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An educated mind is an opened mind. An opened mind is a liberal mind. Teachers don't have to intend to create liberals, it happens naturally.

On the inside:

  • Teachable Moments
  • Links to other education-related stories.
  • As always, the topics will be whatever you want to discuss.

Door's Open...

Teachable Moments

It's the first Saturday of Spring Break here.  The great thing about Spring Break is that it comes with two weekends.  I'm pretty much fork-tender this morning, so there is an urge to just post the links and be done with it, but what with the site being dominated by Coulter and Libby this past week, education diaries were few and mostly disappeared pretty fast.

There is a teaching-related item that has arisen, however.  And I guess it is up to me to address it a bit more than as I have tried to do the last couple of days in the obscure corners of the comments to some diaries, corners so obscure that they are likely hidden from the majority of the DailyKos populace.

Some people have credited me with teaching them something about tolerance, fairness, and respect.  If I have done so through my efforts since I have been here, I am pleased.  That was my purpose when I changed from being a passive reader of to a participant in the community here at DailyKos.  I was completely aboveboard about that in my first diary.  Seven Recs and 9 comments.  I guess most people didn't read it.

I'm sure that I have annoyed the crap out of a lot of people, especially the diarists in whose comments the teaching I was trying to accomplish took place.  Sorry about that.  I do not control when and where the teachable moment is going to occur.  Discussions of gender-related topics was probably not on your mind when you posted the diary involved.  For the most part, the Coulter "jokes" were irrelevant as well.  They could have been ignored, but again, that's not why I came here.

I tried to teach in those teachable moments.  That takes patience.  It takes repetition.  It takes multiple approaches sometimes.  Tolerance, fairness, and respect are not easy to teach.  If it were easy, we'd be seeing more of it.  But the harder something is to teach, the more important it is to teacj it.  I've always believed that, especially when it comes to social interaction and cultural appreciation.

I didn't teach people by using the rod.  I wasn't out yelling at people and troll-rating their comments, not unless they became purposely abusive (yes, I am a Trusted User.  I have a never-ending supply of mojo that  is generated by my poems).  Some people may have thought they were being yelled at, but I was always willing to be quite patient with people, to try and try again.  Often I was not successful.  Ask boilerman10 about our long, protracted discussions.  Sometimes I convinced someone to stop the behavior.  It's a long hard road to change society by changing people one at a time.  But what else is a life for?

I've expressed my personal opinion about the current discussion of community standards that is now surrounding my efforts a few times in the past couple of days:

I would prefer that a poster...
...who is not someone who chronically engages in the behavior first be asked why they are doing so, then have it explained to them why it is hurtful.  If they continue (usually the defensive behavior illuminates worse issues the commenter has), that's maybe when TRing should be considered.

My personal viewpoint is that words should come first, unless what is said is just beyond acceptability.

It would actually be better if the commenter...

...were willing to discuss the comment.  Maybe some learning could take place.

I think what concerns me is that some of the people who get troll-rated are a little, shall we say, high-strung.  They view the TR as a personal affront rather than a statement about the comment.  It can sometimes take the better part of several hours to "talk them down" to a place where they can be reasoned with.  Not everyone has the time or patience to do that.

What I fear is that some will just harden in their feelings toward us.  I've seen some evidence of that in the past couple of days.  Comments like (paraphrased), "People will TR people for a Coulter joke but won't TR anti-Israel..." hint at this feeling.

I understand the desire to remove that which offends, to excise it from our midst.  I especially understand people who don't want gender discussions popping up which are irrelevant to their diary, wishing instead that people to focus on what they have written.  And I do not even wish to control anyone else's actions.

I understand the desire to protect newly-found friends.  I'm especially pleased to see so many other transgender people speak-up recently.  Many's the time I have been told that I was totally self-interested since I was the only one of us here.  People now know differently.

I understand the anger people feel when they they see disrespect directed towards people time after time.  But the way to eliminate the disrespect is to teach, not spank.

At least that's my opinion.

Oh, my God (or lack thereof), I've struck meta!  But then, all teaching is meta.

--Robyn Elaine Serven
--Bloomfield College, NJ

Education Round-up:  I've categorized.
Philosophy and PoliticsStories:  Ourselves and OthersFreedom on CampusNCLB/Department of Education/Standardized Testing/AssessmentMoneyAction, Advocacy and Information
I'll be hanging around most of the day, actively waiting for your comments (actually, I'll be working in another program, but I'm close by), so at least one person will be here to discuss whatever anyone wants to discuss.
The Not-so-many Rules
  • No general bashing of administrators, politicians, etc, just on general principles. If you want to bash them, have a point and a plan.
  • No bitching about students unless you're talking about what you are going to do to alleviate the problems you think the students have.
  • Introductions are encouraged, but not essential.
  • I have no investment in hosting the Teacher's Lounge. If someone else thinks they can and wants to do it better, cool.  I just want the space. And not for teachers only, but respecting the general theme of teaching and learning.
  • Teacher's Lounge can be "slow blogging" if you want it to be.  You don't get quality writing if you demand velocity.  It doesn't have to be the case that something posted today is dead by tomorrow. I would like it to eventually be up and active 24/7, but that may have to wait until I have developed an independent blog site.

Every Saturday I'll post a clean slate, between 10am and 12am EST.

Originally posted to Robyn's Perch on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:06 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A little late: (25+ / 0-)

    I had a closing li without opening one.

    Unless something drastic happens, like writer's block, I will be posting a diary about human trafficking tomorrow, probably under the title MARCH Against Modern Day Slavery.  I'm not sure what time would be best.  I usually don't publish on Sundays.  Any suggestions?

    Ding me for the colors if you wish.  My eyes have been getting worse.  I see the specialist on Monday.

    Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

    by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:04:22 AM PST

  •  Nice work, Robyn. (7+ / 0-)

    I think the colors are cool.

    •  There is a probably a bit... (4+ / 0-)

      ...too much contrast in the first one.  I was going to adjust that, but had to chase down that other error symbol by symbol.  I use li a lot!

      Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

      by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:11:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The colors made the content easier to organize (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rserven, ilyana, Pandoras Box

        while reading, I think.

        I thought you were using your diary as another teachable moment!  I read somewhere that changing the text color and/or background color sometimes helps students with disabilities focus.  We use strips and pages of colored tranparencies in our reading groups at school.    

      •  No, the first one is good. (8+ / 0-)

        It's the orange-on-turquoise that really gives my eyes fits!

        Now back to the matter at hand... I wanted to tell you, on reading this, how much I've appreciated your being willing to basically go on trying to teach the same thing, over and over, to multiple people.  "Annoying" to some or not, self-interested or not, this is a task which many would simply not be willing to take on.  You know what I mean-- when people reach the breaking point of their patience and say, "why should I have the responsibility to take up my valuable time educating you?"

        That's a perfectly reasonable position in most cases, and I respect it.  But on the other hand, who is going to do the educating?  So I recognize that what you've been doing is work, and valuable work, and not something anyone has a right to take for granted.

        It has always amazed me how the "conventional wisdom" and conventions of behavior on Daily Kos shift so quickly-- one day, one extreme is the norm,  and then one diary or decree by a front-pager or even comment can suddenly make the opposite extreme normative.  The Buffy thing was a good example.  It's a little creepy, really, as it highlights the degree of thinking-as-a-herd that goes on here; but, on the other hand, it gives any minority voice/opinion hope that tomorrow it will suddenly, unexpectedly, find itself in the majority.

        This seems to be one of those cases-- one day, objecting to Mann Coulter jokes was considered humorless and prissy, the next (literally), those jokes were being consistently troll-rated to high heaven.  As I said, that sheep-y phenomenon is a little disturbing, but in this case (and in almost every case, really) I think the CW ended up in the right place.  And you bear a lot of the credit for that (as does... was it wiscmass?)  So, thanks.

        •  Damn... (5+ / 0-)

          ...I forgot!  I've already visited all of those links, so the color is different!  What an idiot I can be sometimes.

          Yes, wiscmass and ChurchofBruce both wrote good diaries last weekend.  I was pretty near the breaking point myself.

          Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

          by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:40:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh, yes, I visited a link (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rserven, Pandoras Box

            just so I could see the color difference... :)  That is better.

          •  Now see (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rserven, Pandoras Box

            my eyes like the orange on blue best--I find that really easy to read, and very relaxing. Actually, that background color is just one that makes me happy. :)

            In my opinion, the problem with troll rating the offensive comments is that it prevents the wider community from learning why the comment IS offensive. That's part of the beauty of the teachable moment--in addressing one person, you reach many many more. And that's why you have to seize the teachable moment, because there are others out there, beyond the commenter, who will read and reflect on what you wrote, and learn from it.

            •  I am always aware that what is written here... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sberel, condoleaser, DSPS owl, Zoskie

              ...is written for the many, not the few.  I used to be one of those many out there only reading.  

              That's one of the reasons I'm sometimes appalled by people who can't see that.  They seem to think they are in a private instant message or email context.

              I wonder to myself, "Would you say that on television?  Because you are on my television, in my living room."

              Robyn turns and faces the monitors of the masses and smiles.

              Robyn

              Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

              by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 10:02:07 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I've got to visit Kos more on Saturday mornings! (12+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the third diary to make my day rserven!  Just got a permanent position teaching third grade on Thursday, hurray!  I'm glad I'm already in a community rich with so many to learn from.  Is this round up here every Saturday a.m.?  I should probably know this, but myt visits to Kos have been less than regular.    

  •  My regular diary (4+ / 0-)

    "What have you got to learn? (or teach)" will go up tomorrow.  I am about to post a diary for the dailyKos Book Club

    Statistical consultant - homepage on my user page

    by plf515 on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:24:53 AM PST

    •  I removed the special place in my code... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pandoras Box

      ...reserved for your link for this time.  It was not the cause of the failure to publish, :-)  The cause was the LA Elections piece I decided to add at the last second.  I should have looked there first, but sometimes I'm mentally sluggish.

      Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

      by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:28:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i like the spanking analogy (9+ / 0-)

    that's good

    and let me throw my voice into the ring as one you've taught --- i honestly had no conception of transgender and similar issues before you began posting about them. same with tvb. i remember reading one of her first diaries, and i honestly couldn't figure out what she was talking about.

    so it's beeen like opening a gateway into a part of the world which was always here, but which i simply didn't recognize - much like it would be for someone with colorblindedness who could suddenly see GREEN! it was there all along, but they just couldn't see it.

    as for troll-rating, if something's esp. egregious i'll troll rate. i also tend to be quite jaded about continual "abusers" of a sort, especially if they blame everyone else but themselves or claim the problem is someone else's etc on and on.

    that's like serial plagiarism to me. once? eh, okay - maybe they know, maybe not. twice? looking pretty suspicious. but three times, and they're out. esp. if they claim they didn't do it a third time.

    in short, a part of life is learning.

    and i am now off to learn more about gardening (am preparing to move six months' worth of compost to the bottom of a huge raised bed --- atop some cut up cardboard boxes and a bit of peat, of course.) ::oooh, looking forward to happy happy tomatoes::

    No, I'm more liberal than you!

    by cookiebear on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:25:38 AM PST

  •  FWIW (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, rserven, Pandoras Box
    I'm reduced to viewing kos on my phone on weekends, and your diary appears only as a big black box to me, with the only visible words being "my first dairy"...a link?
    •  I shall try to fix. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      condoleaser, Pandoras Box

      My eyes are giving out.

      Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

      by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:45:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I switched back to what I usually have. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      condoleaser, Pandoras Box

      I had to use the other while I was working on it.

      Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

      by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:53:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yowzah (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sobermom, sberel, JanL, rserven, Dion
        that works just fine, now, thanks!
        your diary is what I hoped for/expected when I saw the title.
        I'm one of the people who was helped here, by you. I was able to "get it" right away. I did feel a moment of personal criticism, embarrassment, resentment, etc. when you responded to my first trans-slur...but being un homme d'un certain age, and having some sense of self, and a little just-plain-sense, I was able to realize what you were saying, and that it was about my comment, not about me.
        I've taken on the responsibility to help in this struggle here, to help ease your load, because it's right and because personal freedom related to gender and sexuality has always been the North to my personal compass, for some reason.
        What's not so easy is displaying the same patience as do you - but I'm working on it.
        So, Robyn, thanks once again, for everything, and good thoughts are winging toward Debbie and you!
  •  As one who has also learned "at your knee" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, sberel, rserven, condoleaser

    so to speak, I know it must have been a very tough week for you, Robyn.  I liked cookiebear's comment about having eyes opened upon a world which was always there, but simply had not been viewed before.

    And, I still thank you for the patience and humor you showed me then. :)

    Sorry about your eye problems.  Have a few myself - detached vitreous humor (so a zillion floaters) in both eyes and a retinal tear years ago (fixed by laser eye surgery but made me forever sensitive to bright lights).  Is there a treatment available for your problem...I hope?

    You don't know the REAL Homer! It's all burping and neglect! -- Bart Simpson

    by Pandoras Box on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:51:38 AM PST

    •  I had cataracts in both eyes. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, Pandoras Box

      I had an artificial lens implanted in my left eye (the worst) in the late 90s.  In 2001 I suffered a detached retina in that eye (not uncommon for people who have artificial lenses implanted, I have since learned).  It was severe enough that it could not be totally repaired (requiring a buckle be placed around that eye). There is a warp in the retina, so I have to have very complicated glasses made to tilt what I see so that horizontal in my brain corresponds to horizontal in what is real.  And I have a bit of double vision.  Binary focus helps me function.  Except we must remember that I still have a cataract in that eye.  It's getting dim through that and their are floaters.

      Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

      by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 10:10:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank the goddess for (0+ / 0-)

    <DIV style="color:rgb(0,255,0)">Spring Break</DIV>.

    "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

    by JPete on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 09:58:49 AM PST

  •  Dear Teacher: Thank you for your lesson. (3+ / 0-)

    I admit I have taken pleasure in "Man Coulter" jokes.
    I admit I did not see how there could be a problem.
    I note I have learned something from you.
    I participate now (I admit it is only recently) when I see the moment to do so.

    Teachers' Lounge Saturdays Feminisms Wednesdays Kossacks Under 35 Thursdays Luke 11:33

    by algebrateacher on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 10:23:46 AM PST

    •  You are welcome... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, cfk

      ...and thanked as well.  As in all lessons, however, there is a wider application beyond transfolk.  In the poem below, no particular group is identified:

      Art Link
      Satin
      My Label is not a Slur

      My label is not a slur
      My label does not mean
      repulsive or obscene
      should not induce
      revulsion or hatred
      I am not subhuman
      Different, yes,
      but not less than you
      I am not "really" anything
      except a human being
      There are more of you
      so we live in your world
      rather than one
      of our own choosing
      Do we threaten you?
      Do you fear us?
      How did we earn
      the ridicule?
      How did we earn
      the hatred?
      How did we earn
      your silence?

      --Robyn Elaine Serven
      --January 31, 2006

      Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

      by rserven on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 10:46:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like that. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cfk, algebrateacher, rserven

        My 'other' major online community is fellow sufferers of circadian rhythm disorders.  Now, please nobody flame me and say that our problems are minor by comparison.  They may well be, but they define us, especially before we understand what the problem is.  We're lazy, we're inconsiderate, we're misdiagnosed with ADD and ADHD and mental problems, even narcolepsy etc. etc.  We are sleep deprived and we are never good enough.

        The online community is a god(ess)send!  For some almost literally a life saver.  

        I am not subhuman
        Different, yes,
        but not less than you
        I am not "really" anything
        except a human being
        There are more of you
        so we live in your world
        rather than one
        of our own choosing

        The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

        by DSPS owl on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 01:09:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Troll Rating Gangbangers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sobermom, rserven, LynneK

    I too have been bothered by the way some obviously lost souls have been beaten down with TRs.  They start flailing around, and it's obvious they're sinking and don't know how to recoup.

    The sort of intervention you discuss is difficult, but it may very well rescue someone who went over a line and is trying to come back.

    But there are gangs of TRers out there who will call in their fellow hyenas to rip them to shreds.  That's totally barbaric, and shows the kind of "people" they really are.  Try to tell them that, and you risk getting a TR gangbang yourself.

    It's going out on a limb, but I've been known to pop a recommend when I see that happening.  Not that I approve of the foolish poster, but to dilute the effects of the gangbangers.

    Of course, there are many malevolent trolls who deserve to be TRed into obscurity.  But not gangbanged.

    Abigail, I'm sure if there is something out there, looking down on us from somewhere else in the Universe, they're wise enough to stay away from us. --Grissom

    by world traveler on Sat Mar 10, 2007 at 10:48:41 AM PST

  •  liked this a lot... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rserven

    ...and sorry to have missed the rec/uprate period, it's been one o'those weekends.  My phone doesn't do my hotlist well and this is the first time back online with a real puter in a short bit.

    I never know whether to intervene in a teachable moment or not...I never want to forget that it's important to be somewhat visible, but it's also exhausting and feels -- rightly or wrongly -- marginalizing.  I think you've been on for some time now and have a very good reputation here -- so there is a body of work people reference in addition to the word "transsexual" and it gives human context, the same way that outing oneself in person does.  Part of a teachable moment is that you say something...and part is that they can look at your diary history, credibility built over time.

    And I was really, really shocked by one of the discussions the other day (you were there) -- sufficiently taken aback to avoid the site except for short logons since, and driven to pick my next diary topic of great interest to me, but as far from anything trans as I could think of :}  Intervening to teach is my first response too, but being someone's dancing freak while they spout bigotry is really, really hard -- and they can't see my smile, or my face, or the way I listen carefully to them -- so even when I manage to meet halfway, or provide new information to someone, the human give and take that addresses real bigotry is very hard to reach.  But...it is there, often.  

    Anyway sorry to go on.  This diary made me smile though and since I can't rec at this point you get babble instead :}

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