Category Archives: Children

The Butterfly Keeps Flapping Its Wings

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This title is in reference to an earlier post. Now, this same chain reaction is going even further. My daughter’s school asked parents to burn cd’s with their child’s favorites to play during class. Thanks to the overwhelming Bollywood exposure that my daughter has had courtesy of the previously mentioned Nepali guy in the post above, aka, Shiva, her cd is nothing but Hindi music.

Imagine a class of affluent, white, American 3,4, and 5 year-olds scarf dancing to the sounds of “Jai Ho”, “Ishq Bina”, and “Dil To Pagal Hai”…because that is what I walked into the other day. All I could think is, “when his family sent him here, they never imagined this being the result.”

I think in about 10-15 years, Bollywood may see an insurgence of American interest.

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How Did She Become So GIRLY?

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Let me say, I am NOT girly. I wanted to be a boy as a child. I wanted to everything boys could do and the worst insult anyone could call me as a child was “girly.” My grandmother was one of those traditional southern women who believed in curtsies and frilly dresses while sharing afternoon tea (two cubes of sugar and some milk please).

My sister was happy to engage in this sort of behavior. My sister liked being girly. She loved dressing up and playing with dolls. She wanted to be the epitome of sugar and spice and everything nice that little girls are made of. I wanted to be left to my devices wearing the same pair of jeans I’d been wearing for three days in a row, soaked in dried mud with a layer of wet mud on top. Yes, I thought it was okay to use the crystal glasses to house my new found friends, the frogs, lizards, and worms. (I swear, there was another lizard and two more worms in this cup when I brought it inside…hmmm, what happened to those missing creatures?) I dreaded Sunday mornings because I knew that somehow my family was going to wrestle me into a fancy dress and TIGHTS! Oh the humanity! And shoes with heels? How was I ever supposed to play tag once Church was over in heels?!

I should have known I was expecting a girly girl while I was pregnant. Suddenly, I enjoyed wearing pink. When had I ever enjoyed wearing pink in my life? Suddenly, I took to simple walks in the gardens over running through at break-neck speed. Why did I one day wake up and think that the corn snake in my yard was gross and not cool? I should have foreseen that the ultrasound reading was wrong, I wasn’t 30 weeks along with the little boy the Dr. had promised. I was 10 weeks away from meeting the girliest girl in my life.

Being as how we thought we were having a boy, everything we had was boy. I didn’t see the point in replacing everything we owned over a gender fact, who cared at this age, no one would know the difference. Plus, my daughter’s name has a masculine sense to it and anyone who hears the name without seeing my little one thinks I’m talking about my son. I just didn’t think switching out wardrobe over gender was important. Our family…did! Within a month we had TONS of girl clothes. A friend of my daughter’s father had just given birth to a boy so we passed all the boy clothes on to her and indulged in some gender stereotyping. I didn’t know that it was going to stick.

Now, I have a daughter that will cry and refuse to leave the house if she thinks her pants don’t look good with her shirt. She’s not thirteen, she’s three! She brushes her hair and teeth because they “look pretty” not because I make her. She puts her dirty clothes in the laundry because “Mommy needs to wash them so I can look like a princess.” Just this morning, I told her she needed to finish her breakfast…”Why?” She asks. I answer, “So you can grow big and strong. So you’ll have energy to learn what you need to know and be able to have lots of fun playing.” Then she says, “So I can be a ballerina or a singer? Will I be pretty if I eat my food?”

Is our society’s importance on beauty and femininity that pressing that my three year old aspires to be a female career like pretty ballerina? Is she just naturally this way and I should encourage her facination obsession with tutus while still telling her that I think she’s smart and capable of being a scientist or a leader? When she says, “I want to go to college to be a dancer” should I just be happy she wants to go to college someday?

The feminist in me cringes every time she puts beauty as the most important part of her life. And my grungy t-shirt, baggy pants wearing self wonders, how did a girl with a mother like me become so girly?

Writing a Nepali/English Children’s Book

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I’m putting this idea as a sounding board for ideas (and hopefully language corrections). As part of my teaching position, I am incorporating the Nepali language. My first lesson on this is in three weeks. I will be teaching basic colors. The colors I am teaching are black (Kalo), blue (nilo), green (hariyo), yellow (pahenlo), red (rato), and orange (suntala).

Since this is a baby book, think those thick board books that babies chew on, I’m planning on keep it very very simple. With hopes that nobody steals my book and sells it to a publisher, here’s the idea of the text.

Little baby on the first page, thinking to himself. “I am lonely, I am going to find some new friends.”

Next page, little baby meets a new baby and says “Hello baby, I see you are wearing a green shirt. I like hariyo. Let’s be friends.”

Opposing page.
Green shirt baby says to first baby. “I see you are wearing a kalo shirt. I like black. Yes, lets be friends.”

Turn page.
Green shirt baby meet a new baby. One says, “Hello saathi. I see you are wearing a pahelo shirt. I like pahelo. Let’s be friends.”

Opposing page.

“You like my yellow shirt? I like your hariyo shirt and your kalo shirt. Yes, lets be friends.”

Turn page.

Babies meet new baby. One says “K cha, saathi. I see you are wearing an orange shirt. Malai suntala rang man parcha. Let’s be friends.”

Opposing page.

“Timilai mero suntala rang ko shirt man parcha? I like your kalo shirt and your hariyo shirt and your panhelo shirt. Ho, lets be friends.”

turn page.

Babies meet new baby. One says, “Namaste bao. I see you are wearing a rato shirt.” Malai rato man parcha. Sathi haru garaam.”

Opposing page.

“You like my rato shirt? Malai timro kalo shirt , timro hariyo shirt and timro pahelo shirt pani mann parcha.  Sathi haru garaam.”

Last page.

First baby says. “Malai mero naya sathi haru man parcha, Yes I really like my new friends.”

So, my biggest question is…would “sathi haru garaam” be the best way to say, “let’s be friends”? Is bao the best way to spell baby in Nepali? And because I ALWAYS get mixed up between Malai, Timilai, and Maile, Timle…are those right? Is it right to use timi, or should I be using tapaii? Any other words of advice?

Copyleft: 2012
Creative Commons License
Timro man partun by Padmini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://padminisvorga.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/writing-a-nepalienglish-childrens-book/.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.facebook.com/padmi.shivaya.

Low Class = Low Scores = Repeat Cyle

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This is a response to Nepali Jiwan’s post about Nepali educational norms. 

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I’m also a teacher and its so disheartening in the US for teachers to be blamed for failing students. As for public schools having a wider range of demographics, I disagree. I can’t speak much for my new home as I haven’t been here long enough to develop an opinion but I can speak very clearly about my home state.

In that state, parents can get vouchers to send their kids to private school. So, if you have parents that care, chances are, you aren’t at a public school at all. Also, the parents that can afford it, just won’t even try public school. The result is that in most school districts in my home state (If memory from a semester ago is doing me justice the statistic is 68% for 2009 and 72% for 2010) serve households at or below the poverty level ($23,000 for a family of four). That means public schools have become the schools where the poor kids go.

Also in that state, school districts are drawn geographically and their funding is supported by property taxes. Short story, poor neighborhoods yield less property tax and have less funding although they usually have more students. So, poor districts have less money per school and even less money per student than their richer counterparts. This sort of socio-economic segregation is the new form of racial segregation.

The average school wide in my home state is 50% of students on free or reduced lunch. But when you adjust for districts, you’ll learn that my home county, the highest property taxes in the state has 30% of its students on free or reduced lunch, but the neighboring extremely low and extremely impoverished district has more than 90% students on free or reduced lunch. Really good teachers tend to work in higher paying districts, while younger less experienced teachers are left to tough it out in low paying, low priority districts.

The cycle for public school is really tough when you consider how many disabilities are present in my home state. Nearly 80% of students in public school in my home state are labeled with some sort of special need!!! Is it really likely that 80% of all kids have a disability? Well, part of the issue is that for each “special needs” student, the school gets more money. Teachers are working with insurmountable ratio difficulties, so if I child starts falling behind, the only way to get that child some one on one attention is to label them with a disability.

Then there are the physical problems. In those poor districts, many students come to school with less than 5 hours of sleep and no food in their bellies. So, even if they may perform on level if well fed and well rested, they definitely won’t without. The chances of abuse and neglect are much higher in these regions. When is Maslow’s Heirarchy going to make its way to education politicians?

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In Florida, 1 in 155 child is Autistic. I don’t know how this number is so low (and its really not) because when I was teaching with a group of 27 other teachers, most of us had an Autistic child in our class. Our ratio averaged 1 teacher to 20 students. I know that definitely 9 teachers had at least one Autistic child in their class, 1 teacher at 2, and 1 teacher had an Autistic child. That’s 10 students in 560 students or 1 in 56. That’s A LOT! Is that just our district, I couldn’t tell you? 

But, I can tell you that in that state the C-section rate is 4 out of 10 births. The March of Dimes lists C-sections (especially due to birth inductions) is the highest cause of preterm and premature birth in the US. We do not currently know what impact this is having on learning a few years down the line because its yet to be studied. But, considering the highest risk you can be for having a c-section is socio-economic status, and in the public school settings I worked in, the highest indicator of being test and found to have a learning disability would be socio-economic status, there may be a link there. I’m implying correlation, not causation. 

In addition to the overwhelming c-section and lack of food/sleep risks to the low socio-economic students, there is the risk of a real disability. Miscarriage rates across the nation are 3 in 20 pregnancies. I know of much higher incidences in Florida and Mississippi. The physical proximity to large commercial dumping sites yield higher miscarriage rates, as high as 1 in 4 pregnancies (5 in 20 for you fraction challenged peeps). THAT IS HIGH! So what does it mean for the children that are born in those communities? They are at a higher risk for a defect. 

When whole communities are seeing education problems, lack of funding, lack of legislative support, lack of quality educators, and overworked quality educators…the powers that be ought to look for the source of the problem. In this case, I fear that teachers are being given a stacked deck and punished for losing. How can a classroom with such high chances of having economically disadvantaged, physically drained, unsupported, and physically disabled students and almost NO FINANCIAL RESOURCES be expected to compete with privatized programs where the wealthier healthier students have the freedom to thrive? 

I do believe the culture of narcissism has something to do with it, but I also believe there is a lot more at work. There is a cycle of punishing the poor for being poor. What is it Thomas Moore said in Utopia? “Who are the privileged to first make thieves and then punish them?” Who are the top tier to first create an untouchables class and then ridicule them?

KONY 2012: Make Him Famous

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If you haven’t heard about it, you will! This is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen on the internet. A time when idealism meets reality. So many people will see this, so many people will share it, and I hope that so many people will actually do something. I’ve seen the cars labeled “invisible children”, I’ve seen the posters that say KONY 2012. And I’ve been asking myself, who is this guy since December 2011 when I made a cross country road trip from the Southeast coast to the Northwest coast. And yesterday, I found out. Three of my friends posted a video from youtube on facebook that was about Kony. And these three friends are so different from each other, so unlikely to share the same video that I had to watch and see what these three had in common. And now I know, its what we all have in common.

We all have a need to feel like a community, we all have an innate sense of the fact that some things are right and some things are wrong. And what this video shows you is that in this year, the world has a chance to correct a wrong that has been allowed for 26 years, my ENTIRE life! The video producer gives a message to the world that we have the power to change the world, we have the power to make it a better place for our children. And just as he looks at his son and knows that in our country if anything happened to him the way that things are happening to the children in the film, I look at my daughter and am thankful that we live in a country that protects her. But these children deserve protection too, the man that is enslaving children far away from home needs to be stopped, but before he can be stopped, he needs to be famous!

KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

http://kony2012.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/

Unfortunate Reality

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I’ve had many a heated discussion about pedophilia and child sex rings in the US. A lot of people wrongly believe that child sex trafficking happens only in third world countries. The fact is, that the United States may be one of the worst places on earth for child sex abuse. It is a rampant problem. People from the low slums to the highest political positions engage in this horrendous practice. And very little is done. The most recent statistics suggest that the national average of 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually molested prior to age 16 is actually grossly under-reported and the closer statistic may actually represent 1 in 2 or less girls and 1 in 3 or less boys are sexually abused prior to age 16. I must say that of all the women I’ve spoken to about this topic, I only know ONE girl here in the US that has not suffered sexual abuse as a minor. Now, I obviously don’t ask every girl I know “hey, were you sexually abused as a child?” but its come up in enough conversations for me to feel confident in the under-reported statistics. This documentary covers an example of what children growing up in the US can expect to happen to a vast majority of them and with little to no justice. Here’s to freedom!

http://documentaryheaven.com/conspiracy-of-silence/