Act Your Age!

Nancy Lesko’s work Act Your Age is speaking to me on so many different levels. So many of the ideas presented in this book proved true for me as a teenager. Looking back on my teen years I was very troubled. I smoked pot and drank,did not care about school, and was constantly depressed. It was hard enough for me thinking what I would be do 24 hours from now, much less 4 years. My teachers and parents constantly harassed me and told me I wasn’t going anywhere in life if I didn’t get my grades up. As a youth though all I really cared about was youth things. I wanted to be well liked, in shape, and have fun. I liked talking to girls and wanted more than anything to date one of the “hot” cheerleaders in my high school. Back then, I never could really put into words what was wrong. I can now that I have begun to read Nancy Lesko’s book. It seemed no matter where I was in my youth all adults wanted to talk about was my future! What about now!? What about what I am going through right now! Does anybody care!? Forgive me for not having my sights completely fixated on law or med school at age 13! Whenever I went looking for help I would always get the same answer from my parents. They would I always tell me “I know your worried about these things now but don’t worry they won’t matter in a few years. In a few years? A few years is like a lifetime to a teenager. As a teenager, I cared about teenager things. I am not saying in any way that parents should not push their kids to be fixated on their education. I’m just saying that after watching this weeks video in class and having read some of this book, teenagers need a lot more compassion and understanding. The way we are treating kids at the high school age is totally wrong and something must be done about it. If ever I have read a book that all parents and teachers alike should be forced to read, this would be it. Having been manically depressed as teen, I’m not sure if any of my teachers were perceptive enough (or cared enough) to even come ask me what was wrong. I feel our school systems need to adapt much more to teenagers so they can foster an environment that is not only educational but also emotionally satisfying to teenagers. I hope one day people can learn for people like Nancy Lesko on how to handle the complexities of youth. I am positive that our society would be much stronger for it. This article speaks volumes as to why I struggled in high school.

What does it mean to be American? (Identity)

When you ponder the idea of why it means to be American, I’m sure a great many things come to your mind. Religious Freedom, Small Government, and a cultural melting pot are just a few things that come to my mind. I asked my Mother this question last night and she simply stated that it is “freedom” that differentiates us from the rest of the world. I believe it is the ability to be whoever you want and live in peace. These are all wonderful ideas and values most American citizens seem to hold (or believe to hold) but unfortunately they are just not true. The more we learn in class and the more we read we learn that is freedom is just a fallacy or lie we have all agreed to tell each other. Unequal education, gender discrimination in the workplace, homophobia, and a system built to serve only the wealthy. Education is not the same for many students across the country. Education is by and large viewed as the number on way to get ahead in life. Women are clearly payed less men in the workplace (for the same job). Homophobia runs rampant and gay men and women can still be fired in some states because of their orientation. The Rich seemed to get richer and the poor seem to get poorer. So what is it about our current system that people view as equal? I used to not think about this much but the more I learn, it makes me wonder if we have ever really been “free” at all. People in this country have come a long way in regard to the reality of others since my childhood. I believe things are headed in the right direction. We have become smarter on many issues since my childhood but still have a lot of work to do. I hope one day our great nation will truly be a place all people have a fair shake in establishing themselves equally.

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Coining for Capitol (education)

I think it is safe to say that all of us at some point in our lives have taken some things (or many things) for granted. Some of these things include parents with high paying jobs, safe neighborhoods, good school systems, and a roof over our heads. There read I chose to list these things is because I took all these things for granted in my childhood. I know I am not alone in this because (in my judgement) all my friends did as well. It’s a shame kids are not educated more on the reality of the conditions of poor children in their own country. Far to often nowadays people put great emphasis on the harsh conditions of the third world. I’m not calling that in error in judgement, I’m just saying far to little emphasis is put on the harsh conditions of children in our own country. I remember back to my junior year of high school when a kid name Prince transferred into my high school. He was an inner city black kid now going to a predominately white high school. Our school district was one of the best in the state of Illinois, so I believe it’s safe to say most of the kids in the school were generally well prepared for college. I remember talking to Prince in gym class my junior year. He was extremely friendly and very artistic. His drawings really were pretty amazing and would have rivaled even the best artists in the school. Unfortunately, Prince had no shot at getting into college due to his elementary school reading level. I remember he once told me he didn’t even know how to use a computer! Keep in mind this is a kid who is months away from taking ACT’s and SAT’s. How on earth do we ever expect some people in this country to get ahead with such poor formal education. I never would have attended Mizzou had I not had the instruction I had growing up. Something must be done about our horribly unequal education system. I feel  ashamed I took these things for granted, especially after meeting someone like Prince. I once asked him if he enjoyed school and was interested in developing his skills further. He told me he had never really given in much thought because his school on the South side of Chicago was so dangerous that he felt safer just staying at home. I am so grateful I never lived in these conditions and had a REAL opportunity to get ahead in my childhood. Our country promotes ideas like “no child left behind” but this could not be further from the truth. We must all work together as people in order to give every single child the opportunity to make a decent life themselves. This video illustrates a myriad of issues affecting Impoverished American schools.

 

 

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Coining for capitol (child labor)

Throughout this class this semester we have learned of the many important factors in children’s healthy development. From social interaction to different parenting styles, it is clearly evident what children need in order for healthy development. Our society seems to put a great emphasis on education, socialization , and a labor free childhood for all children. I completely believe our values are right where they need  in regards to child labor. In looking back on my own childhood, it’s scary to imagine how I would have turned out by now if I had begun performing intense labor at the age of 7. My childhood was fairly ordinary for the most part (with the exception of a few dysfunctional family dynamics) consisting of school, friendships, sports and spirituality. All these things were great building blocks in making me into who I am today. Work would have been the last thing that crossed my mind at this age. Unfortunately, the more I learn, this construction of childhood does not represent a large portion of the world. It pains me to know that many of the things that brought me great joy as a child, brought pain and misery to many other children around the world. I remember My parents used to make hot chocolate for Christmas and read stories to us about Santa and his elves. I never realized the extremely high value, we as a society, had put on commodities. I never realized by doing this that other children around the world turned into commodities themselves. I can’t believe more people don’t think about the horrible effects these massively produced “play things” have on other children around the world. Looking back, it’s scary to think that some of the toys I received for christmas and got bored of within a month may have killed another child in another place. It becomes increasingly difficult for me to know how to feel about our society which continues to buy these products. Ideas like Santa’s workshop could not have been purposefully constructed to hide the awful ways in which these toys were produced.  Or Could they!? I don’t believe most people are educated on the reality of child labor. However, I do believe most major corporations know full well and do not care. Is there any solution to this child labor crisis? Could our economy survive a child labor strike? This entire situation is a very unfortunate reality that all people should work hard to fix for a brighter future for all children. This video explains the situation very well.

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Feminism

I liked to consider my self an open minded guy who values equality for all people. It seems over the years Feminism has been a concept that has constantly been constructing and reconstructing itself. I grew up in the South (Louisiana) until I was nine years old, and belonged to Southern Baptist Church. I remember being taught ideas such as women are supposed to be submissive to their husbands, Men are the head of the household, and it was woman’s job to stay home and take care of the children while the husband went to work. These seemed to be ideas everyone in the agreed upon and were never challenged. I remember my own mother teaching me this as child! It’s safe to say this could not be further from the truth now days. Women more often than not hold full time positions just like their male counterparts, and it’s well understood by people the women have just as much of a say in family matters as men do. I even know a few families back at home where the woman works and the man doesn’t! Reflecting on my childhood I feel I would have been hard pressed to find any family that followed this structure. Not only would a man not have allowed this, Society would have greatly frowned on this family structure. It’s obvious that after this weeks lecture that female empowermnet trickled down to young girls quite some time ago. Nickelodeon shows such as  Clarissa explains it all, The Wild Thornberries ,and Nick News all show women performing roles the only men would have in the past. Each one of these shows a woman performing a formerly male role. Clarissa exhibits great knowledge which seems to surpass her own father (and mother). Eliza Thornberry plays an “Indiana Jones” type role which would never had been portrayed in my parents generation. Nick News shows female anchors tackling issues such as sports and politics. It’s amazing how much the gap has closed between men and women in what they are allowed to do and what is considered socially acceptable. Which brings me to my next question. It’s difficult to tell sometimes whether this change is good or not. As I stated before, I’m all for equal opportunity and people being able to express and empower themselves as they see fit. However, there is no denying that men and women are different by nature, and are better suited at different roles. What these roles are is difficult to say because I do believe Women can hold almost any job a man can in the workplace, with the exception of physical limitations that may prevent them from doing some labor intensive duties(while this is true for many women, some have proved their up for the task). This is once again an issue that there is no easy answer to. Here is an interesting video on how differently people view feminism.

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Kidnapped:Childhood Stolen

I found the recent lecture on Kidnapped:childhood stolen to be very fascinating. Growing up as a child I remember my Mother was extremely protective of us always filling our heads with what to look out for. She told us to never to talk to strangers, checked all our halloween candy for poison and razor blades, and drove us to our bus stop due to a convicted sex offender that lived four houses down the street. Having these fears instilled in my head as a child really took a toll on my interactions with other people. I grew up in a relatively safe town where crime was very sparse, and people tended to be more affluent then most other areas of the country. I became very weary of other people and always on the look out for potential “danger”. In no way am I faulting my mother for her concerns. Due to the increased media coverage, it’s no wonder she was worried. I never would have imagined that these kinds of things have always happened. I find myself reminiscing on my childhood and wondering if there ever really was any real danger around me. When I take a personal inventory of all my friends, I can honestly say nothing dangerous ever happened to a single one of us. So I find myself in a quite a quagmire here in regard to what to believe. How should I handle my kids upbringing. Should I be concerned and take a personal inventory of all the reported crimes in the area? Should I assume everything is going to be okay due to the nice neighborhood I live in? The difficult part of this concept is striving to find the right balance. What is the proper medium of protecting your children and letting them live their lives? I remember talking to my Dads business partner shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings. I asked why the world had become such a crazy place. He chuckled and replied “this stuff has always gone on, most of us just didn’t have a TV or radio in our house to here about 24/7”. In short, it seems there is no simple solution and no one has a real answer on how to solve these complex problems. These two videos are great example of the dilemma we face in knowing how to protect our children. The first and second video illustrate these difficulties with these issues very well.