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Sandy Knauer

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Blogs by Sandy Knauer

Define Education
3/4/2006 11:40:35 AM
On a shoebox stage, wearing a diaper and nightgown, Briana delivered a stirring performance. She ignored me, closed her eyes, and belted unintelligible lyric into the plastic hammer she used as a microphone.

I snapped a picture, admired my adorable child, dropped a few proud-mommy tears, and sat back to enjoy her new game. Only for Briana, this was not a game. She defined herself that day, unearthed her passion, and made a commitment to expression.

Soon after her second birthday, she moved to a bigger stage on Pindell Avenue and debuted her first original blues song, “Don’t Touch My Make-up”. She sang from the side porch at Lots of Tots daycare, through a Crayola microphone, to an audience of boys who would forfeit a good amount of their outdoor play time to sit on the ground and clap for her.

I don’t think Briana’s musical talent earned recognition from anyone over the age of five at the time, but her sense of humor and flare for drama did. To start the day with a laugh, my co-workers asked for a Briana story from the night before settling in to work each morning. Hardly a day passed that a friend or neighbor didn’t say something like that child belongs on stage, or never a dull moment with that one around, or better you than me. I constantly reminded myself that she would keep me young if I didn’t let her kill me.

Briana was cut from a different cloth and marched to her own drummer. There were no strangers in this child’s life, as she met everyone on an intimate level, extracting from them every drop of energy and emotion they allowed. She carried her microphones – pens, straws, sticks – to sing, interview people, make announcements and introductions, or to tell jokes and stories. Sometimes, I wondered if she was diverse or bi-polar; she brought her audience to doubled-over laughter and then whipped out a sob story that broke their hearts.

Just when I thought I was immune to her drama, she charged through the door one afternoon shouting a chilling, “I have a dream.” I stood silent while she delivered the rest of the speech without missing a word or inflection. At the end, she threw herself on the couch, with a tired, “Mrs. Patterson must hate me.”

She sobbed; unable to imagine any other reason her fourth grade teacher had not selected her--a white female--to deliver the speech for the Martin Luther King Day celebration. “No one else knows every word or loves him more than I do.” She argued, expecting me to be as outraged by her teacher’s shortsighted decision as she was.

She had a point, which she rehearsed all night and made to her teacher the next day. Mrs. Patterson listened, allowed Briana and a boy in the class to divide the speech, and each recited half at the celebration.

Through the years, Briana took voice, violin, guitar, piano, and dance classes. She advertised nationally for a ballroom dance partner, but had no luck finding anyone who wanted to dance with a nine-year-old girl. Before she was old enough to drive, she had volunteered hundreds of hours on political campaigns, completed law, acting, and modeling programs during the summers, become somewhat regular on local morning shows, was a spokesperson and organizer for a non-profit community program, and had earned money to buy her first car through dance performances.

Many people criticized me. She does too much. She needs to focus more on school. No one is good at everything; she’s spreading herself too thin. How can you support spending money on these things when you drive a junker and she wears generic clothes and attends public school?

I did what I do best – overanalyze and rationalize. Would these people have criticized me if I had spent the same time, money, and dedication on Olympic goals? What if her passion had been math or science? Would anyone think I should curb her passion and limit her education then?

A good pair of dance shoes vs. the latest basketball shoes. An acting course vs. a designer outfit. The benefit of one over the other seemed obvious to me. One would carry her into the future and stay with her forever; she would forget the other in a few months.

Accepting average grades and understanding why I had to drag her out of bed for school but she had no trouble bouncing up for a five a.m. television appearance were a little more difficult, until I remembered what life is all about. We should all do what we love, as long as what we love is legal and moral.

Expression and entertainment are admirable aspirations. Who was I, or anyone else, to deny another person the right to explore where hers might take her?

With my blessing, Briana left the traditional school program to pursue her goals, in her own way. She taught ballroom dance while she completed high school, and attended a semester of college before the rest of her class graduated. At nineteen, she has years of experience in politics, entertainment, teaching, and organizing – her chosen professions.

Education is important. I hope America will step outside the box and recognize the importance of all types of education, and all professions before we lose the arts.






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More Blogs by Sandy Knauer
• No Resolutions Here - Friday, January 04, 2008
• Link to flagged article - Thursday, March 15, 2007
• God Does Make Garbage - And Other Annoying News - Friday, February 09, 2007
• Action Alert: AFA at it again - Wednesday, January 24, 2007
• Kid-free Zone - Sunday, December 10, 2006
• He Deserves Better - Saturday, September 30, 2006
• Glasses or Stage? - Wednesday, August 16, 2006
• A Walk With My Real Mother - Friday, August 11, 2006
• Al Gore and My High School Reunion - Thursday, July 06, 2006
• Damn You - Sunday, July 02, 2006
• And Not So Great First Dates - Sunday, June 25, 2006
• Great Dates - Sunday, June 25, 2006
• Happy Father's Day For Me - Saturday, June 17, 2006
• We Don't Share Crayons - Friday, June 16, 2006
• Roly-poly Slobber - Monday, June 12, 2006
• John Wayne and Elvis Were Full of Shit and You Probably Are Too - Monday, June 05, 2006
• Ignorance Is Bliss - Monday, May 29, 2006
• Let It Be - Thursday, April 27, 2006
• Can We Leave Justice to the Luck of the Draw? - Friday, April 14, 2006
• Gospel of Judas - Thursday, April 06, 2006
• Healthcare Costs – How We Turn Molehills into Mountains - Tuesday, March 28, 2006
• Feather Light - Monday, March 20, 2006
• Dissecting Charity - Saturday, March 11, 2006
• Sublime Abandon - Monday, March 06, 2006
• Behind the Headlines - Saturday, March 04, 2006
•  Define Education - Saturday, March 04, 2006  
• My American Idol Pick - Wednesday, March 01, 2006
• Tepid Judgment - Tuesday, February 28, 2006
• Purpose - Thursday, February 23, 2006
• HUH? - Tuesday, February 21, 2006
• Coddled Insanity - Sunday, February 19, 2006
• Ooops, My Bad - Thursday, February 16, 2006
• I Don't Need A Wife - Monday, February 13, 2006
• Fuzzy Edges - Monday, February 13, 2006
• Who's Reading - Sunday, February 05, 2006
• Patriotism Without Compassion - Friday, February 03, 2006
• Is Literary a Dirty Word - Friday, February 03, 2006
• Bottled Promises - Wednesday, February 01, 2006
• All The Lies - Tuesday, January 31, 2006
• Suspended In Time - Monday, January 30, 2006
• Plea to Democratic Party - Tuesday, January 24, 2006
• correction - Friday, January 13, 2006
• Alito's Sideshow and Abortion Soapbox - Wednesday, January 11, 2006
• Hard To Swallow Those Extra Words - Friday, January 06, 2006
• While You Were Sleeping - Monday, December 19, 2005
• Where Do Angels Hide - Tuesday, December 06, 2005
• Bob's Dinner - Sunday, November 13, 2005
• There, But For The Grace of God - Tuesday, November 08, 2005
• Delay Precedent - Friday, November 04, 2005
• Forget Stupid Apologies - Wednesday, November 02, 2005
• Once Upon Another Time - Thursday, September 22, 2005
• Remember Him When - Wednesday, September 21, 2005
• Somewhere In The Middle - Tuesday, September 20, 2005
• I Can't - Monday, September 19, 2005
• Twister Anyone? - Thursday, September 08, 2005
• Application Denied - Wednesday, September 07, 2005
• Timeline - Monday, September 05, 2005
• What Time Is It - Saturday, September 03, 2005
• My Hundred Thirty-Two Pounds Worth On Dating - Wednesday, August 24, 2005
• Across The Board - Thursday, August 11, 2005
• A Day For News - Thursday, August 04, 2005
• War On Sex - Tuesday, July 19, 2005
• Warning: This News Contains Mixed Messages That May Be Hazardous To Your Mental Health - Friday, July 15, 2005
• Action alerts - Thursday, July 14, 2005
• Ten Rules of Conduct - Monday, June 27, 2005
• What Exactly Is a Quagmire? - Thursday, June 23, 2005
• Who Are You? - Sunday, June 19, 2005
• What right does Wendy Wright - Saturday, June 04, 2005
• Huh? - Thursday, June 02, 2005
• Bush honors war dead? - Tuesday, May 31, 2005
• Bras and Burqas - Tuesday, May 31, 2005
• Huh? - Saturday, May 28, 2005
• I Feel - Saturday, April 30, 2005
• Good Kids Don't Steal or Lie - Wednesday, April 27, 2005
• Dead Wrong - Thursday, March 31, 2005
• Speaking of starvation . . . - Thursday, March 31, 2005
• Some Interesting Misconceptions - Saturday, March 26, 2005
• Who gave Donald Iarussi permission to speak for Democrats? - Monday, March 21, 2005
• we must always err on the side of life" - Monday, March 21, 2005
• Did the Punishment Fit the Crime? - Saturday, March 19, 2005
• Open Letter To the FOP - Sunday, March 13, 2005
• Land of the Rich and Silent War - Tuesday, March 08, 2005
• Another question - Sunday, March 06, 2005
• AD Messages - Wednesday, March 02, 2005
• Breakfast, Soda Machines and Cigarettes - Thursday, February 24, 2005
• A few questions about Social Security - Friday, February 11, 2005
• Here's the Beef - Wednesday, February 09, 2005
• More supporting the troops? - Monday, February 07, 2005
• Action links - Monday, February 07, 2005
• Support the Troops?? - Monday, February 07, 2005
• Was It Really About Morals? - Sunday, February 06, 2005
• Lori - Sunday, February 06, 2005
• You Will Have A Concrete Garage - Saturday, February 05, 2005
• Clarence’s Appendix - Saturday, February 05, 2005
• Return To Yesterday - Saturday, February 05, 2005
• William J. Neven - Friday, January 21, 2005
• Opportunity? - Wednesday, January 19, 2005
• They have "earned the RIGHT" to kidnap?? - Thursday, January 13, 2005
• Strawberry Lane - Sunday, January 09, 2005
• Get out?? - Saturday, January 08, 2005
• Got an extra $25,000 ?? - Wednesday, January 05, 2005
• Good question L.R. Farley - Tuesday, January 04, 2005
• Generous? - Wednesday, December 29, 2004
• eeek! - Sunday, December 26, 2004
• 16 or 18 districts registered - Sunday, December 26, 2004
• Eye-opening article - Thursday, December 23, 2004
• Today's Questions - Thursday, December 23, 2004
• More questions... - Wednesday, December 22, 2004
• One more down... - Monday, December 20, 2004
• Confused again - Monday, December 20, 2004
• Wishful Writing - Monday, December 13, 2004
• Uncle Charles Hates Towel Heads and Queers - Sunday, December 05, 2004
• The Value of Diplomacy - Thursday, December 02, 2004
• Malnourishment doubles in Iraq - Thursday, November 25, 2004
• Hats Off To the Ukrainians - Thursday, November 25, 2004
• Next . . . - Wednesday, November 17, 2004
• Open Letter To Southeast Christian Church - Tuesday, November 16, 2004
• Rest In Peace - Sunday, November 14, 2004
• Value Oriented Heath Care - Thursday, November 11, 2004
• Focus: Fallujah - Tuesday, November 09, 2004
• Do Flowers Grow In Fallujah? - Tuesday, November 09, 2004
• Who Are They Hurting? - Sunday, November 07, 2004
• The Sorrow Runs Much Deeper - Saturday, November 06, 2004
• Morality? - Saturday, November 06, 2004
• Protect My Freedom - Wednesday, October 20, 2004
• Race For Terre Bluff - Monday, September 13, 2004
• The War On Truth - Sunday, August 15, 2004
• Did he really say that? - Thursday, August 12, 2004
• Did John Kerry vote for Bush's war in Iraq? - Thursday, August 05, 2004
• It's time to let the men do the shopping - Friday, July 30, 2004
• School Prayer - Friday, July 30, 2004
• God Love Her - Monday, July 05, 2004
• Prayer Requests - Tuesday, May 11, 2004
• For a good time, call Bill Chambers - Tuesday, March 16, 2004
• what's the issue? - Wednesday, February 11, 2004
• Principles above Popularity? - Thursday, January 29, 2004
• condescending arrogance - Saturday, January 24, 2004
• Electability? - Saturday, January 24, 2004
• Whining about Whiners?? - Thursday, January 08, 2004
• Choices - Friday, January 02, 2004
• Honest Poll? - Thursday, January 01, 2004
• Medicare/Social Security - Saturday, December 27, 2003


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