Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Keeping the lines of communication open

So many things going on. Where to start?

First of all, I must set the record straight. Yes, my coworker met a hot-looking guy last Friday. Things did not end well though. Apparently while I was off flitting around the place being a social butterfly, they got into a discussion about religion. A heated discussion. In which they were almost screaming at each other. For an hour. People, how many times must I tell you? Never discuss politics or religion if you are trying to flirt. It always spells disaster.

Yesterday I got a day away from the kids. I went to a seminar on teaching math. Yes, a day away from the kids without using a sick day. It seemed kind of weird to read Neil's post yesterday in which he mentioned statements made about women and scientific and mathematical abilities. I will concede that men are generally naturally better spatial thinkers than women. It doesn't mean that women can't learn though. This past week the kids and I have been reading a story from their anthology. One of the focus questions for the story is whether one needs natural ability to be successful in something. (Have I mentioned how much I love y'all because the universe just seems to fold continually back upon itself? The older I get, the more I think that Jung may have been onto something.) By the end of the story, the majority of the kids thought that this wasn't the case; all one needs is to practice and to work hard.

In the morning of the seminar, we were given a problem. After half an hour of work, many of us did not have an answer. And that was frustrating. It gave us insight into how our kids feel. It also made us stop and think about how we always need an answer. Then I sat down and watched the latest episode of House. This guy was admitted with a mystery illness -- as is always the case on the show. He just wanted the doctors to let him die. The doctors wanted to keep running tests because they were sure they could treat him. They finally got their answer and found that the guy was terminal. So much for answers.

What I got out of the training was that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. It's not about the kids finding an answer. (All answers all valid.) It's all about the process. And verbalizing the process. And hearing how other people's minds work. A couple of folks in my group said that they remembered a mathematical function that included an exclamation point. I quickly exclaimed, "Factorials!" and then said that this would not apply to this situation as we were dealing with a series instead of a permutation or a combination. It was like I was speaking in tongues. Then there was much discussion on our own math instruction. I happen to love math but then I love all things logical. Many folks took different approaches. When I heard theirs, I realized that if I had started off at the same point at which they did, I would have reached an answer. So next time I might be willing to take another approach.

We did one of these kind of exercises with my kids on Monday. One student did not get the right answer but after listening to her explanation, I quickly realized that she had been on the right track. Luckily they have been going through these kind of exercises for years so they are not reluctant to share their thought processes with everyone else. That's a huge thing. Having an environment in which you feel comfortable in going out on a limb.

And me? Sometimes I like to throw stuff out there because I want to hear what others have to say. Yeah, I'm an instigator. (Excuse me while I sing Prodigy's "Firestarter" to myself for a bit.) I don't exist in a bubble. I also know that I am always changing because of my interactions with others. Sorry, but this is the kind of thing that really excites me.

And to end this philosophical rant, I'd just like to say that I had previously thought that the universe had sent me the Chef as an answer to the whole dating thing. I'm starting to think otherwise. Perhaps it was to show me that I was open to the idea. I would like to think that I always was but after looking back over the last few months and recognizing the bitchiness I was doling out, I know this was not the truth. So I have a date on Friday -- with the Drummer. Because he called last night. Just like he said he would. And I was pleasantly surprised.

Oh, and the Oakland Arts Clash event that I previously mentioned (You know. The one at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, formerly the Alice Arts Center.) is being held on Friday, October 6. Not that Saturday as I previously stated. Besides being a benefit for youth arts programs, the event will also feature a two buck Chuck and PBR bar. How can you go wrong with that?

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