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Friday, October 25, 2013

Imagine a new lens

So much of our talk about our children in our public schools is based on deficit thinking. Our lens on public schools constantly zeros in on what is going wrong rather than on what is going right. Our first looks are almost always critical. Children in our public schools are constantly being measured, weighed, and sorted into little boxes.
The focus is always on what they can't do. In public school the talk is almost never about what children can do.
Have you ever heard our political leaders once say our children in our nation's private schools are failing? They just can't take their critical eyes off our public schools.
My thinking is we should challenge deficit thinking. That deficit paradigm is so deeply embedded in public schools our nation's leaders, mainstream media, and policy makers have become a chorus of our children, their teachers and public schools are failing. Really it never ends. Even when they highlight success on that rare occasion it gets put out there as why isn't everyone doing it this way. I am challenging America to change our deficit lens.
What if we did school Differently?
Looked at children through a lens that highlighted:
Their strengths,
Their creativity,
Their curiosity,
Their endless determination to succeed.
Carl Sagan, 
American astronomer and astrophysicist said: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”  Notice he did not say waiting for something already known. Deficit thinking chases the past not the future, and the past it chases is almost always measured within the constraints of those tiny bubbles on multiple choice tests. Children are born for the future, not the past, they are naturally curious, and they learn best through doing not testing. 

Suppose our mission was to find their strengths, their talents, and their hopes. What if we valued their possibilities not their limitations. What if we insisted our policy makers, our politicians, and our leaders in education focused not on the deficits, but the positive?
What if we insisted rather than measure failure, our leaders take responsibility for creating a public school system that supported our children rather than measure, weigh, and sort them?
Isn't it time we looked at our public schools through the eyes of a child?
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to know what the Walking Man listened to on his walk over the mountain this's Barry Lane's "More Than A Number"... 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Worn shoes and dog-eared pages

I have no time for any Education Deformer today. I will not rage against the machine this day. I'd rather write about shoes, and the pages of the lives we chose to live. I'd rather write about a man who was bigger than life, and never once passed a standardized test, but passed every test of love, honor, and dignity placed before him. 

Marcus Garvey, one of Jamaica's 7 national heroes, said, "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots." 
I love walking in the woods, love the sound of birds singing, seeing the seasons change on the leaves of trees. They feed my soul. Books to me are like trees, they remind me how small a man I really am in the tapestry of life. Both feed my soul.
My grandfather said he judged a person by the wear on their shoes and the books they carried. The more worn the shoes, and dog-eared the pages in their books, the more he thought of them. 

On his death bed he asked me to read William Butler Yeats to him.  He was a World War I war veteran, his schooling ended in grade 6, but his education never ended. No longer able to stand in his well worn shoes on his last morning, he handed me his worn and torn, dog-eared book of Yeats poems.
"I can't see the lines any more."

" I can't see the page numbers"
" Little Jess, read me that Yeats poem 'A terrible beauty is born.'
I want to hear you read it to me”

So through my tears I read it like a prayer. I put my heart, my soul, and a 100 memories of him reading it to me into that reading. I watched as he drew his last breath. His last breath both broke and made me.
My roots grew strong in his presence. Although I have a few academic degrees, I am not a man of degrees.
Like him, I am a man with worn shoes, and the dog-eared pages of books that tell my story. I am a boy who knew a man with worn shoes and books full of dog-eared pages. A boy who knew a gentle giant he misses dearly. A boy who sometimes, while walking among the tress hears a voice calling "little Jess read to me".
So friends, find some time to walk among the trees, and fold a few pages in those books you carry.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to hear what I listened to on my walk over the mountain today….it Simon and Garfunkle’s “The sound of silence”

Friday, October 11, 2013

If a mother shouts for justice in the Youtube forest, and no one sees? Is her pain any less?

A mother of two arrested after confronting McDonald's President about poverty wages. Ten years to reach 8.25 an hour, and she can't afford shoes for herself.  He gets to drink Champagne, shrug it off, and she gets handcuffs . 
Perhaps I am alone, but I can't figure out why she is not on every news network, why the clergy is not marching, why our leaders are not standing by her side, and why we are not all shouting for a living wage? My own mother worked 6 days a week as a waitress collecting nickel and dime tips to put food on the table. It was never enough. With a husband and father who walked out on her she did what she could. There are no support payments in the house of poverty. Poor men disappear into some dark void. Working Mothers ride that late night bus alone, and their shoes come last in their world of love and pain. Take a look at the link below America?  Frederick Douglas that sacred voice of our past, that fugitive slave turned freeman, turned author: said: "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." Tell me do you see some lazy woman reeling in the dough, or do you see like me our nation's greatest shame?                                                                                                                                     
I give my heart, my love, my pen, and my words to the mothers who ride our late night buses. 
With the deepest respect,                                                                                                                                                           Jesse my mother's only son 

"I see redemption in an angel's eyes"

I see a working mother crying out,
I see my mother 50 years ago crying,
After 10 years she reaches 8.25 per hour,
After 10 years she can't afford shoes,

In this America, the home of richest, the most famous, and the most powerful, I see my shame,
I see our shame,
A mother shouting out for a raise to the elites, the connected, the powerful, the Golden 1%,
I feel her pain,
My mother's pain,
A pain that all mother's feel who can't make ends meet for their children,
Our children,
Let me tell you something Golden 1%,
This America is not your house;
It's our house,
Mi casa es tu casa,

This mother crying out for a raise,
This mother crying out for justice,
She is God's witness to our brutality,
She is God's witness to our injustice,
This mother,
This woman,
She is every mother,
She is God's Angel come to give us one last chance,
She is our American angel of redemption,

Some see her,
Some cannot,
Some stand with her,
More not,
Some saved,
More damned,

This American choice
Are we some soon to be fallen new Rome,
Or do we grab Langston Hughes last line of hope,
Let America be America,

Do we draw a line in the sand of equity?
Do we say enough is enough?
Do we stand with our mothers?
Or do we stand against our mothers,
Our angels of redemption?

I see a mother,
I see my mother,
I see all mothers,
I see an Angel,
I draw a line,
I stand on her side,
I stand with the angles of redemption,
Where do you stand America?

Jesse The Walking Man Turner 10/11/13
If you are wondering what the Walking is listening to on his walk over the mountain today. It's an old Irish one, we Irish sing sometimes after we had one too many, and our hearts fill with longing for our mothers lost. <