Kids Who Read, Succeed. In Spite of School.

Mamacita says:  I hated elementary school, and by “hated” what I really mean is, well, HATED.

child reading, Scheiss Weekly, booksI learned to read when I was really little, but I have never read as most other people do.  When I read, I look at a page and immediately, that page is affixed inside my head.  I can later “bring it back,” inside my head, glance at it and know what it says again.  If I had to, I could read it back word for word in my head, but that is not how I read.  I look at the whole page and just “know.”  From the time I was very young, I could do this.  It’s really handy on planes, for I can re-read entire books by just closing my eyes, concentrating on a particular book, and seeing it page after page in my head.

Now, try to imagine explaining that to an elementary school teacher.  I do not mean to disparage my former teachers, but only one of them ever even TRIED to understand what I was telling her about how I read.  The others just kept telling me to slow down, because I was making the other kids feel bad.  All through grade school, to “reward” me for being fast, I was sent out into the hall to tutor slow kids.

I still have nightmares about sitting out in the hall trying desperately to get some slow little boy who was exactly my age to understand words like “lamb” and “cereal.”  I can still hear my teachers telling me, in that slow, patient voice they used when they were actually really pissed but couldn’t show it, to “slow DOWN” and making me write list after list of little baby words when they KNEW I already knew them.  WHY?  When I was reading “Gone with the Wind” in fourth grade, my teacher made me check out a little baby book from the library and do a report on it “so the other students will be able to read it, too.”  Sometimes, the school librarian would forbid me to check out a book because the “age disclaimer” on it didn’t have my current age listed.

In first grade, I used to keep a stack of library books on the floor under my desk – they wouldn’t fit inside the desk – so I would have SOMETHING to do when the silly little word lists and baby readings and insulting little history paragraphs, etc, were finished, so my teacher, when she glanced my way, would see that I was still reading and wouldn’t make me go out in the hall and do her job for her.  One day, she bent over, picked up my stack of books, made a comment to the class about how Janie must think she needed a foot rest, and took them away from me.  She told me she was taking recess away from me because of my disrespectful attitude.  I was a little kid and didn’t know enough to keep a straight face, and when she saw that I was positively ECSTATIC – I hated recess! – she changed her mind and made me go outside.  Sigh.

I’ve been obsessed with astronomy since I was very young, but I soon learned not to do any more reports about it.  I was also very interested in phosphorescence in nature; after a few accusations of copying, I gave up being myself and started doing stupid projects and paragraphs about stuff like “Which will rust: pebbles or nails?” like everybody else in the class was doing.

Listen, I was no genius child.  I was just a reading child.  Kids who read know tons more than simple spelling words, Scheiss Weekly, waste of timekids who don’t read.  We know ideas and themes and learn early on how to connect all of that to the real world.  Readers are unfazed by political incorrectness or correctness – we UNDERSTAND, because we know about context, even if we’re young.  As for vocabulary. . . I can’t discuss it rationally, even still.  Being forced to write list after list of one-syllable beginning reading and spelling words when I was already reading “Gone with the Wind” was so insulting that I used to wipe tears of indignation off my face as I wrote. I can remember thinking, “Why do they make me come here? Do they wish I was slow?  Do they WANT me to go backwards instead of forwards?  Why do my teachers help everybody but me?”

I still wonder, because from where I sit, most of our public schools could not possibly care lesscream rises, Scheiss Weekly, gifted children about the fast kids, or the gifted kids, or the reading kids, because everything – curriculum, money, attention – everything seems to be aimed at the lowest possible common denominator.

This is very, very wrong.

Cream rises to the top, it is true, but if nothing is done with it, the cream goes bad.  Worse still, if the cream is forced back down and mixed into the rest of the milk, pretty soon it disappears altogether.  Oh, the milk is better off, but the cream isn’t.  Doesn’t anybody care about the cream any more?

Education in this country seems to be intent on making everybody equal at the expense of those who are already advanced.  Beating the smart kids back down into the rest of the crowd  isn’t merely a bad idea, it is an evil idea.  It’s EVIL to force the brightest kids back down into the masses of average and below average kids.  The whole idea of education is to allow people to ADVANCE, not to deliberately hold them back.  Self-esteem be damned; if a kid can do it, let him/her do it!  If a kid can’t do it, keep him/her back until he/she can.  DO NOT hold back a bright kid if he/she’s proven over and over again that the curriculum is far too simple.  And holy scheisse on a popsickle stick, do NOT send a bright kid out into the hall with the slow kids day after day and rationalize it away by calling it “compassion curriculum” or any other made-up name that really means “we don’t have any place for kids this fast and bright and since we have to do SOMETHING with them, it’s a lot easier for everyone concerned to just turn them into unpaid teachers and send them out with Billy and Johnny, who still can’t get it.  It’ll teach them all to get along.  After all, they’re going to be associating closely with each other out bright kids, Scheiss Weekly, giftedin the real world, and. . . .”  Oh, are they?  Of COURSE they are.  Sigh.

Please don’t yell at me in the comments and tell me how cruel and impatient and uncaring I must be to advocate for the bright kids.  I honestly believe that there should be a place for every category of kid.  Unfortunately, since every child is a unique individual, it’s not possible to do EXACTLY that, but most schools do their best, unless the child is extra bright, and then the assumption is made that smart kids should count their lucky starts that they’re smart, and that a bright kid can adapt to anything so we don’t have to accommodate them.

Parents, perhaps you don’t know that in many states, G/T falls under the jurisdiction of Special Education.  If your child is bright and isn’t being challenged at school, or is being taken advantage of, call your state dept. of education and find out if you need to get an IEP for your child.

Once armed with that, you can force the school to accommodate your child.  Get all the parents of extra-bright kids together, and maybe you can bring justice for them to your local school.

Don’t expect it to be easy, because it won’t be.  Schools are strapped for cash, and a program for kids who don’t seem to need any help with the state standards won’t seem like any kind of priority to many administrators.

Don’t take “no” for an answer.  Your children are worth a battle or two.  Or three.  Four.  Eighty-seven.  Do not give up.  Keep on.  Threaten a lawsuit.  DO it.

I never considered myself “gifted” or “talented,” but I was certainly not challenged in grade school, and I was certainly taken advantage of.  Don’t let this keep on happening!

Our brightest kids are being neglected and forced BACK.  What the bloody hell is wrong with us as a culture?  ALL kids deserve encouragement, but the brightest kids are the ones who could do the MOST with even just a little bit!

Don’t allow that little bit to be more of the same, though.  Our bright and/or gifted kids don’t need more, they need different.  A “gifted” program that is the regular program plus more of the same stuff is not a gifted program.  Far too many academic mindsets fall into the “If an average kid can do four worksheets, the gifted kids should be doing ten worksheets” category.  No.  A thousand times, no.

Kids who read know so much more than non-reading kids, it’s almost impossible to talk about. All to often, a teacher doesn’t read, either, and how can that kind of person help our reading children?  And why would a non-reader be allowed in a classroom anywhere NEAR our children in a school?  Atrocious!

Parents, if you suspect – or know for sure – that your child is gifted, or even just bright (they’re not the same thing!) monitor what’s happening in the classroom, and monitor it closely.  Frustration is expressed not only by kids who don’t/can’t “get it;” frustration is also expressed by kids who “got it” long ago but are being required to review it instead of advance.   Gifted kids can be quirky, which is off-putting to some teachers, especially the ones who are most comfortable in a box.

There are all kinds of bright and/or gifted kids, too.  Not all of them are avid readers; just as many are avid builders, creators, inventors, artists, musicians, scientists, etc.  All things that are not tested; therefore, all things not emphasized by most schools.

And now I’m rambling, and probably sounding like a misanthropist when I don’t mean to be.  I think ALL of our children deserve the very, very best, and it’s just not fair that most schools aren’t even trying to give it to them.

reading child, kids who read succeed, bright reading child, Scheiss WeeklyAs for those little age disclaimers inside the book jackets. . . . only the worst, stupidest librarians and teachers pay any attention to those.  If a child wants to read a book, the good librarians and teachers allow it.  The best ones ENCOURAGE it.

And if your child or student tries to explain to you that he/she reads in an unusual way, LISTEN.  If your child tells you that a teacher or, for that matter, anyone in the school took his/her book away from him/her because he/she was “too young” for it, get in the car and drive to the school and go inside and let it be known that this will Never.  Happen.  Again.

My seven-year-old self thanks you.

Happy Easter 2014

Mamacita says:

Happy Easter, everyone.

What? Oh, oops. . . . .

Here. This is more like it. I do love those vintage Easter postcards. I hated growing up and finding out that those baby kittens were probably going to eat those baby chicks. I would also hate to have to tell you all how old I was before I realized that the bunnies weren’t really responsible for all those eggs.  (In real life, those Disney owls would have devoured those baby birds, etc, too.  Only in a Disney film is an owl a wise mentor, not a voracious carnivore.)  But I digress.  Or did I. . . .

Ultimately, however, this is Easter to me.

And isn’t it wonderful that so many of us, with so many different beliefs, can hang out here in the Blogosphere and get along great and love each other without having to constantly proselytize and try to sway each other to our own beliefs?

Oh, sure, those people are online too, but I don’t pay much attention to them. Not here; not anywhere.  Well, maybe a little more this past week, but not usually.

It’s the people whose beliefs are quietly lived every day, the people who show me by example what their values are, who get my attention.

And who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? If you don’t believe me, just look around for a minute or two. Think of your family.

And if you’re alone, look in the mirror.


Happy Easter, dear internet people. Eat chocolate. Get together with family. Smile. Have some eggs. Rejoice over something.

It’s a good day for rejoicing. . . .

(Originally posted on Easter, 2005, but nothing’s changed since then.)

Oh, about that Easter Island head? It and its clone guard the entrance to the local city park. We carve limestone here.

Are you going to eat that Reese’s Egg?

P.S.  ”He is risen.”  Please notice the participle form of “to rise” used after the linking verb “is.” Participle forms of verbs, used without a helping verb, are adjectives.  If you want to say “He has risen,” you are using the third column past participle form of “to rise” and you are using it  with a helping verb.  Third column past participle verbs are never used without a helping verb.  By that same token, never use a helping verb with a first or second column present or past tense verb.  ”He done rose” is not acceptable.  (Future tense is an exception.)  (He WILL rise.)

P.P.S.  The above Easter grammar rant was brought to you by me, because I am forever behind a lectern, in reality and in my head, and can’t resist making a connection even if it involves bringing holy or sacred icons into the classroom.  Or the Blogosphere.  Why?  Because I am not afraid nor do I hesitate to connect pretty much anything and everything and anyone and everyone to anything and everything and anyone and everyone else. In the universe.  That is what education is.

P.P.P.S.  Easter Island heads have bodies.



Quotation Saturday: Easter

quotation saturday, mamacita's blog, jane goodwin Mamacita says: It’s Easter weekend, and Quotation Saturday begs your leave to take full advantage of said fact. Nah, I’m kidding, Quotation Saturday does what it wants; sometimes it makes itself known when it’s not even Saturday.

Easter is a wonderful, special time of year. For some, it marks the end of harsh winter and the beginning of beautiful spring; for others, it’s the holiest of holy days, and for still others, it’s a children’s holiday full of bunnies, chickies, candy, and colored eggs.

Quotation Saturday wishes to please you all.

1. We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine. — Dwight L. Moody

2. Easter is very important to me, it’s a second chance. — Reba McEntire

empty tomb, Easter, Scheiss Weekly3. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes – undisturbed in form and position. — Josh McDowell

4. I have always wanted a bunny and I’ll always have a rabbit the rest of my life. — Amy Sedaris

5. I’ve got great people who handle my schedule, and everything does revolve around the children. If there’s a parents’ night or an Easter bonnet parade or a Nativity play, whatever it might be, then I plan everything around that. — Victoria Beckham

6. I read the Scriptures at the American Cathedral on Christmas and Easter; that’s it. It’s a task I love. — Olivia De Havilland

7. Easter is reflecting upon suffering for one thing, but it also reflects upon Jesus and his non compliance in the face of great authority where he holds to his truth – so there’s two stories there. — Michael Leunig

8. Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. — John Paul II

9. Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot. chicks, cat, Easter, devour, Scheiss WeeklyThe reality is so horrible it is not surprising that people should have found it a stumbling block to faith. — W.H. Auden

10. If anyone or anything tries to curse or kill the Goodness at the Center of all things, it will just keep coming back to life. Forever Easter. — David Housholder

11. Easter is never deserved. — Jan Karon

12. Love paid a price so hope could become a reality. — Susan GaddisPeeps, pink, Easter, Scheiss Weekly

13. Two thousand years ago Jesus is crucified, three days later he walks out of a cave and they celebrate with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps and beautifully decorated eggs. I guess these were things Jesus loved as a child. — Billy Crystal

14. So with Easter. It was fun, as a child, to bound down the stairs to find seasonal sweet-treats under each plate, but again, with the passing of time, and the shadow of death over our broken family circle, I’ve seen Easter as highest necessity. If chocolate bunny, Easter, Scheiss Weeklyhope is to flourish, it had better be true. –Gerhard Frost

15. The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice. — Henry Knox Sherrill

16. Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals. — Charles M Crowe

17. The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances. — Robert Flatt

18. Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, “Christ is risen,” but “I shall rise.” — Phillips Brooks

19. You’ll wake up on Easter morning, And you’ll know that he was there, When you find those Easter lamb, Scheiss Weeklychoc’late bunnies, That he’s hiding ev’rywhere. — Gene Autry

20. The resurrection asserts a truth which is by no means always written legibly for all men on the face of nature. It tells us that the spiritual is higher than the material; that in this universe spirit counts for more than matter. — H.P. Liddon

21. The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks. — Douglas Adams

22. It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. — Rainer Maria Rilke

23. If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring. — Victor Hugo

24. It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you spring flowers, Easter, Scheiss Weeklydon’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! — Mark Twain

25. Strange as it may seem, the association of eggs and bunnies at Easter time are actually connected and, to discover more, we must once again turn our attention to the Saxon fertility Goddess, Eostre. — Carole Carlton

Happy Easter, bunnies, chicks, eggs, Scheiss Weekly

Three Truths and a Lie

three truths and a lie Mamacita says: You know how the game is played. Here are four statements about me, and one of them is a lie. Which one?

Most of you know me pretty well. See if you can figure it out.

1.  I danced with Bobby Knight at a party in a trailer park.

2.  I took tickets at a drag queen beauty and talent pageant.

3.  I am a big fan of country music and reality shows.

4.  I look up most movies on “The Movie Spoiler” before watching to make sure there’s a satisfactory ending.


Noah, You’re Not the Only One Who Survived a Flood

Noah's ark, ark, flood, Scheiss Weekly Mamacita says:  First of all, please remember that the literal level is the very lowest, simplest, basic form of reading and interpretation.  Good readers and thinkers have advanced above the literal level into the inferential and figurative levels.  That being said. . . .

There’s a lot of controversy about the new “Noah” movie, but I think most of it involves people who don’t know much about the history of the planet, and who haven’t actually READ FOR THEMSELVES the segments in pretty much any religion’s holy book about the flood.

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”  – Genesis 6:4

These giants, according to many and NOT according to probably just as many, were the Nephilim, sometimes regarded as fallen angels.  Not the Satanic kind; just the proud and snotty kind.  Still brothers to the Seraphim, but lacking many of their original powers because of their decision to have sex with mingle with the women of earth – the “daughters of men.”  We have no way of knowing for sure what they may have looked like.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Our guesses are as good as a screenwriter’s.  It is also a theory that the creative geniuses of our planet are descendants of the Nephilim.  I kind of like that one.

Maybe they looked like CGI rocks.  Maybe they were tall and handsome.  I wasn’t there.  Neither were you.  We don’t know.

For more information and a lot of creativity, read Madeleine L’Engle’s “Many Waters.”  It’s wonderful, if you’re not too anal and literal to appreciate some awesome liberties.

As for whether or not there really was a Great Flood, if you have any kind of literary background at all you will already know that almost every single culture on the planet has at least one story of such a flood, and while the peripherals may differ, the gist remains: the major deity became disgusted with the behavior of mortal men, and decided to wipe them out with many waters.  One family was spared, with the hope that the more positive gene pool would repopulate the planet with a better sort.  On a geological time line, these floods all pretty much coincide.  Sometimes I think writers and readers have as great a grasp of science as the actual scientists.  Of course, I also believe we are all scientists if we let ourselves be, so there.

The Greek myths of Baucis and Philemon, who showed hospitality to the gods and were thus spared from drowning, and of Deucalion and Pyrrha, who were forewarned about the destruction and who built an ark to escape it, are but two ancient flood stories.  There are dozens.  DOZENS.  All with the same theme, but with different details.

In fact, since education is all about connections, some of you probably already know that when Zeus and Hermes descended to the earth and traveled from village to village to check out the beliefs and hospitality of the people, they disguised themselves as peasants.  When the New Testament disciples Paul and Barnabas traveled from village to village spreading the brand-new Gospel, people assumed the two men were Zeus and Hermes.  That was a familiar story to them, you see.  (Yes, it’s in the Bible.)

Many theologians believe that one (of probably many) reasons Jesus turned water into wine at the Canaan wedding was because he knew the people would recognize it as a miracle because in several Greek myths a god turned water into wine.  Even the commonest of people would have been familiar with these stories, so seeing water turned into wine before their eyes was an excellent way to establish Jesus as a miracle worker.

Back to Noah.

The stories were built AROUND the flood, to explain it to somewhat primitive people who could have no way of comprehending a scientific disaster and who needed reasons provided by their (now mythical) religions to explain it.

I would also bet money, if I had any, that many of the people protesting the “non-accuracy” of the new “Noah” movie believe that there were only two of each animal on that ark, when in fact the Christian Bible itself says not, according to Genesis 7:2:

“You are to take with you seven pairs of every clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of the unclean animals, a male and its mate.”   — International Standard Version

That, my friends, is a lot of manure.  Shoveling it out must have taken the better part of each day.

As a child, I used to wonder how Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their wives, managed to Noah, ark, animals, Scheiss Weeklykeep the lions from eating the rabbits.  And where did Noah get the meat to feed all the carnivores?  Was that why he needed seven pairs of most animals?  Because you know there would be more than that by the time the whole thing was finally over.

There are theories that Noah also had several daughters whose husbands were among those who mocked Noah and his sons while they were building the ark, so Noah let them drown along with the other unholy townspeople.  I like that, too.  The screenwriters made up some characters and happenings and manipulated others, but seriously.  To take ancient word-of-mouth stories finally written down in who knows which version absolutely literally isn’t logical.  It’s the core we must look at, not the embellishments each teller of a tale added.

This is how my mind has always worked.  My poor teachers.

There were groves of cypress and other trees in some of the desert’s oases, so that one never bothered me.  ”Gopher wood” has many translations.

I think it boils down to this:  one must cultivate a willing suspension of disbelief to believe – and to enjoy – much of what makes up any culture.  Scientists understand this.  Writers do, too.  Children have it instinctively until it’s beaten out of them by prosaic parents and traditional schooling.

Common Core is doing its best to wipe out all aspects of individuality, creativity, art, music, and anything that a child might have in himself to stand out.  People were never meant to be standardized.  The very idea is horrible.  But I digress.

People who don’t “believe” in anything must lead such drab, ordinary lives.  I can’t imagine a life Magic, books, literal, creativity, Scheiss Weeklywithout imagination, artistic leanings, creativity, and the cultivating of all these things in children and each other.  You don’t believe in any kind of magic?  You poor thing.  And your even poorer children.

We don’t have to subscribe to the peripherals to believe in the core.

I plan to enjoy the new “Noah” film.  I don’t have to sit there with a Bible and a notebook and write down all the things that offend me, because the only thing that might offend me is bad acting, poor writing, and the presentation of fantasy that doesn’t engage me in the moment.  As for those pathetic people who are criticizing the film because it doesn’t conform to their particular set of beliefs:  which version of the Bible are you referring to?  Oh, that’s right.  The one you personally subscribe to.

I rest my case.




Ten Years Blogging. I’m Old School!

scheiss weekly, jane goodwin, woman typing, blog anniversaryMamacita says:  Ten years ago, a former student told me that I should start a blog.  ”You’ve got such a lot to say,” he said.  ”Who cares what I think about the world?” I replied. “Lots of people would,” he said.

I wondered if he was right. I guess he was, because I’ve been to conferences all over the country, and spoken to crowds of people, both individually and on panels.  People seem to recognize me even before they see my name tag.  People tell me that such-and-such a post really helped/spoke to them/influenced them, etc.  It’s really, really humbling.  And exciting.  And humbling. Who would have thought it?  Me, with a large readership and people who seemed to like me and take me seriously?  It’s like a dream.  The good kind, that comes true because you never dreamed it would be possible but it really did and you’re in shock and awe and Oz and Wonderland.  And Narnia and Hogwarts.  And the Tardis.

I’ve met so many wonderful people during this journey.  Some of them are still virtual friends, while I’ve met many face-to-face, but I’ve also learned during these ten years that online friends can be as real as face-to-face friends.  Sure, there are creeps out there, but no more so than the number of creeps at the mall.

I’ve learned not to be afraid of the world.  The world is actually pretty awesome, and it’s full of cool things and fantastic people.  Sure, there are fiery volcanic pits and treacherous waterfalls and cockroaches, but there are also rainbows and sunsets and people who are good, true friends.  The forever kind.

That I would still be here ten years after beginning this funky little blog is amazing to me, and yet, it’s also unthinkable to abandon it, as many are abandoning blogging for the shorter Twitter and Facebook.  Oh, I’m on those, too, but this blog saved my soul alive ten years ago and it’s done nothing but nourish me ever since. I am so grateful to the internet.  Really, I am.  It’s a world that was always there, but we had no way of accessing it easily.  Now, we can travel anywhere, see anything, contact anyone, and work for a business that’s a thousand miles away, in our pajamas, at midnight.

Thank you, dear readers, for making me feel special.  Ten years is as an eternity in the internet Hourglassworld, but somehow I don’t feel old when I’m here.  I’m happy when I’m on Scheiss Weekly.  I’m happy reading your comments.  I love visiting YOUR blogs. I love visiting with you on the other social media sites, too, but I don’t think anything could ever completely replace a blog.  In ten more years, I guess we’ll find out.

Also, I wonder if you really understand the title of this blog.  Scheiss Weekly.  Who speaks German? C’mon.

I was traumatized when I began it, and the title reflected that.  I’m fine now, but the title keeps me humble.  And fairly sane. Time marches on.  Time flies.  And yet, it really doesn’t.  Time stands still.  We march. With every blink of the eye, yes, and briefer even than that, our lives are moving ever swiftly towards their ends. It’s this middle that we must make the most of.  I am.  I hope you are, too.

Here’s to ten more years.  At a time, anyway.

I love you all.  Literally.