Through Books We Can Indeed Time Travel

I often ponder time travel and think it would be so very wonderful to travel through time. To talk to people in the past and in the future. Not to change things but to better understand things. I recently concluded that you can indeed travel through time, at least to the past by simply reading. I decided that I would travel back and speak to De Montaigne and this is what I would ask:

 

Dear Mr. De Montaigne,

I recently read your essays and found them fascinating. In particular, I was fascinated with your essay on cruelty that concentrated on virtue. Sadly, schoolchildren face cruel comments daily. Children commit suicide over these cruel comments; they no longer just shed tears. As a teacher of the learning disabled,   I have seen my students afflicted with terrible pain by the words of other students. You wrote, “one who out of natural mildness and good-nature […] but another who, provoked and stung to anger by insult, takes up the weapons of reason against his furious desire for revenge,” These words rang true to me. I see this daily the struggle to remain calm and unaffected by the cruel words. How true when a child, “after a hard battle finally masters it, is undoubtedly doing a great deal more”. It takes far more thought and virtue to resist the urge to strike back and fight. The saddest for all is the child who loses all virtue and kills himself.

With deep thought I reflected on your comment that we call, “God good, mighty, liberal, and just but do not call Him virtuous:  His workings are all natural and effortless”. You wrote that to be virtuous one needs an adversary. Is not Satan the adversary to God? After further reflection, I see your point that God’s work is “natural and effortless”, therefore, we think of Him as good rather than virtuous. God is not in constant battle. It is society that battles with cruelty and either rises above it or falls to it not God. I would be interested in your thoughts on God’s teachings as portrayed in the Old Testament an, eye for an eye, as opposed to The New Testament’s love your enemies.

As you commented on Metellus, when substantiating your point, “that virtue refuses facility as a companion” and “virtue demands a harsh and thorny road; it desires external difficulties […]”; this clearly is indicative of the point you made at the beginning of your essay. Do I understand correctly, to be virtuous there must be internal or external strife? The execution of Socrates occurred when he challenged the Athenians’ justice. Socrates did not just accept the status quo; he valiantly opposed it. Is this true virtue? When Galileo wrote and published the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World System, the Catholic Church tried him for heresy. I believe that he admitted to making a mistake in order to receive a lighter sentence. To me, this makes Galileo’s actions not virtuous since he did not did not stand up for his beliefs.

You wrote in your essay on presumption, which also touched on virtue that “truth is the fundamental part of virtue” and “what we say should be what we think”. Again, I am reminded of Socrates that despite his inevitable execution he did not back down. This too supports what you write in your essay on cruelty. The truth is not always easy to speak; there are often severe consequences when we stand up for what we know is the truth.

Sir, I am left with many questions and thoughts. I would love to know what your thoughts are on this subject. Would you be so kinds as to share your opinions? What really is virtue? Is the person who is of good character virtuous? It would seem not as they are naturally good. Is virtue the key to human happiness? Is virtue knowledge as Plato wrote? As I delve deeper into reading your essays, I am confident that I will find the answers to these questions and more. I end this conversation as an avid learner and reader.

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Summer is Ending

Summer is ending and it is back to work I go. At least in theory since the final day of school I immediately started working not one but three summer jobs. On the side I worked on my web page, I blogged, and I wrote. My latest goal is to finish the book I have been writing by October and submit to a publisher by December. I am also working on a textbook for developmental and remedial students on the College level. I know what you are thinking that I have too many irons in the fire and you are right, I do. I find it hard to just sit and relax. Every moment that I sit my mind is spinning tell me to get busy and write, grade papers, or work on the house.
This school year I will continue to be busy. I am teaching fulltime at local high school and part-time at the community college in town during the evenings. Why you ask? First, I love teaching college classes. I have went back to school to earn a master’s in hopes of teaching and working with students on the college level but finding a fulltime job in this area is difficult. There is many qualified applicant s and competition is tough for the jobs. Therefore, I continue to teach part-time because I love it. I also teach part-time to make our house payment. We purchased a historic home that we lived in for a year but realized it was too much work for us and we put it on them market. Needless it has been six months and the house is still up for sale. Did I mention that we owned a house when we bought the historic home; that home is being sold on contract. Our buyers have been great making every payment we hope they get a mortgage soon so that we can get the house out of our name. When we moved out of the historic home, we bought a small home in town. That’s right we have three homes – so you see I really have to work part-time.
My husband and I are planning a quick vacation to Virginia to drive and unwind before the craziness of the school year begins again. I have had a few heartbreaks this summer. I realized that someone I admired was not what she seemed; she taught me a valuable lesson not to put all my eggs in one basket. I will get over the hurt since in life we are faced with disappointment, we have to decide how we are going to react, and I choose to forgive and to move on.
I am hoping I can write about a new opportunity in my life but for now, I have to just wait and see. So for now I continue to write, work hard, and to dream.

Teaching full-time is it possible anymore? Yes and no!

I originally wrote, “Teaching full-time is it possible anymore?” in November of 2011. At that time, I had recently graduated with a second master’s degree in Literature of the Humanities built on the philosophy of the “Great Books”. It was a very tough major but rewarding. My first master’s degree is in Liberal Studies from Fort Hays State University with a concentration in English and Reading. Since the time of writing my blog, I have completed a graduate certificate in rhetoric and composition from Indiana University East. I still teach part-time at Vincennes University in the Reading and English Departments and at Frontier College for the Study Skills Department teaching GED classes. I am now teaching Language Arts full-time at a local high school. I have earned endorsements in Language Arts, Teaching Reading, and Technology Education. I still love the students I serve and all of my supervisors – they are all wonderful. I feel blessed to teach full-time at the high school a part-time at the two colleges. While I always dreamed of teaching full-time at the College or University level, I have concluded that just will not happen. I recently interviewed via phone for a position in the English department at one of the colleges that I teach at but sadly, I was not recommended for an on campus interview. I was heartbroken though I know there are many qualified applicants. As an adjunct instructor, I do not have my foot in the door so to speak which it sad. Many people teach as adjuncts all hoping that one day they can teach full-time I wonder how the institutions that they teach at feel. Do they like to promote adjuncts or do they prefer selecting candidates that are not local that often move on within two or three years. As for myself this is my home, I work here, I pay my taxes here, I have raised my children here, and I will remain here. I hope for all other adjuncts that they are promoted to a full-time teaching position or like me make a new dream and teach on the high school level. I continue to work as an adjunct as I enjoy working with college students and with GED students. I know I am blessed and I am very thankful for every one of my blessings.

Humanity and the class of 2013

I graduated from a master’s program that focused on “The Great Books Philosophy” from American Military University. I love classical literature and have read classical literature since I was a child. When people ask, why did I choose such a major and I did choose this, as I have a master’s in Liberal studies in Reading and English from Fort Hays State University. I answer quite simply to learn and teach about humanity. Humanity has become secondary in our lives with the advent of technology. I love technology and have worked in the technology field for over 15 years. I have an undergraduate degree in Robotics and I have taught computer repair and electronics. Technology is essential in our lives. However, there is a down side; we are losing sight of virtue, critical thinking skills, and compassion. Schools focus on common core and standards, which in themselves are great but they do not focus on developing character or empathy.

These qualities are important to me as a person, a student, and an educator. I am a teacher at Vincennes Lincoln High School, an adjunct instructor at both Vincennes University and Frontier Community College. I want my students to read literature not just for enjoyment or knowledge but to take away lessons about kindness and justice. “Virtue rejects facility to be her companion. She requires a craggy, rough and thorny way” (Michel de Montaigne). I know this to be true, life is difficult and sometimes filled with heartache, but life is also wonderful and full are special moments. I have experienced both great sorrow and great joy. As education moves away from teaching about humanity society loses something and our children will graduate without the benefit of these important lessons.

The class of 2013 will be soon be leaving their educational institutions and going out into the world. They will face challenges that they may not be prepared to face. Have we let these students down in some way? Have we taught children to embrace the challenges with grace and dignity? Have we stressed that we do not always get what we want and that no is sometimes the right answer? Have we taught our children to be empathetic to other people and to the world around them? In the words of George Bernard – “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of humanity.”

I challenge the class of 2013 to seek out challenges, face difficulties with grace, and to care about the people and the world around them. I also challenge them to read the classics think about the lessons they are learning. Life is amazing and there is so much more out there than students learn in school and it is up to each individual to keep learning.

Tolerance – stop using the r-word

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”, have you ever sung this little ditty? How many people really believe this? I do not know anyone that is immune from the sting of hurtful words. I can still remember my parent telling me something when I was in 7th grade – I know they did not really mean it; we all say things in the heat of the moment, yet those words are burned into my mind and heart. I want people to stop saying and using the r-word – the use of the word is mean spirited. I constantly hear adults and youth throwing this word around as if it were an innocent word but it is not, it is a word with power. People that are intellectually disabled are not always able to speak up and defend themselves when someone uses the r-word but those of us that can speak up should. Using the r-word is derogatory, it is hateful, it is sad, and it is unacceptable. When a child is born there are so many hopes and dreams attached with the birth, but when a child is diagnosed has intellectually disabled those hopes and dreams are changed forever. Loving someone that is intellectually challenged is wonderful; there is so much joy and unconditional love between the child, parent, siblings, and friends. That is why I am astonished at the negative use of the r-word and do not understand why it is thrown around as an insult. It is not okay to use derogatory words to name call or to call yourself a name. Words do indeed hurt. Every time I hear someone use a derogatory word, I cringe and my heart breaks for the person that is being called the name and the person doing the name-calling. Obviously, the person doing the name-calling is a bully and probably so filled with hate that they may never change. However, if there is a chance that the person could stop and think, they might just realize that they wrong; maybe there is a chance that they can stop spreading hurtful words. My wish is that people could be more tolerant and respect each other rather than being hurtful.

Raising a Child that is Disabled

I have a very good friend that I have known all my life; I will call her Nicole for the sake of her anonymity. Often Nicole discusses with me the regret that she feels every day about the hurt she may have caused her children. You see my friend like all young people made a few poor choices when she was on her own. I might add that she was on her own way too soon; she had her own apartment, by the time she was a senior in high school. She went to high school for two hours a day, attended college fulltime, and worked. Some might say wow, that was admirable, and others would say that was tough, for a kid to have to do, to work, and support themselves. I tend to think it was too much for her that led her down the path of a few poor choices. She dated and soon married a gorgeous guy with a terrible and abusive temper. My friend struggled every day to find a way to escape this marriage but he had isolated her, moved her away from friends, and family, and put all the bank accounts in his name. My friend suffered terrible isolation with no one to turn to and no money of her own to leave. By this time, she had a baby who she had to protect. To me looking at this I think my friend was ill equipped to protect herself let alone her child, but she preserved through bruises and broken bones, until one day when she developed a plan to escape. I admire her for leaving with nothing but her child. Nicole suffered from very low self-esteem, though she went on to college and joined the Army Guard, she still was still haunted by her abusive husband who visited her, or I should say cornered her, but she stayed strong and found a way to get away from him each time; she did what she had to do to get away. She met a guy again who she thought respected her but in truth as time went on he turned out to be verbally abusive which continued to eat at her self-esteem. You see women that are abused often fall into another abusive relationship. During this brief time, unbeknownst to her she was pregnant, and she would not become aware of this for several months. You can see that Nicole had many obstacles, as all young women encounter, but the worse, was yet to come. Nicole’s mother came to visit her but while she was on the highway, her tire blew out and she wrecked. Her mother was taken to a local hospital, had surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, but she was brain dead and a decision was made to take her off life support. Nicole was devastated as was her son who had been very close to his grandmother. Nicole noticed that her son started acting odd, trying to hurt himself, hearing voices, and seeing things – he was only five. Nicole sought out help and her son was diagnosed with posttraumatic syndrome and given therapy and meds. Nicole decided to breakup with her boyfriend who was so very verbally abusive. Good you say and so did I, but during this time it occurred to Nicole that hey, my body feels odd and she had not had her menstrual cycle for several months – she realized she was pregnant. What to do, she had a son who was suffering terribly, she was broke, she did not want to tell her ex-husband that she was pregnant , so she decided to take on these problems by herself. Her son’s behavior became more and more bizarre and difficult to deal with. At five, he was hurting himself and other people; he was later diagnosed with a much more severe mental disorder that generally happens in young adulthood. The news was devastating to my friend and at the same time, she was told that her baby was not moving and appeared to be very ill. A decision was made to have a caesarian so that the baby could be treated. The baby was diagnosed with spinal meningitis and was not expected to live. Yet the baby did live but had many problems with her hearing and development. My friend went through many years of helping her children in every way she knew as they were in and out of the hospital or in therapy. Many people on the outside- looking –in criticized her, and made her feel awful t at times. Mental illness is such a terrible disease as it torments the person that suffers from it, and it is difficult for the family. My friend struggled with her own grief and with growing up, she is a productive adult that has worked hard to handle her life with grace and put away the criticisms from family, friends, and even strangers, to forgive them, and move on. But Nicole struggles with her son who is angry at her and blames her for everything bad in his life and for all the hospitalizations he endured as a child and her daughter recently told her she was a lonely kid because Nicole worked so may hours. I do not know what to say to Nicole because her heart breaks each time her children say discouraging things. She realizes that they are young and do not realize that Nicole did her best, that each choice she made for them was to help them not to hurt them and that Nicole herself was a child that had to grow into adulthood raising her children on her own just like many other people do. I pray that Nicole finds peace and that one day her children realize how much she loved them and that maybe some things she did were not the best but it was not that she meant any ill or harm to them but she acted on eh advice of the Doctors that treated her two children one which suffered from mental illness and the other that suffered physical. I also pray that there is a cure for mental illness but until then, that society develops a better understanding of the struggles the mentally ill go through and become supportive.

Teaching full-time is it possible anymore?

I recently graduated with my second master’s degree and am finishing a graduate certificate in rhetoric and composition. There was a time that when you finished a degree you could count on finding full-time employment. Today the promise of full-time employment is elusive. I teach part-time at Vincennes University in the Reading Department and at Olney Central College for the Study Skills Department. I also tutor learning disabled students for the STEP program at Vincennes University and run the reading lab two nights a week. Working 4 part-time jobs is exhausting. I work 54 hours a week between the four jobs. I love the students I serve and all of my supervisors – they are all wonderful. I am blessed to get to do what I want to do for a living. Sadly though I have to be realistic and find a full-time teaching job with retirement and benefits, after all I am not getting any younger. I have loved Vincennes University since I was a small child playing on the campus. We had a neighbor that when I was little worked in the historical buildings on campus and would take me with him to work. I always dreamed of teaching at the University. I am thankful to the University for this Dream, as it kept me motivated to complete my degrees. I have expanded my job search to across the United States and I know I will love my new home but I just love the history of Vincennes Indiana and the life I have here. I hope all the graduates across the US find their special job just like I hope I do. When I get where I am going I will write about the journey.