Archive | August, 2011

The Tragic (and Tasty) Tale of Butternut Squash

27 Aug

Yes, I draw on my squash.

For days, the butternut squash had watched warily from the kitchen counter as one by one, the other vegetables met tragic ends. The stress finally felled one of them, but the other three held out hope. Continue reading

Ode to a Shallot

26 Aug

Shallot I compare thee to an onion today?
Thou are smaller, and more garlicky.
Tough skins may your preparation time delay,
and fruit inside be all too short for me.

Continue reading

Going Greenling

25 Aug

We started an experiment at our house this week, and ordered a local produce box from a company called Greenling. Here’s how that works. Every week, they drop off a box of in-season, local produce that is either organic or sustainably grown.

I know in my heart that all those things are important, but you wouldn’t know that from our usual eating habits around here, as evidenced by the Sonic Route 44 cups filling our trash can. We needed an intervention. So, I signed up.

The box was apparently delivered by a ninja, since I was home and didn’t even know it had arrived until I nearly fell over it running out the door to an appointment. Fortunately, my reflexes also feature cat-like reaction time, so I did not take a face plant on the front walk. Score one for the new healthy lifestyle. Continue reading

The Fur Inquisition

25 Aug

Dear dogs:

There seems to be an alarming collection of fur on the floor. Despite regular sweeping and vacuuming, floor fur levels seem to perpetually be at a Defcon-5 alert level. Do something about it.

Love,

The One With The Food

Responses:

Dog #1: I don’t know what you are talking about. Also? This Inquisition is interrupting my nap. The stress of this will probably make me shed.

Dog #2: Hush. I am riding the couch arm. Eventually, I will make the couch move with the power of my mind, and it will take me to worlds yet undiscovered. Also? I am small with short fur. Clearly, I am not to blame.

Dog #3: Fine. It’s me. I feel ashamed. Are you happy now? Are you? ARE YOU?

Not Adding Up

22 Aug

Dear Math teacher,

My child started your class today. Although really, I could have written this last year. Because the first-day speech seems to be standard issue. “This class is hard. You might not be ready to be in here. You should drop it now if you have any doubts, and get back into regular math.”

Last year, those words echoed for my child all year. Hovered over every homework assignment. Hung in the air in the classroom, a cloud so intimidating that she wouldn’t ask a question, fearing she might come across as “not smart enough” for your class.

They hummed during every test like a Greek chorus.”You aren’t good enough for the smart-kid class.”

The thing is, she is. Or, she was, until the smothering smoke of self-doubt set in.

But she got through the year, tears and all. Because even when she didn’t believe it, even when you made her think differently? She was capable. She belonged in advanced math.

I hoped, with a new year, we could start fresh.

Instead, the same speech came out. “This class is hard. Drop it now if you have any doubts.” Tonight, she fell asleep in tears, sure she would never get it.

The first day of school, and she already feels defeated.

Listen, I get it. You want the students to know the honors classes are tough. You have one more year to ready them for high school. Toughen them up.

But — and I say this not just as a mom but as a fellow educator — that speech needs to go. Telling kids, “If you have any doubt, quit now,” is an absolutely ridiculous life lesson.

Of course, you should let them know it’s going to be tough, that they will need to do the work and put forth their best effort. But remind them too that they are capable, they are in your class for a reason. Remind them they’ve proven they are up for the challenge. Instead of puffing up Algebra into some kind of fire-breathing mythical dragon, hand them a sword and help them cut it down to size.

When you ask a classroom, “have I scared you yet?” It is not a point of pride for your students to answer “yes.” Our role as teachers is not to be the angry troll guarding the bridge. We are bridge builders. If a child really isn’t ready, assessments will make that clear. But sowing seeds of self-doubt is never going to reap anything but a harvest of students afraid to try.

So please, retire the speech. If it’s in some middle-school advanced math teacher manual somewhere, tear out the page already. If you can teach the quadratic formula, you’re definitely smart enough to come up with a new first-day speech.

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