The STEM Needs the Flower

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Oh, Ronald Reagan. In 1983 his administration presented A Nation at Risk, a report that would forever change the game in American education.

In short, it claimed we had everything to fear. We were falling behind. Our teachers weren’t good enough.

And so began our collective sprint to a finish line where all children succeed, where domination in math and science would be as natural as breathing. To achieve these goals, however, we had to shed the excess – the nonessential.

And, just like that, the STEM virus began.

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Finding Hope in Our Homework

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“Homework will make your life better.” It’s a line I shared with my students over and over when I taught high school English. But, the truth is, that was before I was really an adult – and long before I had children.

From my own perspective, homework opened the doors of opportunity. The classroom environment has always produced considerable stress in me, but – on my bed late at night – I found the freedom to work through problems and write papers without the pressure of feeling that everyone else knew more than me. Homework, in many ways, was my safe space.

Just this week a note for parents from a teacher in Texas went viral, as she boldly announced an end to “formally assigned homework” in her class. The Internet may have rejoiced, but the teacher in me has serious questions: What, then, will fill that homework time?

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What’s Your Best Blogging Advice?

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Kids will try anything. Really. Just a few weeks ago, my son turned three and we surprised him with the ultimate old soul gift: a hula hoop. Immediately, he was intent on mastering the toy.

If I remember nothing else in all my life, I will forever retain his laughter bouncing off the walls in our home. With each attempt, he learned a new technique. With each attempt, he gained confidence. With each attempt, he overcame his mistakes.

Yesterday evening – just as the sun was fading – I peered at my son with a jealous eye as the hoop made six complete rotations: I want to be that kind of writer.

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The Career Not Taken

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When you are a parent, first birthdays always have a way of misting the eyes and evoking strong emotions. Just yesterday my little girl was afraid to take a step, and today she is sprinting. Twelve short months and all that remains are the final traces of a precious baby, our last.

I told myself I had it together. I told myself I could do this. But, the truth is, I have regrets.

I didn’t read enough stories.

I didn’t savor the middle-of-the-night embraces.

I didn’t slow down.

And – here on the other side of one – is where I begin to ponder other roads not taken.

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Oh, the Decisions You’ll Make!

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Decisions can be suffocating – much like graduation robes. In May 2006, I pondered this exact thought as I walked across a very long stage. College was over, and finally my life would fall into place.

I would attend graduate school and pursue a career in education. I would marry a good Christian man who was well on his way to becoming a doctor. We would have two children, and I would perfectly balance motherhood and my career.

Little did I know that in a few short years, I would lose it all – the teaching career, the doctor, and the guarantee of motherhood. Continue reading “Oh, the Decisions You’ll Make!”

Fields of Gold

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Long before I was a mother, I was a runner. On April 15, 2007, exactly nine years ago today, I completed my first 5k. It was a windy and hilly race for which I was not conditioned, and, due to low runner turnout, I actually managed to get lost in the barren fields of early Virginia spring.

I crossed the finish line with a three-minute, don’t-follow-the-sorority-girl-who-is-lost delay. My legs, already jelly, would struggle to move the next morning.

I will never forget the innocence of that day.

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Chasing the Avocado

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Happiness is a ripe avocado. If you have ever lived in California, you know this to be true.

My daughter, six months young, is learning all about this magical fruit’s elusivity, as she cannot yet grasp avocado between her lusting fingers. Perhaps it is because she is mine or because her blue eyes penetrate my soul, but I find few things more mesmerizing than watching my daughter’s hands seek the promise of satiety.

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The Two-Career Conundrum

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In Matthew Chapter 6*, Jesus discusses a person’s inability to serve two masters, but I would have to respectfully disagree – that is, if we are to consider the two-career conundrum that mothers who wish to work outside of the home face. Mothers, of course, seek or return to an external occupation for various reasons, but the emotional, psychological, and, often, physical ties to their children never diminish. If a woman is to contribute to the world vocationally, she must bear the weight of an additional career and somehow find a balance between the two.

For myself, this looks an awful lot like a hangover. Continue reading “The Two-Career Conundrum”

Of Walls and Dreams

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I am 30-years-old and have worked close to 20 professional jobs in my life. I have done it all – from assisting golfers to educating the homeless to refilling paper towel holders for $5.45 an hour (which, I should add, practically made me homeless). Despite all of the hours that employment consumed in my young adult life, I always found that it kept me humble and motivated me to study harder.

When I graduated with my first master’s in 2008, I could think of no better way to drain my bank account than to have my new degree, as well as my bachelor’s, professionally framed. You see, these two pieces of paper were more than simple accolades – they were physical reminders of the youth that I sacrificed for a better life.

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Dear Single Parent Student

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A few weeks ago I came across the following news story, and it has resonated with me for many days:

Professor Holds Student’s Child (CNN)

I have NO idea what it’s like to be a single parent. In fact, when my husband must travel for work, the few things that I am left to do in his absence are minimal compared to the endless tasks single parents willingly take on to be everything at all times to their children. It really must require superhuman strength.

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