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I was attempting to post a comment to a blog about teen sexuality in Young Adult novels, but the comment wouldn’t post. So I’m putting it here instead. The original post can be found here: http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2011/08/on-ya-and-teen-sexuality.html This is the third post I have seen in a week about Teen sexuality in YA so I wanted to chime in.

Teens are much more comfortable about sexuality today than in years past. I’m 26 now and I remember being 13 and 14 talking with my girlfriends about sex. Not kissing. Not holding hands. We talked about sex. And what we wanted to do. And what it would be like. We were voracious readers and consumers of media, mostly to learn about what to do. We talked about practicing kissing our pillows and teddy bears. I remember feeling very comfortable and excited, though nervous, during my first sexual encounters, and by this I’m talking kissing and petting between the ages of 17 and 19. I think that by assuming all readers are naive and awkward is a huge discredit to your readers. I remember feeling nervous and insecure, as was described in the article, but I never felt sitcom like or doe eyed.

I’d like to see some research on what the author is calling “adult view.” The article states that teens are not experiencing sexuality in an adult way. Is she talking about how adults think about things like STDs and pregnancy? Teens think about that. Is she talking about coyote ugly and thinking the next day I shouldn’t have done that? Teens think those things. Is she talking about being curious about your body and your sexuality and wanting to express it? Or about insecurities with their body and how they feel? Teens go through that, and so do adults. What woman who is going through pregnancy or menopause doesn’t think those same things? Adults go through feeling awkward, insecure, and nervous. Adults go through the newness of the experience with a new partner. I think the author is discounting the maturity and savviness of girls today due to lack of experience in their time as a teenager.

I’m not promoting a hyper sexualized child populace where everything should be erotica or little lolitas. I’m saying teens are much more aware of what is going on and much more comfortable, at least for the most part. This argument seems to be more a debate of values, such as the insensitive comment about sexually active people not reading, than about the consumer. Teens are going to sources to get information so that they are comfortable and aware, and a lot of times these sources are wrong or myth laden. Other sources are value driven. People talk about teen sexuality as though it’s something new, but teens today were the adults of yesteryear. Look at the baby boomers, and even before then in medieval and victorian times where girls and dowries were exchanged like cattle. If we continue with this idea of the general population thinking teens have whimsical thoughts a la The Brady Bunch we are going to continue to drive teens to find information from places that may not be safe. I would want my daughter to know that I want her to wait till she’s mature enough to handle it, till she’s married, but if she decides this is something she wants to experience here is information about this, this and this to keep her safe. I want her to be confident enough to voice what she wants and likes so she’s not pressured into doing something she doesn’t want to do, or something she’s not comfortable with. As an educator, I could tell you stories about the three 11 year olds that carried babies to term, the 3rd grader that described and made the motions of how she was going to “give head” to her 6th grader boyfriend in front of her mother, or the countless myths kids came to me to ask questions about. Teens are more aware of their sexuality than before, but they are surrounded by dangerous myths. Statistics show abstinence only sex education programs results in teens waiting an extra to engage in intercourse with a serious partner, and they use no protection when they do. In Europe they start teaching sex ed very young, at about age 8 in school, and contraception is readily available. We have a very sophisticated teenage population when it comes to sexuality and relationships, which may or may not be to their detriment, but without support from family and adults they are playing a very dangerous game.

This argument isn’t so much about sexual expression as it is about control. Trying to control sexuality, specifically women’s sexuality because we all know guys are patted on the back and looked at as studs for spreading their seed to as many people as possible, is detrimental to our girls. And trying to force a value system of the “good old days” is naive and a farce. Watch Grease or read the book by Greg from The Brady Bunch and see what was actually going on in those wholesome, whimsical times. And to authors, as was mentioned in the comments, you’re not writing your own shy, insecure, story. You are writing your characters authentic experience. We need to be wiser and change with the times or else we could be looking at an impoverished, unhealthy, misinformed, powerful youth. I think as a society we should move to be more accepting of everyone and sharing information so we can all be safe and healthy.

For further reading:
*Generation Me
*The Lolita Effect
*Geographies of Girlhood (articles about what teen girls are experiencing right now)
*Fleming, Jennifer J. (2007).Critical Thinking About Sex, Love and Romance in the Mass Media: Media Literacy Applications
*Nymphomania: a history
*Lamb, Sharon. (2008). The ‘right’ sexuality for girls,
*Lyons, Paul J. (1991). Our young people need more education about sexuality, and the media should take some responsibility to provide it. The Oregonian,
*Monaghan, Peter. (2007). Sex ed for grown-ups.
*Pinker, Susan. (2008). The sexual paradox.
*Roberts, John. (1994). Surgeon general resigns in masturbation row.
*Tavris, Carol. (2002). Are girls really as mean as the books say they are.
*Whitmire, Richard. (2008). A tough time to be a girl: gender imbalance on campuses.

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People suck. You just have to deal with it and move on. There is nothing you can do about it. It’s sad.

Sometimes people start off as your friend and betray you. Sometimes you can’t trust anyone and you get hurt. It’s completely solitary and alone because you have to be careful of what you say and who you say it to, or if you don’t say anything at all.

You have to say no. No to yelling. No to attitude. No to working too damn hard.

Being respected is better than being liked.

Children come first. Sometimes that screws up schedules and messes things up, but their well being comes first in all things.

A meaningful lesson is one that resonates with them, one they internalize and own. Worksheets, evaluation, and textbooks are not enough. They need autonomy to own it.

Students autonomy and individuality is the most important thing. They are not beneath us, they just lack experience, and deserve to be treated as people and not cattle being herded or hoodlums.

Respect. Respect. Respect. Give it to get it.

If you can make the abstract concrete, anyone can grasp it.

Get them out of their chairs.

Working in groups helps SOOO much in many different levels.

Language barriers are difficult but not impossible.

Discouragement is there to help you along the way. It makes you know you’re doing your job.

You have to care. Even when it hurts. Even when it kills you. Because some of them have no one to care.

You have to get it out of your system because otherwise you will make everyone else crazy. Balance.

People have and will continue to insult me for the job I do. They will disvalue my morals, my ideas about race, and my intelligence. I know the job I do is worthwhile. I know it’s hard. I know it’s looked down upon and I’m looked down upon, but I know what I am doing is needed and necessary. I don’t care what other people who don’t know me or what is going on think. My husband cares and sees the difference I am making. My kids need someone like me. I won’t give up.

Adults are worse than children. They should know better than to name call, spread rumors, and be ungrateful for the excessive amount of work that is expected of us, and the extra we volunteer for or are voluntold to do.

People will judge a white person in an inner city school. The kids will judge you till you prove that you are different and understand them. White people will judge you and treat you badly because of the job you do.

If you can’t connect with them, they will not learn.

You have to loosen up. If you can’t beat them, join them.

People will bite your head off for breathing. You just have to shrug it off.

People will use you and try to suck you dry if you don’t stop them.

People are vindictive and will take vengeance on you for no reason.

Giving a presentation about cultural awareness and globalization will result in old people hating you and being against you in every way possible. You just have to stick to your morals, your guns, and know what you do is right.

Just keep swimming. Things will pull back up, even at the lowest lows.

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I was told today that the school would have sucked without me. And my technical expertise has been the salvation of many. This is because I called my principal a slave driver for asking about some document I was creating that he had asked me about like 2 hours before. It was funny and I’m glad to have such a good relationship with him. Who knew all those hours playing on Word and Photoshop would come in handy? 😉

Also I have officially found The Nest, and all you people that have bashed The Bump boards to me are really missing out. Here’s my take on it: 1. Don’t be rude or ask a question if you don’t want an answer. People can be judgmental, and if you want a specific answer don’t ask the question. 2. Funny posts FTW! 3. Stop taking yourself so seriously yo! Thank you NESTIES for teaching me that I am not the only one with crazy in-laws when everyone I know says they love them or have 0 contact. YAY!

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These are great when you look at them by themselves. Sadly, these are professional people in their 30s and beyond, some far beyond, who are so petty and catty it’s ridiculous. Why do people start rumors and have to be so mean? Jesus h. Christ. You hate me because I work hard, have success, have kids that like me, am making a career and a name for myself, like my job, have a nice life, and called you out on our racist bs at my school. Instead of celebrating success, let’s tear them down.

1. I was expecting this. Apparently after months of denying each other my co-teacher and I are lesbians together. Her husband doesn’t care or doesn’t know, but it’s tearing my marriage apart. Our new found love is why I’m so happy the last few weeks (yes I’ve been giddy and goofy at school more than usual i.e. dancing and singing. Dancing and singing make me happy. you can feel the negativity and shut-downedness pulsating throughout the building like it’s alive. I am determined not to shut down and burn out, and if that means eating lunch alone again and being weird to keep my spirits high so be it.)

2. I am too emotionally attached to my kids. My overly emotional attitude and inability to let go of the kids is tearing apart my marriage and they don’t expect my marriage to last more than a year longer. My husband is sick of me and that’s why he made me stay down here during the week.

Why are people so cruel? Seriously does saying this shit about me make them feel better? Does it help their test scores? You want to say I suck or I sleep around or I’m principal’s pet go for it. That I’m an overachiever suck up? Cool. Why the hell would they say such horrible things about my husband that they don’t even know? We’re supposed to be professional ADULTS! This just makes me think my generalization paper about how teachers adopt the personality and social flaws of their students was totally true even though I surveyed a small percentage of teachers in each school. What did I do to you that you had to attack my personal life you bitchy teachers? I know it’s a rumor and it’s not true, but Jesus that is just cruel and heartless.

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Our boys made it to the finals of all city baseball.

I felt sad about leaving for the first time because I think I crushed my grade level principal. He kept asking if I was joking, then he just looked so sad and tired. I am sad about the reputation and relationships I have built this year. I am sad to start over though I know after everything I went through I am stronger and will make good choices. I am sad about the connections I have made with the great staff and the steps I have made on the way to bettering the school culture.

I also spent several hours bonding with a teacher who is very similar to me in philosophy and responsibility during the game, someone who I respect and have admired from afar.

And finally, testing went ok and I got to enjoy the latest book in my now second favorite series of all time: The House of Night book 7 BURNED! It rocks!

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Technology

Technology in the classroom is such a great thing if utilized properly. So are things like being green and saving money. We could save $25,000 if we did digital textbooks for 8th grade. I really want to so have done some presentations with the iPad to show them all of the great things that it can do for education. I convinced one of the 15 guys in charge of technology for the district, and this guy HATES macs. He wants to go buy an iPad right now. I just have to get my principal on board and we’ll be set. It is really cool to have my finger on the pulse of technology and be able to convince others about it, and given the opportunity to give a presentation to district officials about it. Sure we could get apple to do it, but having a teacher in the district do it is going to look so much better. These opportunities are amazing and exhausting.

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Movement is essential for engagement

Kids love to laugh

Embarrassment is arbitrary when it’s the teachers.

Sometimes you should just say no because you’re tired and overworked, but sometimes not saying no is what a student needs.

Hope destroys every negative feeling, so does compassion and encouragement.

Nothing else matters but these kids and knowing they’re cared about. They will learn for you if they thing you care.

You do not understand sacrifice until you hear a story from a child.

It’s all worth it to see them smile. To get a hug. To have their love.

Adults suck. Kids are cruel but at least they have the excuse that they don’t know better. Adults being petty, starting rumors, being jealous, etc. are absolutely awful.

Administrators who are cruel and rude for no reason suck.

Encouragement from peers and supervisors is essential.

Sometimes you feel so alone and broken down, but then something happens that takes your breath away and you realize you can’t give this up. There’s too much at stake. Too many people to love and help.

At the end of the day, I am so tired. SO tired. Especially after long, stressful, draining weeks.

In the end, it’s all worth it.

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