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With a Song in my Heart

As a junior high school student I began to have a special interest in singing. I was encouraged by my music teacher and then in high school I participated in as many singing groups as I could. One of the groups was our high school select choir which sang some spectacularly wonderful and challenging music. There was such a sense of dedication, commitment, and solidarity in this group achieved in part by our choral director. Somehow he made all of us respond to music which was new and unfamiliar, we might not have started out with an interest in the music but as we continued working on it our understanding grew, our love of the music grew. What was it that he/we did? It wasn’t just that we practiced and practiced there was something we found in the music that touched new and deep places in us. How else could we have pulled off performing so much difficult and beautiful music?

Digging For Education

I remember once when I was little, trying to dig a hole in the yard deep enough to stand in and look around me at ground-level. Silly and odd, I know. But I wanted to. So I started digging and soon I did have a pretty deep hole, but I was tired and my muscles had begun hurting so I went inside to get some water and relax. I was planning on going back outside to finish my project after I rested up some, but then I got side tracked by this and that… The point is, I never finished digging the little pit. This was probably the first time I fully realized that I have a bad tendency to leave a project when I get bored with it. I hadn’t started writing at that time (though I did draw a little) however, since then I’ve seen this bad habit of mine even more. The point of this is, I learned an important thing about myself through simple observation and clear-thinking. There was no school I was confined to when I learned this, nor any teacher pounding how to learn this into my head, or even any curriculum telling me

The Three Most Important Questions in Education

It’s graduation season again – yet nobody seems to be celebrating. On college campuses, graduates are entering an economy in which the stable career paths of yesteryear are disappearing – and the specialized job opportunities of tomorrow have yet to appear. And in communities across the country, parents and young people are left wondering what exactly those past four years of high school were in service of – and how much, if any, truly transformational learning occurred. Something’s gotta give. The Industrial-Age model of schooling, which benefited 20th-century generations by serving as a legitimate ticket to the middle class, has clearly run its course. In its place, we need a model for a new age – the Democratic Age. And we need strategies for ensuring that young people learn how to be successful in the 21st-century world of work, life, and our democratic society. We can get there, but to do so we need to start asking – and answering – the three most essential questions in education reform:   1. How do people learn best? Over the past several years, a slew of research from a range of fields has helped illuminate a much deeper understanding of what powerful

A Small Comment, a Huge Assumption

Most every teenage girl starts off as a babysitter before getting a real job. As long as the kids are safe and happy, everything is fine. Sounds easy right? Well, it’s just as easy to mess things up…. As I shuffled out of the neighbors’ house, the mother casually asked me, “So, do you think you will be available next Saturday night too?” Yup, I said. Though unbeknown to me at the time, this small inconclusive comment apparently meant final word. No phone call, no knock at the door would come within the next week, so obviously my thought was that I just wasn’t needed to babysit anymore, since I hadn’t been further notified. But I guess that wasn’t so obvious to the parents of the kids I babysat. Flash-forward, next Saturday night. Now, at this time, I was just coming home from a softball tournament. It was around 6 o’clock, precisely the time I had babysat last Saturday. As I pulled into my cul-de-sac, I saw a little red car speeding out, opposite direction I was going. Just as my car and the other car reached the point of parallelism, the car stopped abruptly. I turned my head…and there

Book Smart

I was four years old and a very independent child. It was after dinner and I needed a band aid for a cut I had received earlier. I had remembered the other day I had found the band aids on the top shelf of tall book shelf in my room. Walking up to my room, my mom asked what I needed. I told her that I needed a band aid for my cut and she told me that they were in her bathroom. I knew she was wrong. Absolutely, 100 percent wrong, I knew I had seen them on the top self of my book shelf. They were there and couldn’t be anywhere else. I got to my book shelf and stared up at the top self. The band aids were up there and I would have to scale the tall white mountain filled with all my favorite books. I put my small foot on the second shelf and began the ascent. I got both feet on the second shelf and then worked my way up to the third shelf and so on until both of my feet were on the fourth shelf. I looked up to the top of

The Bees Came Back to Bite Me

I used to catch bees in a manner that would have horrified Pol Pot. Stick in hand, I would march up to any available honeybee (blissfully unaware) and give it a solid whack with the weapon. At this point the bee would do one of three things: A. Sustain injuries (I refuse to accept liability) B. Die or C. Fly away because I missed it completely. If I injured the bee (or at least stunned it enough that it was not able to fly), I would grab it by its back and plop it into a container of my choice. From that point I would generally subject it to a number of tortures: shaking, poking, or even drowning. I considered myself somewhat of a bee hunter extraordinaire; I knew the proper amount of force to knock them out, and I knew the clover fields where they frequented well. To be fair, my activities were not exactly humanitarian in nature, but I was a young kid, and during the long, hot, dull summer days, any sort of entertainment was welcomed as a godsend. Up until a particularly unparticular July day, I went about my genocidal business without consequences. That was the

The Gig

`“Hey guys! Are you going to our awesome gig tonight? We are gonna rock your socks off!” exclaimed my good friend Cameron. Apparently he and Erek were in a “hard core” band that we just HAD to see. So, of course, whether it was out of curiosity or just to humor ourselves, my friends and I decided to go. Though we knew little about the place, we agreed to meet at the Great Mall of the Great Planes at around 7, when the gig supposedly began. Being 15 and surrounded by a bunch of 16 year old friends, I asked if anyone could give me a lift to the extravagant occasion. Luckily, Kevin agreed to take me. Arriving at my house around 6:30, I hopped into Kevin’s car, excited for the night ahead of me. I shut the door behind me, closing off the cool air outside. “Soooo…Where the hell is this place anyways?” Though I should have foreseen it, Kevin, the one who was supposed to be driving us there, had no idea where the Great Mall was and was too damn lazy to look it up. He also did not have a GPS. It was just me, him,

My Mom, the Teacher

I have learned a lot from my mom because life is hard. She has to keep up the bills and she has to get up early in the morning and make sure everything is right. People in the world learn differently; some people learn from bad experiences about how life is so hard. My mom works in Stevens, Georgia. She sits with a lady named Mrs. Hilguard, and she has to make sure that everything is there for Mrs. Hilguard. She has to feed her in the morning when she gets to work and she has to clean up. It’s a hard job and the way I learned how life is so hard is because I went to my mama’s job and learned for myself. That’s the way I have to learn it, I have seen for myself. When people say ‘’what is a good learning environment?’’ I think about my mom’s job because sometimes the best way to learn something is to experience it for yourself. My mom has taught me. My Mom knows that it might be easier to tell you one thing, but if you really want someone to learn it, you have to show it to

Independent Adolescence

Children always depend on their parents. No matter how young or old; a mother and father are deeply needed in their child’s life. Unfortunately, some children don’t have their parents to depend on due to death, jail time, or something of that sort. So it is a pity when a parent is with their child and the child can’t depend on them. That’s where I come in. When I was little, my parents were my rock, and they were well fitted in my life as they should’ve been. Nevertheless, when school started, my sibling started having depression problems. Though he was only a few years older than me, my mother was concerned that a 7th grade child was having depression problems. By this time my parents were only focused on my brother, and I didn’t mind because I was very scared for him. As my brother’s condition got worse, so did my parent’s tolerance for me. My older sister didn’t mind not getting attention; she got a job to help out with the medical and therapist bills. At home, I was invisible. My mom stopped cooking for me, and she often ignored me if I tried to carry on a

The Regret Trip

I realize now how much I have learned through some of the things that I have done or experienced. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons that can’t be taught by just listening to someone telling you what to do. That’s why I think that learning by actually doing something helps me, rather than just listening to someone talk, talk, talk. A major life lesson that I learned and have experienced is that being dishonest and irresponsible can lead to bad things. I have watched some of my family members and friends do things like cheat and lie to get their way, and get what they wanted, and I wanted to do that too. So, one day, when I went to a friend’s house like I normally do, this friend wanted me to go to a track meet with her, and I wanted to go, too. So, not thinking clearly, I went with her to the meet, knowing that I was just supposed to be at her house at and nowhere else. It felt good to be a little defiant. After being at the track meet for 10 minutes, we got bored and decided to go to a friend’s house.

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