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Sarah's Notes


25 in the collection  

    Mrs. Puglisi's 100 National Standards

    by Sarah Puglisi

    I just read a nice editorial about HOW RELIEVED a newspaper is if we have National Standards.
    In the New York Times, you can read it here.Finally, it said, as if stranded in the desert seeing at the very last moment of possibility the solution to their thirst there at the oasis on the horizon. And like that, it's probably a mirage.

    At least this writer isn't aware how much we are and have been standards driven in the 30 some years I've been working in the field. But it must feel more "right" if the nation says "knows the 50 states" or "understands separation of church and state" or more importantly "understands the role of the free press in democracy." Yeah, well, national control, now that's a cheering thought, so much works so well once that gets going.

    My mom had printed out the commentary and before you knew it, I read the thing.

    For months I've tried not to read too much she handed over fearing it might contain yet another blow. Being a teacher right now is open season. I believe they expanded the season.
    I work in an Underperforming school, in some very difficult poverty, and therefore the Secretary of Education and my President may well label me "bad." Neat. That's the reality, among many now sadly. My close friend and partner teacher continually invites this National leadership to her classroom. To spend real time, and then maybe open awareness, dialog and learn about the realities. So far, no helicopter on the lawn.

    Last night I began thinking about my own "standards" what I'd wish for children.
    What I OFTEN do not see. But we aren't allowed to talk about that. And all too often as teachers we have been labeled if we did talk, about that anyway. Labeled as excuse makers. But just the same I'd like to see these things as standard.
    I know that's not what's being talked about. Still, it's what I assert matters "nationally."

    What I'd wish for the children I work with is this kind of bottom line. A set of standards. According to the best theory we have our not attending to these underpinnings of care and security prevent educational, personal, community health, well being, and stunt normal development. But that's not as easy as saying the teacher is bad. Not as target ready. Rather than fire, you might have to approach the entire situation by building good facilities, launching into community health, figuring out how to provide work, you might have to build a butterfly pavilion in every community, imagine, or cough up some art supplies, time, you might need to drive where I drive and really in-depth and individually look at things.

    So Today, before I do other things that I need to do, I'm going to list my standards:

    1. All children should know love.

    2. All children should know that they have a bed to sleep in tonight, and next week, and for their life.

    3. All children should have adequate, even delicious food, and know all about their food.

    4. All children should have support within the walls of their homes.

    5. All children should have the experience of play.

    6. All children should know nature, value nature, interact within nature, and be in families that have some capacity to do the same.

    7. All children should know, have and be able to be friends.

    8. All children should have clothes to wear that help keep them warm and express their beauty.

    9. All children should feel that their family is accepted and is of value.

    10. All children should learn language, learn to speak by finding their world one that enjoys communication, the more languages that they know the more broadened the understanding.

    11. All children should have health and DENTAL care that their families are not fearful about, or simply can't afford or have, and know illness cannot bankrupt them. They need health care that attends to their well being.

    12. All children should be regarded as potentially, and individually, and instantly a part of whatever cosmic beauty, goodness,whatever we wish to call it, that exists and as such is the reason we all live with hope and possibility.

    13. All children should be permitted to listen to adults that are permitted to think.

    14. All children should be assured of schools, fair schools, schools where we do not reinforce unfair notions that already existed at birth, like if your family "has more" or lives on some piece of real estate or is somehow smarter or edging out another, then your school will be better. This unfortunately underpins the current national policy. That even includes the President. Whoever they are every child deserves a very nice school. Not a me, then everyone else educational model. (Check out Finland)

    15. All children should have books. Libraries are great.

    16. All children should have toys, but maybe ones parents make as well as buy.

    17. All children should have parents, family, neighbors, mentors that make things.

    18. All children should have systems at work within their lives that build healthy communities seeing them as the reason the community exists.

    19. All children should have adults that can cooperate, hear one another, resolve conflict, have the capacity to demonstrate love, attention, concern, solutions, turn taking, deference.

    20. All children should have paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, sprinkles, cookies, cups,cans, materials, glue, paste, making and doing.

    21. All children should have adequate sleep and rest.

    22. All children should have music. Every form, in utero on, to listen and sing to, in choir, to play, as a part of life. As a part of study.

    23. All children should be involved in learning projects.

    24. All children should know transportation systems to get them around safely.

    25. All children should enjoy celebrations, the most important at least once per year a celebration of that child and their value to our life.

    26. All children should begin the process of literacy not as a race but as a right, a joy, an exploration, and a normal function.

    27. All children should enter school believing and maintaining as long as possible a joy in learning, and a belief in self as not "behind", not labeled, not seen as less.

    28. All children should experience lives without bullies, and when there are bullies, teasing, cruelty, be able to easily find the resources, the support, the fairness to have access to help. To be heard.

    29. All children should know technology.

    30. All children should be given opportunities to demonstrate understandings.

    31. All children should learn within family and school to cook and care for their food.

    32. All children should be served food at school that is interesting, fresh, well made, delicious and not a frozen, re-baked, cultural wasteland.

    33. All children should be allowed to respect, care about, and return to teachers as important to their lives. They should know Mrs. P may well be in the same school in her room waiting 20 years later to see you again!

    34. All children should have time with the adults that conceived them. Daycare should be an option that is last on the list.

    35. All children should be allowed comfortable school furniture. Very comfortable.

    36. All children should do more each day in a school than they sit, or rarely be engaged in passive workbooking.

    37. All children should be educated in reasonable, perhaps even outrageously small groups, so that each child can and does get the care they need. No more than 15.

    38. Children should have opportunities to draw, color, illustrate, print make, dye, batik, sketch, paste, cut, collage, design, sparkle, explore, respond within art so that they have experienced quality materials and competent artists actively. Real papers, real crayolas, real inks, paints, that allow them to become human through art. And not bought by their underpaid teacher.

    39. All children need to hear the big pictures, even when we are still engaged in understanding the big pictures.

    40. All children should learn about their brain, body, systems, and how they work.

    41. All children should see the differences in cultures, people, societies as opportunities to become aware and to be amazed.

    42. All children should find mathematics from the time they hold the concept of three, until they are fully grown, as a part of everything we do, that mathematics has history, context, thought, theory and that they can find themselves perfectly a part of the understandings of this within its forms and functions. Male or female, rich or poor. (I'm pleased this worked out to be number 42)

    43. All children should learn to observe, should learn this within natural settings.

    44. All children should be engaged in science.

    45. All children should know animals, their care, to care for animals, support, raise and love them and understand as well the cycle of life.

    46. All children should know schools that support all of the above, and fight for these things ahead of anything else.

    47. All children should run on beaches, in grass, have playgrounds, feel forest floors, fly kites, gather leaves, cross streets safely, visit fire stations, meet the police in nice days to learn about hard jobs with the ability to ask them about their work, go to groceries, learn about money, see movies, roll down hills, sled, walk by crocus, talk to grandmas and grandpas, collect and recycle, play cards, take turns, have dice, play Candyland, do dance, gymnastics, try waterslides, learn swimming safety, go to farms, pet animals, cut pumpkins, smell pine, wash the floor with a friend, have chores, taste baked bread, knead dough, water plants, grow seeds, take care of fish, walk in lines, put on shows, sing with friends, flop on the floor, use blocks, without feeling anything but how good all of that feels.

    48. All children should develop constructs of learning that set and achieve goals, with the child involved.

    49. All children should be read to and start to read in a lap in a house or a home.

    50. All children should be cleaned, bathed, cared for as if they were a joy.

    51. All children should have shoes.

    52. All children should have coats and sweaters, gloves, hats and people that care whether or not they are wearing them or have them. And possibly make them for them.

    53. All children should have rules, limits, safety nets, systems, understandable patterns, routines, mentors, and those that love them well enough to have flexibility and judgment in using them ahead of rigidity and power.

    54. Children should be able to learn about work.

    55. Children should learn about how their society functions in terms of money, jobs, labor, roles, learning of others and their situations and within something hard to define, with open minds, with introduction of the complexity in society, the stratification.

    56. All children should feel that their family has capacity, intelligence, worth and intrinsic value.

    57. All children should sometimes ask and receive.

    58. All children should sometimes cope with a no.

    59. All children should have sharing time, if possible far longer than adults teaching them want to tolerate.

    60. All children should be allowed to wash their hands before eating, after play times as a normal experience.

    61. All children should attend schools, live in houses with adequate facilities to know a toilet, a bath, a way to clean clothes and to enjoy being clean.

    62. All children should live in a world where if mental illness affects the family there are ways to have, find, sustain help for them, and not drown.

    63. All children should have bandaids, both the real thing and the metaphorical kind. To heal.

    64. All children should be able to hear stories of kith and kin, hear other children's story, and grow within structures that value these experiences of "our story" above all else.

    65. All children should move in dance.

    66. All children should know sport.

    67. All children should watch Reading Rainbows, once per week well through 8th grade.

    68. All children should learn to build a fire, how to use a compass, how to set up a tent, ways to safely do the things that ensure our survival, taught in ways that don't frighten, but do allow them confidences and maturation. Camp, they should get to go to camp and ALL children need a trip to the nations capitol and to museums.

    69. All children should skip a stone over a pond, catch and cook a fish, throw back more than they catch, know snow, understand seasons, begin to feel the earth under their feet, be taught the earth's movement, time, the calendaring systems with contexts that engage them fully in experiential learning.

    70. All children should make large sidewalk drawings in chalk.

    71. All children should make presentations, displays, have fairs and experiences to present to families that come, watch, interact, appreciate and value as community experience.

    72. All children should learn about feelings.

    73. All children should make, have, use puppets, experience drama and plays.

    74. All children should find that they are valued for their opinion, and asked why, and expected to be heard as well as listen to another.

    75. All children should have literacy as a foundational right, have books be the center of educational experiences, find that what they read, experience within words to be valued as highly as possible.

    76. All children need access and understanding of history, time-lines, historical figures, historical perspectives, historical understanding of things we have learned from both our successes, but also our mistakes.

    77. All children should write, read and engage with poetry.

    78. All children should respect their own learning, and understand that their achievements help them individually to evolve, not to better over others, but to become more fully alive. And thus of value to others.

    79. All children should learn about the systems of religion, philosophy, schools of thought.

    80. All children should learn about death, in caring ways we should allow them to develop their understandings so they are not paralyzed by both their fears, but the realities they will face.

    81. All children should have a backpack.

    82. All children should look forward to each day.

    83. All children should be allowed to wear hats. Sunglasses too.

    84. All children should have someplace to do their homework, and someone that cares to talk about it with them.

    85. All children should find their talents and learn to use their strengths understanding as well their weaknesses.

    86. All children should laugh.

    87. All children should watch the sky. Value weather, learn about the earth, be engaged in the atmosphere, understand water tables, be aware of how these systems work.

    88. All children should learn to answer a phone, safely , and intelligently.

    89. All children should write, in a multiplicity of ways, all day and as a part of understanding, as a tool.

    90. All children should one day look up in their classrooms and rather than seeing an authority in the "watch" their teacher mode, see a President or an Ed Secretary or other important folk in looking at all the things they are doing, valuing their learning, finding within that community things to see as right in their learning.

    91. All children should take turns and know they will have a turn.

    92. All children should understand that if they do work, try, show themselves to be willing to learn, make mistakes and process them, that they can enter into fields they choose, that no door is closed because they are not rich, they should understand careers and opportunities and their roles, as well as community roles, in seeing them into futures.It should not be a mystery.

    93. All children when they fall, need a helping hand.

    94. All children should feel that they work within dynamics that see success over failure.

    95. All children should know the warmth of a heater, the light of a bulb, the luxury of air conditioning in rooms over 80. All children should see the value in those comforts and fully understand how that is provided to them.

    96. All children should get gifts.

    97. All children should make and give cards and gifts as expressions of thankfulness and connection.

    98. All children should have a blog in a child safe atmosphere.

    99. All children should learn within local settings that help to set goals and standards and to maintain ways to over see this.

    100. All children should be integrated, rich, poor, black, white, restricted by disability, glasses wearing, free thinking, Republican household, Democratic, representing every color, creed, view, and from such a base learn about self and others to the best of our ability to mix ourselves together within community, neighborhood, nation, to think of such things as more important than writing a bunch of standards and thinking that was the same as doing all of the above.

    I have more but I have work to do.
    I've taught children missing all of the above.
    I've taught these last 27 years knowing stories of kids that might break your heart that renders much of what I hear "proposed" into a joke like stance for some of our children while I was, and teachers like me were, scapegoated over understanding the complexities of the issues. Children deserve better than that. They deserve thinking adults. And schools and systems designed for them to do well. If this is addressed as the NY Times writer thought by these standards then I assume the above has been articulated into systems, structures and supports.

    2010-03-25 03:48:32


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