#MyGlobalMoment from The Ubuntu Center on Vimeo.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
#MyGlobalMoment from The Ubuntu Center on Vimeo.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Since the beginning of September the dreaded AR points have been hanging over Danny's head. At Danny's school 4th graders need 12 points a month to go to the carnival at the end of the year. The minimum monthly points required at his school for 4th graders is 4 points or you get disciplined by the principal. She will "cut a corner" off your behavior card. I'm not sure what that even means but each student has one card and I imagine you only have 4 corners. What happens when they're all cut off? Public stoning? Jail? No idea but according to Danny, it isn't good.
But Danny has never been the type of kid to just do the minimum to get by, so 4 points was never good enough for him. He was aiming for 12! Because that's what our family does. We don't aim for C's we aim for A's... right?
During September Danny read some Joey Pigza books do get the points. But the language, topic and mood of the story was difficult for Danny so he begged me to sit and read with him (or, to be quite honest, to him). That was hard for me because his younger brother having Autism needs a lot of help with homework and everyone tries to get their homework done right after school. It was hard for me to help two boys at once so the reading became a stressor and was aIways pushed off until later in the evening when we were all exhausted. And when Dad came and visited he saw Danny was so stressed out about finishing his book before the end of September (so he could take the test before the end of the month), Dad and Danny sat and finished one of the books together. Then the same thing happened when you came to visit in October, remember?
After that Danny was done with Joey Pigza and grabbed "The Lightning Thief." He was aiming high! 12 points for one book. All he would have to do was read one book for the whole month and take the test and get his points. One problem, he couldn't get through it. Not on his own. He begged me to read with him again because he just wasn't getting into it. Plus it was taking him a long time to read and that was stressing him out because he needed to finish it before the end of the month to get the points in.
Around the end of October, after he lost the school government election to the kid that ran on the premise that he had the most AR points in their grade, I sat down with a defeated Danny who was absolutely beginning to HATE reading. And he told me he was feeling "stupid" cause he couldn't get the reading done. The AR system, the pressure from the school (whether deliberate or perceived), the other kids bragging about their AR points and the carnival were destroying his love of reading. It was time for something drastic.
I had to have a sit-down with Danny. I explained to him how absurd and pointless this AR system was and that in this case, we're going to make an exception and just do the minimum required. What a lesson I was teaching my son but it was time for an intervention. I told him to forget the carnival and I would let him stay home from school that day and take him to a movie and to ice cream, whatever he wanted. I told him to aim for just 4 points and month (do we didn't have to deal with the dreaded corner cutting) and only choose the books that he likes to get the points.
It is now 3 weeks into November and he's just about to complete his 4th Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. The type of books he loves. Now he comes home from school, reads on his own curled up in the big chair in my family room because he loves the story, the characters, the humor. He loves reading again. And now he slaps the book on the coffee table when he finishes and says "done!" And then walks outside to jump on the trampoline. :)
The funny thing is he's still on track to get the points he needs for the silly carnival at the end of the year. But now it's not about that anymore. He's not reading for points he's began to love reading again.
Today he asked me if he still gets enough points for the carnival at the end of each month, if we can still skip school the day of the carnival and spend the day together. Of course I told him we could.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Thursday, November 07, 2013
Saturday, October 26, 2013
So, we take a cab to one of the castles that housed dungeons that kept male, female and children captive, 200 to a room the size of your average subway (only without the windows, the flush toilets, or the fresh veggies), for periods of a few days to 3 months until the imprisoned Africans passed down unlit stone passageways to The Door of No Return and onto small boats similar to the fishing boats still in use, to ships that would take them through the middle passage to North and South America. It is the same one that the Obamas visited when in Ghana.
“Africans were stronger,” our guide explains. “They were more able to survive harsh working conditions on the plantations rather then simply enslaving the indigenous peoples.”
In this picture, a young Dane contemplates the magnitude of what we are experiencing and the guilt that all of European descent must bear.
Directly above the cries from the dungeons stood (stands) canons pointed out at sea and a church, where the overseers prayed for peace and redemption. A trap door is in the entryway so worshipers could look down and check on the status of the imprisoned before taking communion. Redemption indeed. Were the overseers clinging to guns and religion on this rock thinking they were worshiping on some high ground? I stand there trying to pull logical thoughts together in the blasting wind. Later she takes us down to visit The Door of No Return, which she unlatches and swings open. Our little tour group steps out into the blinding sun to imagine what it might have felt like for the departing prisoners of slavery.
Our guide is a soft-spoken volunteer who tells us about the five graves in the open yard of the castle. These were not for slaves that succumbed to the horrors, those folks were either buried in a mass grave or thrown to the sharks. Instead, this is the final resting place for four white guys who mostly succumbed to malaria along side the body of one woman. She was the wife of the head overseer, who arrived at Cape Coast only to find out her honorable husband was getting it on with a local. There are three theories why she died. 1. She found out her husband had been unfaithful and did herself in. 2. She too succumbed to malaria. 3. Her husband's mistress poisoned her. “Which do you think?” the guide asks me.
This picture is from the castle looking north, bare shore similar to what the departing slaves might have seen back then. It is not a friendly port, but an uneven shoreline with aggressive waves and a vicious undertow.
The next picture is taken looking out The Door of No Return to the south, onto today's vibrant community of fishermen, tangles of nets and waiting boats. In order to get the boats back into shore, men must pull them from the shore, tug-of-rope style.
We used this photo in our writing at the AISA conference and one teacher observed that these people are all living on the edge, trying to subsist on what they pull from an increasingly debilitated ocean. When I asked stupid question number 1,067, "what is the unemployment rate here in Ghana?" a teacher's response was, "it depends on what you consider employment." Are these people employed? If you take coconuts from trees and try to sell them on the side of the road in order to buy a day's meal, is that a job? This is the way many or most eke out a living in Ghana. I remember how over lunch our red eyed cab driver told us that his father is a fisherman and how he had been up all the night before helping him. How his mother pounds grain and sells it beside the road. How he took my left overs from lunch home in a bag.
It takes a few days to notice that as you walk down the street, through the markets, you see very very few old people. For the most part, they don't exist here.
Thank you to Lincoln Community School and particularly Rhona Polonsky for helping us plan this side trip.