Monthly Archives: October 2010

Teaching History: A Memoir

Statue of James Oglethorpe, founder of Augusta...

Image via Wikipedia

I reviewed, I promise you. I even knew the answer, really I did. Just not when you asked me the question.

You’re looking at me, disappointed, annoyed, maybe even a little frustrated. Your wide green eyes are boring into me inquisitively, accusatorily. Your mouth is set in a firm line, and your jaw thrust forward demanding authority. I want to give you what you ask for. I prepared to give you what you wanted, but I can’t ; I just don’t remember. And all the little tricks and hints I prepared have disappeared along with my confidence and security. You hold your blue roll book in your hand, and after waiting the appropriate time, and me protesting that I really knew the answer, you shake your head and made a mark in the book. I knew it was a red minus next to my name; a minus on reflecting on me.

I knew I had a hard time remembering his name. I remember you saying it for the first time, and I giggled inside; it was funny sounding, but rolled off the tongue at the same time. I can tell you all about him; he founded the state of Georgia as a place for the “worthy poor”. After his friend died in debtors prison, he was outraged at their poor conditions and petitioned for a land to be given to rehabilitate petty criminals, people with outstanding debts. The English Parliament granted him the land of Georgia (then just known as the land below the Carolinas) not so much because they believed in his cause, but they  wanted the land inhabited to serve a buffer zone to Florida which was then under Spanish rule, and who better to inhabit it than the less worthy members of society.

See, I told you I knew everything about him, doesn’t that count for something? Just this one tiny detail ruins me in your eyes. That I’m no longer on top, invincible, brilliant. I slipped up. Once. That doesn’t mean I’m not everything you thought of me. That doesn’t negate everything I’ve done up until now.

Till today I can still vividly recall walking down the back staircase to lunch. Shaina Rochel I and  were in the front of the pack. I had a running monologue going, a review of yesterday’s history lesson. I kept getting stuck on his name. Shaina Rochel had to remind me of it at least twice. We were walking down the last staircase on ground level, ahead was one of the school entrances, on the side a door for the A floor and further down, the lunch room, with smells vegetable soup with too much lima beans and slippery macaroni wafting upward, beckoning.  I started repeating his name over and over again. I said you’d for sure call on me for this question, because I was having such a hard time with it. When I said that, I didn’t really believe it. I meant it as hyperbole. And like a bad novel, you called on me, like I said you would, and I drew a blank.

I met you at a wedding 8 years later. I reminded you of who I was. I’ve grown a lot since 7th grade. We talked about what I’ve been doing with my life, teaching, who I still kept up with from the class, and what not. You smiled and told me what a brilliant student you remember me as, but I just kept thinking about his name. What it all represented to me. And I still haven’t forgotten James Oglethorpe.


Posted by on October 17, 2010 in Memoir, Teaching


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Misplaced Pride

People have very different opinions on reward and punishment when it comes to children. When a child misbehaves people generally punish the child (not getting into how they punish, whether it’s a stern talking to, silent treatment, withholding a treat to spanking – irrelevant in this article).

However when a child does what he’s supposed to do, this is where people begin to differ. I hear the side when people say, “don’t reward a child for good behavior, he’s supposed to be good regardless, it’s not an extra something they’re doing”. It makes sense, why needlessly spoil a child and basically give them tools to manipulate you with.

Then today I took my 2 month old to the doctor for a well visit. And boy was I proud of him. I was able to tell the doctor that my Shmooshky smiles at me, tracks me from across the room, holds his head beautifully…I was so proud and I told my son so. And when the nurse informed me that he had gained 2 and ¾ pounds, I was glowing, and told my son how brilliant and special he was. Now really, all he did was what he’s supposed to do. There isn’t even cognitive thought and intent there, this is what is body was made and meant to do at this stage and he was performing a function. When the doctor asked about his skills it wasn’t so much as a yes or no, but rather just checking for conformation. And yet I’m still a proud Mama, because my son is doing what he’s supposed to be doing.

So back to the original quandary…should parents reward their child for doing what expected of them? Looking at my reaction, one may think I say yes, but I think my reward was really more affirming for me than my child. Telling me that I did a good job raising my child that he’s capable of doing the things he should. It sounds a little egotistical to compliment my own parenting skills, so I just coo at my son instead.

So now, are parents just misplacing their rewards? Should we be rewarding ourselves for our child’s good behavior?

I think so. Who’s sponsoring my chocolate?


Posted by on October 12, 2010 in Parenting


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When Two Collide

Castilian literature in BCN • Literatura caste...

Image by A nosa disco necesítanos via Flickr

With many eligible people in my life, I’ve been hearing a lot about dating, the issues, the awkwardness, the stupidities, and what-not.

I’m also currently teaching literary terms and elements to my students, with those two in mind, I’d like to share with you one of the most accurate dating similes, brought to you, courtesy of my husband’s chavrusa (he’s eligible)

Dating is like talking to a Shabbos Guy, you can’t say what  you’re feeling or thinking directly; you have to come up with some awkward way to get your point across.


Posted by on October 6, 2010 in Humor, Jewish, Shidduchim


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