ungrateful and unaware

And what would you . . . ?

What would you do if a child from a privileged home couldn’t tell you what they were thankful for?

Not a single thing?

Yesterday on facebook, while browsing my news feed, I came across this photo and quote from Humans of New York. Humans of New York is a popular photoblog created by a man named Brandon Stanton. The site features portraits and interviews of individuals in New York — and around the world. While some have criticized HONY, saying many of Stanton’s interviews must be staged, most viewers love the site. I myself like HONY because, to me, Brandon has done exactly what I’ve been trying to do all along: Show that people are people. Continue reading

my prayer

San Ramon, California

San Ramon, California, where I work

Sitting in my darkened apartment, listening to the hum of traffic on University Avenue. It’s Saturday evening and my weekend has (finally) officially started. I’ve had thoughts all week about what to write right here. And yet, now, when I finally have the time . . .

the words,

the topics,

seem . . .


Like me. Continue reading

when i grow up (or, discouragement)

Teaching in Taiwan

Teaching in Taiwan

Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? I mean, really?

I don’t.

I’m thirty years old, and I don’t have a clue. I used to joke that I wished I could get paid to write and read and exercise. Now I wish the same, only I’d add “travel” and “work with kids” to the mix. And you know what kills me? I can do all of these things, and I likely could get paid for them, except . . . Except I don’t have the degree. Continue reading

teach them to read

photo copy 2..
Thought for the day, and week, and month, I suppose, at the rate I’ve been blogging:

If you want children to write, teach them to read. If you want them to read, show them reading is fun. As a kid, I was a bookworm, but it wasn’t until I became a teacher that I realized how much reading had impacted my understanding of the structure of the English language. No one cares about adverbs and subjects and predicates and helping verbs. No 8-year-old wants to break that stuff down. What they want are action and adventure and ideas. What they want are the things of life.

Except for that one student. If you really think “will” + “not” = “willn’t,” we may have a problem . . . Except that, there, the study of grammar failed you, too. You wouldn’t have said “willn’t” in day-to-day speech. You were following a pattern, and “won’t” breaks all the rules.

— Miss Jess


a teacher’s perspective

His eyes flashed.

“I won’t.”

“Alex*, put it down. Please,” I added, glancing nervously at the many small children buzzing and flying and sword-fighting and princess-playing all around the room.


“Alex . . .” But it was too late. The plastic shopping cart was in the air, flying towards a ballerina with a baton. Crash! The girl and a Lego tower behind her crumpled into a heap. “Whaaaa!!!”

Alex, 7, was running from the room. Continue reading

will we never learn?

In light of the news of the school shooting in Connecticut that I woke up to this morning, I have decided to repost an article I wrote earlier this year about the Colorado theater shooting in July. I hope my readers don’t mind. It just seems… appropriate.

gunPeople are stupid.

Just look at today’s headlines. Dumb-ass woman slays boyfriend, calls 911. Barbershop standoff leaves 1 dead, 2 wounded. Scoutmaster admits he molested boys. 20-year-old kills 26 in school shooting in Connecticut.

Okay, I added the “dumb-ass.” But you get the point. The list of stupid people goes on and on and on and on . . .

One of the most stupid recent headlines happened this past July. This was the Colorado theater shooting, when America‘s Biggest Dumb-Ass opened fire on an audience as they watched “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 and injuring 58 others. (James Holmes, you disgust me.) The youngest of these victims was 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, and, actually, rather than focus on Holmes (we all know he’s an idiot), my question today is this:

What was a 6-year-old doing in a PG-13 movie in the first place?

This is not a criticism. It is a question for all responsible parties out there.

While child development theories vary, it is widely accepted that young children have difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality. Children learn from and imitate what they see, including TV programs, computer games, news, movies, and people. If this is so, and if youth violence is increasing across the nation (Holmes is 24; Adam Lanza, the killer in today’s shooting, was only 20), could it be that there’s a connection between what our children are seeing, and what they are doing?


Map of recent school shootings in the U.S. (Image credit: squidoo.com)

In 1999, the world was appalled when two boys took guns to school and killed 13 people before killing themselves. Since Columbine, more than 100 school shootings in the Unites States have taken place. Many people argue that, in addition to media violence, gun control is to blame. I think we need to dig deeper. We’re never going to eliminate guns. Violence abounds in foreign countries, too. Just look at what’s going on in Syria.

The difference is that, in Syria, people are fighting for freedom. For values. For things that many Americans seem to have forgotten.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain, inalienable rights, that among these are LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Declaration of Independence

Because why are Americans blowing each other up? Because we own a gun and feel like using it on you?

America, what the f- is wrong with you?

aliens don’t wear hats

I took the GRE today. About halfway through, I wanted to quit. Oh, I’d studied all right. Spent hours mulling over verbal and quantitative reasoning questions and test-taking strategies.  But you couldn’t have told.

Three hours into the test, the computer screen went from glaring at me to making faces at me. You don’t know how to do this, it said. And you thought you were prepared.

Oh, bug off, I spat back, and then looked around to make sure no one was listening. A video camera was watching my cubicle, recording my every movement so as to prevent me from even thinking about trying to cheat. Or from bombing the place. Or from talking to my computer screen.

It’s been like that in every standardized test I’ve ever taken, though. An exorbitant amount of information crammed into 30-minute increments over a period of hours. The best way to prepare for the test is not to brush up on your skill set, but to “learn the ropes” of the test itself—the types of questions that will be asked, the various formats, and, of course, how the test will be scored.

And what does that show, really? How much I know, or how well I know how to take a standardized test?

But I’m not here to argue for or against standardized tests. I understand why they are needed and why educational institutions won’t be moving away from them any time soon.

At this point, I’m just wondering, Honestly, how was I supposed to know the answer to this?!

* A thanks to my friend, Mark, for showing me the above cartoon while I was living in Hong Kong. Also to my friend, Luis, for helping me prepare for questions just like these!