Right brains

mind the gap

… can we take her preschool teachers with us? 

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For those of you paying attention, I have one child who I know without out a doubt is terrifyingly smart. That’d be The Girl. The one who enters the public school system in the fall. Today is the last day she will ever spend in the wonderful world of Montessori preschool, where both of her teachers have given her three amazing years of freedom to explore her interests and talents while making sure that she doesn’t forget to cover the rest of the learning spectrum. They have spent countless hours of their own time searching the internet for extra worksheets to bring in for her so that she would be able to continue to progress at her own rate and not be held back simply because the rest of the class wasn’t working at the same level as she. And the results? I have a 5-year-old who reads at a fourth-grade and above level, adds, subtracts, multiplies, and is beginning to work with base-1o math. She understands the concepts behind basic chemistry — I couldn’t figure out how to “dumb down” the process of salt dissolving in water, so I wrote down the chemical equation and then sort of worked backwards from there. She so got it. So completely got it.

So when I dropped her off at her class today and her teachers asked me “what are you going to do with her?”, I started to cry. Because I honestly am terrified about public school. If you’re a smart kid and there are AP classes, you might be okay. But if you’re a REALLY smart kid, even the AP classes aren’t going to be enough. Unless you have teachers who are going to go way above and beyond the mark to keep you interested, into the cracks you fall. Like me. You get bored. You drop out. Maybe you go to college early. But you certainly don’t get the education you could have/should have, not if you’re stuck in the No Child Left Behind era.

This is where I step up on my soapbox and get REALLY self-righteous, so some readers may do well to turn away. Or feel free to fire back with nasty comments.

But as a child who DID get left behind, here’s the thing: the NCLB programs have done nothing less than dumb down our entire school system. The median remains the same, and yes, the lower quartiles may have been raised, but the higher quartiles are either dropping or dropping out. The best and brightest are being completely ignored and left to fend for themselves instead of being nurtured and trained to be the next generation of scientists, doctors, leaders, and great minds that we so desperately need in this country. Why do you think our country has gone to such shit over the last few decades? When I dropped out of highschool at 17 and was accepted into a private college (with academic scholarships, but no diploma, nor a GED mind you, just an insanely high ACT score), I immediately became frustrated because the college level courses seemed to me the level of what high school should have been. And again with grad school — seemed like what college should have been. I keep asking myself “when does the challenge happen?” I’ve concluded that it doesn’t. But it should. And it shouldn’t be just for those who can manage a private school education, either. Not everyone is built for college. That’s just the plain truth of it. Just like not everyone is meant to be a parent or a lawyer or a doctor. We all have our particular path in life, and there is no shame in being a mechanic or a salesperson, or a chef or a stylist, or even a fast food worker. Not if you do that job to the best of your ability, with pride of workmanship each and every day. But don’t you dare dumb down the schools to accommodate those who shouldn’t be there just for the sake of “fairness”. I got so screwed by that thinking, and fuck you if you’re going to do that to my kids. I’m not built to be a homeschooling mom, but dammit if I won’t work three jobs to find some private school or afford the gas to drive to the nearest charter school so my kids can get a real education.

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There will be no falling into the educational abyss for my children. I’m minding the gap.

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scrapbooking for narcissists

Sorry for the delay in posting folks, but apparently I accidently forgot about blogging and had a life there for a day or two. Oh, wait, my mistake, I was merely napping. Ah, the life of leisure one indulges in while visiting grandma’s house. 11329I’ve had more sleep in the last four days than I’ve had in the last 4 months. Ironically, I am also just as tired as ever. How very irritating. Not, however, very surprising. 

There are myriad (see, just paprika) psychological factoids regarding the neurological behaviors of the human brain that can make for interesting cocktail conversation. For instance, if an individual were able to ingest a small dose of simple nicotine without all of the additives included in modern tobacco products during the most stressful time of their day, it would actually be highly beneficial due to the calming effects. But cigarettes are bad! you cry out. Go back to the part where I say “without all of the additives included…”. My favorite bits are the ones regarding the differences in how men and women think (or, in some cases, don’t). And let me tell you, there are a virtual plethora of these. And my very most beloved piece of neurological knowledge has to do with why women have always and will always be the ones who run the world. And we do. You all know we do. We’re not supposed to say it out loud because it scares the boys, they wet themselves, it makes them look bad, they feel all impotent, sometimes become impotent, this causes procreation problems, etceteras and etceteras, but we all know its true. And there is actual scientific information to back up the intuitive understanding that all of us in the Girl Club have always had. 

So here’s how it works. In a nutshell, men are linear thinkers, women are contingency thinkers. Men think in terms of getting from point A to point B in a straight line — like tunnel vision. Literally. There can be a gazillion little stops along the way, but it’s still a straight line. Women, on the other hand, not so much. Not really even close. I picture it like a ball of string where a lot of pieces have been cut and tied back together — a lot of things depend on a lot of other things. Duh, contingency. We have to think about A to B, but also what’s happening all around these points, as well as all the other points, not to mention what happens after we get to point B, what happens if we don’t get to B, what happens if we get there late, what happens if point B moves, if it’s the wrong size, the wrong color, or if it’s not available on Tuesday. We also have to keep in mind the history between point A and point B and whether or not we can seat them next to point C for a dinner party. 

I had this discussion with my brilliant mother the other night, graphs and all.  For like, the third time. From time to time, my poor mother has a sort of cognitive identity crisis if you will. See, she’s an engineer. Actually, she’s a double engineer. Her first degree is in chemical engineering and her second is in environmental engineering. And I have to add, because I am overwhelmingly proud of this fact and that I am her daughter, she was the first woman to be accepted into the chemical engineering program at Montana State University. Go Mom. But I digress… sort of. Engineering, math, all pretty linear stuff. Not to mention being the only woman in an all male program, talk about screwing around your neurons to conform to the male perspective. And having this initial “brain training”, she never really got the hang of  “girl brain”. So, every few years, we have this same discussion, I draw her a few pictures, she tries to de-linearize her brain, and laugh about what a moron my dad is for a while. We do the last bit way more often than every few years, but it always ends the boy-girl brain conversation since he is pretty much the prototypical linear brain. 

And how does any of this, you may be wondering, relate to the pithy title of today’s installment? Do you need an explanation? Does there have to be a reason? Does it have to relate? Must there always be a neat little ribbon on the package? Okay, fine. 

1. Blogging is like (insert title).

2. It is. I mean really, think about it. Not that I’m condemning or anything, just saying.

3. I wonder how http://condron.us will deal with this…

but I WANT to drink the kool-aid

…even if the mothership isn’t coming to take us home and we’ll all be dead in the morning. I’m thirsty dammitt!

Its kind of amazing the difference that writing can make. I mean, the simple act of putting words on the page, it seems like such a small thing, and yet … Writers write because they must; it is not optional. Without the act, something slowly (or quickly) withers, rots, or just disappears. Without the act, the writer is somehow less than… different… un…

 

For the last four years, the only writing I can claim to have done is academic. And while yes, this is still writing, it is not writing, if you know what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, I love research, and am far more intimately acquainted with several academic databases than anyone really ought to be, but somehow my right brain was still feeling very, very sad no matter how often the left brain asked it to insert the term “virtual plethora” into an otherwise ho-hum paragraph. And lets face it people, “virtual plethora” will spice up any reader’s day. Its like the scotch bonnet pepper of descriptive phrases.

And what am I trying to say as I wander around this bush continually whacking it with such ferocity? That I am a little less un than I was before I started this… whatever it is… blog. It’s sort of a journal, but not exactly, as the biggest-baddest-deepest-darkest is still mine-all-mine (and my psychiatrist’s, of course). And it’s not exactly a mommy-blog, since there are no parenting tips, look-how-cute-my-kids-are pictures (although they are, and you would love them, except the best ones are always the naked ones and isn’t that considered kiddie porn?) and not all my posts are concerned with parentdom since that is not my entire life and (call me selfish) I need it that way. Its my life en writ, just like I’ve been doing for roughly the whole of it, except now I’m sharing with whoever wants to look. It reminds of my visit to Amsterdam (now there’s a future post…) and all the working girls in the windows of the Red Light district. So many of them were doing such normal things like sitting in a chair, reading a book, I think I saw one actually ironing. Granted, they were all in various levels of undress and/or interesting forms of lingerie, but still… is was life on display for whoever wanted to peek. Or stare openly. Or ogle with dropped jaws. Or piss on for that matter. Everyone pissed on the streets in Amsterdam. What a city. In oh so many ways. But that’s for another post…

So here’s to writing. To writing: To the Right Brain, the virtual plethora of meanderings done on endless drives along hwy12 in the middle of the night, to ginormous herds of deer who lose their way whilst searching for the elusive Teddy Bear Keggers that are rumored to take place in the ethanol corn fields of South Dakota, and here’s to my sister who harassed me into trying the cyber-crack that is facebook. “C’mon, go ahead. Try it. Just once won’t hurt…”