Despite the Madness

Friday, March 14, 2014

This has been one of those weeks where there has been a million thoughts in my head, but nothing is organized, and I just don't have the desire to sit and try to write something out. There was a building explosion in my neighborhood, and the teacher I work with has been absent all week because of the stomach flu. Lots of chaos. I started reading this Journal prompt, and my apathy towards writing for the day changed.
I guess I'll call this...Thursday Thoughts? Maybe just a Thursday dump? The question she asked was, "If you had unlimited resources, what political or social issue, or area of scientific or medical exploration would you fund? Do you have a cause that is near and dear to your heart that you'd put your time, energy, and money into if you had the means? Tell us about it, along with a bit of background explaining where you're coming from."
Can you take a guess at what cause I'm going to talk about? I live it all the time... yeah, education. If I'm not thinking about the education of 25 other 12 year-olds, I'm thinking about my education, or my siblings' education, or my friends' education; education is on my mind a lot. There's no doubt there's a problem with the education system in the South New York America, and so many people are trying to solve it. When I started my year of service, I had a lot more optimism about closing the achievement gap and helping students get an education than I do now, but there's still things that can be done even though it's such a challenge. I haven't lost all hope! One area of school service that has always been relatively successfully (and a highlight of my day) has been the art club I run with another co-worker and approximately 10 students at the middle school. 

Doing art with the students has been relaxed, but disciplined at the same time. The kids act like civil and creative human beings when they engage in an art project. I've loved seeing creativity come out in the students, and I love the conversations that come up during the time. Students do not have any art classes during the school day, so I'm glad we can offer it to them in the after school space.  
A midst all the test-prep, math, and ELA students have to do, having the chance to be creative and inventive is very important for their education and well-being. I would love to further art education in schools. Art education can certainly go beyond things like painting and sculpture-making. Art education can be poetry, theatre, music, and I would even add subjects like computer science, robotics, and other technical subjects to the list. If a kid can be creative, then it's art in my books. Yes, art-education is more expensive and harder to manage, but those are the classes that students can flourish in and grow. These are the classes where they can be proud of their work they made and have something to show off for years. 
Art was always a safe and exciting place for me as a student, and I want more students to feel that way about it too. Art allows students to break out of the mold and be different from their peers. I know that art alone is NOT the answer to the education crisis, but from my experience, giving students the opportunities to be creative produces great things. 
I guess what I'm getting at is that education policy is an issue I would love to support and fund during my lifetime. I already moved thousands of miles away from home to work in the poorest congressional district in the country to serve in a failing middle school. That's one step in the right direction. I know I'm not an expert, but I'm passionate about it, and passion takes people places. 
What are your passions? Even if you share a word or two, I want to know what causes are on your mind.
**Random note** I wanted you to be aware of the definition of mad according to Urban Dictionary. I hear this word from the mouths of my students all the time. They say it, so I incorporated it into my title. "Mad: Most predominantly used in the greater New York area, "mad" translates into 'a lot' or 'extremely.' For the most part, it means angry. It's mad hot today. She has mad problems."

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