Archive for September, 2010
At a time when the country is ‘waiting for superman’ a much needed dose of encouragement was given to athletes at La Follette High School on Tuesday. President Obama, in Madison to promote mid-term elections, surprised students with a visit. He gave Monona’s neighbors a pep talk, encouraging the volleyball and football teams to work hard both on the field and in class.
The nice surprise could not have arrived at a better time. The documentary WAITING FOR SUPERMAN is raising questions over the quality of education in our country. In Monona teachers and the district seem destined for arbitration over their disputes.
For a moment questions and disputes were forgotten during the once in a lifetime, historic, visit. It was a visit that found President Obama providing a much needed dose of encouragement for students–for all of us.
At a time when the media is concentrating on Education Nation, and the documentary WAITING FOR SUPERMAN is spreading like a slow building fire into an inferno across the states, teachers at MGHS are not writing college letters of recommendation for students–a result of the dispute between teachers and the district it appears.
When our oldest son graduated from Monona Grove High School last June a neighbor who saw us returning from the graduation asked if teachers were protesting the graduation, because of the dispute. I told him they were not–teachers in Monona would not do anything to hurt the students. How innocent I must have appeared to that neighbor in the warm sunshine of June. Now, as autumn and college application season are upon us, I had to eat those words as I spoke to that same neighbor while raking leaves this past weekend. He reminded me of the conversation that we had in June as he told me teachers are not writing college recommendations. We are in a new season.
As a rule I always side with teachers. They are not paid enough. Very few teachers that I know work 8a.m.-3p.m. each day. They do work nights and weekends on their own time,without pay. Volunteer work–I suppose. A large majority of the teachers I know pay out of their own pockets for things their students and classes need.
Education Nation and WAITING FOR SUPERMAN bring to light many issues. One that seems to be a hot topic is ‘Bad Teachers’ and tenure. I have been lucky enough, or innocent enough perhaps, not to encounter many ‘bad teachers’ in my own education or the educations of our five children here in Monona. I hope that experience does not change the way the seasons tend to.
This afternoon I spontaneously suggested to three of my daughters that we go running in bare feet at an Ahuska soccer field.
Of course they were shocked at this suggestion, yet quickly agreed to it.
I came up with this idea because I’m almost finished with the book Born to Run.
The author discusses the Tarahumara tribe (check out this 10 minute video about them here) in a remote area in northern Mexico, where they routinely run 100 or more miles at a time in bare feet or makeshift sandals.
He also presents evidence that our bodies were designed for long distance running and that before the creation of the running shoe in 1971, running injuries weren’t common like they are now.
When you wear running shoes, your heel hits the ground first, whereas when you run in bare feet, the padded middle portion of your foot hits the ground first, which is easier on your feet.
I decided to see for myself what it’s like to run in bare feet. I have no memories of running like this as a child because I always dutifully wore my PF Flyers when going outside to play.
So off I went to the soccer field with my daughters.
We ran 125 yards or so and my 15 year old said it was “exhilarating.” She never uses that word when she talks about running laps in her Nikes at tennis practice – that is always drudgery for her. She has fond memories of running barefoot as a child and was happy to experience it again.
We turned around and ran the 125 yards back to our shoes, which we reluctantly put back on. It was definitely more effortless than running in shoes and I hope it created a fun memory for the girls.
The last month or so I’ve avoided driving down Nichols Road and Monona Drive.
When you take the same routes all the time you stop seeing things.
As a result of avoiding these main drags, I’ve discovered Monona streets I had never driven down before even though I’ve lived here 11 years, like Parkway Drive, and the one-way stretch of Shore Acres near Rubin’s.
I’ve noticed interesting windows, doors (there’s an orange front door I especially like) decorations and landscaping I had never seen before even though they are only a mile or two from my house.
Sometimes I’ve cheated and taken Nichols to Monona Drive to get to the high school because it feels faster, even though it takes exactly as long to take the back way.
Other times I forget to turn off Monona Drive at Winnequah Road and accidentally drive all the way to Nichols. But I went to get better at remembering to take the long way home (and, yes, that Supertramp song is going through my head now ).