20 March 2010

No child left behind...

At first I thought they were telling children "pull up your pants." You know, No child's left behind. Maybe people were tired of seeing children and youth's left cheek. Oh the Department of Formulation, I mean, Education.

I wonder a lot. I wonder more now that I am out of school than I did when I was in school.

I was a terrible student. I spent a lot of time in the principal's office, vice principal's office, after school detention, writing on the blackboard, which was green, I will not daydream in class... I will not daydream in class... I will not daydream in class... I will not daydream in class... I will not daydream in class... (Which, by-the-way, is when I became enamored with the ellipsis...)

I asked a lot of questions but rarely found the answers satisfying my curiosity. Most of my teachers told me that I wasn't very smart and there was always the possibility of being HELD BACK. I would have dreams where my school chums were running forward to play baseball or foursquare and I was being HELD BACK by big hands that smelled of coffee, cigarettes and chalk. I wasn't very good at reading my text books because I found myself reading the same sentence over and over again or realize I wasn't paying attention during the last two paragraphs or didn't remember where I put my text books.

Once I raised my hand and asked my math teacher why we needed to know this math stuff and his reply was, "...because next year the math will be harder and you will need to know this then." After a minute of trying to understand his response I raised my hand and asked the same question... I was then sent to the nurse's office to have my hearing tested. After school was out, then I was sent back into my classroom to write on the blackboard, which was green, I will not ask stupid questions...

It seemed that the classes where questions were asked were not the "remedial" classrooms but the "advanced" classrooms. My friends, most of whom were in those classrooms, told me about what they learned that day and how interesting it was and then I told them what I was being taught and even though we were the same age, we weren't be taught the same thing. I thought maybe I will learn what they were being taught and given permission to ask questions next year. No, and when I asked why, I learned how to spell "contumacious" by writing it on the blackboard, which was green, 100 times.

Once my friend, who is in the government in Washington DC, and I broke into the counseling office at my high school (I can tell you now because the statute of limitations are up) and all we did was look at our own file folders. I remember sitting in the corner, with a little light which shown from the security alarm, reading what teachers have said about me throughout my 11+ years of education. It took me a while but I read through my life from Kindergarten to Junior Year. In my early years, my teachers said they were fond of me but had concerns about my concentration and distracting the students around me. They recommended summer school. Then in the later elementary grades, there was a diagnosis that I needed speech therapy and I was beginning to fall behind. My music teacher wrote that I was a delightful lad and was learning well on my trombone, recommended that I travel to the other grade school to play with that band.

Sixth grade and through Junior High, my teachers had grave concerns that I was on the border of flunking and should be held back. There was even a note from my bus driver stating that I used a nasty word in the Japanese language and that I should not be allowed to ever ride his bus again, which I never rode it again. 申し訳ありません, Mr. Doi

High School, there was a lot of comments which said, "Tony is a delight to have in class when he is not being a distraction to me or the other students."

There were a couple of teachers who I loved because they were teaching me through other methods which used my modalities of strength instead of just through reading. I would stay after to ask my questions which were usually answered which led to another question which led to another...

After reading about me through the words of these teacher, I understood some things. One, there are many ways to learn, not just through reading. I needed to use my strong modalities to learn, primarily kinestetic, as well as ask questions so that I understood the concept, not just memorized the answer. Two, many teachers only know how to teach one way. Good teachers understand the child so that they can "train up a child in THE WAY they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it."

Blessings to those who read all the way to the end and didn't get distracted...

06 March 2010

Places where we find ourselves...

Early yesterday morning, I drove up to Stockton to visit a pastor and friend of mine. I was enthralled by the beauty of the rosy sun rays emanating through and over the slate gray mountains, black skies morphing into Dodger blue and the colors of the fields, so fresh and viridescent after the previous rains showing a new array of mustard colored flowers. Admiring the flowers planted along the highway, blossoms in the orchards, marveling at pinkish clouds which hung like banners overhead whispering the arrival of a new day, and the red and blue lights from the car behind me... California Highway Patrol.

I pull over to the side of the road, amidst the golden poppies, just opening up to receive the morning rays, and squashed under the weight of my tires and the boots of the patrolman approaching cautiously to the passenger-side window to inform me of the reality of my existence. No greetings: just information.

The rehearsed lines were given, state documents found and handed over, and the patrolman walked into the field of yellow fiddleneck which danced in concert around him. He could have been mistaken for the reaper in a van Gogh painting of the wheat field, but instead of a scythe he held a pen and a black heavy leather citation pad. My thoughts changed to insurance rates, court appearance, online traffic school, disappointment and then humiliation as drivers drove by relieved knowing that the sentinel is busy with some poor schmuck and isn't noticing their speed.

He moved through the field towards my passenger side window with one hand on his side arm and the other on the leather book, documents and then I see it... the goldenrod of the citation informing me that I existed on March 5 at 6:53am on State Highway 99 just north of Merced, California.