Is Religion Un-Cool?

Ana Marie Cox, a blogger and writer, wrote a post for the Daily Beast that is getting lots of commentary. She says she feels uncomfortable talking about her faith with colleagues.

In my personal life, my faith is not something I struggle with or something I take particular pride in. It is just part of who I am.

The only place where my spirituality feels volatile is in my professional life; the only time I’ve ever felt uncomfortable talking about my faith is when it comes up in conversation with colleagues.

It does come up: Since leaving Washington, I have made my life over and I am happier, freer, and healthier in body and spirit and apparently it shows. When people ask me, “What changed?” or, “How did you do it?” or, sometimes, with nervous humor, “Tell me your secret!” I have a litany of concrete lifestyle changes I can give them—simply leaving Washington is near the top of the list—but the honest answer would be this: I try, every day, to give my will and my life over to God. I try to be like Christ. I get down on my knees and pray.

She also feels judged by believers, because she isn’t totally knowledgable about the bible. Would she fail the Christian litmus test?

I’m Catholic in one of most Catholic areas of the country. There are nothing but Irish and Italians around here. It’s hard to find parking space outside of church. Few people are REALLY Catholic, but lots of people are sort of Catholic. But we Catholics are much more reserved in our devotions than Protestants. Nobody expects us to know the bible; we just have to show up at church on Sunday. I never really thought of Catholicism as a slacker religion, but maybe it is.

The Problem with Education Schools

Do kids really have different learning styles? I’m predisposed to say yes, because I have a kid who has a mis-wired brain, but I always have to keep in mind that my kid is an outlier. Statistically, looking all the millions of kids out there, do some kids have different learning styles? Well, there are no large scale statistical studies that show that some kids learn better one way and others learn better another.

The real problem is teachers spend a lot of time differentiating instruction, because that’s what they learned at their education school.

“I think it’s because they’re taught this in the education schools,” said Dr. Pashler. Many masters’ programs in education “are really not very evidence-based,” he argued. “A lot of education-school faculty are really not examining outcome literature before they make recommendations.”

Education schools aren’t providing instruction to future-teachers that are based on sound research. Later, teachers are expected to constantly rework their lesson plans, based on the latest education fad. Teachers get discouraged.

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So, the technical problems still exist with the blog. We’re going to have to muddle through, until my hosting service gets its act together. In the meantime, comment quickly.

I’ve been dealing with plug-ins and other nonsense these past couple of days, which has eaten into my reading and writing time. But it turns out that I didn’t miss much yesterday. What with white and gold dresses and llamas and the Kardashian’s $100 million deal with E. The world is coming to an end.

Random things that crossed my screen this morning.

Vogue workers aren’t happy with their new digs downtown. (To be fair, Steve works across the street and is still pissed off that that food trucks are gone.)

If you’re an UMC woman, should you complain about your parenting challenges?

And the award to most clueless investment bank goes to….

Technical Problems

Sorry, guys. The blog is broken. I have “stuff” all morning, so I won’t be able to holler at people until this afternoon. We’ll get this figured out.

UPDATE: I think it’s fixed. Maybe. Sort of. I had to throw out the spam filter, so that may create other fun problems. I spent two hours on this, and it’s time to deal with the rotten children, so no blog post right now. Maybe later. la

Why Do Some Things Become Popular?

I’m fascinated by the question of why some things become popular and seemingly equal things go flat. Honestly, nobody has the answer to that question, because if they did, every book would become a best seller, and every movie would win the Oscars. Still, I like to puzzle things out.

With all the press about the movie, 50 Shades of Grey, (my favorites are this and this), I decided to reread the books last weekend. The second read was worse that the first time, because I gotten over the shock of riding crops and other painful devices, and all I was left was bad prose. And really troubling gender relations (ugh, he makes her change her name) and distasteful materialism (ugh, he buys her cars).

Ultimately, this is a fantasy-fulfillment book. And it’s more than just sex. The heroine gets a Bill Gates-rich husband, several custom designed homes, fast cars, a new wardrobe, an intact extended family, a staff, a prestigious, but undemanding career, and the ability to never be hungry. Is this what women really want?

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I’m not quite myself this morning (sniffles), so let me throw out some links without much fanfare, hoopla, or commentary:

The Common Core fights are bringing up a new focus on gifted and talented programs and the role of local school boards.

An interesting case for universities to diversify their hiring practices.

Harry responds to Megan’s article. He buries the lede. Colleges aren’t going to prioritize teaching, because there is no pressure from the market. “Parents, and students, are not buying education, but a credential. As long as that is what they are doing the brand is going to matter more than the actual instructional quality or how much they learn. ”

I don’t get the Lady Gaga love from last night. She couldn’t touch the original.

The Life of a Stay-at-Home Parent

Two articles have shown up at my virtual doorstep in the past couple of weeks with very different takes on being a stay-at-home parent. One article was from a mom who talks about the costs of being a stay at home parent and her regrets about leaving the paid workforce. Another article was by a woman who quit her law job, which she hated, focused on her kids and her passion for baseball.

How do we reconcile those two stories? I think we can’t. I think when it comes down to describing life as a stay at home parent, it’s very much of a YMMV.

Well, let me try harder. Both women say that they loved spending time with their kids. The woman who quit her traditional job, used the time to transition to a new career as a sports blogger. The blogging job probably doesn’t cover the mortgage payments, but she finds it fulfilling.

If you find yourself outside the traditional workforce for whatever reason — disability or caretaking needs or age — there are ways to create a new life with purpose. My dad retired ten years ago, and quickly transitioned to full time work running a food pantry. Other SAHP friends are teaching spin classes, writing for local newspapers, running sports organizations, driving meals to old people, starting small businesses. When the kids are in school, there are plenty of opportunities to do interesting things.

So, my advice to fellow parents, who have stepped out of the traditional workforce, is to be interesting. Not so hard, right?

One Thing To Read Today

If you have time to read just one thing today, it really should be Oliver Sacks’ column in the New York Times. He learned that he has terminal liver cancer.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Parents and the Opt-Out Movement

Forgive me for coming back to the topic of parents and the PARCC exam. There is so much politics right here outside my front door. I can’t help talking about it.

Yesterday, Jonah came home with a screen shot of a hand-out that parents were distributing outside the high school, which told kids that they should not take the PARCC exam in three weeks. He said the parents were arrested, but that might be a teenager exaggeration. The cops may have simply asked the parents to leave. I’m not really sure about the reaction from law enforcement. Everything else — the handouts, the parents — is true.

School districts are preparing separate rooms for kids who arrive at school, but will not take the exam. There is a lot of confusion about whether or not federal funding for schools will be cut, if there is a large number of families that refuse to take the test. The teachers’ union is launching an ad campaign against the test.

Just fascinating politics.