Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two more days then three more weeks!

^ The ever changing song sung by the teachers in my department... but who's counting, really? AHH I'M SO EXCITED TO SEE MY FAMILY!!!


We've both gotten really into reading lately. Garrett is reading a series on his kindle called Psion, I'm reading a book my dad bought me called The Death and Life of the Great American School System. We just started reading the series Divergent together. Garrett is really enjoying his series. The book I'm reading sounds really depressing, but it actually makes me feel really vindicated, ha. AND at least she called it the death and LIFE instead of the other way around. That would have been depressing... I'm going to give you a quick synopsis of the book so far. If you're not interested, skip the next paragraph.

The book is by a woman name Diane Ravitch who has had a VERY influential role in school reform at the federal and state level. She grew up in Houston and went through the Houston school system. She worked for the department of education under President George H. W. Bush, President George W. Bush, and has written MANY MANY books on education reform, history of education, etc. She got very caught up in the school choice and school accountability movement that happened with President Bush (#2) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB, you'll hear teachers lovingly refer to this as "NickleBee." If you want to sound cool, and someone brings up No Child Left Behind, you can respond, "O yeah, NickleBee... blah blah blah.") She talks about how supportive she and so many were of accountability (which really means high stakes testing) and choice (allowing students/parents to use vouchers to go to different schools if they would like). It makes sense on the surface, it seems like it should work, but the last 5 years Diane has completely changed her mind. The reason? The evidence shows choice and accountability is NOT working and in the book she explains what she has discovered about WHY it's not working through the mountains of research she has done. The problems she sights are things I have seen in the schools I've worked at. I've only taught for 2 and a half years now, but I have taught at 3 different schools, in three very different school districts, to three very different populations (even the two schools in Utah Valley I taught at were VERY different), in two very different states, under 3 very different principals, and I've taught three different subjects. The threat or fear of a test does NOT make me a better a teacher. It makes me prepare students for a test (go figure...). Good professional development makes me a better teacher (However, you have to give teachers TIME to go to professional development or else they just feel overwhelmed like it is a burden. And please don't pile it all on at the beginning of the year. Man I hate that.). It gets me excited again about teaching, it provides me with valuable skills and resources. Time to implement these ideas and resources also helps :) This is what all the studies show. However, teacher training is expensive. Tests are expensive but you can write ONE test for an ENTIRE state and then have the teachers administer it and VOILA! Automatic school reform and everyone wins. Wait a second... no... that doesn't make sense...

This leads to my next thought. It's a quote from her book, "Opportunity leaves much to individuals." I LOVE this quote. It will not be an easy fix. Supporting teachers is not easy. It is expensive. You have to do it on an individual level. A test, you can make one. You give it to everyone. It is expensive one time, and then you are done.


I'm so excited for Thanksgiving! My parents are coming to visit us, it's going to be so much fun! Also I get a five day weekend which is super awesome. Then when I come back to school I only have three weeks left! After those three weeks then it's time to go back to UTAH and get some serious family time in. I can't wait to see the new little Brinkerhoff babe! Man that little girl Ivy looks like a doll in the pictures on the screen on my phone... (lame - I need real life holding and squeezing and kissing) and then I get to see my three new little nephews again! Baby Ty, Grayson, and Emmett. And of course all those other little cuties - Nora, Emery, Ryker, and Lincoln. The rest of you are pretty cute, too and I can't wait to give you big hugs and kisses. However, I'm not quite sure how I'll survive the cold... the low was 39 today and I just about died... I'm such a pansy! It is nice to finally break out the winter clothes here, though. Of course I haven't gotten out my winter coat yet, just some scarves and sweaters.


We went and saw the Jerusalem IMAX yesterday and it was AWESOME! I loved the beginning when

they entered the city through Damascus gate. It made me feel like I was back there again... I love that city. I love those people. It is seriously such a special place. The experiences I had there, both personal and with the group are so sacred to me. The movie was beautifully done and helped me remember some of those special experiences I had. I think it might be time for me to go back and read my journal. One of the most profound things I learned when I was there was the love God has for me as well as how much faith He has in me and my potential. I glimpsed the power of truly turning our lives over to God and allowing him to mold us into something beyond our wildest dreams. I came to that realization through a combination study of the creation of the world and the condescension of Christ.
"Knowest thou the condescension of God?" If not, study it. Study the universe, the billions of stars, marvel at our beautiful earth, realize how small and insignificant you are, be humbled by the amazing beauty around you AND THEN study atonement and the life of Christ and His mission and realize how priceless you are to Him, how much He loves you, and study WHY. I use to just stop at the "know God loves you" part. If you don't understand the WHY, then it is too easy to forget His love for you. The WHY is the most important. With the WHY you understand the amazing things God has in store for you. We are "less than the dust of the earth" it is true, but God has done some pretty amazing things with dust. But only if the dust lets Him.

Parting thoughts about Thanksgiving... (A short history lesson about the historical incorrectness of this famous painting) 

(Sarcasm) Look at those kindly Pilgrims giving a Thanksgiving feast to the poor desolate Native Americans. It is so kind of them to give of their incredible abundance. 

True story: Pilgrims were supposed to land in Virginia. They got blown of course. They ended up landing at Plymouth rock at the beginning of winter with very little supplies. They came across what they thought was an abandoned village. They thanked God for this incredible blessing of shelter and baskets of food, just theirs for the taking! What had really happened was a while before this village (the home of our beloved Squanto who was kidnapped by Europeans, sold into slavery, and used as a conversation piece by a wealthy English lord for several years) anyways, this village had been attacked by a deadly disease called Smallpox, brought over by European explorers. It completely wiped out the village. As far as we know everyone died and they died very quickly. Everyone that is except Squanto (because he was kidnapped by Europeans, sold into slavery, etc.) When the Pilgrims came over they were seeing the remains of a once thriving city. They used the supplies they found (sometimes you'll hear people refer to them as "grave-robbers") and tried to set up a colony, but were not very successful. For the most part they were city-folk. They didn't know how to farm and plant. They were poor planners and frankly in over their heads. In the meantime Squanto escaped from slavery and somehow got himself on board a ship and arrived home. You can imagine how excited he was to see his friends and family after so many years! It is difficult to imagine his shock and sadness when he came across a completely abandoned village and Europeans (who he probably LOVED by this point in his story) taking over his home town and ransacking the homes of the ones he loved. However, he made a choice at this point in his story. A monumental choice in his story and in the story of our country. We don't know why he chose to react the way he did, but he did. Squanto went up to the Pilgrims and in perfect English, offered his assistance. You can imagine how shocked they were. The Pilgrims had very little luck in working with Native Americans in the area. Massasoit and his people weren't exactly friendly and communication was quite difficult... Squanto taught them how to farm the land, fish, and hunt. He taught them how to build decent houses AND he helped create a bond between them and the Native American tribe nearby. The first Thanksgiving was one of Native Americans giving of THEIR abundance (including their knowledge, kindness, and skills) to these poor, ill-prepared, destitute, but well-meaning Pilgrims. In these humble and less-than-desirebale circumstances, all gave thanks and made a choice to make the most of their individual situations. 

It is also interesting to note that Thanksgiving was first made a national holiday during the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln. During the darkest period in our nation's history, President Lincoln made gratitude an act of national importance. 

I honestly think the true stories of Thanksgiving are far more valuable and worth telling than the myths. The legends and myths are fun, but let's remember really why we have this wonderful holiday. It is a little humbling. 

1 comment:

  1. We had a speaker in church on Sunday tell the 'true' story of Thanksgiving...ha. I suppose at some point in the future all 'true' stories will be corrected and we'll all know what really happened. Either that, or we really won't care about such issues.