Saturday, August 24, 2013

Embrace Yesterday and Today for Tomorrow

Monday I “officially” report for my 11th year of teaching in Janesville’s public schools. This year, however, will be my first season of servicing Janesville without a negotiated contract between the district and my teachers union.

Janesville’s teachers union is one of the last holdouts in Wisconsin to be subjected to Gov. Walker’s discriminatory Act 10 legislation, which ends most collective bargaining rights for almost all public employees. Even though the constitutionality of Act 10 is still in question and now before the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, my district and union are forced to stumble together into uncharted territory this upcoming school year.

As we stagger forward, the historian in me finds value in looking back. History matters. I concur with Einstein, "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning." Better understanding the past allows us to move forward better.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Lesson George Zimmerman Never Learned

Usually I trend toward indifference on high-profile court cases, like the George Zimmerman trial, when the constant media coverage kicks in.

However, this case was different. I was and continue to be enthralled on many levels.

My anger toward Zimmerman and his supporters persists. Regardless of what the jury’s "not guilty" ruling indicates, Zimmerman’s inappropriate racial profiling, unnecessary gun-toting, and his obvious hypermasculinity (which allowed him to ignore the 911 dispatcher’s advice for restraint) are deserving of some sort of just punishment.

This Zimmerman case reminds me of my involvement in a criminal chase. I have shared this following story from time to time with my students and long before the Martin-Zimmerman incident. I wish Zimmerman had heard it before he played sheriff in pursuit of Trayvon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why are Optimists so Negative about Pessimists?

Why are optimists so negative about pessimists?

Pessimists have much to offer society. I would not go as far to write that pessimism is the best policy, but I would not take the other extreme and support my superintendent’s pitch that “Optimism Is the Best Policy.”

True to the optimist approach, my super outlined in a recent blog posting the many positive benefits of optimism, like “...that optimists are: healthier, less likely to give up, more successful in school, on the job, and on the playing field, more successful in relationships, depressed less often, and for shorter periods of time.” Furthermore, she affirms “optimists help create some of the good they come to expect, so they are probably right more than not – and they don’t waste time worrying about what they’re not right about.”

Who would criticize such an optimistic view of optimism? Optimists won’t. The dirty, but noble work of critical thinking is left to the pessimists.