If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
When in the position of the teacher, one can hold immense power or scorn. There are some in-betweens, but by and large, one’s students either look up or look down.
The mistake teachers make is to demand. Earning, inspiring, and growing power, support, and loyalty is the only way to go about it. This goes the same for anyone in a superior position: you aren’t better than them; you’re the same, but you bring a little something else to the table, and you’re ready to offer that little something else to everyone.
As a tutor and workshop facilitator I see this. I do my best to bring everyone into the fold, whether they struggle or excel or fall somewhere in between. You have to encourage while simultaneously rein in; you have to multitask and juggle like nothing else to find an equal ground. You have to keep those who are bored entertained, those who are overwhelmed content, and those who are pleasantly surprised continually surprised. Surprise and delight is the name of the game when teaching: surprise that it’s easy, maybe even fun, and delight at that realization. You can never say no while correcting, you have to control your class while freeing them, you have to give openly of your knowledge while knowing that one day it’ll be the wrong thing to do.
Educating is exhausting. Learning is exhausting. Packing knowledge into your head is one of the more difficult tasks someone can (or can’t) accomplish. It’s the why that makes it worth it. Why do you teach? Why do you learn? Why do you struggle for something intangible?
“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”
This is one of those funky quotes that sort of makes no sense… but sort of does. (Leave it to us feminists, hm?)
But really: while an alternate mode of transportation is nice, it’s not necessary. Bicycles provide exercise and other enjoyment but also have a tendency to get flat tires, need oil, have screws loosen–that sort of thing.
If you’ve got a bicycle, enjoy. But in the meantime, girls… use your feet. They won’t fail ya. And nor will the double entendres.
I’m not much good at self-control when it comes to requiring myself to do things. Self-harassment: It’s just not what I would like to be spending my time doing. I’m a tad lazy by nature and, well, habits take work.
But with the turning over of the educational leaf comes a whole branch I can flip. It’s the time of year where people try to start fresh (well, students, at least); a last hurrah without the finality of New Years. It’s like a dry run. So here’s my leaf-flipping goal: a post a week.
I came across this quote today (well, yesterday). It’s interesting, so I’ll ponder on it with my fingers against a keyboard.
“You are not your shame, your fears, your addictions, your games, your guilt, the internalized remnants of negative messaging… You are not your resistance to your true path… You are not your self-doubt… You are not your self-distraction patterns. You are not your escape hatches… you are not your pessimism about a life of meaning and purpose. You are not here merely to survive and endure. You are here to embody God.”
While I’m not religious in the least, the reference here doesn’t feel like it needs to be any specific deity or, really, anything religious. It’s just the concept. My viewpoint is the embodiment of self; going by the religious argument of all people being God’s children, God’s love, etc, then whatever it is we’re theoretically embodying is nothing negative. I make the argument fairly regularly about people not being their past: influenced by it, yes, but also tempted by the possibility of the future. Your past and future are a teeter-totter. You can’t live in one or the other, you have to live in both. By straddling that chasm you’re in the present. But that’s where you are, physically: it’s not who. You aren’t your past, present or future. You’re just you. Whoever that is. It’s rather an eternally rhetorical question, the answer to which which all humans are encoded to strive for.
It’s the point about not being here to simply survive and endure that comes as interesting. “What does not kill us makes us stronger”; it’s often true, but at the same time rather shallow and shortsighted. When you think about all the things that happen to a person, there’s a whole lot that doesn’t kill. Broccoli, for instance. Of course, this is taking the rather simplified view of things, but at any rate…
People go through a lot in life. All of us do. Birth is a highly traumatic event. We all gotta start somewhere and frankly we start out with our cosmic balance sheet a little in its cups. For a lot of us, it only goes up from there, at least for a while; then you fall off your bike and sprain your ankle and can’t play jumprope for a while and things aren’t so good. For some, though, it goes into a full-blown recession, except there’s no stock exchange to measure it by (or politicians to blame it on). It’s here (ten, twenty, forty years down the line) where you find the overly dramatic, the oh-woe-is-me, the being who can’t comprehend that sometimes life is life and the best medicine is to keep calm and carry on. They’ve never heard the phrase, much less understood it, internalized it, and never even considered utilizing it.
Keep calm and carry on. You are who you are. Life is. There’s damned little that you can do about it. You can’t wander down the teeter totter to mess with the past, nor can you tiptoe towards the future. You’re just stuck in the present and if that means you end up rubbernecking at the accident speeding your way, well, enjoy it while it lasts.
So, on one of the message boards I frequent, a mom asked about what age to hand her daughter Harry Potter. Ok, valid question. Depends on the kid, obviously, but good on mom for being an informed parent instead of having to handle basilisk nightmares once kiddo has read book 2.
A poster delivered this acid two-liner (which I can only see being delivered in a witch’s hat, ironically enough…):
I don’t believe in allowing children to read books about witchcraft. Not only does it give them nightmares, but weakens their moral foundation and ultimately contributes to deviant adult behaviour.
My response, after much laughter…
I’m one of those kids who grew up with HP as they came out–same with the LOTR movie trilogy. I re-read HP and LOTR regularly. My favorite fun reads tackle magic.
I just got a very competitive job, am in three honors societies, hold leadership positions in clubs, have a healthy and fulfilling relationship with my parents, take part in a women’s donor circle, complete many community service hours, have been on the Chancellor’s List every semester, and am generally embarrassed by my relatives and mother’s friends on a regular basis when they start telling me what a “special young woman” I am (or simply hand me a business card and more or less make an open-ended offer to have me intern/do important stuff).
Yup, deviant, that’s me. I suppose you could use my major/minors (Creative Writing, Women’s and GLBT Studies) and claim they’re deviant. Oh yeah, I write about magic/fantasy. Regularly. It’s mah happy place. When I’m not rubbing elbows with my GLBT friends (I have some of each; my trans friend is a very cool girl). Or making a feminist ‘zine or collaborating on a comic book or reading books titled Manifesta and The Bitch In The House. Yup, deviant. (I have a thing about stuffy old white men deciding what to do with MY ovaries, or deciding who I am or what I can do based on them. Don’t know if they’d like me messing with their balls, though chances are they don’t have any, they’ve been sitting on ‘em too long.)
PS: I weigh more than a duck. Nor do I float in water all that well. Clearly, I am a witch. Somebody get me a carrot.
There are days where I really don’t know what to do with society. Yes, a Wiccan did take much offense, as she should have. Original magic-is-satanic-witchcraft poster is stubbornly sitting tight and insisting that Harry Potter-reading-children become deviants. Well… define deviant, I mean, good deviants or bad deviants? “Sexual deviants” (oh-wait-they-aren’t-deviants-anymore)? What on earth does “deviant” really even mean in the scheme of things? Someone who’s not normal?
Er, wait… define normal in the scheme of human existence.
Oh right. Can’t. Ha!
Tonight we held a candlelight vigil for those who have committed suicide thanks to bullying… the number for the past month is up to 12. The group carried a rainbow flag, but we were walking for all those who are victims of bullying and harassment, LGBTQIA or no… there was quite a group assembled.
We walked, silently, from campus through “Old Towne”– about half a mile total. People on the street asked us why we were walking, stood aside to let us pass, silenced themselves while we held ours.
When our candles went out, the flames diminished, we paused, found another candle to grow light from, and the light redoubled.
“It’s a delicate balance, sheltering the flame from the wind without burning yourself,” I whispered, to no one in particular.
“You can always find a metaphor for life somewhere,” a friend replied.
Candles, silence, and hope. Life itself, flickering.
We broke the silence with the hushing of the flame.
The weekly campus newspaper comes out! “College should be a safe space,” October 11 (National Coming Out Day!), 2010.
Seven people have died recently.
Oh, it’s a small number; people die every day.
But this casualty count is different – the dead are all teenagers, two as young as 13. They took their own lives as a result of having no place to turn, no place to seek help.
They were gay. They were bullied for being who they were, just as many people are bullied every day for simply being human, for loving someone they “aren’t supposed to,” for simply pursuing the American right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
At Rutgers University last month, Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge after his affection for another man was broadcast, without his consent, to the world at large. A student who was by many accounts a brilliant musician and human being ended his life because society told him he was not allowed to be himself. A target of homophobia or simply of curiosity, he was shamed into permanent silence. He was not entitled to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Why?
The bullying doesn’t stop there. The University of Michigan student body president is being openly stalked and harassed by Michigan’s Assistant Attorney General, who claims that he has no issue with the student’s homosexuality but his “radical homosexual agenda.” (I, for one, have yet to hear what a “radical homosexual agenda” is other than an excuse to justify hatred of LGBTQI individuals.)
Seven people have died recently thanks to this brand of hatred. And these are just seven that we know of. How many others die, or consider dying, because of the actions of others? What would you do if your best friend told you that he or she was gay? What do you do every day that harms at least one person in the room? It’s easy to say, “That’s gay,” but it’s offensive. Take responsibility for your voice. Use it for something good.
Here at Chapman, we have organizations such as QSA and Safe Space that allow and encourage all students – straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or somewhere in between – to be educated, aware and understood in all matters that concern the LGBTQIA (that’s lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer/questioning-intersex-ally) community. Are you LGBTQI? Get involved. Are you straight? Be an ally. It’s not hard. What might be hard is changing your mindset, maybe even examining everything you’ve been taught to believe.
But that’s why you’re here, isn’t it?
What can you do elsewhere? Support organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, vote against discrimination wherever you can, and always, always try to foster open discussion, even with those determined to cling to homophobia or heterosexism. You can’t necessarily force acceptance, but for those who have minds made up for the wrong reasons, you might just inspire tolerance.
Ch-ch-check it out: the It Gets Better Project on Youtube and The Trevor Project, a hotline for troubled LGBT youth.
My opinion in last year’s Panther newspaper, November 23, 2009: “Sex crimes amount to war on womenhood”
War is rampant in America. We have wars against terror, against drugs and against the flu.
We call them wars because waging them gets loud. Blaring from television sets and screaming from newspaper headlines, the cries of the victorious and their wounded are equally earsplitting.
But what about the quiet battles being fought every day, battles that affect all the world’s women in some way?
Sexual violence is the silent, daily battle that so many women fight to move on from. The victims are all around us. They do not wear Purple Hearts – their uniforms are the same as ours: suits and street clothes.
Sexual violence occurs everywhere, including on our campus. An alleged assault occurred in September: more have occurred since. The administration doesn’t say much about these incidents in the name of confidentiality. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is what students don’t know about sexual violence, what administrators aren’t saying.
What we hear are excuses: “She was asking for it”; “she deserved it”; “if she doesn’t want it, then she shouldn’t wear those clothes.” Sexual violence is not a choice made by the victim but by the perpetrator. Drugs, alcohol and skimpy clothing are not justification for assault.
Why women? Nearly 86 percent of victims in America are women, according to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2006. Scores of incidents go unreported too.
This is a problem that has a solution in awareness and education. Our generation put the first African-American man into the White House. We can make the first steps toward eradicating sexual violence, right here on our campus. Twenty-five percent of female college students will become victims of sexual violence, according to Orange County Sexual Assault Victim Services. Look around you: One in four women has been or will become a victim. That is a statistic we cannot afford to keep.
It’s probably taken you about two minutes to read this. In that time, someone has become a victim. In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault in the United States, not including children under 12.
If there is a war we can fight at home, this one is it. Call Public Safety or 911 if you suspect an assault is occurring, including one occurring under the influence of drugs or alcohol. (It is illegal to consent to sex while under the influence in California.) Eighty-seven percent of sexual assaults or sex-related crimes involve bystanders who do nothing, according to Orange County Sexual Assault Victim Services.
Speak up when rape or assault is portrayed as anything but horrific and terribly criminal. Above all, be responsible for your own safety however you can. Many assaults occur as a result of alcohol abuse or drugs.
Sexual violence in our world is no longer an issue that can be tolerated or ignored. Silence is not an option. Encourage everyone, including the Chapman administration, to help create enough noise so that we can win this silent “war” for peace and safety.
This hasn’t changed. It won’t, not for some time, and not unless we DO something. Be active — do what is right. Stand up against assault, battery, and domestic violence. Create a rape-free environment. Empower yourself through self-defense classes and smart choices.
Stay safe, women. It’s not as safe as you think out there.