Category Archives: kids

the heart of the matter

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Sit still … and focus! … is this all there is to it? This picture was taken a while ago (when my uncle was one of these tiny humans sitting quietly behind their desks) but how much has really changed since? I’ve always been hoping to create a more inspirational learning atmosphere. We’ll see how that goes.

The heart of the matter

God, I love 80ies music.

Wonder why? Here’s the reason: that terrible combination of a quite danceable, sing-along-in-the-kitchen/shower/while-vacuuming kind of tune with lyrics full of soul-shaking, heart-wrenching wisdom. A musical decade of wonder.
And synthesizers, of course.

Let me share a snippet of the gem I’m listening to right now:
I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter (just to get the mood across correctly: imagine the strumming of an unplugged electric guitar and a gospel choir humming softly in the background).

On point, Don.

Okay, this isn’t a music blog and although it sounds like it so far, this isn’t supposed to be a blog post celebrating my top 10 80ies chart hits. If you were hoping for a free Don Henley mp3 download, you’re out of luck. Sorry, folks. I was just about to start writing this post when this song came on and it resonated with me and, coincidentally, with the thoughts I was about to share.

I have been, in fact, trying to get down to the heart of the matter lately. A bit unsuccessfully, though. I’ve been enrolled in a 2-year teacher training program for close to 2 years now. Let’s quickly do the math together: yes, I can see the finish line! For now however, the near end of my teacher training isn’t a cause for much celebration but it means observation, evaluation and, as an extra Easter treat, oral examination.

To make this period especially enticing for future teachers: it’s hard if not impossible to get things right. You can pour all your heart, effort, sweat, laminating pouches and glitter into one lesson and people will still find a way to take it apart based on the one thing that wasn’t quite right (in their opinion).

You inevitably wonder: am I doing this right? Am I a good teacher? Or is this a terrible career plan for me and the poor tiny humans sitting in my class room?

Help!

I want to be a teacher. I like hanging out with 8-year-olds, teaching them things I’m passionate about and learning new things along the way. I hope to inspire them to make their own way, stand up for what they believe in and grow from fabulous tiny humans into fabulous average-sized humans.

Yet, there are so many holes in our system of education – some that have been temporarily patched up and some staring you right in the face. It’s not just one sector, too. You can start your way from the curriculum and work your way up to teacher training and funding and … the list goes on and on.

It gets hard not to be disheartened, not to lose focus and, the one thing I deeply care about: inspiration.

If all my effort is in vain, if there’s so much wrong with the system itself, am I on a mission that is destined to fail?

What do you think? What inspires you? What keeps you motivated and going, even when the odds aren’t in your favor?

I’m curious to know and determined to get down to the heart of the matter.

Inspire me, will you?

Cheers,
Lisa

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Seven pancakes and one sock.

Preface

I have been so busy lately (and still am) and who-or whatever’s responsible for the weather seems to suffer from manic-depression: within the past couple of weeks, we’ve first had a period of non-stop rain, then a subsequent flood (millennial aka a helllottawater) and the most recent gem: a heat wave. From the highs into the lows and back and whatnot.

So for these past weeks, I didn’t really have time to write, but I’ve been very tempted to write something about highs and lows in general – I mean, go figure, right? Yet, now that I do have some time on my hands: I’ve decided against it; I’m going to stick with the highs. I’ll give you high temperatures and enthusiasm – because after a miserable spring it’s summer (finally). And just because I want to.

***

high or low?

high or low? what’s it gonna be?

This Monday was my dad’s birthday and because my family is a little weird (as I imagine all families are if you look closely) and my mom’s always been a very practical woman, they decided they were going to have a birthday B-B-Q the Sunday before – just because schedule-wise it worked out better than celebrating his actual birthday or throwing a party the weekend after (like most people would have done – just sayin’, guys).

So I packed my present (an exquisite selection of different beers to maintain my dad’s perfectly shaped beer belly – you’re welcome, Mom) and got myself on the bus, while my sister packed her three boys (one husband, two sons) and got into the car. My sister’s eight years older – which, I think, doesn’t make that much of a difference when you’re 24 and 32, yet: if my parents had decided to set up a grown-up and a separate kids table, they’d probably put me on the latter.

Of course, I wouldn’t have minded. At all.

My nephews are adorable. B., the older one’s in fifth grade: thankfully he hasn’t hit puberty yet (knock on wood); last Christmas he whispered a very indecent joke into my ear while the entire family sat gathered around the table for lunch and I almost knocked my food right off the table – a minute later I discovered that he’d just learned it from a girl at school (of course, I immediately told him that she was bad influence and he better stay away from her) and that he wasn’t entirely sure what he’d just told me (Thank God). His most impressive quality: he is able to eat seven really huge pancakes if he’s a very hungry caterpillar; to my dismay: English is his least favorite subject and he couldn’t care less about the fact that his aunt (almost) is an English teacher herself (luckily, he also doesn’t care when his aunt tries to sneak in books or other English-related goodies along with the actual birthday or Christmas present – he just frowns and puts it aside when he thinks no one’s looking).  

D., the younger one, is a little straggler – he isn’t even a year old yet. He has my sister’s huge blue eyes (her very romantic husband lovingly refers to them as fish’s pop eyes) and also wouldn’t mind stuffing seven pancakes into his little mouth, if only my sister would let him. Because she doesn’t, however, he has to content himself with stuffing one of his socks into his sticky, smudgy baby face – or his foot, if the sock’s already soaked and my sister slipped it off his chubby foot. Whenever I get a chance, I pick him up to carry him around. I tell him incoherent stories with so many plot twists that in the end, there’s just twists and no plot at all and he doesn’t mind (he’s my most appreciative audience), he just looks around, kicking his feet and rowing his arms as if he was about to take off, a little bird. Eventually he gets tired –  that’s my favorite part – and rests his fluff-covered head on my chest: and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the ultimate high. It’s even better than – oh my God, I can’t believe I’m saying this – chocolate. I swear.

 

Kids in the world’s most adult-oriented place that is…the world – some quick facts.

Fact 1: The world itself is probably the least kids-oriented place that has ever existed.

It’s way too serious, especially when it comes to things that don’t need to be taken so seriously like, for example, how to make horrendous loads of money instead of just plain loads of money. At the same time, though, it neglects things that should be taken more seriously – such as kids. It’s way too hectic, too. There’s no time for the truly important things in life – yeah folks, I’m talking about naptime. That and trying to figure out whether the cloud on the far right of the oak tree looks more like a raccoon or a carrot after all.

Okay, to be fair: I don’t know of all the places that have ever existed. So the world is really just the least kids-oriented of all the places I know – I have no evidence whatsoever that proves the non-existence of a place that is even less kids-oriented somewhere in the universe (like adultplanet or serious-guys-talk-serious-business-world).

 

Fact 2: A tiny bit of kids-orientation in many places would most likely make the world a better place.

Imagine the Starbucks on your way to work sends you off into the day with your coffee in a cup with a smiley face, your favorite Sesame Street character or a note that says “you’re awesome, have an awesome day!” (all the a-letters replaced by shiny gold stars, of course; you know you’d love it) – wouldn’t that be a great way to start your morning?

Well, at least it would be a lot better than reaching for your regular coffee cup only to realize that even after being a loyal customer for almost two years the lady that’s been selling you your coffee ever since still thinks your name is Leslie instead of Lisa (that or she really needs to learn how to spell… or seriously improve her handwriting).

Imagine further that your boss rewards your great work with funny stickers! I know what you think: forget the stickers, I’d rather have a raise. Well, the truth is: on adultplanet you won’t get either so you might as well take the stickers and be happy. Who knows, you might even be able to trade in 10 stickers for a no-overtime-coupon! Wait…really?! (Yes, yes!) And guess what? It’s Jell-O day in the cafeteria, too. Admit it: this is bliss.

(These are just a few examples, too.)

 

Fact 3: Kids are simply awesome.

I am an almost-teacher who has done her fair share of student teaching and it’s just a fact: kids are truly awesome. I admit, they are also sticky, noisy, antsy and they wouldn’t notice irony or sarcasm if you dressed them up in sparkling superhero costumes specifically labeled “irony” and “sarcasm”, but they’re nice enough to laugh at your jokes even if they don’t really get them, so who cares.

Another big plus: even when you draw a picture that consists of nothing but stick figures or you play them a song that is really just one line and the same chord over and over again, they think you’re a great artist. That just makes them really awesome. You can’t argue with that now, can you?

(That’s a rhetorical question: you can’t. I’m serious: you cannot, I won’t allow it – I’ll write a note to your mom if you do…oh, wait: sorry. Maybe I’ll address your mom in your blog’s comment section, though. Ha!)

 

Fact 4: Kids are (mostly) willing to learn anything you are willing and (watch out: keyword coming up) motivated to teach them

– such as proper restaurant behavior. Kids are like tiny sponges. Not because they wear square pants, but because they have this incredible ability to soak up any piece of (interesting) information they are confronted with. If the information presenter aka parent/teacher/sports coach/you name it shows the least bit of enthusiasm for the matter that they are trying to present, they will most likely spark some interest. Yet beware: kids know when it’s fake, oh yes, they do.

Besides, they intuitively know how to follow your example: if Daddy tries (and successfully manages) to chew with his mouth closed – for a change – they will realize it’s not the worst idea to try and do the same. They think it’s fun to act all grown-up for a while, too (as long as they feel like they don’t have to).

Of course, there are limits. It just doesn’t make any sense to make them sit through a 7-course dinner: they simply can’t sit still for that long because it’s really boring. Why would anyone want to sit through a 7-course dinner anyways? They’re just really long and boring and at the end of all these hours of boredom, miraculously, you’re still hungry. Why are 7-course dinners popular again? Okay, I lost my train of thoughts just now and I’m feeling hungry…hm.

 

Fact 5: Kids can’t choose not to be around adults, either.

I’m sure they’d sometimes prefer to just get rid of us silly grown-ups, yet: they can’t. They depend on us silly grown-ups for a while (because the world is not only too adult-oriented but also full of crazy people and other crazy things). If they have to stick it out with us, I think it’s only fair if we do the same for them.

 

No, Charlie, I don’t know why grown-ups are so boring sometimes either…but you are awesome!

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