Archive | December, 2016

Reversing Course: Appreciation of Things I Used to Loathe

30 Dec

Now that I am almost completely acclimated and comfortable here in Puerto Escondido, I’m ready to start thinking about leaving. Go ahead and shake your head; it might be a little crazy. Apparently I equate comfort with stagnation, or so it would seem based on the course of my life thus far.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking lots about why I love it here now, and the multitude of things and people that I’ll miss when I move back to the states. I’ve been reflecting on all the things that I disliked when I first arrived in small-town Oaxaca that now make me feel kinda warm and fuzzy.* Here are a few of the things I’ve adapted to appreciate.


I don’t love the lack of safety, per-se. I do think that it’s nice to not need lids that caution you about hot coffee being hot. I appreciate that kids can be trusted to differentiate the chocolate in a chocolate egg from the plastic toy inside that is too big to choke on anyway. I love that nobody’s actions are based around whether or not they might get sued. It certainly makes a cliff more thrilling when there is no railing to prevent you or the cars from falling off the giant cliff into the abyss. I like the tremor of excitement from the occasional motorcycle ride, the breeze in my hair when I’m riding in the back of a pick-up truck. I’ll miss seeing folks holding on to a bar, riding the back bumper of a truck. Furthermore, I think that the safety measures in place in the US aren’t typically there to protect vulnerable people, and they don’t protect everyone equally. For example, they don’t want kids to have those chocolate eggs with toys in them, but they expect refugee kids to defend themselves in court (but that’s part of a whole ‘nuther rant, I guess).

While sometimes I think the lack of safety measures here is the opposite extreme, I’m no longer shocked by it. I might have gotten nervous watching the one year old I saw the other day, standing up and bouncing up and down on the moving motorcycle with his parents, no helmet for anyone. But I didn’t freak out at anyone. The electrical socket that my kid tried to stick his fingers in among the baby books in the library this year was a bit unreasonable, in my opinion, but I distracted my kid and kept my mouth shut. I still can’t quite appreciate the irony of not having soap in the bathroom of a hospital or clinic. But mostly I am able to laugh about it all. In the van to Juquila this trip, I was marveling at the seat belt situation. Even after years of being here, even though I’m not shocked- it’s still a little baffling. They took such pains to make sure that nobody ever uses the seat belts- folding them up neatly and putting plastic cuffs around them, just to be on the safe side (hahaha).


Seatbelts? What are those things for?

I certainly appreciate this forcing me to go with the flow more, to just breathe my prayer into the wind and keep going, something I might never have learned to do raising kids in the US.

(Isn’t culture funny, though? This culture is not big on some kinds of safety, but people do vaccinate their kids, almost religiously- partially because it’s free. Women will totally wait in line for 3 hours, a few days postpartum, to diligently vaccinate their baby. It’s pretty impressive what public health campaigns could do if they put the resources into it. Imagine what things would look like if they gave out helmets for kids!)

When we first moved to Juquila, in 2012, that first month we ran out of everything. We spent a couple days with no water for washing (or flushing, etc. Yeah. Think about all the implications of no water). The electricity went out for a day and a half. We ran out of drinking water and the truck with the big jugs just wasn’t coming. Sometimes the cell phone wires were so saturated that you could’t make a phone call. The internet went down in the whole town for a week. I couldn’t imagine how all this lack of services and technology was possible. How can people live like this? I didn’t even realize then that that would be my “easy” life, compared to living in Puerto without electricity.

More than anything, living on little-to-no technology for all this time has reframed my ideas about necessity. We’ve now spent a year and a half in our house with electricity- the same amount of time we spent without it. I still feel grateful every morning that I plug in the coffee maker, every night that a fan blows on us, every time Khalil goes to flip the switch all by himself- a baby who can take electricity for granted. We’ve made so much progress, and I don’t really want to live without any of it. But I know that I can. Doing without has trained me to ask a lot of questions about what’s important in life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Google. I love my National Public Radio news. I love the Hurricane preparedness website. I love exchanging morning emails with my mom while I’m at work. I dream of all the music I would have Youtube access to with home internet. Khalil and I just did a video call with my mom while visiting in Juquila, and it was so fun! It made me think that the whole feel of my life might be different with at-home internet. Publishing a blog every week would be less of a monumental challenge, among other things. I could read all of the interesting articles that my friends post on Facebook. I could convert celsius to fahrenheit when my kid has a fever without having to call my mom.

It would be helpful to have internet. But really, I don’t need to read all of the articles on Facebook. Even the fact that this year I got a cell phone with Facebook access was another good news/bad news scenario. It’s nice to be able to “keep in touch” like that, but some days it just makes me feel more alone and isolated. I can’t actually get together with most of the people I’m friends with- even the ones who live here, thanks to stressful schedules and whatnot. Thus, I also have my doubts about the true benefits of at-home internet, as much as I pine for it sometimes.

All in all, I’m still a technological dinosaur, a bit by choice and a bit by force. But I hope I keep myself in check despite having a smartphone. I hope I never read all the articles my friends post on Facebook, even though someday I will have home internet. I hope I keep asking myself what is really necessary and what is most important with the time and resources that I have.


If you know me, you know that I have loved thrift stores and other discount styles forever. Y’all know that I’m staunchly against the wastefulness, expense, and tedium of following fashion rules invented by anyone but yourself. That said, I’ve always had my own version of fashion rules. Like, if you wear some color, wear plenty of black, too. No flower prints. Those sort of rules I made for myself. I didn’t apply them to anyone else, and yet other sorts of rules had seeped into me from living in the states. So I was a bit taken aback by what, in my former life, would be labeled tackiness. When I saw a group of folks in matching spray-painted Jesus shirts, for example, I raised my eyebrows. Or when people wore a polka dot shirt with striped pants. What?!

Living in the land of fashion anarchy has slowly changed my patterns and liberated me from fashion judgment I wasn’t even particularly conscious of before. Granted, you will never convince this boot-obsessed, Tank-Girl type to run around in flip flops all the time like so many folks around here. I still have my own brand of fashion. But I sure have changed my ideas of appropriate attire. I love that there is complete and utter apathy and lack of consensus about what combinations are okay. Anything goes! Sweat pants and flip flops- cool. Prom-type dresses- whenever the mood strikes. A suit with sandals- absolutely correct. Yoga pants for class- very hip. There are no rules! I love this anti-fashion!

The other day I found myself wearing blue shorts, a purple shirt with different colored polka dots, a red hairband, and pink shoes with orange laces. I glanced in the mirror before I walked out the door and decided that it totally worked, and walked out laughing at myself for ever having thought that I shouldn’t look like a rainbow all the time. I have branched out from mini-skirts to include shorts, especially cut-offs, in my out-on-the-town attire. For work, I have many different pants, including various capri-type things. I often wear jeans, a tank top, and tennis shoes to work, thrilled that this is my professional professor get-up. Only in paradise! (Somehow this is okay, women in cocktail dresses or with raging cleavage is fine, but they draw the line at male professors wearing shorts of any kind. Men showing their legs is offensive and unprofessionally. I will never understand.)

I am not looking forward to having to wear more professional clothing in the future. Also, I have really had to face the fact that using what you wear as a form of self-expression is a privilege that many, many people don’t have. It’s important food for thought.

Anti-Following-the-Guidelines and Comparing-Children:

The first time we tried to take Lucia to a doctor for a check-up, the doctor kept asking, “But what’s wrong with her? Why do you want me to see her?” There are no check-ups here. There are no guidelines about childhood development. It was very disappointing, at first. And I worried about one of Lucia’s cousins, who still wasn’t really talking at age three, when Lucia was already talking in whole paragraphs at age two. Nobody else was worried, though. Instead they proclaim, “Oh, so-and-so still couldn’t pronounce half his words correctly at 6 years old.” Big old shrug. But have they gotten him checked out for problems? Nope. He’ll be fine.

I am sure that sometimes kids do have actual health or developmental problems and it would be beneficial to be checked out by a doctor, and to have routine wellness check-ups. For example, we discovered that Khalil was anemic even though he didn’t seem to have any health problems- thanks to check-ups with our fabulous pediatrician. However, I love that there is zero competition for your kid being “advanced” in their development. There is no judgment if your kid doesn’t fall in the standard guidelines on walking/talking/getting teeth/etc. Moms may compare notes and say, “My kid only has four teeth and yours has 10 already!” But they aren’t implying that your kid is better because they have ten. If your kid already talks at a year, they might even be impressed for a split second, but nobody thinks it’s weird or wrong or bad that some other kid isn’t really talking at three. If your kid’s not walking well at a year and a half, people are like, “oh, she doesn’t want to walk yet.” And that’s it- on to the next topic.

A happy medium would be nicer, where people in small town Mexico have more access to routine check-ups and help if something actually is going wrong in the child’s development. Meanwhile, the US needs to chill out quite a bit on fitting everyone into the same developmental boxes. And parents in the US need to take a good hard look at how not to judge and compete about things that aren’t even reasonable competitions!


my fearless little busy bee/social butterfly who’s not ready to talk at almost two


When we moved here, the fact that it could take days to complete a simple errand was heavily disheartening on a daily basis. The slow-lane lifestyle, of every day being completely filled just with carrying out the basic necessities of life was maddening and gut-wrenching. But I’ve adapted and learned how to make this pace more convenient now. Sure, it would still be nice to find decent frozen veggies or canned garbanzo beans that didn’t cost a day’s wage, but now I freeze my own everything for later convenience; I work with the pace of life in many ways. And there is convenience food here. I love that the only kind of “fast food” is the stuff women make at home and sling in the streets- delicious stuff like tamales, healthy stuff like cut-up fruit, and worth-the-calories treats like homemade donuts.

Also, I love the other type of conveniences that are here, especially the way that so much stuff comes right to your door. Our drinking water jugs, propane gas tanks, and sometimes even freshly made tortillas, all get delivered. People pass by selling ice cream in their little push cart, or buying your used aluminum in their beat-up truck. Women carry giant baskets of fresh bread on their heads, or someone drives around a motorcycle with fish fresh from the sea. It takes a lot of adapting, and at the end of the day it’s still not easy- but it isn’t easy anywhere, I don’t think.

This year was extra challenging because we’d gotten accustomed to having a car that worked most of the time. Then it became a car that only worked sometimes. And right after we started sending Lucia to school on the complete other side of town, our car went to transportation heaven.

Not having a car presented so many new challenges. Thanks to the good will of other parents, we were able to work out sending Lucia to school. Even then it wasn’t easy, although now I’ve learned to love my long walks with Khalil to go get the big sister. When it rained, I took my rainboots and my umbrella to work and got through it. When the clocks went back and it got dark before I left work, I faced my fears and biked home in the dark- a rock in hand for the over-aggressive dogs, flashlight in the other hand for that section with no lights- but I did it. I got sort of used to it. (I don’t think I’ll ever get used to people letting mean dogs wander the streets. It just doesn’t make sense to me. But whatever.) I learned how to tell taxi drivers, “That’s not what the price is” when they tried to charge me too much.

It’s another kind of adventure, the inconvenience of not having a car, and another opportunity for lots of thinking. You can think about how much harder other people have it, like the women and girls who walk miles for a bucket of water. You can actually notice flowers and cactus shapes and lizards and birds and the colors in the sky. You can count dump trucks (okay, this is probably only exciting if you’re with small children). You can appreciate the sunlight on your face. You can observe other people in the street- because lots of people are out walking, not just you. (Something so lacking in so many spots in the US) Riding a bus is a great chance to read- to yourself or to your kids. You can play games and really talk in a way that’s much harder when you’re driving. It’s an obligatory slowing-down of life, in some ways, although in other ways it makes you more stressed-out, because something simple like an errand or picking up a kid from school takes double the time. But it has been a good constant reminder for me that so many of life’s circumstances we don’t get to choose, but that we can choose how we react to them. It’s such a cliche on one hand, but it gets said all the time because it’s so valid, too. So I wouldn’t say I totally love all the inconveniences, especially not having a car, but I definitely appreciate it for what it is.

*(Nope, I still don’t love Juquila, though. That town seeps depression into my bone marrow upon arrival and it stays in my core until I’m safely back to the humidity of the coast. You just can’t love everything in life.)

Looking at the Road Ahead/Holding that Thought about Appreciation in the Midst of Adversity

We’re not planning a move back to the states because I dislike Mexico or the life we’ve made here. In fact, I like my life here now more than ever before. I have so many moments of joy and gratitude every day that I wake up in my imperfect “paradise.”

Partly, I know, though, that my joy and gratitude about my life here are because of my weight-lifting exercises in appreciation of life. My biggest “resolution” is to carry all this with me when I go back to the states. It won’t be too hard; I am a very different person than I was when I came here four and a half years ago. My gratitude/joy/appreciation muscles are much, much bigger than my anxiety and stress muscles these days. I still have anxiety. I still get overwhelmed in stress. I still need to complain some of the time. But I’m so much better at letting it go. And I’ll need that for the culture shock and adaptation that lies ahead.

Also planned for the coming year:

Goal #1- Read and write more in Spanish! I know it seems ridiculous, but my Spanish skills diminish every year that I’m here, thanks to being an English teacher and speaking to my children in English. My conversational Spanish is still decent, but my vocabulary is shrinking from not reading and writing in español. I’ve got to remedy that.

Goal #2- Find time for poetry! I managed to give myself an hour of free-writing time the other day, thanks to vacation. I played with words with no intention to publish them or keep the same train of thought. I let my creativity soar out and oh! I hadn’t even realized how sorely that was lacking in my life. I don’t know where or how I’m going to make time for more creative writing, but somehow I have to. Art and expression should not be luxuries; they are life.

What are your plans for the coming year? What are your big lessons you want to take with you from this year? What’s something you used to dislike that you’ve learned to appreciate?


A Major Merry Xmas Parade

25 Dec

If I had studied at the university where I work, I would have been a Biology student with a lot of Animal Science and Forestry friends. Bio students are the most curious and nerdy-with-a-cause, Animal Science are the big party kids, and Forestry kids appear to be total nonconformists. But that’s not all!

I’m always studying my students anyway, but I got an extra opportunity to watch the student groups when I was asked to be a judge this year for the floats in the Christmas parade put on by the university. I agreed, even though I dislike judging in general. I am kind of one of those hippie types whining about not being able to quantify everyone’s great effort. Thank goodness most of the student tests are multiple choice, because I agonize over grading their writing. I make sure to point out something they’ve done really well and something they need to work on for every single student. I think effort and the process of learning is often more important than product, and I think it’s necessary to recognize where people are. And I don’t grade 100% “equally” because some students are at a different level of English than others, but sometimes have learned more than someone who writes it better. But when it comes to parade floats? Turns out I’m almost ruthless at judging.

As a natural sociologist aka curious people-person, I LOVED observing how these groups work. My English classes are separated by major, so I already have some general working knowledge of differences among groups. But it was really fun to see it in action in the parade. For example, my nursing students rocked it in terms of group cohesiveness. They are the kids who follow the rules, who memorize, who wear uniforms complete with the mandatory bun hairstyle for women. Many of them are golden-hearted kids who really care about helping others, but of course they’d have it together to be nearly uniform in their dress and actions.

Thus, my nursing students had their routine down pat. They had matching outfits (Mario from Mario Brothers, with a few Luigis thrown into the mix). They had dances along the parade route. They were flawlessly in-sync. Obviously, they won first prize for their performance of a dance routine at the end-of-the-parade site. Because there are so many nursing students, there was also a group who made outfits to match the parade float. They had incredibly intricate shirts with ice cream cones and candy canes and other such treats in 3D form made out of who-knows-what because I hate crafts and therefore have zero knowledge on this base. But this is how it is. Nurses have to be details-based and intricate and work well with others. They spend hours doing elaborate projects like the way they did their ice cream shirts. So it makes sense.


The Nursing students’ float: very busy,

My Computer Science kids are the most anti-social, according to themselves. I’m pretty sure these video game lovers, online addicts, and techie introverts only participated at all because their professors made them. There are about three raging extroverts among all of the perhaps 30 Computer Science kids. Two of the three extroverts wanted to dance and all that business, but they got summarily shot down by everyone else. Thus, the CS major kids did the bare minimum, which was to have a float in the parade. Well, I guess their “extra” thing was having a dragon parade puppet thing (see pic below) behind the float so some of the shyest kids could hide under it and still be in the parade. Their float, however, was spectacular. These kids do all kinds of great work behind-the-scenes. To program and whatever else it is that computer people do (obviously this is not my field), I know they spend hours staring at screens and pecking away at keys and toiling on the intricacies to come up with one thing. And their perseverance was obvious. Their float was like three levels more well done than everyone else’s. I happen to know they spent weeks laboring over it, and you could tell. It was a total work of art, and if I had been the only judge, they absolutely would have taken first prize.


This is the dragon-type thing I’m talking about. I didn’t get a pic in the parade, so this picture is courtesy of this pinterest page:



Is this amazing, or what? All made out of recycled materials (except the balloons).

The Biology students were hands-down the most original in their creation, of course, which is probably why they walked away with first prize. These kids are always questioning and thinking outside of the box, plus they’re dedicated to whatever they set their minds to. They’re the kind of students who tell me things like, “My personal goal is to reduce the use of straws in the population.” Oh, right, isn’t that everyone’s personal goal? (Can you see why I definitely would have been a Biology student? Plus they look so sharp in their white lab coats.) Anyway, their float’s theme was Plants vs. Zombies. They even had a zombie vs. plants battle/dance at the culmination of the parade, complete with Michael Jackson songs. Even my student who says she loathes styling her hair got hers all zombified for the event. I’m telling you,dedication.


The Forestry students had the saddest float of all, although they had the best materials. They used all kinds of wood scraps, and made their own trees and… unrecognizable other things made out of cool materials. Now don’t be fooled- I would vote these kids second most studious/dedicated, right up there with the biology students. I always have lots of super sincere kids and incredible thinkers in the Forestry groups. But it’s the major with the lowest number of students, and apparently they all refused to participate. The only reason they had a float at all was thanks to the six Forestry students who are in their first semester. All the upper level kids were AWOL through the duration. I suspect the no-nonsense head honcho of Forestry (a woman, by the way) did not make participation mandatory, and all the non-newbies had better things to do.


The Forestry float…. very forest-y.

Last but not least were the Zoos, as I like to call the Zootecnia kids (Animal Science? Animal Husbandry? Bachelor’s in How-to-Run-a-Farm-with-other-vet-skills-mixed-in? I’m never sure how to perfectly translate Zootecnia). Calling them the Zoos is perfectly apt, since they tend to be rowdy and rambunctious all the time. Their performance in the parade was a fitting reflection of that. Their float was nothing to write home about; I don’t even understand exactly what their theme was supposed to be. There was a chair for someone to sit under some big plastic-looking bubble, surrounded by balloons. There were two students dressed as penguins, and some other random stuff. When I asked about it, none of the students could tell me any more than their individual part in the float, so perhaps there was no theme. But goodnight! they had the absolute coolest performance of all. They took it way over the top. The first thing you saw after the Forestry float was a line of bicycles, biking in sync, each bike with a letter at the helm to spell out ZOOTECNIA. After them there were a few more bikes with paper-maché (spell?) animal heads on them. After that there was a line of kids walking on stilts (they learned in about four or five days, they told me). Behind them was one of those Chinese dragon type things, but it was a unicorn, and they were taking turns running circles with it, running through the crowd at small children and everything. Then came their float, and behind the float was a whole posse of girls spinning batons with long ribbons on them. (The other roles were mostly coed, but for whatever reason, spinning ribbons was only for girls. I don’t understand these things.) It was an incredible performance! It was semi-chaos, just like it is in class with them, but they pulled off something wildly fabulous.


The Zoo float

(Sorry, y’all, all my action shots came out terrible and blurry. These kids are just too fast for my cell phone camera.)

That was the Christmas spirit, here in sunny paradise university. Based on this description, what would your major have been at this school? Who would you have hung out with?

A Taste of Teaching Triumph

12 Dec

“Your class was hard. You’re very demanding! But we learned a lot in your class.”

Some ex-students actually said these very words to me last week, and I almost keeled over from teacher ecstasy. It was music to a teacher’s ears, music like when you do karaoke to Madonna’s Like a Prayer or Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, or whatever is your favorite jam from the 80s, with your very best friend (yippeeeee!). It was that level of thrilling, and yet I didn’t have a hangover the next day.

I am that vexatious teacher that’s always on their case, asking them extra questions, coaxing them to talk and to SPEAK LOUDLY PLEASE; I CAN’T HEAR YOU. I am always insisting that they can do more- or at least they can try to do more, at least during their English class.

Thoughts on Homework

I do not, however, insist they can do much more in their spare time, because they really don’t have enough of that- especially my nursing students. I do strongly encourage 15 minutes a day of review/study, but that’s about it. Most of these students will not go on to use English for much more than reading some scholarly articles, listening to music, and a brief conversation with an English-speaking tourist every once in a while. Most of them will be able to accomplish that regardless of homework, if they just attend our English classes most days for their 3 years of required English. (Yep, three years, y’all. That’s six semesters. So quit complaining about your 2-4 semesters of required foreign language.)

When my level one class first started this semester and we discussed ground rules for my class, I asked them what else they needed or wanted in order for us to have mutual respect and to have a good class environment. One of my cheerily cheeky students said, “No homework!” I told him that I agree, that I know how much homework they already get from their other classes and that to me it’s disrespectful of their right to free time (and sleep) to add to their list for English class (a class that is obligatory but doesn’t count towards their grade point average).* The whole class looked surprised and/or pleased by my answer, but this student was so tickled that he said- slowly, but in English, no less, “Teacher, I love your class!”

Questioning the Teacher is Good for You

The only thing that makes me happier than a student disinterestedly telling me that they learned a lot (disinterestedly as in they aren’t trying to talk their way into a better grade or changing their attendance record) is when my students start to question each other- and me! “Why? Where’s the evidence?” they’ll half-mockingly ask another student (mockingly because they’re partially mocking me by using my standard, constant question from our reading comprehension practice. I am like a broken record with the “why” thing. “How do you know?” and “Where is the evidence?” are the only rivals in popularity.)

Questioning me about my vocabulary or grammar in Spanish is kind of nice, especially because lately I feel like I’ve lost a good portion of my language skills in Spanish since moving to Mexico. (Oh the irony!) Once upon a time, Spanish was one of my two majors. At one time, I was writing scholarly articles and reading novels and watching movies and facilitating parenting workshops at one of my jobs and doing a zillion other things all in Spanish. In the US, I was living my life about 65% in Spanish. Here, on the other hand, most days of the week I only go to work and back home. At work I teach English, and talk to my coworkers in English. At home I insist on speaking to my children in English to guarantee their learning of it. Furthermore I now speak at least half of my words to my spouse in English, so he doesn’t forget his English, too. I read mostly in English, because I take advantage of what my mom has on her Kindle account, which is linked to mine. (Thanks, mama.) And it shows that I no longer use Spanish more than English. “Use it or lose it!” As my Nonna used to say (about language and your body). Thus, anytime they can critique or correct my Spanish, it’s good for me, and it’s good for them. I try to keep up my language use and they get a decent chance to feel how they should feel- more like learning peers than students vs. teachers.

Thus, I appreciate their questioning me about my Spanish, but the extreme kudos and bonus points are for questioning my teaching or my English. This mostly only happens with Biology students and the occasional Forestry student, for reasons that my sociology-trained brain strongly suspects but doesn’t want to comment on at this time. I don’t count my Animal Science students’ incessant “Teacher, finished class?” as questioning, although if I did, they would be the hands-down winners of questioning the teacher. My nursing students rarely question me… or anything else.

This is what frightens me the most- the lack of questioning. Nurses are scientists, too! Different than biologists, sure, but their brand of science is just as important. Instead of teaching them to question, though, they’re mostly charged with memorizing. They’re the only students on our campus who have to wear uniforms. They’re the students most likely to be sleep-deprived, staying up all night to finish coloring some anatomy chart or make a board presentation or cram for their rote-memory exam. They don’t really get vacations because they’re always doing practicums. I hear it’s like this for nursing students in the US, too. But to me it’s a way of telling them that their own well-being doesn’t matter, even though they’re charged with taking care of the rest of us in our most vulnerable moments. Seems like bad policy to me, but what the hell do I know, anyway?

But back to the questioning me business. The other day, I was making my 2nd year students practice writing in English. “Does the author think moving humans into space is a good idea? Why or why not?” I asked them. Of course the author didn’t state his/her opinion. I wanted them to note the fact that all the reasons given in the article were pro moving into space, and that theoretically we can deduce, or at the very least suspect that the author is interested in the same. But as a couple of students rightly pointed out, the author was giving reasons by other scientists; we don’t know what the author actually thinks. Well played, pupils, well played. Extra applause for critiques and input in your learning proccess! Success!


Yeah, I applaud errors consistently, and failure is valuable. But it’s important to feel some kind of successful about something some of the time. 

Bragging Rights

Am I sharing the teaching gaity and triumph to toot my own horn? No, but also yes! This post started as a monologue about the importance of critical thinking. But lately I have about six blog posts going at all times and don’t finish a single one of them, so it’s only partially about critical thinking and questioning.

Regardless, as it turns out, I am absolutely in favor of tooting your own horn, because sometimes we are good at something, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of that. There’s enough to be ashamed of, (what with the state of my bathroom alone), to not have to add to the list with things that I am actually proud of. I’m doing a crappy job at various things in life, (baby nap schedules, keeping up with the laundry, having time to finish a blog post, for instance) but at least there’s this triumph! This ain’t arrogance! I have a healthy dose of self-doubt about some things I do or don’t do in my teaching too, of course, but there’s nothing wrong with celebrating when I do something that actually seems to help students learn. I’ve been teaching formally for about six years now, after all, so there damn well better be something I do well at this point.

And this is my best thing. My best two things. I appreciate and respect my students, even when they are giant pains in my head in the middle of the day. And I make them question and look for the evidence. For every freaking thing. All the freaking time. And they hate it and love it. So there. I’ve got loads more to share on this and other teaching-related, student-related subjects, so hang on for part two. Hopefully I’ll be back in the swing of blogging by then, and perhaps I’ll even be able to keep on the same train of thought. Only time will tell!

*I’m not saying all homework is useless in all contexts, by any means. But it doesn’t work well for my classes, and I certainly think we should question homework’s purpose and function.