September 8th International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day was created by the United Nation’s UNESCO in 1965 in order to better educate the world and promote reading. The United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has been instrumental in bringing literacy to the world, teaching those who would not have the opportunity to learn otherwise. The value of reading should be obvious these days, when so much is going wrong in the world and we are trying to fix it. The idea of being able to communicate and share ideas is more important now than ever before.

How to celebrate – Support UNESCO. Visit the UN. Help promote literacy in your area.

October 5th World Teacher’s Day

Some of the finest people I know are teachers. They work hard everyday trying to educate those that need to be educated, want to be educated or are forced to be educated. Let’s face it, there are those who want to learn, those that have to be forced to learn and those who just seem to learn no matter what the subject matter is.

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Most of us think of the old school spinster who put others education beyond their own happiness. Having spent 23 years working with teachers, in some cases that is true… but it has been changing over the that are vital, young and filled with life. It is the system that fails them, not the other way around.

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The teacher comes into class expecting to teach young minds and open doors for them. The system shuts those same doors by making teachers deal with administrators, parents and societies short-comings. In this ME-Me world, a teacher who generally is there for others gets caught between what is right and what they have to do because we all know, everybody’s child is perfect.

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Today was created by some of those worst offenders, UNESCO. Director-General Frederick Mayor suggested the day in 1993, at a conference in Geneva. In theory, it’s a great day, a day to celebrate those who do what we cannot… teach. But in all honesty, a teacher today spends 70% of their time doing what society forces them to do instead of teaching.

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As a result things like the arts, history and  anything but science and math. I do agree, we need science and math but not every child will become a scientist. The world still needs great auto mechanics, dramatist and historians. Let teachers teach what they know… not what society tells us they have to know. As much as we are in danger of losing the next great scientist, we are equally in danger of losing our what makes us unique.

How to celebrate – Thak your local teachers for all they do. Let the school system teach. Pay close attention to what those running for school boards are actually saying.

November 8th Dunce Day

Were you ever made to sit in a corner of your classroom wearing a Dunce Cap? If you were, you’re probably as old as me! But schools can’t do that anymore (though in some cases maybe we should)!

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The idea of wearing the dunce cap had nothing to do with being stupid, it was all about trying to get you to think. The teacher knew you could answer the question, you just weren’t using your head to figure out the answer. It’s sort of based on the idea of someone asking you your name and you give the wrong name out as your answer. Obviously you know your name, you just weren’t thinking.

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The idea of wearing a Dunce Cap comes from Duns Scotus of Dun, Scotland who died on November 8th, 1308. It was his idea that if one wore a Dunce Cap and sat in the corner of a room that somehow what they missed would be funneled into their heads through the cap.

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Over the years Dun’s theory has been dis-proven. The cap doesn’t direct thought back into your head. Sitting in the corner however might accomplish what is required because no one wants to look like a fool. The next time you are asked a simple question you just might think about coming up with a logical answer.

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So, leave that hat in the corner of the room sitting on the stool, and make sure you don’t have to wear it. It may even work effectively just by sitting there, thinking that it might actually be put to use if you tune out when you should be tuning in.

How to celebrate – Make a Dunce Cap for yourself and put yourself in the corner when you do something you should have known better than to do. Make a Dunce Cap and when you do something you didn’t think you could do paint a sign on it like the pilots did with enemy airplanes shot down. Make a personal Dunce Cap for every family member and let them figure out when they need to wear it for themselves.

April 21st National Kindergarten Day

Since 1837 people have found the benefit of sending their children to Kindergarten, whether it is to get them started early in their social development, a jump start on their educational requirements or because in today’s world so many people have to work to pay the bills, Kindergarten has now become a requirement.

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Frederich Froebel started Kindergartens in Germany. is idea was getting children acclimated to going to school. At first it was just for a half day as he did not want to tax the children, forcing them to grow up faster than they would without school. Through many mother’s tears, the idea has caught on even adding Pre-K to many school across the United States.

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There is little doubt that children do benefit from the earlier exposure to the world. They normally become more challenged and definitely are able to blend into first grade without the same stress. It allows the expectation for children to learn faster and retain more since they have had that extra year, or two, in the system.

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But there are risks involved too. Children become more independent often leading to other issues later on and children not ready to meet the demands of Kindergarten are labeled. Every child has their own personality and abilities. Some are ready at the age of 5 to begin their introduction to society, others take longer. And some meet friends that they will keep for the rest of their lives.  Each child needs to be evaluated on their own skill level but over-all, Kindergarten provides children with the chance to grow faster, learn more and the ability to blend in to society.

How to celebrate – If you have a child in Kindergarten, spend a little time volunteering there to help. Remember your days in Kindergarten, if you can remember that far back. If you have a child in Kindergarten make sure to take plenty of pictures , you will never have these days again.

November 8th National Stem/Steam Day

S.T.E.A.M. stands for educating children the fun in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. It has been created to try and help our children to catch up to the rest of the world in those fields after falling far behind the rest of the world over recent years. The idea is a good one, it certainly beats common core and any of the other ridiculous ideas our supposed leaders have come up with over all those years that our children fell behind.

It use to be (As recently as last year) S.T.E.M., someone forgot the arts. This is not an unusual situation as the arts, history and practical applications have been long forgotten by the educational system. (Please note that history is still not listed as a part of the agenda.) MGA Entertainment at least got the arts put back into the equation with Project Mc2. Of course, it’s promotion for their Netflix show about 4 smart girls, McKeyla, Adrienne, Bryden and Camryn, who are a part of a super spy ring organization called NOV8. (Also the name of the show which stands for Innovate.) I have to blame common core for the lack of understanding of NOV8 since instead of trying to read the statement for what it actually says you have to sound it out to make it work.

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Schools instantly picked up on STEAM as the symbol 212 degrees, the temperature that water turns into steam. Many school have begun using the train to indicate children getting on the right track. Cute.

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They do, however, fail to note the cars and industry that also runs on steam. That’s okay though since the system also forgets to teach other subjects as well. I have worked for a public school system and asked simple questions like… “Who was our Second President?” kids do not know. “Who fought in World War 2”, kids and adults do not know. “Where was the War of 1812 fought?” No one seems to know but they all claim it ended in 1812.

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Now the system is good about teaching kids how to build whatever it is in the above picture. It fails in telling them why “whatever it is” is useful. Now I am all for education and I think science, technology, engineering, the arts and math are important and I commend the educators for this attempt at getting children well rounded in those subjects.

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But some of us do believe that you have to know where you have been to know where you need to go. You can not pop into google maps where you want to go and get direction telling you how to get there if you don’t add in where you are first. How did we get here? What mistakes can we correct? And just how does 9 dollars and 12 cents equal $10.00? Try rounding up your money and see if you can buy that $1,000 television to watch NOV8 for $912.00.

How to celebrate – Watch NOV8 on Netflicks. It may not teach you anything but at least you’ll be supporting the producers of the show. Participate in your schools Steam program. Spend some time in a sauna and melt your cares away in some real steam!