Blogs by Leslie P Garcia
Sour Grapes and Seabiscuit
8/15/2004 12:16:49 PM
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Redemption, work and salvation... except when it isn't. The beauty of a blog is that noone has a clue what's coming out or why. At least, I guess that's a beautiful thing.
Just finished watching Seabiscuit. Again. Talk about a tale of courage, redemption and salvation. My youngest daughter, who ridiculed my passion for "horse movies" can't quit watching it now, either. For her, it's the life issues. But she's started asking about thoroughbreds, Man O' War, and so on, so there's hope.
I grew up reading Marguerite O'Henry and Walter Farley, whose names I hope I still can spell. A lot of years and something called life dim some of the things that were most important, way back when. Knew the stories of Man O' War, the Black Stallion--heck, even Seabiscuit. But time or no time to do so, I need to read the book (by Laura Hillenbrand) because the book truly is betterr than the movie in most cases.
On my romance writer's loop, a note from a fellow writer and friend--her son's coming home from Iraq in a week or two. My nephew came home from Afghanistan recently. In the face of world events, does a Seabiscuit story matter? I suspect anyone who has seen the movie would say yes and know why.
Closer to home here, tomorrow the post call sounds for our local school children. Bullying parents, posturing administrators--sometimes I feel that people read my school experiences and say "sour grape lady should switch jobs." Maybe I should, but I'd never make the weight to ride, not even in the movies.Complaining--bitterly--about the insanity of the school system isn't really sour grapes. It's genuine frustration and concern for what's happening to our nation's kids--and it's not the fault, for the most part, of teachers.
Much hue and cry goes up over parent involvement, and certainly that's important--if it's real parent involvement, and not just the "if you say "boo," I'll sue you" kind of involvement making the profession increasingly difficult. There are monsters in the profession--there are in any field. Most of us aren't monsters, aren't abusive, and want kids to do well.
We need parents who bring kids to school, check to see if homework is done, and teach the most basic values--because when a child comes with no idea that there is right and wrong, that jobs must be done--he or she will be quickly left behind. While other kids learn to read and write, those kids are still dealing with concepts of how to behave in class.
But forgetting, for a moment, parents--we need reality. Not the reality of testing or assessing every third minute, but an understanding by politicians and administrators that children are not assembly-line products, and that standardized testing is killing individuality. The very "cure" that is so much in vogue now is dealing the lethal blow to our schools. It would be ironic, if it weren't too deadly for kids.
Our calendar has 180 school days. Of those, first grade has 60 testing days--1/3 of the year will be spent testing. The tests start tomorrow--with insufficient testing materials, no first grade aide, and over a hundred students who must be given in a 20 or 30 minute test, one at a time. So who teaches the other 21 students as each teacher gives the test to one individual?
Teachers in my grade attended training (an extremely poorly delivered training) on the testing. Recommendations were for a four week "window," and to test only two students at a time. Oh, and to have a kit and an alternative kit for each teacher, not grade level. We have a one week window...and no materials have been given out yet.
Sour grapes? I prefer to think of it as honest frustration. And I won't comment on what else I think--it doesn't matter.Because as Charles Howard kept saying in Seabiscuit, "It's fine." Teachers teach. Tomorrow the post call, May the finish line--and students and teachers race their hearts out in between.
Seabiscuit isn't just about a horse, or even just about teaching, of course. It's about life--the pits we all fall into, and how some manage to claw their ways out. How we all have to try, because that's what there is--just trying. In the end, trying can be enough. Sometimes just trying can be more, even, than enough--salvation of a battered spirit. Redemption from past mistakes. And the chance, for a heartbeat or a hoofbeat, to win.
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