Every parent worries about their kids. The older the kids get, the more they worry. One of their biggest fears is that their kids may use drugs. Will they try them? Will they like them? Will they become addicted? A nightmare for parents is having to go to the police station in the wee hours of the morning to get their child who has been picked up because he passed out on drugs. What do you do? What can you do?
I can understand why Bemidji is such a fine city. Its founders, Native Americans and lumberjacks, were pretty smart people because they worked with wood. I have come to the conclusion that there is a strong connection between people who work with wood and intelligence. Let me prove a point.
When you are at the Mayo Clinic you notice things. The first thing you notice is the VIP treatment. There are all kinds of people around to make sure you find where you need to go and to answer your questions. The second thing you notice is just the vast number of people going this way and that way and up and down and in this door and that door. It's like a huge circus.
It's a cool morning. The frost is on the pumpkins in the fields and on the cattails bordering Hand's duck slough located south of Waterville. The sun is barely peeking over the horizon. Guys are pulling their khaki green shallow duck boats alongside a snow fence laid a week before on the slough grass to give them more support as they walk out towards the water.
I wish I had a dollar for every time that I have debated and discussed what is a good school with parents, students and educators. I have always enjoyed the discussion even when there was some finger pointing. It was worth the time for three reasons. In all cases, the next day, teachers did a better job of teaching, parents did a better job of parenting and students did a better job of being a student. When people have to examine their own behavior they tend to live up to their highest expectations of themselves.
Does spirituality play a role in how well students do in school? Have I just opened up a can of worms by asking that question? Probably, but it's a good question. Parents should know the answer. I am treading on dangerous ground when I talk about spirituality and Native culture. I hope my Native friends will give me the benefit of the doubt and realize I am trying to make a point that spirituality transcends culture.
Remember when your parents reminded you again and again and again to say "please" and "thank you"? This was your parent's effort to hardwire your brain to be polite. Did it work? It sure did because now, as an adult, you say "please" and "thank you" whenever the occasion arises and, more importantly, you teach your kids to do the same thing. The whole country has a hardwired brain to call 911 when there is an emergency. The very first American 911 call was placed on Feb. 16, 1968, in Haleyville, Ala. Today it seems like kids are born with a 911 DNA chip in their brain.
It's that time of the year. It's always a good idea for teachers to go to school with a few good jokes up their sleeves. Some of these are really corny but that's fine. Kids appreciate teachers doing something to put a little humor in the classroom. One way of using jokes or humor is to see if kids can put two and two together. In other words, it's a higher level thinking activity to ask kids to explain why a joke is funny. Can a student explain the joke to others? Can they see the connection between the question and the punch line?
Most white people don't like to talk about racism for several reasons. First, it makes us feel uncomfortable. Second, we like to feel that we have had plenty of discussions on this topic and we want to put it to rest. Third, we may not feel we have enough information to debate its existence or nonexistence. Fourth, it makes us feel uncomfortable.
Many years ago I once remarked to Red Lake teachers that teaching at Red Lake was kind of like being on vacation. I think I got some weird looks. I went on to explain that if they were teaching in Germany or France or Spain, wouldn't that be like being on vacation? Think about it. You would be living in a different country. You would be experiencing another language. You would be learning about a different culture. It's the same when you teach at Red Lake—different language, different culture, different customs.