Archive for September, 2013

MY BLOG IS RESTING!

September 20, 2013 Comments Off on MY BLOG IS RESTING! General

MY BLOG IS RESTING!

Fall greetings, and thanks for your interest in my blog. I have been writing for the past year about my forthcoming book STANDING UP FOR SOMETHING EVERY DAY: ETHICS AND JUSTICE IN EARLY CHILDHOOD CLASSROOMS (contracted with Teachers College Press).  I am excited to say that the book is in the final weeks of preparation! This is an incredibly busy time for me, so my blog is taking a temporary rest. Please do look back over my blogs from the past year — I hope that some of the topics are interesting and inspiring for you. I look forward to my return to weekly writing in late October. Meanwhile — enjoy this very beautiful season. Love and peace!

REFLECTING ON CHILDREN AND WEALTH

September 9, 2013 Comments Off on REFLECTING ON CHILDREN AND WEALTH General

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REFLECTING ON CHILDREN AND WEALTH

                Last year, as I race walked the final miles of the Columbus Marathon, I ran into two very nice women from the New Albany Walking Club in Ohio.  They were volunteer pacers holding up a sign for a finish time about 12 minutes faster than my previous marathon. I was getting tired and felt that I was on the verge of really slowing down, so I decided to try to stay with them for the rest of the race. They were so conversational and encouraging that I managed to do so, and was happy to finish ahead of my anticipated time. As we chatted on the course, they told me about a race their club sponsored every September for walkers only – the New Albany Walking Classic. This is the largest walkers-only race in the United States! I decided then and there to race walk the classic this fall.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of finishing the Half Marathon in that race in New Albany. I have to give a shout-out to the walking club! It was a beautifully organized race over lovely Ohio countryside. You needed to see the beautiful jacket entrants received for a reasonable entry fee – and you had to experience the free food court after the race to believe it. There were Japanese noodles, small burgers, pizza, pasta salad, ice cream sandwiches, and much more. In addition to these pleasant surprises, I was amazed at New Albany itself – I was not prepared for the wealth of the community. I’m used to the Columbus Marathon, with its early miles in a gorgeous wealthy neighborhood of mansions. However, I didn’t realize that New Albany (about 10 miles from Columbus) was so affluent. The first six miles of the race passed beautiful, large homes around a rolling green golf course.

It was when I was looking out over that golf course that I began to worry anew  – how could teachers in a community like this ever relate to my almost-completed book STANDING UP FOR SOMETHING EVERY DAY ? For example,  I have four hypothetical teacher guides in that book – a composite of all the wonderful teachers I have known and met over the years – who demonstrate how they apply the ideas in each chapter in their own classrooms. All of them have some children who are poor in their classrooms; they stand up to deficit-based assumptions about their students as they work hard to create meaningful and successful experiences for all the children in their classrooms. Will their diligent efforts seem relevant to those who teach the children of the wealthy in the United States?

I hope so!! That certainly is my intention in writing the book.  I clarify in the first chapter that the book is for the teachers of all children ranging from poor to affluent, because all children are affected by the forces in the United States that turn away from commitment to our child population as a whole. I point to recent research indicating that problems such as drug addiction and suicide may actually be more prevalent in suburban areas, and cite the “affluenza” identified by the American Academy of Pediatrics – empty values based on consumption alone that can result in teen age suicide and depression. We should never deny the benefits of affluence – they certainly do exist! But if we see all the children in this nation as closely bound together in one future destiny, we have to wonder not only about the damage poverty is doing to some of them but the effect that a national disposition to neglect child and family poverty has on all of them.

I encourage the teachers who will read my future book to see the need for every child to become an activist who upholds the “American dream” – a nation that provides an equal educational opportunity and access to a living wage to all citizens.  An antidote to “affluenza” is recognition of the forces that have oppressed others (thoughtful exposure to which is so accessible in our wealth of sensitive and informative children’s books focused on diversity , oppression, justice, and fairness) and development of a sense-of-self as someone who cares about others and wants to create a better world for everyone in it.

Teachers, wherever you teach, you have the power to keep this dream alive. If you teach children who are wealthy, the importance of commitments to social justice, ethics, respect for diversity, and child advocacy are just as important as they are if you teach children of poverty. Let’s help all our children to develop a vision of service to others that will save them from the empty promises of a consumerist society and empower them to move this great nation ahead!

SEPTEMBER FIRST ALREADY!

September 1, 2013 Comments Off on SEPTEMBER FIRST ALREADY! General

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SEPTEMBER FIRST ALREADY!

Hello again to my blog readers! I’m so glad to be back. The summer passed quickly for me, as I’m sure it did for all of us. I just looked out the window of my study, where I spent the summer writing my book Standing Up for Something Every Day. I saw the pretty brown rabbit who has taken up residence in our back yard relaxing in the late afternoon sun. The flowers in my perennial garden are still blooming prettily; my tall milkweed has many seed pods about to open up. I’ve picked the one orange pumpkin that grew large on a vine at the side of my house, but still have many green tomatoes promising to ripen if it continues to stay warm and sunny for a while longer. Stored away already is a bag full of bright light coreopsis seeds for next year – they are so easy to gather and grow so well from year to year.

Writing has been an arduous task, filled as always with surprises.  My book has taken on a life of its own – toward the end it is writing itself as I chase intently, hoping that all the words have captured what I most wanted to say. I’ll need to finish the book soon – getting back to teaching again will actually help me to sharpen my vision as I draw it to a close. I am so grateful that I have had the chance to write it – to study and to revisit the ideas that I hold very dear about children and teaching.  I am grateful too for the coming fall – a very beautiful time in Western Pennsylvania. Even winter, long and cold, holds deep promises that loom ahead.  We educators have work to do!  All we have to do is remember our own excited anticipation on the first day of school when we were children to know how important our work really is! The children are waiting — it is up to us to be worthy of their hopes and dreams.

Teachers, I extend my warmest good wishes to you and your students for a fantastic school year ahead!

Written by Beatrice S. Fennimore a teacher educator focused on advocacy and social justice for all children