Something’s wrong when children don’t have questions (but sometimes, I really wished they didn’t)

I wrote these lines before I became a high school teacher. Now I sometimes wish my students would stop asking questions. Take yesterday, for example:

Me: Today we’re going to start Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, which is–
Students: What’s a shrew?
Me: So glad you asked! Remember when we were discussing archetypes, and one of them was a shrew? Here’s a perfect example–
Students: I thought a shrew is a small mouse?
Me: It is! And what do you know about those small rodents?
Students: They’re mean.
Me: Yes! And that leads into–
Students: And they carry rabies, right?
Me: Uh, I’m not sure–
Students: If you get bit by a shrew with rabies, will you get rabies?
Other students: You get rabies from raccoon bites, right? We had a raccoon in our trash and that’s what my grandpa said.
Me: Yes, I’ve heard that about raccoons, but I’m not sure about shrews. I would assume that–
Students: So you die if you get rabies, right?
Other students: No, you can get shots in your stomach. That should cure you, right?
Yet other students: Mrs. Mercer, if this is a Shakespeare play, are people going to die from rabies in it? Or is that only raccoons?
Me (now not even sure what play we’re about to start reading, so I look back to what I wrote on the board: Taming of the Shrew): Look, let’s get back to Shakespeare–
Students: I can look up rabies and shrews on my phone. Can I get my phone to look it up?

Somewhere at this point I blacked out.

Ok, not really, just wishing I did. Somehow I got them back on track, but now I’m thinking about a version of Taming of the Shrew which is a tragedy where everyone dies of rabies.

children no questions

Get Book 2, Soldier at the Door, here.

What, really, is the point of power?

A wonderful university where I worked 15 years ago tried to instill the idea of Leader-Servant, that leaders serve those they lead, and no one makes a truly good leader who hasn’t been first a humble servant.

But we have it all backwards. There’s a battle in America now for who gets to be in charge and have the most servants (meaning, us). But America’s leaders are supposed to serve us; that detail has been ignored for some time now. (An interesting side note–historically, no republic has even lasted more than 200 years without a revolution; we’re now at 244 years. We’re overdue.)

Ppoint of power

(I personally hate having power or being in charge; it’s too much responsibility and I don’t want to disappoint anyone. Being #2 is far better–I’m a good helper, not a good leader. Ask anyone who’s had me in charge of something.)

Try to smile, even if it looks scary

After spending a wonderful but fast week with my children and grandchildren in Washington DC, and getting home late last night after driving through snow and ice, and taking down all of Christmas this morning, and trying to wrap my head around the idea of returning to school tomorrow (who thought a two-day week after Christmas would be a good idea?!), and realizing that I’m very far behind in grading, but still trying to plaster a hopeful smile on this weary, weary face, this quote seems quite appropriate to begin the new year:

strained smile

I’ll do my best to face my students tomorrow with a “naturally pleasant face,” but it’s gonna be tough. I just checked the weather, hoping for a sudden snow day, but alas–the weather gods are against me. It’s going to be partly cloudy and 36 degrees. Curse you, decent weather!!!

IMG_6131.JPG

But being with all of them again (even though two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and a granddaughter are missing) is totally worth it. I’m a wife, mom, and grandma first, and always.

Get Book 2, Soldier at the Door, here.

Because we all deserve to live

A person’s value has nothing to do with what they can provide for others. Each of us begin life already with immense value, brought from the spirit world where we first resided.

A newborn baby arrives with the potential to become an unstoppable force for good. An embryo still in utero is a unique genetic pattern, never before seen, never again to occur: precious beyond anything else on earth just because of that uniqueness.

And even if someone never achieves “greatness,” or “wealth,” or “success” in the eyes of the world, that soul is still of infinite worth to the Father of us all.

p you deserve to live

Get the prequel, The Walls in the Middle of Idumea here.

What do you do with the truth when it confronts you?

It’s fascinating to watch people suddenly clam up when they’re hit with the truth. What they do next is very telling. They’ll either dance in a frantic way to jig around what was said, or they’ll outright deny it with avoidance or accusations, or they’ll ponder in silence then thoughtfully say, “You may be on to something . . .”

I know I’ve done all three when hit with a truth I wasn’t expecting. Surprise makes us stumble. But I’ve always felt the most at peace when I consider that maybe I was wrong, and that maybe the other person is on to something.

pstop talking truth

Remember to get the newly-released short story, excerpted from Book 7: “Teeria Rigoff; Age, over 50.”

There’s even an audio component, too, if you want to listen to my dulcet tones put you to sleep for 40 minutes. Apparently my 10th graders love it when I read to them. They say it’s the best nap they get all day in school.

Short story pdf: CLICK HERE Teeria Rigoff–age, over 50

Audio book: CLICK HERE

Teeria Rigoff short story cover

Merry Christmas and have a NEW SHORT STORY! (And there’s a free AUDIO version!)

My Christmas gift to you: a new short story! “Teeria Rigoff; Age–over 50”.

Teeria Rigoff short story cover

This was actually a “deleted scene” from Book 7, The Soldier in the Middle of the World. I took it out because it wasn’t quite fitting the pace. But Teeria Rigoff is one of those minor characters you just really grow to love. She’s solid and reliable, and because of that, often doesn’t get the credit she deserves.

Well, I wanted Teeria to get her day. So I took the “deleted scene” and developed into a full short story which you can find only here.

But I tried something more: I read it out loud and recorded it, meaning you can LISTEN to me reading the whole story! (Still not sure if that’s a good thing or not.) Click here for the audio format.

Huge, huge thanks to the lovely Jason and Bethany Cousins of Numinous Band for editing and converting my audio file. (Really, I have no idea if any of that jargon is correct. All I know is that I sent them all of my hiccups and coughs, and they beautifully put it together with bits of music that makes me sound half-way competent.)

Many friends have said they don’t have time to read my books, but would listen. So I took a random scene from far into the series and turned that into audio. Not sure if that’s what you were expecting, but there you go. My students like it when I read out loud to them, but I think it’s because it puts them to sleep.

(I’m really not selling this well at all, am I? Good thing I’m just giving it away for free.)

So THANK YOU all for your support and emails and reading my books. Here’s what I can give back: A short story that I hope you’ll like, even if you are age 50 or older, like me.

Short story pdf: CLICK HERE Teeria Rigoff–age, over 50

Audio book: CLICK HERE

 

Is it the truth, or a poor assumption we’re desperate to cling to?

I’ve discovered that learning a “new truth,” which means that my “old truth” was actually a “poorly constructed assumption,” can be very unsettling.

However, when I ponder the “new truth” and realize the wisdom and growth that comes from it, I’m able to let go of the “poor assumptions” which I was so enamored with, and move on to a far more “stable, honest reality.”

Granted, judging what’s “assumption” and what’s “truth” is a struggle, but it’s the ultimate struggle of life. It’s the whole reason we’re here: will we accept the truth when we discover it?

Pnot ready for the truth

Get the prequel The Walls in the Middle of Idumea here!

Thank a mentor today–they probably don’t realize how they’ve inspired you!

Today I sent an email to my old AP Biology teacher, Doyle Norton, who I found again four years ago. I graduated from high school in the 1980s, but Mr. Norton has influenced me as a teacher, even now. He was creative, hilarious, yet so intent about us learning the content. I was thrilled to pass the AP Biology test! Four years ago I wrote him and told him how much he meant to me. He wrote back the greatest, most enthusiastic email–typical for Mr. Norton!

Today, as I started planning for my third year of teaching AP English in a few weeks, I thought of Doyle Norton again and sent him a follow-up email. I realized I’d never told him I was an AP teacher now, too, and I thanked him profusely for his teaching style which I try to emulate (even though biology and English aren’t exactly interchangeable). I’m awaiting his response (I sure hope he’s still kicking around–he’d be in his seventies) but it felt great to say, “I’m now getting to pretend to be you!”

PICT0007

Doyle Norton, circa 1986, on a biology trip to southern California

It’s an immense responsibility to share your vision of the world with the rising generation. That vision needs to be shared carefully, honestly, fairly, and beautifully. I’m still working on that, and will for the rest of my life.

Today with the Light the World initiative is the suggestion to thank a mentor for their influence. Try it. You’ll make everyone’s day–especially your own!

control world students see

Do you notice when you’re imprisoned?

I can think of too many situations where this is accurate, from politics to governments to societies: those who are “protecting” us are actually controlling us.

Anything that restricts your freedom, your ability to question, or your desire to think deeply is a potential prison.

Any society, government, or school of thought should be able to withstand scrutiny. In fact, it will welcome it as a way of evaluating weaknesses to turn them to strengths.
Where can we improve?
What’s not fully understood?
What have we misunderstood?
How do we rectify this error?

But groups that scream loudly for you to shut up, that won’t allow you to question premises, that suppress new ideas, that demand your conformity while claiming their diversity are hiding fundamental weaknesses they’re terrified someone will discover.

Escape, as fast as you can.

pimprisoned by those who claimed to love

Get the prequel The Walls in the Middle of Idumea here!