Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just a Glimpse of Student Talent

Right now I have the pleasure of working one-on-one with an incredibly creative, funny, and interesting student who is skilled at making music and animation on the computer. Here is his New Wave News Part 1 of 4:

GoAnimate.com: New Wave News Part 2/4 by Victorx

All the music is original, and in my opinion, innovative and fun. I am lucky to get to work with such talent every day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Still Lost in Place

I'll be honest, it has been a nice two month break from blogging. For the last two months I have successfully fooled myself into believing that since I am living in the USA, working a real job, and sleeping in the same bed every night that I have no cross-cultural or self-reflective issues to share. Although the break from posting was nice, the reason for doing so was flawed. I realized that not only was I wrong to assume that my life in Austin doesn't warrant reflection, analysis, and research, but I am exceptionally happy that my career and setting are challenging. I always want to be in a situation in which my values, beliefs, and knowledge are questioned and tested. Working in a economically disadvantaged school with a seventy percent minority population only three hours north of the Mexican border is definitely such a situation.

Realizing that overseas travel is not necessarily more blog-worthy than living and working stateside is only part of my motivation for reviving this blog; I found myself craving a good post. Forcing myself to sit down, digest the week's events, and communicate them in written form to a diverse audience - hopefully in an interesting manner - is a really important intellectual exercise. Although I am currently completing a teacher certification course, this is the first time in my life that I am not either traveling or engaged in an academic program which requires critical thought and analytical writing. As an anthropology undergraduate and Intercultural Youth Development graduate student I was constantly being challenged to think and write. To think critically, analytically, and honestly and to communicate those thoughts through convincing and concise writing.

It is ironic, but not surprising, that I spend my days in a school but find my cerebral cortex shriveling into oblivion. It is not surprising because schools are not necessarily educational institutions. Even the worst schools do contain some pockets of learning, but they function primarily as a warehouse for youth. Obedience and training are the goals for most schools, not truly educating students. I may be cynical about the current state of public education, but I am sincerely optimistic that change can happen, both on an individual and institutional scale. The problems that I witness every day in public school - state mandated standardized tests, excessive size (2700+ students), horrendous school food, poorly trained teachers - are all being addressed by various programs. Change is not only possible, but it is already taking place in many schools across the country.

So I look forward to kick-starting my brain with posts like this about life in the (Republic of) Texas, my experiences in public education, any traveling Jess and I do in the area, the convoluted route to teacher certification, and whatever else comes up along the way. Here's just a taste of what I have learned about the Texan perspective:

I'm told "Don't Mess with Texas", but since I live here now I'm going to try to get away with it anyway.