Sunday, August 22, 2010

the 'nets

Picture this:
A group of five people is sitting around a kitchen table together. All are laughing, their attention held captive. Each takes a turn entertaining the others; every turn inspires more conversation, laughing, or thought-provoking moments. They are watching YouTube videos.

Moments like these are becoming increasingly widespread, worldwide. Perhaps more surprisingly - to me anyway - the moment above happened several weeks ago with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and mom. It resembled an evening I spent in Madrid with people from four countries. Youtubing crosses cultures and SES*, even is beginning to span the generational gap for the tech savvy. (What a great word - "savvy")

As I sat around the table two weeks ago, laughing at an improve musical about napkins pulled up by my cousin Katy, I reflected on the situation. In the screenlight, I looked at the faces around me. Everyone was laughing. I thought about other times around this table, playing board games, cards, talking. Technology in this instance was not detracting from those; but instead it was simply adding another option.

For a long time, I harbored the belief that technology killed real life. Even now, I sit at the same kitchen table, listening to a choir of cicadas, the whirl of the washer. Those things seem more real to me than this blog post, these words I type on a white "New Post" screen.
I think I may have judged the internet too harshly though. While many times it has sucked life right out of me with endless facebook clicking, net surfing, and sore eyes, it has also been a lifeline when I was far away and lonely, a means of sharing my world with people I love who are hours or time zones away. I have seen God in cyberspace - because we are the internet. God dwells with us and when we start dwelling online, guess where God shows up?

Technology, like money, food, large corporations, and time is what we make it. It is not inherently good or evil. I think it has tremendous possibilities for good, for community, for learning. Heck, we watch online videos in first grade math. They are interactive. Did you watch videos in math? Yeah, me neither.
I find this YouTube video fascinating. I recommend it and the one I linked above. Let me know what you think.

*Those who are fortunate enough to access the internet anyway. Contrary to a quote I heard once that made me really angry: If you don't have Facebook, you DO exist. As with any social change, we MUST watch out for those with no voice.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Today, I got up and didn't have to go to work. I slept in all the way to 7:37. It rocked. Then my mom and I had mother-daughter time. We started by getting some antibiotics for my sinus infection (woo hoo!), then proceeded to purchase some non-jean pants so that I can wear something other than skirts and dresses to work. We then stopped at Dean and Deluca, because it's somewhat of a tradition for us on special mornings or afternoons.

One of the most delightful parts of my day though, was realizing that I'm not going anywhere. In fact, I'm planning on being in this city, near this house, for at least another year. Yep. That's twelve months within the same area code. In the same (2) state(s). I asked my mom what it was like to live in the same building for a continuous amount of time. She said it still feels like she's adjusting to things all the time and lives with a family in transition.

Every August for the past four years, my church takes a weekend trip away. We go on pilgrimage to a youth camp. We stay in cabins and tents (cheaper), eat together, pray together, sit in silence together, and play, play play. Swimming pool, lake, games, walks. It's glorious. This year, on Sunday, a woman aptly named Charity shared that she was in transition and had been for about a year. She said that when she had shared this with someone they had promptly apologized, "I'm so sorry." And Charity wanted to know why. Why are we sorry? She said that transition is perhaps life's truest state. Think about it. How often have you felt like your life was stable? Like, really stable. Maybe in retrospect, but in the moment, did it feel stable?

I had a conversation last summer about stability with my dear friend Heather. We called it "being settled." It was before I went to Spain and I was telling her about how I was excited for Spain, yet a little more apprehensive than I'd hoped to be. I had, for the first time in life, experienced this desire to be settled and knew that Spain wouldn't be a very settling place. She felt it too. As we were talking, we realized slowly that "settled" is a condition of the heart more than a condition of residence in one geographical location.

So perhaps settled and stabilized can mean more than simply living in one place. I want to be present to my life and to dwell in my relationships now, in this moment. In whatever unfinished condition I find myself, my room, my life, I want to accept it and see the beauty in it now.

I pray...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, and being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (ephesians 3)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

aaaand Fast-forward

to now. I am employed. I have to choose some benefits soon. I'm currently sitting a house, two dogs, and one cat.

I might be acquiring an Hispanic accent. Is "hispanic" capitalized?

At my job, I say things all the time like, "Jayden*, can you please stop hitting the desk with your pencil even though you don't want to?" "Kayla, can you sit up and pay attention to Mrs./ Mr./ Miss ___, even if it's hard?" And my precious little students are learning to grit their teeth, stop fidgeting, and say through sometimes clenched teeth "Yes."

Some stories: while playing a math game with a first grader, I corrected her sentence "I'm winning you!" (perfect, btw, in Spanish.) She asked me how I knew it was right. I explained that I had already completed first grade, so I already learned that. She was very surprised to find out that I was not, in fact, a very tall first grader. "You're a teacher?!!?" she remarked in unbelief.

I was supposed to teach the first graders how to use the playground equipment. I had been told that first graders are not as imaginative these days. I spent about ten minutes imagining it was a giant travel machine in preparation. (Seriously, how awesome would a road trip on a vehicle that looked like a jungle gym be??) When it was recess time. I went over the rules - going down the slide on your bottom, no tag or chase at this school, no pushing, etc.). Then I said "We're going to imagine it's a giant magical machine. It's a..." and Marissa yelled out "MARSHMELLOW MACHINE!" I was taken aback and agreed. Then the kids dispersed to play random games of catching chocolate fish, strawberry fish, and gummy worm fish from the chocolate syrup sea. Clearly, this group needed no instruction on imagination.

There's a lot of room for improvement in education. My school is awesome. They do a great job helping students "to excellence." We are well-funded. However, it's a dynamic field and always will be. I remain convinced that all students should sit on exercise balls. Yep. All. Not just the ones who need extra movement. I watched seventeen six year-olds sit and look ("Do not touch") at laptop computers we placed on their desks for five minutes. They could control themselves on exercise balls.

Technology in the classroom is way behind the technology curve. This is something that will change. I taught some very small students "Ctrl+Alt+Delete" today. And how to use a trackpad to "tickle" the computer awake.

We have this natural curiosity that is sometimes squelched in today's structured learning environments. Today I caught Guillermo measuring his pencil with the ruler on his name card. I didn't have the heard to ask him to please put his pencil in a safe place while the teacher was talking.

Bilingual schools - I think it would be unbelievable to get some positive enforcement of Spanish in our schools. We learned syllables today. We could clap Spanish words too, point out that they also have sílabas, and see that in "ca-sa" there are dos. The date could be done in Spanish every other day, small things like that anchor concepts and meaning in two languages and that would have exceedingly great results.

Again - I reemphasize - I love my school. They are doing a fantastic job. I'm often blown away by the teaching that happens there. However, I have been trained to look for means of improving things, so that is what I do.

*All names changed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Love and marriage...

I am currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed. It's her second book after Eat, Pray, Love, which I highly recommend. There's a reason it sold so well. It also coincided really nicely with my life.
So, in this book, she's discussing predictors of successful marriages. I know I learned this in adult dev. psych, but I forgot. These are technically correlations, and difficult to quantify, since measuring happiness is a little bit fuzzy. However, the correlations are apparently statistically significant.

Age: The divorce rate for teenage marriages is actually about 75%. So that throws off all the other marriages. Statisically, couples who marry after age 26 seem to have a much greater shot at staying married.
Education - the more educated the couple is, the better chances are. Also, a highly educated woman with a career is more likely to have a happier marriage. Eat that sexists. (This probably has very much to do with identity development and having a stronger sense of self.)
Babies - new babies put a lot of stress on a marriage. Interesting. Of course, new babies put a lot of stress on... anyone and everyone. I think that if the marriage is good, having a baby in that relationship would be actually less stressful than single parenting.
Cohabitation - it's true. Cohabitating couples pre-marriage actually have a slightly higher divorce rate.
Heterogamy - the more similar the couple in age, ethnicity, cultural background, and career, the more likely they are to see that golden anniversary.
Social integration - having a tight-knit group of pals. Buzzword: community
Religiousness - being religious has a slight advantage.
Gender Fairness - Egalitarian marriages do better than ones with stereotypical male-female roles. Perhaps because the pair can divvy up responsibilities based on skill, time, and careers rather than assigning the dude to the lawn and the lady to scrubbing the floor.