What if? 

 Good early afternoon from Starbucks in Selinsgrove,

I quick trip over to check at Best Buy to replace a cord I have lost (actually I lost an entire bag of things), and I can see Melissa, Jordan, and their father merely rolling their eyes and shaking their collective heads. This loss might be one of the more frustrating ones. Currently, I got a couple things needed and I am sitting in SB in Selinsgrove because it is the one place I can collect my free drinks. Today I have been reading about the Bulletproof diet. It seems to have a number of reasonable things, but a couple of the suggestions sound a bit extreme. Anyone reading this that has tried it?

I have another post started, but have decided to hold off on it. Part of that post is still germane, but I think I will wait a bit, as more a rhetorically appropriate thing than what I would prefer doing, which means in spite of a year or more of mistreatment, and a bit less from another, I will hold my tongue even a bit longer. The selfishness of some goes beyond what I could even imagine, but it is yet another lesson about those my father noted we could just as well do without. I am quite sure there is significant frustration on the part of the other as both immediate neighbors, at least I n terms of proximity, have little use for either the attitude or games he has chosen to play. Karma will come back, I am quite sure. The manipulation and selfcenteredness is actually quite impressive until you are on the receiving end.

This past week I have watched the debates from both parties. I think on a bad day, both “the Bern” and “Hil-yes” are more likely to understand that American public than any of the characters on the right side, save perhaps Governor Kasich, and I have to note that I appreciate Jeb Bush much more than 43. I was a bit surprised that Marco Rubio got as schooled by Governor Christie as he did in last night’s foray. I posted a quote from the Canadian Broadcasting Company on my FB page yesterday, and I have gotten quite a bit of traction from that posting. What I noted is Donald Trump has some intelligence, and I believe that, but he has no sense of appropriateness; he has no decorum and he is a bully and a terrible example of everything we teach about manners. I am reminded of what a former roommate said to rich roommate once when he seems to have no sense of his connectedness or responsibility to those with who he lived. He said, “Did you mother not hug you enough . . .?” Maybe that is the Donald’s problem. That million dollar starter loan did not make him happy for why they ignored him. I can understand if he asked like that growing up why they would want to ignore him. I can even understand that some people like him because he gives a voice to their anger about American politics. I am a bit angry too, but that does not mean I want someone with such behavior representing me on a world stage. The imminent domain exchange demonstrated again, he is a bully and can only act ridiculously when cornered with something for which he had been made responsible. While I have joked about moving if he becomes the president, I am not sure I am joking.

During the first three weeks of the semester, while I have been generally pleased with my students, I have heard comments in the hallways and walking around campus that always boggle my head. I am a senior, I should not have to read something that is so difficult (a paraphrase, but it does certainly cover the jist of their comment). I just didn’t know the answer; I didn’t study and they made the exam too hard (again a paraphrase). I have decided to not retake a class from you because it is too hard for me (again a paraphrase). There is a connecting thread, however, in these comments. Heaven for it that I should have to work hard in college to get ready for the world in which I will soon find myself. Have we honestly raised a generation of slackers? In two of the cases, I know the speakers and I know them well. My father’s admonishment of the average ringing in my ears, I know that critical thinking is so accurate. When is that point when it finally becomes clear that we are owed nothing? I note this often with my students when I speak to them about the fact that the money they pay for tuition guarantees nothing. The feminist poet, Adrienne Rich, spoken about this clearly and eloquently at Rutgers University more than a decade ago, speaking about what it means for one to “claim an education.” Merely getting by in classes, doing the C is for credit or D is for diploma, is completely asinine. What a waste of time and money. If a C is the best you can do on a given day, that is different. If you failed, but honestly tried, I am okay with that F. When you attitude is it is good enough, I have a different F for you – get out and go the F home. Don’t waste my time.i know that sounds, and is harsh, but there is so much we could give to those who are sincere, but instead I am reading papers of those who barely go through the motions. This is the problem with most 18 year olds. They are not mature enough to be in college. Yes, societally we talk them adults. Yet most of them call home almost everyday. That does not ring true of being one ready for adulthood to me. Before you see me as one who dislikes  18-21 year olds, that characterization would be inaccurate; however, I do see what many have the propensity to do. If they drink, the goal is to get drunk, and I mean seriously inebriated. Many cover letters and resumes reveal students who have little idea of how the world works or how to make their entry into it. Many see their technology as something they can expect and use however or whenever they want, without consequence. What a rude awakening when that selfie or ridiculous post comes back like the Ghost of Christmas Past. They should fear that Spector.

And yet, I cannot completely blame my students for their sometimes less than realistic outlook. Our public schools regularly give something much greater than what was earned. The consequence is setting today’s student up for a serious beatin’ of their behind. Parents’ phone calls, emails, or visits to teachers and administrators which do little more than abdicate student accountability do little to help prepare that little angel for the world that is 90 days beyond graduation. The number of students that tell me high school did little to prepare them for college is staggering,  but I am unwilling to blame it all on our school system. I think an important part of making education work begins at home. It is the parents who must instill the importance of receiving an education, but it also includes teaching and modeling respect for others. It includes supporting the school rather than blaming it for your sons’ or daughters’ failures. It means that we quit vilifying our teachers and faculty, which is a national epidemic, and believe that education is an investment in our country’s future. Where did we lose all of this and decide that testing tells us everything that is wrong? Sometimes I am glad I am well beyond middle-aged. And yet again, before I seem too cynical, I see students who work tremendously hard daily. I spent time with a thirteen year old on Saturday who asked amazingly wise questions, and coming from her, it did not surprise me. I spent time in Poland with some phenomenal students, one whose inquisitive nature and wonder provided a sense of hope beyond what I have witnessed or felt in some time. I saw one of my former youth kids from Lehighton on Saturday. She is now 38. She is a beautiful, successful, and stunning person. She understood what she needed to do for her life at the end of high school and simply did it. Just when I find myself lamenting my circumstance, I am jolted back into reality by the goodness or  kindness of another, reminding me that there is much for which I can rejoice and give thanks. Sometimes I feel like there is a sort of battle that goes deeper than we readily realize. The battle is for the collective soul of our humanity.

It is easy to wonder what if, but those are possibilities. For now, I find it more important to manage my realities. The what if can provide hope,  but dealing with reality, and doing it successfully, creates satisfaction. I guess I need both.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Martin

One thought on “What if? 

  1. I agree with your comments about Trump – his lack of manners still astounds me at times. I also agree that education and good parenting go hand-in-hand – one has to know the importance of a good education and respect educators in order to get the most out of the class and classwork. I wish that our country viewed education as more of a priority than it currently seems to. I hope you are doing well. Take care.

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