Monthly Archives: May 2007

Caught One

So my recent obsession with blogs has taken me on quite the adventure. I have found some really interesting posts, some amazing blogs, and some horrible ones. I feel like I have been digging in a sandbox, hoping to find some gem that someone has left behind for me to find. And I found one. I caught this entry last night on my hook. I decided to paste it below so that it is easier to interact with here. Here’s the original link if you want to check it out yourself –

I had a conversation last night that ties nicely into the topic of the week. We are raising a generation of enablers. There is no need to think for yourself; it’s all done for you, and there is no need to take responsibility for your actions. A prime example of this is the “Caution: Coffee is Hot” warnings on take-out coffee cups. While I understand this is a way of covering the company ass, it’s certainly not helping anyone on a grand scale.

If you’re never taught to think things out from A to B, to see the cause and effect of what you do, always have someone there to direct you, what happens when you’re put in a situation where the only one you have to rely on is you? What happens when there isn’t someone to tell you ‘what happens next’?

I’m going to call this the ‘…and then what?’ effect. 20 minutes out of the school day could go a long way to teaching a child how to deal with a ‘…and then what?’ situation. When the kids are lining up for recess, pose a ‘…and then what?’ question. It takes nothing away from the set curriculum, but it definitely adds common sense to a common sense deprived generation. EG: You’ve gotten carried away with your campfire, and now it’s dangerously close to igniting the dry branches of the overhead trees. You only have a small jug of water at hand. And then what?

There is no one there to explain that the small jug of water isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference in putting that fire out before it becomes a big problem. When I posed this question to some non-outdoorsy type adults (who do enjoy the occasional camping trip, though), they said they’d run to get more water. Water puts out fire, right? When I explained that there was no need to get more water, and that all they had to do was throw the dirt under their feet on the fire, they looked perplexed. I could see them trying to work it out from point A to point B in their heads. All it took was for me to say, “Smother it”, and the lightbulb of recognition flicked on. Something so basic to their safety eluded them until they were directed to the answer. This is even a transferable skill for those who never set foot in the woods! Kitchen fires, backyard weeny roasts, BBQ’s—but there’s where the problem lays. Unless they’re specifically guided through it step by step, people are losing the ability to apply concept A to concept B on their own. Concept A = throw baking soda on a grease fire in the kitchen to smother it. Concept B = throw dirt on a camp fire to smother it. Pretty simple once it’s explained. That is has to be explained with step by step instruction is more than a little scary, though.

The only problem I can see with implementing this education is: First you’d have to teach the teachers. That, and because of the ever increasing budget cuts, it’s going to take a lot of volunteers to make this change happen.


Great post, Cliff! I think you are absolutely right. I have been inspired and plan to start this with my students. I was thinking I could assign …and then what journal entries at least once a week. I never thought about using journal for problem solving before. It could be a great experience to read them quickly and discuss the different solutions that the students came up with. Thanks!

What Happened to Respect?

As a child I was always taught to be respectful to my elders. My parents made sure that I spoke with respect to any adult. When I was in school I called my teachers “Sir.” I always said “please” and “thank you” and it never felt like I was forced to do these things. It was expected and common courtesy. This was the way the world worked.

These days, I am the adult and I do not see this respect being returned. I wonder what happened to common courtesy and why kids don’t behave in respectful ways anymore. Is it not taught at home anymore? Do we not live in a respectful society anymore? It seems like we do not.

I have never been address as “Sir” by any of my students. Maybe times have just changed. But I hear students who call their teacher simply “teacher.” I find that disrespectful. I don’t call them “student,” or “kid.” I address them by name, out of respect. I expect the same thing in return. I also expect the children in my class to say please and thank you, but I have found, more often than not, I don’t get it without having to remind them.

It’s frustrating being a teacher in this day and age. I was disrespected in a handful of ways today. And I couldn’t really do anything about it. I try to do my job to the best of my ability and I treat the students with respect. But it doesn’t get returned. I want to rant and rave about it here in detail, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that I was openly disrespected by students who didn’t listen, did the complete opposite of what I said, turned their back on me, walked away, and talked back to me. It was too much! Way too much!

I don’t deserve to be treated this way. A few students in the school feel that it is okay to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Detention, suspension, taking away recess or gym seems to be no deterrent whatsoever to their actions. And we don’t really have the power to do anything else. The kids know that they don’t need to listen because they are really no consequences to their actions. They have learned that respect is not important.

I don’t know what can be done about this lack of respect. I think that it probably will just be something we need to deal with in the future. I wish we didn’t have to but I’ve seen it too much lately and it is heartbreaking.

Newest Obsession

I sat down at the computer fully intent on writing something tonight. I ended up blog-surfing again instead. I wonder if it is because I am finding part three of my novel hard to write. Maybe it is a way for me to avoid writing. I don’t know.

All I know is that I am enjoying discovering new blogs. I love reading the thoughts of other writers and posting comments. It is has become my latest obsession. I seems like it is part of my personality to get obsessed with things. I don’t know why I do it, but I think it is something I have always done.

I have gone through intense periods in my life where my focus seemed to be extremely narrow. I have grown and evolved over the years and I think that I have come a long way. I tend not to let myself get as worked up as I used to but sometimes things get a hold of me and I just can’t seem to let go.

Maybe, this obsession has just to do with my situation right now. I am taking advantage of having Internet in the place I am staying at. I am using the Internet a lot more than I have in the past. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I’m reading and learning things and I am enjoying myself. I just need to remember to take some time to work on my novel or it will never get finished.


So the ever elusive Part 3 of my novel came together a bit today. I am now up to page 199. I don’t know why this portion of the book has been so difficult to write. Part 1 and 2 seemed to come to me with very little effort.

The story is nearly finished but I keep getting distracted and taking breaks. I didn’t write anything except report cards on Saturday. They are due in two and a half weeks so I wanted to give myself a bit of a head start.

Sunday I wrote a bit in the morning. Then I took a break for lunch, did some reading, and went for a 5 km run. I then got back to the computer but I ended up reading a blog. I did some surfing, found a new artist and wrote a blog entry. I eventually got back to writing my novel and have finished the skateboard competition portion of the story.

I broke for supper and flicked on the television. I watched a movie on the Movie Network just because it was starting during my supper break. It was called Elizabethtown and I knew absolutely nothing about it before I turned it on. After it finished I sat there and let the credits roll. You know it is a good movie when you don’t want to get up right away and do something. I let the credits roll and stayed on the couch. That movie was amazing. It had great writing and I really enjoyed it.

I then got up and turned on the computer again and wrote this blog. So here I am Sunday night typing away. I’m not sure where I’m going with my novel. I really should get back to it. The story should wrap up in the next twenty pages or so. I know that there needs to be an awards ceremony and a coming home type of closure but besides that I’m not exactly sure of the ending. I will figure it out as I type, as long as I don’t get distracted again.

Stelth Bomber

I just discovered this very talented MC today. You need to click on both of these links to hear some amazing hip hop. I think this is some of the best music I have heard coming up from the underground in a long time.

This link features a banging song about the troops serving overseas in Iraq.

This is his myspace page that has four other songs for you to check out. Please do, I don’t think you will be disappointed if you are a true fan of quality underground hip hop. It reminds me of the early 90s and his tagline mentions the Native Tongues, so you know he is representing real hip hop.

Hip Hop at the Crossroads

XM Satellite Radio ran a special last night called Hip Hop at the Crossroads: A Town Hall Meeting. The show had very notable members of the hip hop community who all spoke frankly about the state of hip hop culture. It was an illuminating program.

I think it is important to keep the lines of communication open and discuss the impact that the music and culture have on society as a whole. It seems that those of us in the hip hop community are always on the defensive. Hip hop is always under attack from people who don’t understand the culture and all the positive things that it has to offer.

I have written extensively about the culture and have added labels so that it will be easier to find the themed entries I have made. I hope that by keeping the lines of communication open that we will be able to solve the problems inherent in the culture. Many of these problems extend well beyond hip hop.

The artist reflects the issues and times of his day, and vice versa. We have a problem in society with harmful words and images. I think that it is our moral responsibility to do something about it. We have a problem with ignorance, violence, sexism, racism, poverty, and mysognism. These are not issues related to rap music. We can not blame hip hop culture for any of these problems.

Part of the problem is that kids connect with this music more so than they do with their parents of their teachers. Chuck D of Public Enemy had a great comment in the 80s. He said that Hip hop was the black CNN. So kids get information from hip hop. They are influenced by lyrics and the lives of the artists they look up to. We reflect these problems of society in our music and some artists will perpetrate the problems further, partly because it sells records.

I think we need to open up the lines of communication. The elders of hip hop need to educate the new up and comers in the industry. We need to educate our kids about lyrics and artists. We need to mentor new artists and allow them a time to evolve and grow. We need to be responsible in all aspects of our culture.

Hip hop is a great art form with a lot of power. MCs have a voice that young kids listen to. Record labels have a responsibility. We as listeners, parents, teachers, etc have a responsibility as well. We need to recognize this power and use it responsibly.

I Failed Today

I promised myself that I would not yell in the classroom today. It was a promise that I was not able to keep. It feels like I failed today.

In a few weeks I will need to start writing report cards. I have been getting quite frustrated lately with my students. It is getting really close to the end of the year and I expect a lot from them. I want them all to do well but the fact is that some of them are not.

I wish school wasn’t about the marks. I wish there was a way I could motivate all of them to do their best all the time. I have a motto for the class that we all try to live by; Be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. I have a banner of this saying in huge letters at the front of the classroom. I teach from it and mention it often. The students know what it means and seem to respond to it.

Today’s journal topic was to write about why it is important to be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. It should’ve been an easy enough assignment but the students seemed to be sitting frozen to their seats this morning. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t yell so I wrote the opening sentence for their paragraphs on the board today. After a few minutes, most of them had still not come up with an original sentence. I wasn’t sure what the problem was, so I circulated around the room, pointed out the paragraph model poster we have used all year, and tried to get them started.

I finally got all but one student to finish a journal entry today but only after I wrote an example on the board. Some just copied it, some changed it a bit, and a precious few wrote their own original paragraph. And all of this after I had given them double the amount of time they usually had to do it.

Things didn’t go well for the rest of the day either. They were completely unmotivated to do their work. They weren’t listening well to my lessons. I was trying hard to take it all in stride. I made it to 11:45 before I lost my cool and yelled at them. I almost made it the entire morning.
So it feels like I failed today. My students didn’t live up to their potential. They didn’t get much work done today, and I broke a promise to myself. Maybe it was just a bad day.

I enjoy teaching and hope that we have a better day together tomorrow.

p.s. I hope you like the new layout.

Blog Surfing

I have been writing this blog for a few months now and I enjoy it profusely. I love writing entries and posting them up for people to see. I yearn to have readers like I did when I wrote for the university newspaper during my undergrad. Truth be told, I was never a journalist. Writing was just a hobby of mine.

I have written a personal journal for the past ten years and occasionally I will still write an entry in it. For the most part though, this blog has taken the place of that journal. My journal was labelled as personal. This blog is public. I want readers. I long for people to read my words and respond to them.

I have three readers that I know of. All of whom are personal acquaintances of mine. This changed yesterday though when I had several new comments posted up by someone I didn’t know. He posted some very thoughtful and intelligent comments. I surfed to his blog and read some of his posts. I was impressed with his writing too. I have added a link to his blog. Check it out In Search of Isis.

I clicked on a few of his links. I surfed to some recently published blogs and posted up comments. It was a very nice distraction reading all those different entries from different people. I spent an hour and a half doing my blog surfing but time just flew by. My journey took me to some blogs that I had no interest in whatsoever but I was able to find a few good ones.

Here are a few of the ones I enjoyed last night;

Maybe you will enjoy them too. Read on and please interact with your reading by posting a comment. Thank you.

River of Distraction

Part 3 of my novel has been the hardest part for me to write. I worked on it last night for a few hours and got up to page 187.

I’m still house-sitting. I’ve been working on their laptop computer. They also have the Internet here so I have gotten distracted and gone web-surfing a few times this past week. I think I prefer not to have the internet on the computer I use for my writing. It is too much of a distraction.

Last night, I surfed around, doing some research for the skateboard competition part of the story. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but found a few things I wasn’t. The Internet is like a river that takes you from one place to the next. You never know what is around the next corner. It is like an adventure. But more often that not, it seems like it is a journey to nowhere. A River of Distraction. A waste of time, as it were.

The Internet is an amazing tool. It helps me to stay in touch with friends, family, and parents. It allows me to easily research any topic that interests me. It helps me to get materials for my teaching. It allows me to write this and you to read it.

My problem with the Internet is finding the information that I want. If we further the metaphor of the web being a waterway, I think that I need a captain who is familiar with the sea. Search engines are brainless entities that don’t always come up with the hits I would like. Refining my search terms doesn’t always help. I’m not sure what can be done about this. I guess, the only option is to learn the ways of the sea. Problem is that I am a land-lover through and through. I much prefer to stay on dry land.

Positive Hip Hop Promotion

I don’t think enough people are promoting hip hop in a positive nature. It is easy to focus on the negatives but there is a lot more that hip hop has to offer. Last week, I wrote about a reality show that taught about hip hop culture in a respectful and true way. As a teacher I see students everyday in my school that don’t know anything about the culture they are trying to represent. It makes me sad to see that they don’t know the history of this great art form.

I want to teach them about it but some people don’t believe hip hop should be in the schools at all. One person who disagrees with this is Ice-T. He hosted another hip hop reality show called Ice-T’s Rap School. It was a great program where he went to a private school and taught a group of kids everything about hip hop culture. He cultivated a group of kids who had never been exposed to hip hop and formed them into a group who were able to perform and enjoy the culture. It was a great show and I liked the way he handled it.

This is what hip hop needs. It needs teachers because it doesn’t seem to be going in a good direction right now. The youth need to be taught to respect and value this culture before it slips away and gets stolen from us. It could happen. Hip hop was always more than just the music. It has a rich history and should be celebrated.