Friday, September 08, 2006

Very old news

Although you surely did not see this story on your favorite news program 3 or 5 years ago, that's when this story was actually news. I happen to believe it's a pretty important detail that the American people probably should have known at least a few years ago, but you know how corporations work. No profit = no story. (Or if it's Fox: No lies = no story.)

Senate: Saddam saw al-Qaida as threat
By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Saddam Hussein regarded al-Qaida as a threat rather than a possible ally, a Senate report says, contradicting assertions President Bush has used to build support for the war in Iraq.

Released Friday, the report discloses for the first time an October 2005 CIA assessment that before the war, Saddam's government "did not have a relationship, harbor or turn a blind eye toward" al-Qaida operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his associates...

If this is news to you, find the rest of the story here.

We should be better than this

I just watched a short documentary on HBO about a handful of kids with Tourette Syndrome, and it just about breaks my heart. Not so much because the kids have to deal with the tics or the obsessive-compulsive nature of Tourette Syndrome, but because of how the people around them deal with it (or don't deal with it).

One thing almost all the kids in the documentary had in common is that they said their teachers have made school difficult for them. They didn't say it in a pissed-off kind of way; they said it in an accepting kind of way, as if they've been taught that it's just supposed to be that way. Well it's not supposed to be that way, and anyone who thinks it is supposed to be that way is sick in the head.

All the kids in this film were about 10 years old, give or take a couple years. One of the kids was a very accomplished pianist. He was shown playing some demanding classical piano pieces we all recognize from movies, TV shows, and commercials. Another one of the kids played clarinet and drums in the school band. Yet another kid was both an accomplished comic strip artist as well as a karate champion. But they all take shit from their teachers, year after year, simply because they're different than the other kids.

When the doc was over I had tears welling up in my eyes, for a host of reasons. It was partly happy tears because these kids are so unique, determined, and tough. They fight so hard to overcome their handicaps and they achieve so much; it really warms my heart. But mostly the brewing tears weren't happy tears. They were tears of empathy. They were tears of 'Why do these kids have to go through this?' They were tears of 'I know that feels, from experience, although in a slightly different way.'

I can't help but wonder: If spending half an hour with these kids on a TV makes me cry, how could their teachers possibly treat them as poorly as the kids imply?

One possible explanation is that the kids lied about their teachers. And sadly there are lots of people out there who would reach this conclusion. Even more saddening is the fact that there is a surplus of people who don't think it's wrong for teachers to be so cruel to the "undesirables."

A better explanation is that the American education system is in dangerously bad shape. This condition is not the result of inadequate funding or overcrowded schools; it's the result of an entire society's complacency and inability to think critically. We've all been told our entire lives to respect authority. We've all been told our entire lives that teaching is a noble profession. We've also been told our entire lives that Christopher Columbus was an American hero, even though he wasn't American and his own logs tell us he was a vicious rapist and killer of innocent people--a genocidal maniac!!!

When do you start recognizing bullshit for what it really is, people?

People in positions of authority are totally full of shit. That's how they got there. And American History textbooks are not educational tools; they're big business. Corporations (including textbook publishers) are required by law to make decisions based solely on the interests of their shareholders. Unfortunately, truthful accounts of American history don't sell as well as heroic, triumphant, fabricated accounts of American history. Consequently, American schools are filled with factually incorrect American History textbooks, taught as fact by "noble" teachers who don't know what the fuck they're talking about. The kicker is that you probably think I'm full of shit for saying this, solely because your stupid teachers never told you these FACTS.

By definition, there is no such thing as a noble profession. Truly noble individuals are not concerned with the perceived socioeconomic status of their vocation. Almost all teachers, however, are very concerned with the public's perception of their status, which is the only reason teaching is now considered a profession instead of a public service. That should scare the shit out of you, especially if you have kids.

I've said almost nothing on this blog (or anywhere else on the Aimless web site) about either my experiences in "teacher education" or my experiences dealing with a similar learning disorder, but I will probably say more about it soon because Attention Deficit Disorder makes me who I am. It's probably the reason I identify and empathize with the Tourette kids so much. ADD put me in a real dark place when I was in high school, mostly because my parents and teachers selfishly discarded me as if I was trash instead of recognizing any of my immense gifts. And "teacher education" made me realize that public servants like myself are not welcome in the teaching profession.

I have a lot more to say about this stuff and related stuff. Maybe I'll get to it sometime soon. Maybe not. Please comment on this entry as well as other entries, whether you totally agree with everything I say or you think I'm a totally full-of-shit asshole. (Please do not comment anonymously.)