everything is connected

oldbooks..
The trouble with life is it’s too dang complicated. Very little is clear cut. I mean, sure, there is good and bad, black and white. But issues are rarely isolated — everything is connected.

Take my last post, for example. I took a swing at an excuse-laden lazy society. I encouraged people to move. But what if you have selfless obligations that keep you from moving? Or what if you’re injured? Or what if the weather is bad? Or what if you’re too poor to afford a gym membership (like me)?

People come at topics from all different angles.

Another example is education. I’ve seen a number of articles recently that address the decline of the American education system. “The American education system is failing miserably,” the authors say. To prove it, they compare old and current middle school reading lists. “A hundred years ago students were reading the classics; today, they’re skimming Twilight.” “It’s no wonder the United States is falling behind other nations in Math, Reading, and Science,” they moan. “Look at what they’re reading!” A quote by the late Joseph Sabron is often then shared. “In a hundred years, we’ve gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching remedial English in college,” Sabron said. “So sad and so true!” the authors lament.

So sad and so true; so sad and so true. Yes sad, and yes true. But, but . . . My question is: Is anyone asking what’s responsible for this decline?

The trouble with statistics is that they can’t possibly examine all of the probable contributing factors to a problem. Isolating factors doesn’t do us any good, either. Take the above education crisis, for example. Based on the authors’ comments above, one might easily assume American students are to blame. “Kids are lazy these days!” “Twilight? Bah!” After all, it’s our children who are taking these tests. If we look a little harder, though, we realize perhaps it isn’t our students’ fault at all. And maybe not our teachers’. And maybe not even our government’s. Perhaps the issue is much larger than that.

On any given day American students are likely to hear stories about, witness, and/or be subjected to racism, illegal immigration, gangs, gun wars, drug wars, government corruption, cultural clashes, school shootings, natural disasters, violence, murder, and more — much more. Education starts at home, and unfortunately not all children have a home to come home to. I witnessed this firsthand while working at an elementary school last year. Acknowledging this, I believe it’s safe to say: Certain places in the States (and everywhere) might be more sheltered than others, but no child, school, system, or government is immune to the various connected issues of man.

For a few related articles, look here:

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/12/03/248329823/u-s-high-school-students-slide-in-math-reading-science

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32608772

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/02/02/u-s-students-improving-slowly-in-math-and-science-but-still-lagging-internationally/

silent spaces

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer.
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake

digging deeper

She was gangly. I was early. While I waited, sipping my cappuccino in a corner, I watched her. Except for one tangled strand at her temple, her thin yellow hair was pulled tightly to a bun on the top her head. The loose strand was hot pink. Piercings filled with metal ran up and down her ears. Her jeans were like tights.

She went outside to smoke a cigarette; icy air blasted the store as she went.

I shivered and shook my head: she was all of about sixteen. Continue reading