Demoralized

People read blogs to be inspired. They are looking for distractions in a stressful day and, in general, would rather laugh than get angry. Ack! I'm about to lose about a slew of regular readers, but what the heck. A blogger has to vent once in a while.

This crappy economy is taking its toll on me. The depressing statistics keep coming out: kids and families aren't being served, the unemployment rate keeps rising, middle aged people are really screwed. Then there's the personal stories of economic woes that I hear every day. The teacher who can't find work. The unemployed PhD who has no transferable skills. The guy who owns the bagel shop in town killed
himself, because of financial and romantic problems.

Violence against women continues. A couple of weeks ago, our house cleaners' daughter was
strangled by her crazy boyfriend. The boyfriend strangled her with a rope in the car and then drove around with her for hours as he slashed his own wrists. The cops eventually corned him, but not before he smashed up a police cruiser. The cops got back at him by taking the guy out of solitary and leaving him for the afternoon with the general population. They turned their backs and let the guy get stomped by the other prisoners.

Jonah's school has hit a whole new
low. It's day 15, and some of his teachers have yet to start working with
the kids. Those teachers are paid more than my hard-working SIL who teaches in a private school. Why aren't other parents complaining? Are they too stressed out
about their financial situation to care?

I'm raising my kids in an
environment where a handful of people will get premium educations and
super high salary jobs, while the rest struggle to pay a mortgage. I can either deal with this situation by setting up a family compound
in Montana or by drinking a lot. Kegger at my house this weekend.

Even as government should be the first place that people go to complain about schools or the allocation of money, they don't get involved. They don't attend town council meetings, read the papers, or call officials to state their views. The apathy is overwhelming and completely alien to me. That's why we end up with situations like this.

I should write a happy, inspirational post this morning, because that's what people like to read, but I'm filled with anger this morning. I need to go to the gym to work off all this negativity.

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24 thoughts on “Demoralized

  1. Probably won’t help you feel better (might make you feel worse), but I’m finding your anger inspiring this morning. I’m so freaking overwhelmed, exhausted, and isolated so much of the time that it’s hard for me to care about stuff beyond my selfish petty concerns. And I want to care….

  2. I like to hear vents. It keep sit real, and in fact, the blogs that present a polished view of the world are not the ones I keep coming back to. I come back to the ones where I feel like a real person (not a marketing machine) is behind them.
    There was a point last year when a steady stream of lawyers were killing themselves, or, in one case, killing herself and her children. It was depressing, because it did, even though I think of such actions as being the result of a mental illness, I do believe that the proximal cause was the generalized malaise in society. Mental illness + everyone being stressed out (so there’s less support) + high pressure plans for oneself. It seemed like the world was breaking people’s spirit.
    Since I am not depressed, I usually snap out of it, but most of us have dark days.

  3. Even as government should be the first place that people go to complain about schools or the allocation of money, they don’t get involved. They don’t attend town council meetings, read the papers, or call officials to state their views. The apathy is overwhelming and completely alien to me.
    I get demoralized by the apathy too, though perhaps it’s not as bad in our neck of the woods as it sounds to be in yours (in the most recent round of primaries, we had an impressively large turnout in our part of Kansas). But locally–which is where all this time and money is really supposed to be put to work–things are quite poor, as they are all over. The bad economic times–which are likely to continue in one fashion or another; whatever one thinks of the current regime in Washington, the fact is there’s not a whole lot they can do about a global economy, propped up by cheap oil and easy credit, slowly collapsing–make people sullen and desperate and fatalistic. I’m not the sort to get apocalyptic, but I really do worry about the long-term survivability of our way of life. I worry about so many people deciding to give up (for perhaps rational reasons) that all these expensive institutions we’ve built our lives around–the public school, the supermarket, the idea that there will be jobs for our children–will just collapse in on themselves, becoming a black hole that not many of us will escape. (Thank goodness my parents already have a compound of sorts in Washington State…)

  4. Apathy is a sensible and resource-conserving response when people perceive that they cannot make a difference by being involved. That’s certainly how I feel.

  5. Don’t feel bad. Everyone likes a happy story, but you’re far from the only one demoralized these days. I know I’m demoralized from trying to find work – and since my wife has a pretty good job, we’re doing better than lots of people. Venting about these things does make you feel better. It also often helps you to find others feeling the same way, and then at least you’re not alone in the demoralized boat.

  6. I agree with those above that venting can be helpful; however, I am with you on the apathy front.
    One problem is that it is not always clear what people should do. I vote every chance I get, and I voluteer at school; however, those things aren’t able to stop what I see as the long slide into hell that our country is facing. I can’t stop the gutting of public education because most people don’t truly value it or the fact that budget cuts are reducing necessary services (see horrible article here http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/jul/22/brownouts-slow-fire-department-response-choking-to/). And I can’t stop what I see as bigotry toward Muslims in our country. I can’t reform the media to stop reporting things in a he-said/she said way or to actually call bigots bigots and liars liars.
    My greatest fear is that America becomes a banana republic where the elites manage to get a long fine (they have quality educations and healthcare, etc.), but everyone else is totally screwed. I probably fall into the elite category (me and my family will be ok), but it doesn’t really make me happy. The lack of a clear path of action makes me very frustrated.

  7. It would take a lot more than what we have now for me to become apathetic about the human (or even just American) future. There are too many half-filled glasses around us. I think that even today, people, on average (certainly in the world, but even in America) are better off than they’ve ever been before (OK, I might have to allow for bubble-filled short term recent affluence, but if I exclude that).

  8. I get depressed about this too, but – after a three-class, ridiculous-committee-meeting day – I opted to read your post in this way:
    lalalalalalaKegger at my house this weekendlalalala.
    So you don’t need to worry about alienating regular readers; we can avoid thinking about what we can’t handle at a given moment.

  9. Do vent away, it makes me feel better, much better. This whole apathy thing together with the crazy tea-party types is making me very depressed too. And making me wonder whether I should just have tried harder to return to Brazil (K didn’t get a job there, though, but here). Oh well…

  10. It’s day 15, and some of his teachers have yet to start working with the kids.
    I hope you’ll post more about this.
    Over at Kitchen Table Math, some posters has labeled themselves as members of the “Save Your Own” club. It may appear as apathy to outsiders, but sometimes you must triage and your own family takes priority.

  11. Laura, I think we’ve all been there. Heaven knows, when I look at the big picture, I want to crawl under a big rock and stay there.
    Preferably a rock on a nice big compound with plenty of running water and arable land, without too much risk of long-term cyclical drought, but not so far away from civilization that I’m trapped there when the effects of peak oil set in.
    So apparently my rock is located someplace in fantasy-land. DAMN.
    I keep hoping that your school situation is going to improve. I wish you didn’t have to deal with that.

  12. I want to hear more about the school situation. What does it mean to say that it’s day 15 and some of his teachers haven’t started working with the kids yet. Are they in meetings? home sick? on leave? babysitting the class and not working with the students?

  13. His reading teacher has the kids read their own books from home every day. They should have been assigned a book on the first week of school. They should be reading a chapter at home and then coming into class for a discussion or lesson that broadens their understanding of the reading. Instead, the teacher is basically running a study hall. It’s shameful.
    Jonah is a really good reader, so this isn’t the end of the world for him. I often read a book along with him and we talk about it. He’s starting to really pull ahead of his peers in a distressing way. This crappy teacher won’t affect Jonah as much as the rest of the students who don’t have parents that mandate reading hours at home.

  14. The thing that’s really bad about the reading class is that the beginning of the year is when everybody is as bright and shiny and teachable as they’re going to be all year long. To throw that away is really terrible.

  15. “His reading teacher has the kids read their own books from home every day.”
    They spend an entire 50 minute period simply reading? In 7th grade?
    That’s a bummer. My fourth grader is reading in the classroom — they’re required to read something like 20 pages a day at home, if they haven’t done it at school. I think the school is trying to transition to reading at home, but know that some of the kids need to get started at school. But, presumably, by the 7th grade, a book can be assigned and expected to be read at home.
    Do you think the teacher is having the kids read in the classroom because she can’t get them to read at home? I can imagine that being a problem. In fact, I’m noting that in the 4th grade, a lot of effort is being devoted to teaching the kids & parents how to start doing work at home, so that teachers can rely on that work having been done in the classroom. I’ll find out more tonight (at back to school night), but my perception is that they see 4-5 as being the transition point for learning that skill.

  16. They sit in the classroom and read a book of their own choosing? And for this the teacher gets paid? And our property taxes (well, Laura’s, anyway) get spent? Very strange.

  17. In my kid’s 7th grade class last year they spent much too much time reading in class. This is stuff she could be doing at home! And we live in a place where I think most students will do their reading homework.
    Our district spends $22,000 per student yearly, but the parents have to supplement if they want their child to have a world class education.

  18. PS: Is there really a “reading” class? In my day, the class was called “English.” I guess they might call it Language Arts now? Or is that only in lower grades?
    I think I remember doing *some* reading in class in the 7th grade, and I only remember reading and discussing two books (Where the Red Fern Grows & some other book that was similar enough that I can’t remember what it was). We also memorized “Jabberwocky” and the preamble to the constitution and recited it. We did some reading aloud in class.

  19. My 7th grade D’s class was English, which they also call ELA.
    My observation is that this reading in class business is partly necessary due to mixed proficiency grouping within classes. Similar to having students break into groups for “peer learning”, it’s needed when a teacher cannot provide whole class instruction but must “differentiate” instruction according to the different levels represented in the class. This is very inefficient, drives up costs and has not been good for my kids.

  20. It gets worse than having the kids read themselves. A Russian colleague at my school near Vladivostok had the unenviable task of teaching the 10th and 11th grade boys who were planning to go to the Marine Academy the glories of Russian literature. Between the large number of courses they were carrying (about twice as many subjects as in the US), the hugeness of the required texts, and many of the boys’ distaste for the subject, they just weren’t doing the reading. My Russian lit colleague (who was I think a rather good teacher, quite sensitive and conscientious like most Russian lit teachers) was under awful pressure from our principal to get the boys ready for their entrance examinations, and my colleague said that she wound up doing stuff like just reading at length to her students. That won’t get you very far through Dostoevsky, but there just weren’t any good choices for my colleague. The experience just about killed her.
    There were Russian Cliff-note equivalents for sale at that point, not always of good quality. I’ll note here the inconvenient truth that a few years later when I was preparing for my own Russian lit MA exams (1000 years of texts), I read through War and Peace and eventually discovered that it would have been a much better use of my time to study the Cliff notes and secondary materials instead.

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