Edward Hopper. Third Grade Report Card.

This image was drawn on the back of Edward Hopper’s third grade report card dated October 23, 1891, when Hopper was nine years old. Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Little Boy Looking at the Sea, n.d., ink on paper, 4.5 x 3.5 in.


Notes:

Jimmy

open-gate-bo-bartlett

Tuesday.

I’m leaning back in the chair.  The bodies on the teleconference are shifting, their paper shuffling is booming on the mic. The update continues, I’m fading, drifting. I look up at the clock and it tugs me back, way back.

It’s hidden inside, in a dark space, deep in a corner on the edges, frayed but biting.

~ 1967

I was a child. You were a child. A Boy.

The schoolhouse had two classrooms, three grades in each room, one row for each grade, four to six students in each grade.  Three rows of heavy steel, four legged desks, each having a pocket for school things.  We were in the First Grade.

He was oversize in first grade, having been held back. Tall, thin, with hunger hanging from his bones. His brother was already categorized as a Juve, his Father an alcoholic, in and out of small jobs and a Mother desperately trying to keep it all together, and losing.

Faded jeans, not from stone washing, but from hand me downs from his older brother, or from a flee market sale. Everything wrong-sized, tattered and carrying a whiff of moth balls. Laces on too-big shoes loosely tied. Hair long, unruly and badly in need of a sheer. [Read more…]

You Go Judge! Debate: Cut the Cr*p. Save our Children. All of them. 

hc-moukawsher-lawsuit-profile-20160930

“Connecticut State Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher threw out the state’s school financing system as unconstitutional, his unsparing 90-page ruling read and resonated like a cry from the heart on the failings of American public education.”

Some excerpts from NYTimes: An F-Minus for America’s Schools From a Fed-Up Judge:

  •  “Uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” that found “virtually every teacher in the state” proficient or exemplary, while a third of students in many of the poorest communities cannot read even at basic levels.
  • He attacked a task force charged with setting meaningful high school graduation requirements for how its “biggest thought on how to fix the problem turned out to be another task force,” and called it “a kind of a spoof.”
  • Too many American high school graduates are “let down by patronizing and illusory degrees”
  • Too many decisions and too much debate about schools seem, as he wrote, “completely disconnected to the teaching of children.”
  • Nearly all high school students in affluent communities like Darien and Westport scored on state tests as “advanced” in math and approached the same level in reading. But one out of three students in nearby Bridgeport and other poor cities did not reach the most basic level in math, and did only slightly better in reading.
  • It was a strikingly blunt way of saying what many people feel: The system is broken.
  • He added, “Just doing more of the same is unlikely to lead to a different result.”
  • The judge called for a radical reimagining that starts with the question of what schools should do: What are the goals for elementary students, or high school graduates? Then, he said, the state should decide how much money schools require so that all students, rich and poor, reach those goals.
  • 46 percent of white fourth graders across the country read at or above “proficient,” compared with just 18 percent of their black peers.
  • He criticized “uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” as part of a rating system “that is little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm.” He described the state’s efforts to define high school proficiency as “like a sugar cube boat,” adding, “It dissolves before it’s half-launched.”

Read entire article: NYTimes: An F-Minus for America’s Schools From a Fed-Up Judge


Photo: Hartford Courant

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: At Attention!

natgeo-penguins-school-boys-attention

Say Cheese!

Boys dressed up in school uniforms pose with king penguins at the London Zoo, 1953.

Don’t miss other “found” photos from National Geographic archives – some never published before at: Natgeofound


Source: My Modern Met

Hunger.

food-hunger-children

If my life weren’t complicated, I wouldn’t be me.
This is triggered by the tail end of the book title by E. Lockhart:

If my life weren’t complicated, I wouldn’t be Ruby Oliver.

Ruby goes on to say:

I can’t forget things, or ignore them–bad things that happen. I’m a lay-it-all-out person, a dwell-on-it person, an obsess-about-it person. If I hold things in and try to forget or pretend, I become a madman and have panic attacks. I have to talk.

Travis Bickle (De Niro/Taxi Driver/1976) pops in: “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talking… you talking to me? Well I’m the only one here.”

I can’t forget things, or ignore them? Most certainly Yes.
Not so many bad things happen, and I’m (very) grateful for that.
I’m certainly a lay-it-all-out person (often to much regret),
and boy, can I obsess. Master class here.
As to a madman,
that depends from which side of the desk you are sitting on in evaluation.
And, as to having to talk, not so much.

It’s Tuesday morning.
It’s overcast. It’s drizzling and traffic is snarled.
I’m running late to a 9 am start at a volunteer event at a Food Bank.

There’s a logistics snag.
The Food Bank manager wasn’t expecting us for 3 hours.
There’s frustration etched in her face, but she puts on her game face and scrambles to coordinate activities for two corporate groups, in a space designed for one.

She proceeds with her introduction: [Read more…]

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?

camel-caleb-wednesday-cute-children


Notes:

Riding Metro-North. With our Kids.

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It’s 5:25 am.
A dark, windless morning.
14° F.
I’m stepping quickly in my 1/2 mile walk to the station.
Suit. Top Coat. Gloves. Black lace-ups. No boots.
Fear of: Black ice + Tumble = Face plant.
My right ear is tingling.
A dandy frost bite when I was 11. No hat. No matter how long ago, acts of stupidity are never far from consciousness.

I glance at my watch. It’s tight. I step up my pace.
Way (WAY) short on sleep. Mood: heavy. Dark.
There will be retribution for the arranger of the 7 a.m. meeting in the City. Matthew 5:38: Eye for an Eye. DK 1:29:2015: Arm, Leg and Eye for an Eye.

There are days when you need to read with paper in your hands. With something real touching your fingers. Yet, I’m conscious of being the only one in a packed train car crinkling a newspaper, shattering the silence of fingers swiping digital pads. The commuter next to me is asleep. I work on folding the morning paper.

It’s maddening that I’ve never been able to hold and fold a newspaper like many commuters. I can’t roll my tongue. I can’t wiggle my ears. The genius who set up this 7 am meeting is going to feel the cold chill of the Juno aftermath.

I pan through the front section and my eyes lock on 4 lines. I have no expertise in this area. Zero fundamental knowledge. But I know what I see. I know what I feel. We’re in trouble.  [Read more…]

Mommy!

child-writing-at-school

He headed for the school still wrapped in the warmth of this bed, the taste of cereal in his mouth, tightly holding the hand just above his head, walking as quickly as he could, taking two steps for his mother’s one, his little knapsack bouncing on his back, then came the school door, the rapid kiss goodbye, the asphalt playground with its rows of maples, the clanging bell . . . at first he took shelter from the rain under the overhang, then he joined the schoolyard games, but a few minutes later they all found themselves sitting behind Lilliputian desks, quiet and no moving around, all the body’s movements concentrated on the effort of moving the pencil down this low-ceilinged corridor called the line. Tongue stuck out, fingers numb and wrist stiff . . . little bridges, circles, tails, sticks, more little bridges … he is miles from his mother now, lost in this strange solitude called effort, in the company of all those other solitudes with their tongues stuck out . . . and now the first letters are assembled . . . lines of “a’s,” lines of “m’s,” of “q’s” (the “q” is no joke with its diving, backwards tail, but it’s a piece of cake compared to the “s” with its treacherous curves, and the “k” with its spray of lines shooting out every which way), all the difficult ones conquering so that, little by little, as if they were magnetized, the letters come together spontaneously into syllables, lines of mom and dad, and the syllables making words . . . Then, one day, his ears still humming from the commotion of the lunchroom, he contemplated the silent flowering of the word of white paper, there, before his eyes: mommy.

In a voice that quavered at first, he stumbled over the two syllables, separately. “Mom-my.” Then, suddenly, he understood. “Mommy!”… Little bridges, circles and slanting sticks . . . and you could say “Mommy!” There it was, written, right there, and he had done it! Not a combination of syllables, not a word or concept anymore. It wasn’t any mother, it was his mother, a magical transformation, infinitely more eloquent than the most faithful photographic likeness, built from nothing but circles and sticks and bridges, that have now suddenly – and forever! – become more than scratches on paper.  They have become her presence, her voice, the good way she smelled in the morning, her lap, that infinity of details, that wholeness, so intimately absolute, and so absolutely foreign as to what is written there, on the rails of the page, within the four walls of the classroom.

Lead into gold.
Nothing less.
He had just turned lead into gold.

~ Daniel Pennac, Better Than Life


Notes:

 

Lit Boy

John-VandeZande

I’ve reached the half-way mark of Updike, a biography on John Updike written by Adam Begley.  I pause to reflect on how I arrived here.  “Here” being how did I come to be reading John Updike’s biography.  Yes, it was Amazon’s Best Book of the Month for April, 2014. That helped, but that wasn’t it.  It was that man in the photograph that is responsible.  John VandeZande.

It was an undergraduate elective class titled “Good Books.” It was highly recommended by my senior jock buddies: “Just show up, read a few books and you’re done.”  I signed up for the class. I sat in the back of the room.  And hoped never to get called on.

He would assign Hemingway, Faulkner, Joyce, Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Updike, in his biography, would describe them as “textual titans.” At the time, I would describe them as literary unknowns – – DK, a lover of Hardy Boys who then graduated to the genres of Jeffrey Archer (Kane & Abel), James Clavell (Shogun & Tai Pan) and Stephen King – – was being heaved up into the major leagues.  I slumped further down in my chair at the back of the room.

He would break the awkwardness of the early classes by reading long passages from the assigned readings. He would sit on the edge of his desk.  The book in his right hand.  And then immerse himself in the passage. There were no pencils tapping. There was no shifting in chairs.  We were gently transported with him on the journey.

He struck the match. And stoked the fire. And I went on a tear.  First Hemingway with The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom The Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea. Then Faulkner with The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August and Absalom, Absalom!. Followed by John Steinbeck with The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row and East of Eden.  And then John Updike with Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux and Rabbit Is Rich.  And to this day, my serial runs on “Textual Titans” continues. (In Begley’s biography of Updike, Updike explained that: “A real reader,” he explained, “reading to escape his own life thoroughly, tends to have runs on authors.” That had my head spinning.)

[Read more…]

What Drives Success?

success
Not sure I buy into #1. I’m a fervent believer in #2 and #3.
I’ve mastered #2. There’s considerable work required on #3.

“The strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control….

It’s odd to think of people feeling simultaneously superior and insecure. Yet it’s precisely this unstable combination that generates drive: a chip on the shoulder, a goading need to prove oneself. Add impulse control — the ability to resist temptation — and the result is people who systematically sacrifice present gratification in pursuit of future attainment.

But this success comes at a price. Each of the three traits has its own pathologies. Impulse control can undercut the ability to experience beauty, tranquillity and spontaneous joy. Insecure people feel like they’re never good enough…A superiority complex can be even more invidious. Group supremacy claims have been a source of oppression, war and genocide throughout history.”

~ Amy Chua & Jed Rubenfeld, What Drives Success?


Read entire article in NY Times: What Drives Success?  Worthy…


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