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7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

I was in Living Faith on Wednesday. Here’s the link.  Parents of new drivers might relate.

This is a repeat – but you know I’m going to keep telling you about it:

Coming July: The Loyola Kids Book of Signs and Symbols.

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Signs and symbols…Bible stories…saints, heroes and history. 

Just did an interview with a publication about the book and the series. If you run a website/periodical/blog and would like to chat with me about this or any other book…let me know! (amywelborn60 AT gmail)

— 2 —

I did a talk last week for K-2nd grade at a local Catholic school that was having a “Eucharistic Congress” as part of their end-of-the-year celebrations. They were wonderfully prepared children and full of good questions.

I was struck by the difference that a few decades  can make. Twenty years ago, would your local Catholic school have been taking children to Eucharistic Adoration and talking with them about Fatima, rosaries and novenas?

Yes, that pendulum swings…

Somewhat related: We watched the first two episodes of the Lost in Space reboot last night – not terrible, but not the most fantastic thing ever, either. But decent family fare (mostly). My primary reason for being at all interested is Parker Posey – one of my favorites – who is very fun to watch here.

But the reason I’m bringing it up is that in episode two, there’s a character who wears a St. Christopher medal, and said medal figures prominently in the plot. So yes, here we are, far in the future, sleek and glimmering, with spaceships and advanced droid type things and ….St. Christopher is still around.

Flannery O’Connor once observed: “I have noticed that the girls at the local college adore to have ceremonies in which they hold candles or light candles. Any excuse will do….”

Try as we might, we obviously can’t shake whatever it is these signs and symbols represent – and that whatever is obviously most powerfully and recognizably touched through these very signs, still speaking.

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— 3 —

A new (I think) website from Fr. Robert Spitzer that looks to be interesting and helpful:

Credible Catholic

To this end, Credible Catholic offers FREEon-line teaching products based on content from Father Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D. While the initial products are targeted at High School through adult studies, a series for middle school is also in development.

MODULES: The Credible Catholic Series is a complete set of 20 “Modules”. These 20 modules act as a companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The modules cover all 4 parts of the CCC explaining difficult to understand concepts. More importantly, they cover materials addressing the issues that affect our society today. Much of the content in Credible Catholic is unique to our Modules. Each module consists of four basic elements: PresentationPresentation Guide,  Little Book Volume and Big Book Volume. 

— 4 —

This past week, my keyboardist son was practicing organ in a local church. I attend Mass there every few weeks or so, but had never really studied the Pentecost window. It’s across the church from where I usually sit, anyway. I’m glad I was forced to sit there as I listened to the organ this time though, for what I noticed was quite striking:

You probably picked up on it right away. In the center, of course, is Pentecost. But Pentecost doesn’t end there! That power of the Spirit is extending and expanding, depicted in ways that are related to this particular parish in this particular diocese  – to the left to the work of St. Francis Xavier (the patron of the parish) and to the right to St. Paul (the patron of the diocese/Cathedral).

It’s beautiful, bringing together the universal and local dimension of “Catholic”  in a really lovely way.

— 5 —

Speaking of keyboards, this week, my son helped out in a local rock guitar recital program. He played on a couple of songs. If you’re ever interested in video from any of his playing, head to Instagram. I occasionally post it in Stories and sometimes on the main feed.

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— 6 —

June is going to be INSANE.

We begin with this keyboardist son participating in a Master Class at the state music teacher’s convention at Auburn. Then to Atlanta for the National History Bee.

Then they go to Disney with their cousins. (They get to go to Disney + I don’t have to = More Winning)

Then music camp at a local college.

Then….Japan. 

Intermixed with bagging groceries (older son), hopefully a lot of writing (me, when people are in Florida and at music camp) and (somehow) relaxing. I guess.

 

 

— 7 —

More book reminders (for those who only come here on Fridays) – I’ve made How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist available as a free pdf here. 

(One of several free ebooks I have available)

And don’t forget Son #2’s Amazon author page and personal author page. 

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

Wednesday Varia

We were out of town last weekend, which really messed up my unusually fantastic work habits. What’s also messed it up is a series of early-ish morning obligations which have eaten into that work time and then the end of school, which means people staying up later, which has eaten into that work time.

Oh, well – I have bits and pieces of solitary coming up in the next few weeks, with the fall of all-day-every-day looming, so I’ll try not to complain.

But I do need to get back in the mode, so for a warm-up exercise, I’ll offer some varia in this space.

First, I’m in Living Faith today. Take it as a cautionary tale, parents of new drivers. 

(Previous recent entries are here and here. For similar kinds of reflections, check out this book – a great end of year gift for a teacher!)

Guess what today is? It’s the 8th anniversary of the very last episode of Lost. But you probably already knew that. Go here for a post reflecting on our journey through Lost last year. 

I said I was going to finish reading From Mother to Son last night and write on it today – but we ended up watching Dunkirk, so that didn’t happen. Tomorrow!

Verdict on Dunkirk? A really interesting film that was not really about Dunkirk, but more about narrative technique (fascinating and quite effective – and thought provoking) and individuals’ response to crises. I found it interesting, moving at the very end, but not terribly engaging on a personal level. I was not expecting cheerleading, nor was I even expecting the opposite. What I got was an oddly distant experience – odd because we were so intimately placed with a few of these characters for the duration of the film. I suppose the experience felt a bit cold in the end was because we know so little about these main characters (purposely of course). That approach will serve to emphasize structure, but it does distance us on a human level. So – definitely worth the 108 minutes, thought provoking from a creative perspective, but not personally engaging.

There. Now to work before everyone wakes up and the day of taking-car-for-checkup-practice-three-styles-of-keyboard-study-for-national-history-bee-oral-surgeon-for-wisdom-teeth-extraction-consult-rock-keyboard-recital gets going.

 

How to raise children like the saints:

Pray for their deaths, leave them in the care of others and join a monastery, leave THEM in a monastery..

and so on. 

Today is the memorial of St. Rita, known for many things, among them, her clear-eyed view of her children’s lives, earthly and eternal:

Rita Lotti was born near Cascia in Italy in the fourteenth century, the only child of her parents, Antonio and Amata. Her parents were official peacemakers in a turbulent environment of feuding families.


At an early age Rita felt called to religious life; however, her parents arranged for her to be married to Paolo Mancini. Rita accepted this as God’s will for her, and the newlyweds were soon blessed with two sons.


One day while on his way home, Paolo was killed. Rita’s grief was compounded with the fear that her two sons would seek to avenge their father’s death, as was the custom of the time. She began praying and fasting that God would not allow this to happen. Both sons soon fell ill and died, which Rita saw as an answer to her prayers.

From The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas. 

Whether or not your faith can take you that far at the moment, it’s worth pondering, worth allowing your self-understanding as a parent  – or simply a person who is connected to others – to be jolted, challenged and questioned.

It’s worth pondering on what we really believe and what we really want and hope for others and what we really think would be the worst and best things that could ever happen to them.

Raising children to be fulfilled in this world, happy with who they are in this world, and helpful to others in this world is good of us, but it’s also very 21st century First World of us. Parental bonds naturally bring deep desires to protect our children from any kind of harm or suffering, and of course it makes sense to have our parental goal be that vision of thriving, successful adults. Who still call, of course.

But if we’re parenting like the saints, we’re nudged to consider different definitions and frameworks and paradigms. We’re sometimes even confronted with examples of what we’d today call bad – terrible – parenting.

That is not to say that we look to saints because all of their decisions were good ones. They weren’t and we don’t. It is also true that there is nothing much easier than using religion as a tool to manipulate others and escape responsibility. I’m really involved in church and God clearly has a mission for me that requires all my time there  can often be more simply translated as I’d rather not be around my family, thanks. 

But if we’re serious about the Catholic thing, we do look to patterns, and the pattern we see is that when the saints think about other people, they’re concerned, first and foremost, with the state of their souls.

Now, we’d argue that  – we are too! Because we can quickly direct our purported concern with “souls” into that “self-fulfillment” door that rules the present day. That is: your deepest desires, as you understand them at this moment, must come from God – because they’re so deep and you can’t imagine being yourself without them. So this is what God wants. What you want. And that’s: fulfillment, happiness and feeling okay about what you’re doing here and now. What more can we want for ourselves, for our children?

St. Rita offers….another paradigm.

And so does S. Marie de l’Incarnation – the great mystic and missionary to New France, died in 1672, canonized in 2014. 

I’m currently reading From Mother to Son: The Selected Letters of Marie de l’Incarnation to Claude Martin.  It seems appropriate to be reading these letters and learning about this fascinating relationship on the feastday of St. Rita.

Marie was widowed at the age of twenty, left with a young son. She spent years – not only working in a family business and supporting her son – but discerning. It was a discernment that led to her, at the age of 32, when her son was 11 – into joining the Ursulines, and, a few years later, heading to Canada, where she would live, minister, and eventually die, never having seen her son with her physical eyes again.

So yes, she left her son with relatives so she could join a cloistered convent then sail across the sea.

The argument is made that viewed in historical context, this decision is not as strange as it seems to us today. Families tended to be more extended, parents died a lot, one-fourth of all marriages in France during this period were second marriages, children were sent off to school, sent to live in better circumstances with better-off relations and so on.

All of this is true, but we also know from Marie’s story that her son did not cheerfully accept either of her decisions – he ran away and turned up at the convent gate, and so on.

But, as it does, life went on, and in the end, Claude entered religious life himself as a Benedictine, and he and his mother exchanged letters for decades – and he eventually worked hard to collect her writings and present them to the world as the fruit of the mind of a saintly woman.

I’m going to finish this book today and write more about it tomorrow. So come back for that. But until then:

You were abandoned by your mother and your relatives. Hasn’t this abandonment been useful to you? When I left you, you were not yet twelve years old and I did so only with strange agonies known to God alone. I had to obey his divine will, which wanted things to happen thus, making me hope that he would take care of you. I steeled my heart to prevail over what had delayed my entry into holy religion a whole ten years. Still, I had to be convinced of the necessity of delivering this blow by Reverend Father Dom Raymond and by ways I can’t set forth on this paper, though I would tell you in person. I foresaw the abandonment of our relatives, which gave me a thousand crosses, together with the human weakness that made me fear your ruin. 

When I passed through Paris, it would have been easy for me to place you. The Queen, Madame the Duchess d’Aiguillon and Madame the Countesss Brienne, who did me the honor of looking upon me with favor and who have again honored me with their commands this year, by their letters, wouldn’t have refused me anything I desired for you. I thanked Madame the Duchess d’Aiguillon for the good that she wanted to do for you, but the thought that came to me then was that if you were advanced in the world, your soul would be in danger of ruin.  What’s more, the thoughts that had formerly occupied my mind, in wanting only spiritual poverty for your inheritance and for mine, made me resolve to leave you a second time in the hands of the Mother of goodness, trusting that since I was going to give my life for the service of her beloved Son, she would take care of you….I have never loved you but in the poverty of Jesus Christ in which all treasures are found….

I was very glad to be visiting the Charleston branch of the family this weekend (photos below), but also sorry that it meant I’d miss the fantastic rose petal shower at the Cathedral of St. Paul here in Birmingham.

You might know that this is a tradition in Rome’s Pantheon: a shower of rose petals at the end of the liturgy on Pentecost. Made easier there by the fact there’s a giant hole in the roof – the oculus. The moment is beautifully captured by my friend and collaborator Ann Engelhart in this painting:

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(Ann’s website is here, and she’s on Instagram here.

Our books are listed here – as well as others she has illustrated. )

Well, Rome is far away, and doesn’t Alabama deserve a dose of Catholic Imagination as well? So the folks at the Cathedral thought….why not? 

The photos below are courtesy of the Cathedral and photographer Beth Anne Meier, who has lots of photos of the moment (and the preparation) on her Instagram – including videos.

You can also see a lot of photos and videos from different people at this Facebook page. 

How did they do it? As rector Fr. Jerabek explained, there is an ample attic space betwee the ceiling and the roof – they pulled out a couple of light fixtures and dropped the petals through those holes.

Oh, and they also got Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices. 

Meanwhile in Charleston…

 

 

Pentecost

Here we are –  For help in preparing the kids, let’s go to one of my favorite sources – this wonderful  old Catholic religion textbook.

The short chapter on Pentecost is lovely and helpful.

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This volume is for 7th graders.

What I’m struck by here is the assumption that the young people being addressed are responsible and capable in their spiritual journey. They are not clients or customers who need to be anxiously served or catered to lest they run away and shop somewhere else.

What is said to these 12 and 13-year olds is not much different from what would have been said to their parents or grandparents. God created you for life with him. During your life on earth there are strong, attractive temptations to shut him out and find lasting joy in temporal things. It’s your responsibility to do your best to stay close to Christ and let that grace live within you, the grace that will strengthen you to love and serve more, the grace that will lead you to rest peacefully and joyfully in Christ.

Pentecost is one of the events in The Loyola Kids Book of Heroes. 

(The book is structured around the virtues. Each section begins with an event from Scripture that illustrates one of those virtues, followed by stories of people and events from church history that do so as well)

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This hasn’t been published in a book – yet – but it’s a painting by Ann Engelhart, illustrator of several books, including four with my writing attached – all listed here. It’s a painting of the tradition of dropping rose petals through the oculus in the Pantheon in Rome.

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(The Cathedral of St. Paul is doing this today as well – I won’t be there to see it, but hopefully will have information from parish media tomorrow.) 

 

Finally, hopefully today you’ll be hearing/singing/praying Veni Creator Spiritus today.  I have a chapter on it in The Words We Pray. A sample:

 

 

 

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7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

All right – first things first. As in…my things. 

I was in Living Faith on Monday – here’s the link. Look for an entry next Wednesday, as well.

Also check out Instagram this weekend – there’s a road trip happening.

The cover for my next book is up for viewing at the Loyola Press site!

Coming July: The Loyola Kids Book of Signs and Symbols.

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Signs and symbols…Bible stories…saints, heroes and history. 

It’s a series of books with which I’m very pleased – due in no small part to stellar design and artwork, for which I can take no credit. Please check out the whole series here and consider gifting it to your local Catholic school, parish – or even public library!

— 2 —

The most comforting thing I read this week was from Graham Greene’s preface to a collection of his stories. He wrote:

I would like too to explain the digging up from a magazine of the twenties of a detective story, “Murder for the Wrong Reason” Reading it more than sixty years later, I found that I couldn’t detect the murderer before he was disclosed. 

— 3 —

I found it comforting because this week I noticed that book to which I was allegedly a contributor was being published this summer. I had no recollection of this essay, but a quick search through my files revealed that yes, I had written said essay in March of 2017, sent it in and even invoiced for it. Once I reread the piece, I did, indeed recall it in detail, but there were those few moments before that in which you’d asked me out of the blue, Hey , what about that essay you wrote for the Living Faith collection? I would have stared at you…blankly. Granted, there’s a big difference between a sixty-year memory glitch and..well…one year. But still. I’ll take that small comfort, if allowed.

To be published in mid-June: 

PDF sample available here, and here’s the Table of Contents. With my name in it, indeed.

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— 4 —

More book news (for those who only come here on Fridays) – I’ve made How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist available as a free pdf here. 

(One of several free ebooks I have available)

And don’t forget Son #2’s Amazon author page and personal author page. 

— 5 —

Moving on….

Very interesting: “How I got the BBC to apologise for misrepresenting my Jesuit ancestor.”

It was in these dangerous circumstances that Fr Gerard, a tall and dashing young Jesuit, landed by night on the Norfolk coast, shortly after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, when anti-Catholic feelings were at a high. Disguising himself first as a falconer and then as a country gentlemen, he met contacts in Norwich who introduced him to a network of Catholic sympathisers across Norfolk and nearby counties.

Moving from one country house to another, Fr Gerard managed to persuade their owners, at substantial risk to themselves, to use their houses as centres for building local Catholic communities. In the process he made numerous converts to the faith, at least 30 of whom subsequently became priests themselves….

….

After three years Fr Gerard was moved to the Tower of London where he was further interrogated and badly tortured. But despite being weakened by imprisonment and ill treatment, he engineered a daring and ingenious escape across the moat, listed by Time magazine as one of the 10 greatest prison escapes in history. Somehow he managed to resume his activities and continue his mission for another eight years, until he was forced to leave the country in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot.

As a priest, he knew several of the plotters and was quite close to at least one of them, whom he had converted to Catholicism. Robert Cecil, James I’s spymaster and principal adviser, wanted to pin the blame for the Gunpowder Plot on the Jesuits and on John Gerard in particular, whose earlier escape from the Tower had not been forgotten.

But despite extreme methods, Cecil was unable to extract any credible evidence against Fr Gerard. Under interrogation and in one case torture, the two surviving plotters “admitted” that he had said Mass for them after their first meeting, but both firmly insisted that he had no knowledge of the plot itself. Another of the plotters wrote that they had deliberately kept him in the dark, because they knew he was opposed to violence and would have talked them out of it….

…He has been an inspiration to members of my family for hundreds of years and it came as a shock to see him featured in the BBC historical drama Gunpowder, clearly represented as being “in on the plot”. The characterisation of Fr Gerard was so far removed from all historical accounts that I believed it could only have been a deliberate misrepresentation.  More

— 6 —

And this:

Obianuju Ekeocha, the founder of Culture of Life Africa, has written an open letter to MPs ahead of a Westminster Hall debate tomorrow on “Access to reproductive rights around the world”.

In the letter, sent by SPUC, Ms Ekeocha, author of Target Africa, takes issue with the premise of the debate being sponsored by Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, saying it confirms the reality that the UK has become a “lead neocolonial master.”

Reproductive rights?

In the letter, Ms Ekeocha explains that although her country, Nigeria, is now independent of British colonial rule, “in recent years, we are noticing the footprints of the United Kingdom all over Africa as they have become one of the most enthusiastic western proponents of so-called ‘reproductive rights’, a concept that is seen and understood all across Africa as abortion, contraception, sterilisation and graphic (age-inappropriate) sexuality education.”

Funding illegal abortion

She points out that about 80 per cent of the African countries have continued to resist and reject the notion that abortion should be legal, and that it is “an idea that is incompatible with our culture which teaches us that every human being carries bloodlines of clans and families that are never to be forgotten and that our lives begin right from our mothers’ womb.”

We find “organizations like Marie Stopes International, International Planned Parenthood Federation and IPAS…running expensive lobbying campaigns at our parliaments to legalize abortion even against the will of the people,” she continues. “And when we investigate, we find out that some of these organizations are performing illegal abortions in African countries where abortion is not legal.”

 

— 7 —

Great news for Catholic education in Birmingham – one of our already excellent Catholic schools is taking it up a notch and going classical – in other words, thinking with the mind of the Church on education. 

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

This is a rant of little interest to anyone, but it’s been brewing, and I need to get it out of my brain to make room for more interesting things:

About that Spanish curriculum.

Oh, but who am I kidding? This will be about more than that, because with me – it invariably goes that way.

First –  reminders about me and teaching and textbooks and such in general.

I haven’t been in a classroom teaching other people’s children for probably 19 years. Good Lord. But that’s probably about right.  I have had several children go through both Catholic and public high schools, including International Baccalaureate, and I have homeschooled, and I have been to many a parent night, and I have thought about this a bit and, oh yes, I even have, of late, been involved in just a bit of curriculum development and writing myself.

So this is something I think about quite a bit. And here’s what I think:

Every time I walk away from a parent night – you know, the kind they have in the fall in your kids’ school when you go into each class for five minutes and then the bell rings with the teacher in mid-sentence and you sign in so your kid can get extra credit? Yes, every time I walk away from one of those evenings, I just think…

Thank God I am not doing this anymore.

I don’t know how they do it – teachers. Almost everything is terrible about education and the context in which formal education happens. It’s such a mess on every level, and what doesn’t help are the crazy expectations heaped upon the women and men who just want to share cool and amazing things about life with kids.

I’m looking from waaay outside, so the view from close up is probably even worse, but what I see is this – you, as a teacher of most subjects today, must:

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3rd grade Social Studies standards, state of Alabama.

  • Meet state standards. Which are steeped in madness and random, age-inappropriate, throw-mud-on-a-wall specificity that they were obviously composed by people who hate everyone, especially teachers.
  • Adapt everything you do in the classroom to varied learning styles: auditory, visual, kinetic and whatever else is in style right now.
  • Adapt everything you do for those who are learning or physically disabled.
  • Teach with an awareness of and sensitivity to a zillion different family situations.
  • Incorporate a variety of digital resources.
  • Use videos, powerpoint, evernote…
  • Give assignments that help students become adept at using videos, powerpoint, blogs and social media.
  • Have a lot of writing. Lots and lots of writing because that’s what we do across the curriculum.
  • But wait! Since some students have issues with writing, have alternative assignments at the ready for the non-writers.
  • No matter what you teach: STEM. And probably Girls in STEM. Even if you teach 9th grade English. Girls in STEM.
  • Hold students to high standards
  • But
  • Give students very detailed “rubrics” for the grading of every single assignment
  • And
  • Don’t fail anyone.
  • LEARNER-LED LEARNING. Don’t, by any means, just tell them things. Facilitate their journeys of discovery through research, group work, projects and flipping that classroom.
  • But hey guess what? They’d all better reach those testing benchmarks…or else….
  • Submit lesson plans in advance to administration, then post lesson plans and other student information on Google Classroom and/or whatever other online classroom tech you’re required to use. Plus the grading software.
  • Final blow: Do all of this in (for the most part) 40-50 minute chunks a few days a week (not taking into account interruptions from assemblies and other events) with students who are probably taking at least six other classes, may not get home from school until six or seven, and have had to start school before 8 am – if they’re in high school.

In other words: the assumption and ideal is that the educational system, embodied in the person of the classroom teacher and his or her methods and materials must transmit every point of knowledge or skill to every student at every level in any possible context – AT THE SAME TIME. 

Do you think I’m kidding? I’m not. And this is not just a public school problem. It’s a problem for any school that’s trying to keep up with the Educational Establishment Joneses. Which is why you should avoid these schools if at all possible.

This push for the total, comprehensive educational experience at every moment is reflected in textbooks, which you can easily see if you just grab one of your kid’s texts published in the past ten years.

Which brings us to Espanol.

As I mentioned yesterday, last summer I was shopping around for a Spanish curriculum for a 7th grader. I settled on this one for a few reason: various discussions on homeschool message boards concluded that it was useful and useable in the home setting, and it came (for a price) with a lot of…resources. See, I have a knack for languages and I do have French and Latin in my background, but really, the last time I took any Spanish was when I was in the 7th grade myself (and I still remember my teacher’s name – Mrs. Santee – because every time I go to South Carolina, I see the Santee River…) So I figured the more resources I had, the better.

And then the book came – and that was all that was there – just the book, with the code to give me access to the online resources. Well, this will be fine, I thought. Lots of resources.

Ay caramba. Are you kidding?

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It took me two weeks to work through it all.

And the textbook?

Well, if you are familiar with the structure of contemporary American textbooks in almost any field, this will come as no surprise to you. It’s all about capsules and boxes and bullet points and pictures. Lots and lots of bite-sized chunks of exercises and information.

When I look at the format of texts like this – and it’s the norm – I have a hard time seeing how the design meshes with the obsessive, over two-decade concern with Attention Deficit disorders among young people. How do these pages, scattered with bits of information, graphics, cartoons and varied fonts help anyone focus, much less those who for whom focus is already a problem?

What I was looking for – in vain – were pages that simply said – This is how you conjugate an -ar verb in present tense and here are some exercises to reinforce that. 

Eventually I could pull it together, but let me tell you, I did have immediate buyer’s remorse and thought I should have just bought some used 1973 Spanish text from ebay. Although I suppose the saga of Trini Salgado redeemed the whole thing, so there’s that.

The core of the program – as with all of these – is of course in the teacher’s materials. It’s she who is tasked with bringing it all together, with picking the elements that suit her classes’ needs, so the assumption is that in giving her everything, she will find something that works. Which is fine, I suppose – if all you are teaching is five sections of Spanish 1 – some basic, some pre-AP –  every day. Then this system makes your life a lot easier, I suppose. And many, many teachers – especially those in large schools – do exactly that. This probably perfect, from their perspective. I guess?

But for the teacher in the small school, who may have three or even four different preparations, it’s a nightmare, I would think. The prep time for just figuring out the system would be – painful, I would think.

And then, you know what? In three or four years, they’re going to change it. Either your school district will change it or the textbook company will come out with a new curriculum because – I have said in discussions of Common Core – when everyone is using ten-year old curricula, no one is making any money.

I don’t know what the answer is. For the fact is, people do learn in different ways and come to this one place called the Spanish 1 classroom from different points of origin. Some can memorize in a snap, others are native speakers (“heritage learners” they’re called now), others get the verbal part easily, still others can write it out but can’t speak it.

The issue and burning question then becomes –  why should someone with a different learning style suffer because she can’t fit into the norm? If the learning paradigm is inaccessible to me, but I can learn the same material in the context of another paradigm or style? Why should I be penalized? Shouldn’t I have the opportunity to learn and shouldn’t I have the opportunity to show the world what I’ve learned in my own way through a good grade?

Yes, you should.

Which tells us…what?

That maybe the issue is not what learning paradigm or style wins, or how many different approaches we can cram into a single textbook or course, but is, in fact, the question of homogeneity, assessments and mass educational systems – period.

They have a purpose, I believe – to raise a population’s basic literacy levels – but beyond that, the assumption that mass, homogenized education must be a cultural and social norm is just ridiculous. Sure it serves the interests of some groups, but the group called “students” – I don’t think so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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