Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Minorities in the U.S.

We, at Social Ironies, are not too keen on affirmative action. We feel that while it helps short term, it does long term damage by creating artificial environments, situations and opportunities. This, in our opinion, hinders on the ability of an individual to later on function properly or successfully once the artificial factors are removed. We also believe, that stating this is not enough and stating this does not clear us from our social resposibility to help minority groups to achieve their potentials as sub-groups and of each member as individuals. Finally, we at social ironies are a multicolored/multi-cultured group of people who have been rightfully or wrongfully assimilated by a variety of means (birth and upbringing mostly) to the American society. That is to say that while the text below could be misconstrued as being written from a majority perspective, the description of the authors as part of the majority is actually incorrect.

Social Ironies advocates social awareness and social action. Here are some requirements that will help us help all people better.

1. Research
The best way to help a sub-culture achieve full potential is very similar to the best way to getting your children to brush their teeth. See, your children think differently, they place value on different things and so explaining to them all about teeth falling out will not work. Now, we are not talking about dumbing down matters, see your children do not buy the "falling out" explanation not because they are less capable, but because they are smarter and know that the teeth you want them to brush will fall out anyway by the time they are 7. On the other hand, if you pay close attention to your children and truly understand how they think and how they decide how to place value on the different activities of their life you would quickly come up with better solutions: you can only eat candy if you brush afterward, your teeth look whiter when you remove the kool-aid from them by brushing etc.

It is very similar with sub-cultures. A sub-culture that places emphasis in the family (such as the Indian sub-culture) is better reached through family and family values. A sub-culture that places emphasis in making enough money to help themselves and those they left behind (such as some subsets of immigrants) as is best reached through education in better ways to invest or make money. And so on.

2. Connecting
It is very easy for politicians (white and blue and neon green collared alike) to say they are going to change the world for this group or that group. Some even truly mean to make a change. However, a person must connect with the group they want to help if they truly want to trigger change if they want to lead by example. Otherwise, all is missed as people admire them as an unreachable objective rather than listen to what they have to say.

One example of this can be seen with Hispanic immigrants. Here, at Social Ironies, we truly believe that to truly live the American Dream which is nothing but truly achieving the point in life where one is able to choose the direction life takes requires that one achieve dominion over the English language. But much in the same way, if people in the government are truly concerned about the fate of this fast growing (the largest even) minority in the US, the government needs to connect to this minority in their language. Now, language is not limitted to English vs. Spanish vs. French. Language also means cultural language and it does not stop there.

When we connect with someone, it is more than communicating with that person, it is also about understanding that person, understanding their goals, realizing how we can help and most importantly having the desire to do so. We, as a nation, have taken some seemingly good steps toward this in the U.S. by having bi-lingual signs, interpreters at hospitals, etc. However, if one truly connected to this group, one would quickly realize that helping them understand us and our culture is the best way to help them achieve their American Dream. This is much harder and has no surefire formula we can follow, this requires community and services and willingness from the masses but can truly be started from those in power.

3. Leading and Empowering
Once understanding of the minority groups/sub-cultures is achieved, once those in charge and those who have realized the need for action have learned to connect with these groups by speaking their cultural language, realizing their needs and acquiring a desire for change, then we all have both the responsibility and the duty to lead them and empower them so they too can achieve their goals and so they too can later lead others.

By leading, one is able to show another how to walk, where to walk and which paths are best. By empowering others, they are given the tools (physical and mental) to walk on their own and eventually become leaders of others within or outside their own sub-culture. It is only when we all are able to lead and empower others (red, yellow, black or white) and only when we are selfless enough to find the time and the means to do so that we have truly changed their lives, that we have truly blurred color lines and when we can start looking like one nation under God, indivisible.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why are there so many lacking teachers?

This is a question which has haunted me for a long time. I have always enjoyed my teachers. I have also enjoyed teaching at College level and otherwise mentoring the younger generation. I had the priviledge to study in the private system (no funding issues) growing up with teachers who were mostly motivated and interested in making an investment in my life.While I would be presumptious to say I know all the answers, here is what I have come up with in pondering this question:It all comes down to motivation, vocation and demand.

We live in a capitalist nation. In a capitalist nation you are better off if you have more money. It then follows that is is less easy to live on less money. Teachers are traditionally underpaid. The result is that the nation's value of money conflict with the nation's value of education. In the end, most people feel a lot of pressure to make the best living they can with what they have (this living is not always tied to money, some frown upon the profession due to bureaucracy, red tape, lack of school funding). This makes it less likely that a person who works hard or is really smart will choose a profession where they would have a hard time financially, emotionally, be abused by parents and un-supported by their supervisrs. This is to say, there is little in the form of social motivation to become a teacher. Unless you have...

Everyone has a vocation. Some don't find out until later in life, and some turn their backs on it in favor of other "social valuables" such as money, positions, living means, etc. So why is it that not all teachers are lacking even if the motivation is not there? Those teachers who are excellent, go the extra mile and invest in their students life have a vocation. There is more than one vocation that is present in those really good teachers and substitutes or drowns the lack of motivation. Namely: vocation to work with kids/tweens/teenagers, vocation to help make a better world, vocation to help the needy, vocation to work their best at whatever they do, among others. When vocation is present, you can tell, the kids can tell and the parents can tell. The result of vocation is that it makes up for the lack of socially available motivators that would drive one to an underappreciated profession. So, if there is little motivation and the bad teachers have no vocation, why do they teach?...

This is not what you expect. Yes, there is demand on the part of the Department of Education. This plays a part in that often times this entity is in a position where they cannot be as "choosy" with their teachers because, after all, they have to teach all available students. There is, however, also the family demands that drives one to take a job that one does not desire just so that one can earn a living and be able to be home when the kids are out of school. Then there is a demand for money, this is the one that drives you when you are vocationless but also jobless and hopeless into this lose-lose situation. There is demand for jobs and there is demand for teachers, the two meet and most times create an explosion. Other times however, the result of this meeting, under the right conditions and right nurturing, a good teacher is born from what seemed to be hopeless.

Points of action:

1. As a society we need to align our value in education with our value in money and give those who give their lives in this profession a fair chance to run the rat race.

2. As a parent, cut your kid's teachers some slack. While they are tending to your PTA needs, they are unable to tend to their own.

3. As a government, let's distribute the funds properly or privatize the system and give each school a true opportunity to drive each student to be their best.

4. As a civilian, volunteer. Maybe your vocation is not in teaching but you do a good job painting, paint that graffitti over. Are you a good cook with culinary school dreams? Volunteer cooking at the cafeteria. Do you dream of a big name non-profit agency? How about one for teacher benefits? Do you have mad computer skills? Volunteer to teach a couple of computer sessions for parents, teachers or kids. Are you a student? Teach for America would look great on your resume. Are you an inmigrant (legal or illegal)? Volunteer to teach your language to others. Do you play an instrument? Want to play it for kindergardeners or want to teach some kids to play? Don't want anything to do with kids with your busy life? Donate some books to your local or school library, donate clothes, tickets, computers, musical instruments, anything you have too much of, chances are that some great teacher out there can use it well.We can all benefit from a good system, but we all have to help. It is not just the governments problem or society as a whole, but don't just blame the teacher. Even bad ones, without motivation or vocation (hey, they might have been collateral from this situation) are to be respected because they are doing the work others are not and they hold the future in their hands.