Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Power of the Brain

I realized this beautiful Saturday morning the initial moment in which I understood the omnipotence of the human brain. I was in third grade, with Ms. Hendricks. I remember critically analyzing my handwriting which included a comparison with that of my classmates, I noticed that there was quite a variance in our contruction of the "2." We must have been doing math. Some sort of rote memorization, I'm sure. Anyway, I noticed that some of the young ladies in class had added a bit of flare by adding a nice little tail, which ended up being the weight of the construction, eventually. I decided to try my hand at the curly "2," repeatedly on my page. I've always said that I don't really write in my natural handwriting. Rather, I draw letters, numbers, and combinations thereof, using a subconsciously created font that is supposed to represent me in some abstract way. Regardless, I sit filling my page with "2's." No big surprise that I was disinterested in math minute. Huh. Long story short, I soon could not stop creating my 2's in this new foreign, imitated fashion. As I wrote the rest of the day, I would realize it just after the fact-the 2 had become a part of me, without my having planned or consciously welcomed it. From that day on, until a middle school graffiti career caused me to rethink what my writing said about me, I unwillingly created my "2's" with little oinker tails.

This, honestly, was the first time I understood who was running the show, cause it clearly wasn't me. It was my informal introduction to intellectualism, the subconscious, psychology, and on a strange level, began my process wherein I deified the brain as THE most powerful entity in existence.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Nearly Achieved Lifetime Aspiration

Being that I work in Dripping Springs, I'm on the highway quite often. Generally, the consequences thereof are negative, the most costly being the astronomically high gas prices. Side note: How is it that when prices are raised super fast, people get angry, yet there is no such response if the increase is slow and methodical? Anyway, one of the few advantages to having highway time is my chance at completing one of the three life goals that I have had for some time. My holy trinity, so to speak. I'll list them all, just for fun.

1. Become fully ambidextrous.

2. Write down everything I know.

3. While driving fast on a highway, notice a piece of trash being blown about by the speeding traffic. Reach out and intentionally grab the piece of trash, proving superhuman reflex speed.

It's quite obvious which one I nearly achieved this morning. A neighboring driver even noticed my fruitless attempt, grinned, and offered to me his encouragement, approximating a distance of couple of inches with his thumb and forefinger. Next time, red Taurus, next time.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Einstein Told Me To Do It...

It's always nice to have your feelings restated by those with literary esteem and stature, though sometimes it can be frustrating to see in words what has been personally transcendent of being coherently thusly. It's one of those, "that's exactly what I've always felt like, but..." moments. I experienced this today as I read from Einstein's collection of essays entitled Out of My Later Years. In a time which sees many of my graduationmates finalizing their classroom setup and meet the teacher preparation, I've spent a great deal of time pondering my decision to stay out of organized schooling for a the time being. I have a strong conviction, hence my position, and yet it is always nice to encounter text that reads like one's intuition and belief, with a little added eloquence and beauty. Without further ado, I offer you a look into Einstein's feelings about a society which I feel directs learning and schooling in the wrong direction. Enjoy.

"Consider from this standpoint...the schools with their competitive method! Everything is dominated by the cult of efficiency and of success and not by the value of things and men in relation to the moral ends of human socity. To that must be added the moral deterioration resulting from a ruthless economic struggle...For looked at from a simple human point of view, moral conduct does not mean merely a stern demand to renounce some of the desired joys of life, but rather a sociable interest in a happier lot for all men.

This conception implies one requirement above all - that every individual should have the opportunity to develop the gifts which may be latent in him. Alone in that way can the individual obtain the satisfaction to which he is justly entitled; and alone in that way can the community achieve its flowering. For everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom."

Albert Einstein, 1938

I feel, as many do, that the long-term goals of certain people representing various levels of power, have trickled down to affect all facets of public life and, indeed, many facets of private life as well. The utopian society has been defined as one which is of utmost efficiency economically. I see this viewpoint as being exclusionary and shortsighted. The field of education clearly does not remain unscathed from the aforementioned problematic definition of success and happiness. As we ponder the goals of the institutional leaders, we must continue to ask ourselves what might be the big picture with regards to that person's ideal society. As we do, we may be better able to enter into and strive within systems that, as the trend shows, are oppressive, highly damaging, and even fatal for the human spirit of inquiry. I haven't yet learned how to do that, or maybe I'm just too damn stubborn. Regardless, rest assured that I have my justification.

I implore you to be constantly asking yourself the goal when it comes to your interaction with others, specifically with children, if teaching. Who's definition of success are you preparing your children for? Can your actions be justified in the deepest, most purely ideological abyss of your heart? If so, cheers, you're better off than most around you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

It Worked

So, as it turns out, the note that you see below was sufficient to garner $200 in scholarship money for the class. It's the history and theory of educational alternatives, taught by Dr. Ron Miller. He's the author of Free Schools, Free People, amongst other books. Not only will this allow me to place all of my readings as well as my natural tendencies with education, but also will provide me with a lifelong contact in Dr. Miller. As many learn soon after school, solid contacts can be lifesavers. I now will add Dr. Miller to my list, which includes Hoffman, DeeDee, and Ms. Marchand. Not a bad start, in my opinion.

Oh, and to that energy which has tried its damnest to keep me from progressing, the fight has already been lost. The ball has been rolling out of control internally. Now, the initial external proof of development.

Vaya con dios.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Scholarship for Alt. Education Class

The expectation was seemingly ubiquitous. It was assumed, unquestioned, and therefore accepted, both externally and internally. That is, that: One who graduates with a degree in Early Childhood Education begins a job immediately in a public school, not far from, if not in, the location of the student teaching practicum. I found myself surfing this wave into the expected future without ever having consciously chosen to venture into the water.

A critical look at my own future with regards to education followed, an exploration inextricably bound to my inquiry into the deeper meaning of education. I found myself on a personal mission, doing my best to seek information yet unlearned, finding various snippets that felt “right” within texts of writers such as Freire, Holt, Kozol, Delpit, Neill, Noddings and Ayers.

Through such wonderfully captivating readings and supplemental discourse with various colleagues spanning the gamut of educational involvement, I have come to feel that my place is not in a “traditional” school, doing my best to work within while pushing the boundaries of an oppressive system, aiming to cultivate and spread a more democratic framework outward from my microcosm. Rather, it is within this democratic framework wherein I can strengthen and hone my understanding of integral terms such as teaching, learning, sharing, curriculum, and pedagogy.

While I am fully aware of the necessity for practicality’s sake, I deem the language of “alternative education” somewhat self-damning. Democratic education is true education. It is malleable, sensitive, dynamic, meaningful, shared, lasting, beautiful, and variant learning. According to my personal ideological framework, there just is no other way. I have not had to endure decades of frustration at the hands of the public school system as a teacher to understand that the flaws therein are countless and highly obtrusive.

As I reminisce about my academic career, there are vast, yet seemingly natural, gaps wherein I wasted a great deal of time with regards to acting upon my naturally inquisitive nature. The effects of these moments, of course, I’ll never be able to fully reverse, although amelioration has begun. As I take a look at my current situation, I feel as though it is somewhat fatalistic that such a course should be offered at the zenith of my interest in intellectual and personal development. Dr. Miller’s course will provide for me a foundation upon which I can build my understanding and truly internalize the ideas offered me by the aforementioned minds, amongst countless others, including classmates. The short and long term effect of this internalization will be a preparatory period that will lead to an extraordinary life as a teacher, student, and human being.

Over the course of the next year, which I have dubbed “my self-directed graduate program,” I’ll be aiming to visit several schools nationwide. It is my goal that by getting familiar with the various pedagogical approaches that are being applied as well as with the people involved in proliferating democracy in schools, a full time opportunity will be inevitable. Of course, that traveling, while necessary, is not free. I am, at this point, working as much as possible, filling free time with reading. I’ve realized that while many things must change after graduation, the debt and the necessity of a frugal lifestyle is clearly not one of those things. As such, any and all assistance will be unbelievably appreciated.

Please let me know the status of scholarships and the enrollment into the class. It likely goes without saying, though I will, that enrollment is largely based on affordability.

Thank You

Friday, August 3, 2007

Direct hit...

On the way home from work today, I noticed two kids on a bridge overlooking 35 somewhere just south of downtown. As I passed under them, one of the little turds spit a bunch of his Arizona green tea on the hood and windshield of the car. He nailed me so perfectly, I couldn't even be angry. Until we meet again, young hoodlum. For we shall meet again, in this life or the next, and when we do, I'll shake your hand in honor of your accuracy, yet criticize you for having picked the one guy who won't get stirred up about it. That's me, one, butthead, nil.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Aqui estoy, finalmente.

It has begun...there is an accumulation of potential energy that builds daily within me in the form of ideas, interests, and questions. This happens largely because I am working in a job where mental taxation is minimal. It is steady work, however. Regardless, the old "dog's breakfast" tends to wander, arriving at the following inquiries, musings, and concepts. We'll see where we go from here.

By the way, my mother was curious as to the exact definition of my name on this space in the world wide web. Conscientizacao, Portuguese, as defined by Paulo Freire, "refers to learning to percieve social, political, and economic contradictions, and to take action against the oppressive elements of reality." Pretty powerful stuff, something I can only hope to enact personally, as well as a journey on which I hope to guide students of various ages and cultures.