQ cannot discernibly be changed in any permanent sense and they ask us to make scholars out of kids who have less than a stellar IQ. When we seem to be able to fashion a silk purse from a sow’s ear we are looked down upon as failures and some administrators and teachers question our ability to teach.

For me, I feel blessed to have these students in my class. In the bell curve of life, I will statistically come in contact far more with people with average IQ’s than Genius. It is far more important that I get them ready to hit the ground running when they graduate and make a real effort to help them fashion a reality based on the skills and abilities that they do posses. My students may not go to Harvard but they can go to a community college to learn to manage an office for a lawyer. They may not have straight A’s and do calculus in their head but they can learn not just function in the real world but succeed there. We put so much effort on college and forget how many people went on to success lacking that paper. What someone lacks in book smarts they might posses in people smarts and you can’t teach that in a lecture hall in an Ivy League school.

My kids deserve to be encouraged and told of opportunities for post secondary training and scholarships but not every teacher makes sure that they are exposed to this. It is for this reason that I make sure that my students hear, “I want you to be successful.” “I believe in you.” “Here’s a different path to your success.”
It is for this reason that I bring someone from a branch of the military to my school as well as a Vocational School or Technical College to speak to my students about options. Some have gone their whole life and no one has ever even explained to them that there were options. One year I had someone from Le Cordon Blue and another year from Coosa Valley Technical College. I offer to look over college application essays and scholarship applications.

At the end of the day the speaker said to me, “You can tell you have a really good relationship with these kids. They really love you.” He told me that when he talked to one of the Guidance Counselors that the she told him that I was very involved with my kids. I am and they are my kids. Maybe one will go on to Yale or Harvard one day. Maybe not, but I will still be proud of them if they are working towards their own rainbow that doesn’t harm others.

A funny incident happened this morning before my speaker came. A student came to me and said, “Ms. Cope, I brought you something. I know you love coupons.” I answered that I did. What she did next took me by surprise. She handed me an Entertainment book. I have wanted one of them. I used to buy these when I lived in Richmond. Michael and I used them all the time to go to different venues like the Science Museum or the Children’s Museum at buy one get one prices.

When Darryl and I moved own here I asked him if we could get one. He said he didn’t think we’d use it because most of the coupons were for Atlanta and we were living in Rome. That made sense. Still I remembered that there were coupons that I could use at places like McDonalds and Burger King. I figured in the long run we’d still save money but Darryl wasn’t convinced that we’d save enough money.

When we moved to Cartersville I didn’t ask but I would often look at the book when I would go to CVS. I’d remember the places I used to visit and thought if only I had one I’d see more of Atlanta. I feel like Atlanta might as well be Los Angeles. I’ve seen very little of Atlanta. I’ve seen The Underground, Olympic park, and the Coke Museum. I saw a little of the High Museum of Art because I won tickets. I saw the Governor’s Mansion one year at Christmas. So much I want to see but I don’t want to spend full price to do it. If we had buy one get one free coupons I’d be more likely to go.

Our move to Acworth made me want the Entertainment book more. I’d touch the book like an old friend I’d skim through the pages asking Darryl, “Do you think we should buy it?” Which is code word for “Can I buy this?” It’s easier to hear the words “No” to that question. That’s because I haven’t asked directly for it so I haven’t been turned down for something I really want. The predictable answer happens each time. “What do you need that for? “ or “How much is that anyway? Why do you want it?” Translated to Cathy speak the simple answer is “NO”. Why explain. I will either hear that we can afford the attraction without the coupon (pre job loss) or I will hear that the gas we would use would mean that we wouldn’t save anything. Which might as well be we can’t afford to go to that place so why are you asking. Oh the subtle language that men and women speak. Darryl thinks it’s only me that speaks this secret language but after all “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.”

These are the blog contests I entered today.

Prizes (10): Five Stouffer's free product coupons.
Here are the blog contests I entered today:

Prize: $25 Build A Bear workshop gift card.

Prize: $100 voucher for a pair of eyeglasses from [excludes designer frames and sunglasses].

Prize: $100 gift card [excludes designer frames or sunglasses].

Prizes (2): $25 Kroger gift card.

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