Posts Tagged ‘education’

As the school year is coming to a rapid end, those of us who work in schools tend to become reflective about the year that has past. We wonder if we taught everything that the students needed to learn. We wonder if the students learned everything that they will need to succeed.

Earlier this past week I was speaking with a young man who is graduating from high school. I have never been assigned to work with him, I have never assisted him in a classroom setting, in no way have I ever been responsible for any part of his education. In spite of the fact that there is no direct connection to him, I have gotten to know him a bit by saying hi and connecting in the hallways.

This young man has not been successful in an academic sense. He was not a ‘good’ student. I would guess that he did not have the best handwriting in elementary school, the best understanding of algebra in middle school, or the best essay writing skills in high school.

From what I have learned, over the years, from talking to him, from watching him, and from hearing about him from others, I believe he will be immensely successful in life … and it has little to do with schooling.

This young man is kind … I have seen how he treats others.

This young man is hard working … I have seen his acts of service in the school.

This young man is responsible … when asked to do a task, he shows up, and does it.

This young man is humble … he does not do things for praise.

He is the young man who will grow up contributing to society.

He is the young man who will grow up caring for his parents.

He is the young man who will grow up supporting and loving his family.

He is the young man who you would want for a neighbor.

He is the young man who knows that he has nothing in this life without working hard, being responsible and being faithful to his commitments.

He is the successful result of parents who loved him and who modeled a life well lived. His success is the result of having the benefit of being able to participate in a program at school that allowed him to earn a portion of his credits by doing the manual labor he so loves (and is probably amazing at). He is the successful result of an inner strength of character that kept him going to school, just because it is a hoop we all need to do to be part of our society.

I wish I had had the opportunity to work with this model young man … I bet he could have taught me something!

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This one has been coming for a long time … a rant about traffic controllers (aka ‘flaggers’) …

Before I rant, let me just say that I do respect the individuals, and the dangerous work that they perform on a daily basis, with little thanks and far too many close calls.

So, there is a bit of roadwork being done in my area of the woods, and the place is crawling (well, the cars are crawling … slowly) with people dressed as aliens from some 1980’s neon world. Their attire is very eye catching, in shades of neon yellow and green, and safety vests in a shade of red that is so bright, it could be identified as orange, with a reflective ‘X’ in the middle.

I remember  w  a  y  back when I was a kid, and all that distinguished them was a yellow hard hat on their head and a stop sign in their hand (and often a cigarette in the other hand … and, come to think of it, short shorts, and a shirt tied up much higher than their waist … kind of Daisy Duke style … ).

As I have been driving this road construction route, and others over the past few years, I always seem to end up pondering the same question, ‘what the heck is taught to these poor people in traffic control courses?’

When I was a new, teenage driver, I do not ever remember being confused when directed by the person holding the stop sign. The worker was usually a homemaker, looking to make a few bucks while the kids were in school, or a teenager who was smart enough to realize that there was much better money, and a better summer tan, in directing traffic, than working at a fast food establishment.

There were no courses to successfully complete, and be given certification, before being allowed to hold the stop sign. You just had to be available, and (literally) street smart.

Today there are traffic control certification programs. They include in class as well as practical training, and a final exam.

I am afraid that whoever established these courses forgot to educate the drivers on what form of sign language they are trying to communicate with.

I just cannot tell, when a flagger hold their ‘slow’ sigh up and kind of keeps pumping it up continually, if they just want to be seen, or they want me to drive slow, but not as slow as I am going.

Then there are the hand motions … was that a motion forward, or a motion to stop?

And when they are in the middle of an intersection it would seem very clear that not one of any four drivers understands what the flagger is, non verbally, trying to communicate, because all four are constantly looking from the flagger to each of the other four drivers to try to figure out what to do.

I remember a particular time when I was driving along with my kids on a country road, and we came to a lone flagger. He was holding a stop sign and pumping it up to the sky, so I figured he thought I was not going to stop, so I stopped immediately. He then pumped it higher and harder, with an angry frown on his face. As a people pleasing person (I love alliteration) I knew I had blown it, so I started to motion forward again. Then he yelled and pushed his stop sign towards my vehicle. I knew I had done wrong, so I halted immediately … and felt the frustration rise in my face. Finally Mr. Flagger seemed to be motioning me forward. I was nervous, and did my own hand signal to ensure that my moving forward was not going to cause him duress, he nodded affirmation. Since my natural (and chemically enhanced) hair color is blond, I decided to pause when I got to him. I rolled the window down, and apologized profusely for my negligence. I wanted to ensure that I said it all in my sugary sweetest voice possible. He seemed to be empowered by my humility. Then I rolled my window up, and slowly, cautiously, moved forward … then my kids heard a word they do not often hear from their mother’s mouth. GRRR!

Personally, I think that since ‘flagger’ schools have opened, their ability to communicate effectively has deteriorated immensely.

Glad I got that off my chest!


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