Friday, November 28, 2014

Home Is Where the Heart Is (Picking up the Pieces Contest)

First a back story. My friend Envy at Picking up the Pieces is hosting a contest for her blog's anniversary which goes to show she's a way better blog parent than me considering my two year anniversary passed five days ago without a simple post (more on that later). Anyhow, I'm entering the contest on the final day entries are being taken because I'm slow and procrastinate-y like that (can procrastinate become an adjective or no?). But before I ramble any longer, let's begin. (You can find the project entry rules here.)


The town I live in is an odd sort of place. 

It's a conundrum really, everyone can't wait to get out, yet it seems like few ever leave. We (as its teenage inhabitants) are all a little ashamed of where we live, yet are strangely and equally proud of this little place we grew up in.

My high school is squeezed between a cow pasture and a pool chemical plant with a strip club a quarter of the mile down the road (I can't even joke about these things). We tell people that if they no longer smell the cow shit they've gone too far. 

People in my hometown have been living here for generations. We like to say that people don't just move here, they're born here (and good luck getting out). Everyone is conservative as hell and words like abortion and gay marriage are enough to send them fleeing to the nearest baptist church (which we have plenty of). Not to mention, racism trails more people's thoughts than it should. (Fun fact: my high school was one of the very last high schools in the nation to desegregate.) 

I assume that one day these things will make a hell of a good memoir, but right now I'm living them. 

Every day I breathe in the farm animals and racism and right wing views that inhabit my home town, yet I can't help but laugh at what I witness and experience and live day in and day out. I think about how some day I'll miss these things—all these things that drive me insane and push me miles and miles away.

It's strange to think that some day this won't be my home. It's strange to think that some day all these dreams I have will become a reality and my home will be a place that I create all myself. It's strange to think that some day I'll be watching the sun set from a different backyard in a completely and utterly different place.

And despite the differences me and my town have, it will strangely always be my home.

Have a fabulous day.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why Kids Hate Reading (Or at Least My Theory)

Somehow I landed the jackpot of English teachers this semester. He's one of the best I've ever had, although I must say he doesn't have much competition (my most previous English teacher once took eleven weeks to grade the speeches she assigned). Nevertheless, this guy gives me a lot to think about during the day, and his ideas and teaching methods suit me well.

About three days into the semester he began going over the assigned reading we'd be receiving during the semester. It's a well known fact that once you enter high school you read classics until there's no tomorrow. The Count of Monte Cristo, Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, etc, etc. By no means is anything wrong with this—classics should be continually read and enjoyed—the problem is that the latter never happens.

To be blunt, 90% of kids in high school do not read for fun. Ever. A majority of the time when a person carries a book around, it was spurred by a relentless English teacher who—heaven forbid—is forcing them to read a book.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what ignites the hate that kids have for reading. It's not that they've always disliked reading. Kids in elementary school often read like it's their job. They willingly pick out books from the library and they don't need teachers on their backs forcing them to get through the book.

That then begs the question. What transforms kids into hating reading?

I have come to the (unscientific) conclusion that required reading creates a hate for reading.

No one likes to be required to do anything, no matter how much they like it. And at first the required reading is okay. In my latter years of elementary school and all of my middle school years, you could essentially read whatever you wanted as long as you were reading. In middle school you had to read 40 books every year. Although you had to read a certain number of books under each criteria (10 nonfiction, 5 classics, 20 fiction, etc.), you had a lot of leeway of what you did and didn't read.

But then required took on a whole new meaning. You had to read this book and only this book. Writing style didn't suit you? Too bad. It was a romance novel and you loathe anything and everything about relationships? Doesn't matter. Not a fan of the author? Suck it up. Not to mention most of the required reading is classics that were written in a language that is your own and yet seems like an entirely different tongue most of the time.

The cycle of forced reading of dull books presents a disdain for reading among students. They develop the sense that all books are boring and a waste of their time.

Back to my current English teacher. We're reading Ender's Game, which is not a classic by any means. It's a fairly recent book and written under the genre of science fiction, and honestly it's one of the first books I've been required to read that wasn't written a century ago. It's astounding at how well my peers have accepted the new notion of being required to read an actual interesting and intriguing book (although people are still complaining as all teenagers do, but the amount of people is far less than usual).

But I'm interested in what everyone else thinks. A small part of me doubts my "required reading creates a hate for reading" theory. If kids love to read up until they're required to do it, then why do we even have a need for required reading? If we completely bypass the method of forcing kids to read, then will they still continue to read?

Then I began to wonder though, if we don't force kids to read the classics, will they still continue to read them on their own? But then again—like I mentioned before—classics should be both read and enjoyed. So do we gain anything by forcing kids to read classics if they don't enjoy them?

Just a little thought for everyone during their weekend.

Have a fabulous day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One Lovely Blog Award

I was nominated by Envy @ Picking Up the Pieces for the One Lovely Blog Award FIVEVER AGO (fivever is like forever except longer and a lot trendier—okay, okay I'll stop with the slang here sorry). The rules and what not are simple and short. No millions of questions to answer and a million more questions to write. It's my kind of blog award if we're being honest here. The rules are as follows.

1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Add 7 facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers.
5. Follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven Facts:

1. I'm a really shitty writer (or a writer who is really shitty when it comes to finding time to write I should say). I sat down and worked on my novel for the first time in a month and half yesterday. I keep hearing this buzz about NaNoWriMo which is taking place this month, and I had full intentions of joining in on the fun, but alas the time is not there for me to do so.

2. Also I haven't posted anything in weeks. I'm just going with a generic "weeks" because I'm too scared to actually look back at the last date I posted something. I'm really behind on my Summer Book and Movie reviews because I simply keep forgetting to post them. I have most of them already written they just need to be proofread and published, but ironically I can't even find the time for that.

3. I was doing really good at this whole writing a post thing until I turned sideways to find my cat licking some random picture I have thrown on the ground. I guess I should start cleaning up. Or maybe my cat should stop licking inanimate objects.

4. I have a junior research paper due in the very near future that's constantly haunting me every waking moment because of my lack of headway in the paper writing department so far. My topic is the inequality of the working woman and I've already had a smart ass comment from another guy about the nonexistence of the discrimination and sexual harassment women face in the workplace. His exact words were, "Look around at all these female teachers who get to work with other male teachers. It's obvious we're kind of over the whole discriminating women thing." 

5. My life is slowly filling up with SAT dates and college induced anxiety. I still have another year to sort things out, but I can slowly feel scholarship deadlines and application essays creeping up on me. Junior year is hell and I never believed anyone who told me that it was going to be the hardest year of my high school career. It's weird to think that some day this time will pass and I'll laugh at myself for all my anxiety over calculus tests and whether I'm correctly using MLA format.

6. I'm DYING to read Amy Poehler's new book, Yes Please, but alas I am poor, and my library only buys new books once every six years (okay, slight exaggeration, but still). I love love love Amy Poehler (any Parks and Rec fans out there?) and I'm pretty sure I'm slowly killing myself every day that I go without reading her book.

7. I've opted out of nominating anyone and not because of lazy purposes (surprise). This award seems to be heavily circulating among my fellow bloggers, many of them people I would have planned to nominate. Most of them have been nominated very recently and it makes no sense to nominate them again. Of course if you're up for the challenge, by all means take this as a nomination.

Have a fabulous day.