Friday, October 22, 2010

I guess it took just about a month

Wow, I mean, really, WOW!
I guess I haven't been doing much updating. Which is kind of sad, but also good at the same time. I want to try to be better, but I guess I just go through phases of not.

School is busy
Life is busy
Art is busy

All good things. And I want to make it a point to at least try to share more on this type of communication device. One of the reasons being is that I do spend most of my waking hours teaching. And-- I have some pretty darn amazing students. I don't know how I've lucked out this fall. Of course, since it's the D-home, they'll come and go, and things will ebb and flow. Just as it should, I suppose. Although. I keep telling them not to come back, and that I want to be out of a job.

They've done some pretty interesting projects so far and I'm thinking about starting a blog. Many of them want to see their work out on the Internet, and I actually think it's a perfect forum for them. It'd be anonymous, but they'd know where to go, their family would know where to go to see what they're up to. I will try to set up my 'student' blog this weekend, because I think it is just so important.

Don't get me wrong. I come home with stories everyday about being there, and I'm thinking about writing a book. Just have to work out all the legal issues pertaining to that. It's not so easy to do when you teach kids...not adults. But their stories are so interesting to tell.

I have a girls unit, an older boys unit, a younger boys unit, a therapeutic unit, and a ORR DUCS unit (which basically means they're unaccompanied minors in the US illegally). In the DUCS unit alone I have 6 nations represented (including Canada -- Quebec no less-, Sierra Leone, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Ecuador). Not to mention the variety of students in the area. It's truly an a amazing bunch. Although the stories range from sad--- to worse than sad.

Their artwork really does speak volumes, and I'm hoping to have a show some where here in the near future. More and more I kind of realize that I should be doing this job, but I have to start thinking about where it's going to go. How can I give these students the maximum benefit.

I think I figured out the answer, actually. More school, more training, more planning. I found a program that teaches teachers Peace building though art, and other ideas that would be amazing. The only problem... I need funds, which means I need grants, which means I need time to write those grants. The program happens to be in Switzerland. AMAZING! Don't mind spending the next 3 summers of my life there, but how do I get there. How do I figure out how to manage the time, my life, and the decision to spend money on something that probably will never financially pay me back. HUmmm.......

So I guess that may be the plan this year. How will I be able to fun extra education for myself, so that I can provide the best services I can for a group of kids that have been pegged the lowest of the low, the throw-aways. And is it worth it? Do the services I provide for them have an impact? Does what I teach them matter to them? Is it relevant to how they will be able to live their lives? Does it matter?

I don't know how they would all answer that, and I guess it doesn't particularly matter how they would. I guess that based on what I've seen it is enough for me to want to do better for them, because I've seen their small successes, and I've seen the pride they've exhibited in themselves and in the work that they do in art.

It it important for them to read and be financially literate? Yes, but I also think it's important for them to feel that they are also human, and they have other needs besides learning how to hunt for a low-paying job and how to balance a check book. It's important for them to be able to learn what appeals to them, and how to make sense of their own standing in this world.

I can never know truly where thy come from. It's a fact that I am a child from a middle class white family who had great fortune to see the world before I turned 18. I've never lived in poverty, and I've always had 2 parents. My mom stayed at home, and she made us meals. We had shoes on our feet, we had clean clothes, and our very own bed to sleep on. I have never had to question where my next meal would be coming from, or figure out how I needed to avoid my mom or dad so that they wouldn't beat me or yell at me. I was never forced to stay at home instead of trying to attend school. And I certainly didn't have to sleep in an alley way wondering if I would live to see the morning light.

SO my point? Well, I guess that's what I'm trying to figure out. There's all this education reform discussions happening this year, and I'm kind of glad for the conversation, but I also feel that it's just the beginning. I've been teaching the exact same amount of time that the last education reform took place, and it did nothing but create more dropouts, and less jobs.

I worry about the future of all children. I realize that I teach the kids who are in the bottom, but they aren't different from the whatever might be the average kid in the average school. In fact, a lot of the students I teach are well aware of where they are, and are extremely intelligent.

So my question is to you-- WHAT CAN WE DO? How can my students get the outside support they needs so they don't come back? So I never see them again? So they never see the inside of REAL prison?

Phew-- I'll stop. Because I could literally go on forever and ever.

1 comment:


it sounds like you're in a place where you are supposed to be. but skip the self education. (not that you aren't important, you are!) you are already set for life... home, husband, education, financial security...

find a forum for the students to produce work and sell it. Where can they then apply their Fine Art Skills? And then they too can be set....

no small task for one woman. but God gave you the good for a reason. you can do it, sistah!