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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Children - Living in Dialogue

Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Children - Living in Dialogue:

Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Children

By Michelle Strater Gunderson.
When I was a small and my world was safe, I would wake up on Christmas morning and there would always be an orange at the bottom of my stocking – a “store bought orange” as my mother would say. Because, you see, on our family farm it was always a source of pride that almost everything we ate and used came from the work of our hands. I long for these simpler times, when an orange could mean so much.
That simpler time was 1968, a time that historically many of us consider to be one of the most tumultuous in our nation’s history. Yet, my family was able to envelope me in a sense of peace and caring.
I teach first grade in the Chicago Public Schools. I know my job well, and I am actually very good at it (according to all the Christmas cards from children I just opened). And this is what I can tell you, in spite of the politics and policy of education that get harmfully thrown around – the most important part of this job is to keep children safe, and care for them deeply so they can live the lives they were meant to live.
That is it. The rest is extra.
I have been struggling with what safety and caring look like inside a society that seems to care very little for children. Education budgets have been cut to the bone, teachers are overrun with needless mandates for paperwork and policy that take us away from the heart of teaching, both adults and children are judged and labeled by meaningless tests. And the list goes on.
And then we have the forthcoming presidency of Donald Trump and his incoming Secretary of Education, Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Children - Living in Dialogue:

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah! Or Whatever. | Diane Ravitch's blog

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah! Or Whatever. | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!
Image result for white house menorah under the christmas tree

Enjoy the day. Play with your children or grandchildren, your nieces and nephews.

For some, this is a lonely time of year.

Think about helping those who have no family. Invite friends over if they are alone.

Go to a homeless shelter, a church, a synagogue or anywhere they are serving a meal and offer your help.

Reach out and share some love. It feels good to give.

As for me, I am taking a break until January 2.*

See you back here then. Stay healthy. Happy 2017!

*PS: This is not an ironclad promise. If something comes my way that is irresistible, I’ll post it. Otherwise, take a break.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah! Or Whatever. | Diane Ravitch's blog:

Rage | the becoming radical

Rage | the becoming radical:


 Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

More than 27 years ago, when I was 28 and my daughter, only three months old, a drunk driven hit me while I was cycling with a friend.
The impact broke my ankle bone, leading to a long 10-week recovery over that summer. But as I lay in bed when my parents visited me after I was released from the ER, when my mother said certainly I was done cycling, my dad rejected the idea, knowing I was already planning how and when to ride again.
I have been an avid recreational and competitive cyclist for about thirty years now, completing a significant number of challenging 100-mile and 200-plus-mile cycling events and rides.
Yesterday morning, Christmas Eve 2016, as I found myself trying to stand up from the pavement on the highway passing in front of my subdivision, my sight was blurred and my left hand was bloodied; my pinkie appeared as if someone had bashed it with a hammer.
I had just watched three of my cycling companions flipping and tumbling from the impact of the car that hit me and them from behind. Another five in the group were spared.
This morning, Christmas 2016, I suspect my life as road cyclist is over.
As I have aged, this moment has been one of the things I have anticipated and feared most because it had to happen; our physical selves inevitably decline and the athlete becomes who we were and not who we are.
Now, I don’t want to sound melodramatic because I plan to continue and increase my mountain biking as soon as my broken hip allows (sooner even).
I likely will still occasionally take the road bicycle on rail trails, and have thought about using some of the insurance settlement to buy a smart trainer so my second road bicycle (now the only) has a purpose.
But I don’t want to understate either that this accident in the wake of what seems to be a year of far too many other car/bicycle accidents and dog/bicycle accidents has left me broken—yes, my hip, but also my spirit.
I am afraid.
Among our nine yesterday were 20-somethings and the older crowd in our 50s and 60s; we, the cycling community, are good people, professionals and those who wish to enjoy life.
We were riding legally 2-abreast in the far right lane of a four-lane highway. The motorist was negligent, completely at fault.
But none of that matters to the cyclist airlifted to the ER and who now lies in ICU. Another close friend and I suffered significant injuries, and several very expensive bicycles were destroyed or damaged.
Even when we road cyclists are in the right, we lose versus cars.
The human body doesn’t just wither with age; the human body is quite frail against a ton of metal traveling 40 or 50 miles per hour.
Setting aside for a moment Dylan Thomas’s sexism, I am drawn to “Though wise men at their end knowRage | the becoming radical

Throw back Christmas. | Fred Klonsky

Throw back Christmas. | Fred Klonsky:

Throw back Christmas.


Back before the Illinois Supreme Court had yet to confirm our contractual and constitutional right to our retirement pension – and the state public employee union leaders backed a Democratic Party plan to cut our cost of living benefit (COLA) – I drew what I knew what Santa would say.
Happy holidays.
My blog postings will be on an irregular schedule for a couple of weeks.

CURMUDGUCATION: For Your Christmas Listening

CURMUDGUCATION: For Your Christmas Listening:

For Your Christmas Listening

Here's hoping today is a great day for you and yours. For your listening pleasure, here's an assortment of traditional and not-so-traditional holiday music. May today be an excellent day!

Of Santa, Soccer, and Savior: Wishing Readers a Merry Christmas 2016 | deutsch29

Of Santa, Soccer, and Savior: Wishing Readers a Merry Christmas 2016 | deutsch29:

Of Santa, Soccer, and Savior: Wishing Readers a Merry Christmas 2016

Image result for Of Santa, Soccer, and Savior

For my 2016 Christmas post, I feature two entries from the Ligonier Ministries blog. The posts concern two real individuals: Santa Claus and Jesus Christ.
Both entries are written by president of Reformation Bible College Dr. Stephen J. Nichols.
In the first post, Nichols offers some intriguing history about Saint Nick:
It might surprise many today to find out that Saint Nicholas (spoiler alert) is a real person after all. Is he the white-bearded man with a red suit, a cap, and a sleigh?
Not quite, but he probably was bearded, did wear a hat, and did travel in horse-drawn, not reindeer-drawn, transportation. The legend behind Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myra. His hat was the bishop’s mitre.
Nicholas was born in modern day Turkey to a rather wealthy family. Losing his parents at a young age, Nicholas dedicated both his fortune and his life to the Christian church. Very quickly he was appointed the bishop of Myra, on the southern coast of modern day Turkey.
These were days of persecution for Christians. Roman Emperor Diocletian, who reigned from 284–305, hated Christians and stuffed Roman jails full of them. Bishop Nicholas spent the first few years of the fourth century in jail and faced routine beatings. In the next decade, Constantine legalized Christianity and Nicholas was set free.
As the legend goes, Bishop Nicholas was present at the Church’s First Ecumenical Council at Constantine’s summer palace in Nicea in 325. Hundreds of Bishops gathered there to refute the false views of Arius, a presbyter from Alexandria. Arius denied Christ’s deity. At one point while Arius was addressing the council, Nicholas’s rage got the better of him. According to some of his biographers, Nicholas stood up, crossed the floor to Arius, and 
Of Santa, Soccer, and Savior: Wishing Readers a Merry Christmas 2016 | deutsch29:

SKrashen: Bill Nye, The Science Guy shouldn't believe everything he reads about the Common Core.

SKrashen: Bill Nye, The Science Guy shouldn't believe everything he reads about the Common Core.:

Bill Nye, The Science Guy shouldn't believe everything he reads about the Common Core.

Image result for Bill Nye, The Science Guy

Stephen Krashen

On Big Think, Bill Nye (The Science Guy) advises us to "use your critical thinking skills. Evaluate evidence. Don't believe everything you read or see" (December 20, 2016). Mr. Nye is a good example of doing exactly that, reading and evaluating evidence carefully from all sides of an issue.  Except in one major case: The Common Core.

Mr. Nye is an enthusiastic supporter of the Common Core standards, because, he says, there are some basic principles everybody needs to know. On Big Think in September, 2014, he says that everybody needs to learn "a little bit of physics, chemistry, mathematics and you got to learn some evolution. You've got to learn some biology ... Everybody's got to learn the alphabet. Everybody's got to learn to read. The U.S. Constitution is written in English so everybody's got to learn to read English." (

I completely agree and I think that nearly all educators and parents agree.  Mr. Nye says that the opposition to the common core stems from teachers not wanting to teach subjects they are not very interested in,  and parents' concerns that the content of the core might conflict with their beliefs. 

But the oppoition to the Common Core among professional educators is different:  It is because the standards that make up the official Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are developmentally inappropriate, were created without sufficient consultation with SKrashen: Bill Nye, The Science Guy shouldn't believe everything he reads about the Common Core.:

Happy Holidays from the Big Education Ape 2016

Happy Holidays from the Big Education Ape 2016

From My Family to Yours