Christmas 2018

20 Dec

Have you  been out shopping lately, or are you doing the purchases online, like many Americans?  The stores are crazy-busy and the children are wailing up a storm, “I want thaaaaaaaat.”  The other day, I saw a new mom with her two-week old infant in her arms.  She was trying to shop while tending to the little one.  It seemed the world around me ceased to exist.  What is it about babies that just seems to captivate us?

Babies have a way of finding ways into the alcoves of our souls, the very places where things are known only to God.  They crawl right up into those hidden areas and something quite miraculous happens. Those little ones open us wide to the world, while teaching us a little more each day about God.   Think about it. Who can touch us more deeply than a newborn baby?

One baby in a room of adults reduces most of us to mere functional illiterates–and by choice!  We become entranced by the bald-headed, toothless, drooling squirmers, and quite mesmerized by their attempts to make sense of the insensible.

I remember talking to my own children: “You wan Dada to bwing your baba or bankie?”

I won’t go into all the baby talk, or nicknames my wife and I had for our children.  Some of them are hilarious, to be sure.  If you are as we are, you might still find the urge to pop open one of these phrases from time-to-time, just for the sake of reaction.  There aren’t too many of us that are able to hold back baby-talk when face-to-face with a little life in our presence.  It is almost expected.

I often wonder if grown adults talk to the aged the same way.  After all, both ends of life’s continuum quite resemble each other.  However, that discussion is for another time.  In the presence of babies, we sing and tell stories.  For some, these practices begin while the baby is in utero.  We talk to them, and we pray for them.  After they are born, we teach them nursery rhymes and, as they grow into toddlers, tell them stories of our childhood (and maybe just a bit embellished), and instruct them in right and wrong, as well as share in affection and closing prayers at bedtime.

Remember those fun days?  I am referring to the fun days before they sat on the sides of their beds and cried for no reasons at all, or got quiet when they realize as teenagers that they are held accountable.  Recall the moments when we asked them, “What’s wrong,” only to hear in return, “Nothin”?  I surely remember them!  In fact, there are times I’d like to sit on the side of my own bed and cry a little for myself, these days.  It is sometimes a good thing to feel sorry for ourselves, as adults, at least for fifteen minutes, before someone asks for money, or the cell phone rings.

However, I am left to wonder: Why is it that babies bring out the best in us?  I remember their giggles, tiny dimples, gummy smiles, flailing hands and stubby toes, their splashing arms and legs during baths–capped off by their pudgy, solid, yet wrinkly feet.  All of this serves to remind us of life’s simplicities and basic human needs.  Babies also remind us of the necessity of the protection they need, their fragile states, and complete dependency.  The trust they place in adults is astounding.  However, they learn quickly.  Once they figure out that we are not perfect, all things begin to change.  If you are like I am, you are torn by those early years, sometimes longing for them again–but happy also not to have to repeat those long nights, illnesses, doctors’ visits, and the like.

Have you ever wished for your children to stay little forever.  Have you ever spoken that desire?  Nah!  There are grandchildren for those reasons.  Right?  Babies are signals of life.  Life must moves onward.  Babies are reminders that the future is already in the “present”–and the word-play is intended.  I think you know to which “present” I refer.  Babies comprise the past through one’s DNA and heritage.  They consume the present and they embody the future.  Babies are the miracles that are united from one sperm and one egg–gestating over time–to become the “other” us. With each birth of our children, we are reminded that “WE” are with us. We are connected and that’s that.

Here in this supposedly sophisticated twenty-first century, we tend to place things, such as child birth—which have the sense of the miraculous—onto the realm of the ordinary.  But that is pedestrian.  Each conception brings into existence a unique entity, a person of the most distinct, individual “being.”  The truth is we are all unique and the mold is broken with each one of us. However, we have this little nature thing, with which to contend. Moreover, therein lays the problem!

Imagine for a moment that your teenage daughter comes home one day and tells you that she is impressed in her spirit about something incredibly unique.  What if she tells you that an angel of God had told her that she was specially favored among all other young teenagers of the day? Assume, then, that sometime later she informs you that she is pregnant, yet maintains that she was still a virgin–untouched by any man sexually.

To make matters more concerning, imagine your single, teenage daughter had been engaged to a man more than twice her age–and that the engagement was going to be broken by the man, once he discovers your daughter is pregnant. I know, I know . . . I can imagine your faces now. Yet, I do think you know where I am going with this.

Philosopher Paul C. Vitz asks us to “Consider that Mary was pregnant with Jesus today.” I also ask us to do the same.  What are the chances that some of the parents of this pregnant teenage girl would shuffle her off to the local Planned Parenthood clinic?  What would her friends and contemporaries say?  Speaking as one who was conceived prior to marriage, I rather identify with that last statement, in terms of its implications.  Know what I mean?

No, I am not claiming divinity, personally–but divinity as a delicacy, now that stuff is freakin’ awesome! (It is approaching Christmas, after all)  The prophet Isaiah (ca 800 BC) stated: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) A miracle baby son, a virgin, and the name translated to mean “God with us” (Immanuel) Hmmmm. Most interesting.

The disciple Matthew Levi (1st century AD), the tax gatherer wrote: “And Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place that which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet shall be fulfilled . . .” (Matthew 1:19-24)

The Christmas holiday (derived from “holy-day”) is about the advent of Jesus, the baby, and the beginning of His earthly pilgrimage.  The birth occurred more than likely during the summer months and there was no snow.  That reminds me, what happens in Australia and Africa, during December in the Southern Hemisphere?  I hope Santa’s varicosities aren’t too apparent with those pasty legs of his, filling out those speedo-like shorts.

John 1 speaks also to this illustrious Christmas event: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1: 1, 14).

This baby Jesus is the gift that keeps on reminding us of our flesh and mortality. The baby reminds us of our beginning and the blessings we are to others.  However, why do we keep Him in a manger?  Why is Christmas about Jesus as a baby only?  Is it because there is no room in the “inn of our hearts?”  Maybe it reflects the reality that babies are no threat.  Babies do not challenge the way we live.  Babies are the miracle gifts in-and-of-themselves. Nevertheless, babies do grow up into young adults and then enter mature adulthood.  Baby Jesus becomes a challenge to people’s supposed sovereignty.

Apparently King Herod also had serious concerns about the baby Jesus, for he had all male children slaughtered, age-two and under.  This infanticide occurred in Bethlehem and its surrounding environs (Matthew 2:16).  Herod feared all of this talk about the birth of a king, a Messiah, would diminish his sovereignty over the land.  As a result, the child Jesus and His parents went to Egypt until King Herod had died.  Afterwards, they returned to their homeland. One interesting piece of trivia from the Hebrew language is quite telling. The name “Beth-lehem,” can actually be interpreted “House of Bread.”  Now I am singing, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” . . .

Later Jesus was given the title “Bread of life,” and communion would be taken at “the Last Supper,” to symbolize His crucified and broken body.

Part of the communion remembrance today using crackers or bread illustrates the “broken bread” of life.  Who would have ever thought that the bread of life would have been born in a house of bread?  All of this is derived from the Christmas story?  Yes indeed!  Another point of interest was that when the wise men came to visit Jesus, He was already a toddler.  The Magi were the ones who tipped off Herod, and this was the reason for the age-2 on down slaughter of the innocents.

Therefore, yes we celebrate the baby Jesus.  Nevertheless, we really should be celebrating the toddler, at least in my mind.  But no toddler I know would stay in a crib, let alone a feeding trough for animals.  I know my own kids did not. As far as my kids were concerned, they kept jumping out, falling on their heads, or something along those lines. That might explain a few things.  Now my father’s statements to me in my youth ring more clearly.  He would ask rhetorically, “What is the matter with you? Did you play too many football games without a helmet?” I never figured out “how many” was too many.  But back to Jesus.

Some 2,000 years after the birth of Jesus, his infancy still influences the world. While some wanted to make Him an Earthly Excellency, believers see Him as their All-Sufficiency, beginning with infancy. The commemoration of Jesus’ birth is the real reason we celebrate the giving of “gifts” to each other.  Jesus is the ultimate gift to the world.  The reason for the season is ultimately for His pleasin’.

A second gift was given to us by the resurrected Jesus, just prior to His ascension. Luke, the physician, records in Acts 1:3: “. . . He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things to come . . . He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised . . . ” Jesus told His followers: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:15-16). The Holy Spirit is the gift that keeps on giving.

During this festive season of holidays, may we Christians celebrate like never before.  May we live and love like never before. The baby has grown, lived, and He has changed the world through his death, resurrection and ascension. Don’t you think it is time to be Christ-like in ways that show we also have left our own “Christian cribs?” My apologies to the hip-hop community.

Dear friend, let us celebrate the holiday as He is NOW in our lives. May we look back to the past, while living in the present–knowing that we have a future with Him.  May our baby-talk, and baby-walk grow into a mature, contagious conversation, coupled with a powerful Christian walk.  May this walk evidence movement in the right direction, prompted by the Spirit and evidence by the fruit of the Spirit.

No, I did not imply fruitcake. Unlike “divinity,” THAT stuff is so nasty, and is the evil twin doorstop with the yule log.

Thank you for reading!  I thought I would share a little reminder about why this time of year is extra-special for me and many others.

OK, where’s my egg-nog?

Happy 2018 all!

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A Few Thoughts for Parents and Teachers about Generation Z

14 Aug
By Ernie Zarra, Ph.D.
August 17, 2017
Generation Z is in a great spot. Emerging generations always seems to have so much going for them and, in this respect, the current generation of young people is no different. If you are a parent of a Gen Z student, have you considered what it would be like to be young, again: Really, really, young again—and be thrust directly in the midst of those raging hormones and unpredictable Gen Z emotions? I am learning to stay away from mirrors these days. However, I do wonder whether
George Bernard Shaw is correct when he writes, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” This is an interesting concept to consider.
One of the things that Generation Z has going for it is an intrinsic motivation to play. And play they do, which brings consequences on many levels. Gen Y is making every effort to stay in the game, as well. The average student in Gen Z will spend hundreds-to-thousands of hours online by the time they are eighteen years of age, just playing and playing some more. Interestingly enough, Gen Z works daily on typing skills, literary interpretations, and drawing rapid conclusions, expressed in a video or a “deeply provocative” 140 characters. I know. This is not really funny.
Seriously, essential to understanding Gen Z is to understand how serious they are about remaining in touch with friends throughout their days, often interrupting other classes, so as not to miss the latest emoji, Instagram, or Snapchat. While in classes, all educators just have to understand that students are immediately compelled to send photos, messages, or provide their friends the answers to quizzes or tests. Friends are in need and, after all, they were all taught to work in pairs and groups to solve problems, from Kindergarten through high school.
Text messaging has done away with the need for handwriting and passing notes to fellow students. Stealth recordings are made wherever the Gen Z student chooses, whether at home or on school campuses, and hardly anyone one can stop these recordings from being immediately shared on the Internet. Any student that needs to talk to one of their parents, or any parents that want to get a message to their Gen Z child, is just seconds away. What educator wants to step in an interrupt the “It’s my mom, I have to take this phone call?”
In fact, becoming a viral sensation is easy as an excuse to go to the restroom and then a student can make all the phone calls desired with no one around. While in the restroom, if there are other students present, one could also test out the phone’s camera and video to see if its pixels are adequate for immediately uploading to Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook accounts. Additional play-action occurs with faces changed with apps that add dog faces or circus-mirror-like distortions to photos. Yes, Gen Z loves to play.
These supposed skills may be wonderful for social media and friends, but writing skills are plummeting to dire levels. That being said, maybe Gen Z parents might want to press their children into thinking about a career in research and rehabilitation of arthritis of the thumbs, or vertebrae subluxation of the neck.
Long gone are the days of pagers, typewriters, Gigapets, Tomagatchies, Furbies, Transformers, Beanie Babies, Care Bears, Pokemon cards, and other dated machines and toys. Changes in technology always bring about new choices. How many veteran educators remember the duplicating spirits of the mimeograph machines, or the horrendous chalk dust, and overhead projector blue hand syndrome? Now, all we do is squeak along with whiteboard marker, delirious from their fumes.
Times have changed and they have changed for parents as well as for educators. They have not changed for students of Gen Z. Like precious generations before them, all they know is what they know in their present, and their brief generational history. Parents realize what educators realize. The main reason times have changed is because culture has changed.
One of the major cultural changes, of course, is in the explosion of educational and personal technologies and the impacts these have on the developing brains of Gen Z children—and this where education is seriously impacted.
Parents today have extreme pressures placed upon them, with routines of work, school, extra-curricular activities, church—you name it! When a child of a previous generation needed to be disciplined, the child was sent to his or her room. There was little to occupy the boredom. There are some differences with today’s children, however.
Getting “grounded” today may not equate to such a detriment to one’s behavior. For example, Gen Z children sent to their rooms for discipline might realize an open invitation for an awesome time. Parents today have to contend with smart phones, Wi-Fi, hotspots, computers, instant messaging, cable-television, iPads, DVD players and video games. Gen Z students are often affected by family concerns. For example, if they have to split their time between two parents in different homes, their sense of discipline can often be skewed. Therefore, one home’s discipline may be another home’s joyride. Inconsistent values that are communicated often confuse even the resilient of students.
This shows up in both large and small ways. For example, in high school and college, plagiarism is rampant. Students copy and paste documents together from the Internet, including sharing files, hacking into social media accounts, or creating pages to poke fun at faculty and staff. Technology has made it easier to cheat, and this cheating is not relegated only to students. The popular MTV cable program “Catfish” is a good example of the extent some would go to use the Internet to deceive. Then, of course, there is the newer moniker of “fake news,” that has led to classes on Internet literacy. One student’s sketchy work ethic can now be classified as another person’s innovation and fun.
Schools should take some of the blame for Gen Z’s weaknesses in the areas just mentioned. The “think, pair, share,” of classroom collaboration did little for the unmotivated students. But just think! If parents all became young again, we could work together in groups and turn in assignments derived from collaborative efforts, all sharing in the fruits of the reward. Everyone gets an “A,” and that one overachiever can be our equalizer.
Being young again would also mean being “normcore” stylish. Or, we could just wear our hats and hoodies in classes, claiming our heads are cold, while budded and listening to our favorite tunes. If we were young again and our parents allowed us to have smart phones and iPads, what is so wrong with using them whenever we would so desire? We would just be entitled to them.
Bernard Shaw concluded that “Youth is wasted on the young.” While it is true we can never go back, make no mistake about it. As things go today, parents are often megabytes in a terabyte world—while many Gen Z kids’ heads are in the iCloud.

Who Is Actually Winning?

16 Jun
       I am just wondering about something, and I offer no apologies to Charlie Sheen. But who is actually winning online with personal attacks and daily negativity. Most of what happens in the headlines anymore, it seems, has some connection to social media, or is fanned by the same. So, this has me thinking. As the author of several books, all of which discuss some relevance of social media to generations and American culture in general, I am concerned how we might back away from our online presence and face the real world.
       Do many of us respond to personal attacks in our daily lives, face-to-face, as we do online–especially from political foes? The ad hominem (against the person) attacks have to end because they keep our emotional states heightened. I bet, if you are like the average Internet social media addict, you have had more than one occasion when you simply could not close out your page, or “x-out” of your browser, without just one more post. This compulsion has consequences for us all. One of these consequences is our interpersonal relationships with flesh and bone humans.
       How many of us have lost friendships in the real world, over politics? Now compare this to our online presence. The latter is the cause of many an “unfriending,” or even familiar disputes unlike those we would dare bring to the table each night.
       I wonder just how many of us would have the temerity to go toe-to-toe with an adversary in real-life, as we do on our social media pages. For example, Twitter is a wasteland of insults and negativity. People relish the ability to craft a well-posted 140 characters.
However, if we stop and think about our post prior to “tweeting,” we might reconsider.
Are we intent to insult and correct people as we would in 140 characters offline and elsewhere? Do we really think that because we do not know people that others we do know are not seeing anything we write?
I am totally aware many of us do not want to give what we view as “hypocrites and double-standard practitioners” a leg-up with what is posted. We are told to fight back! We cannot let those liberals or conservative win.
       But how would we handle this in real-life? My hunch is most of us are not as aggressive with others in real life. Therefore, if we would avoid that kind of conflict in real-life, yet undertake the conflict on social media, then isn’t that also hypocritical and a double-standard in-and-of-itself. I think it amazes people to see that we accuse others of doing, is often the foundation of our own shortcomings.
       Far too many of us we have discovered the ease of giving in to a new temptation–the temptation to incite, foist, fester, and even drop F-bombs, as we attempt to even the score. But what is the reason we give in? It cannot be anonymity, because there truly is non online. it cannot be because we are always right in what we write or how we come across. I think we give in because we do not have to read much at-length. We simply have to respond with the first thoughts that come into our heads. If emotions are also involved, it is even easier to respond. No one I know would stick around a place where they were not “liked,” for days, weeks, and even years.
       Admit it. We really like being “liked,” on social media–especially by people whom we have never met. On some level, we find more than a modicum of importance–the temptation to think our input is greater than even the clock-looking website onto which we post.
       OK, bottom line questions: Who actually is winning the online back-and-forth? And who cares? Is the soul of America being made great again by our actions? What about the children that are watching us? Are they learning all the wrong tactics when there is disagreement?
       If we expect the next generation, Gen Z, to use the Internet wisely and appropriately, then should we not be about the business of exemplars?
       OK, lecture from Dr. Z. to be continued . . . Are you taking notes? **wink**
       Your thoughts?
Image

Coming June 1, 2017

16 Apr

The Entitled Generation 2017

Teaching and Reaching Generation Z

20 Feb

Group of young people

Youth is Served

Generation Z is in a great spot.  Emerging generations always seems to have so much going for them and, in this respect, the current generation of young people is no different.  As parents, have you ever wondered what it would be like to be young, again: really, really, young again—and be thrust directly in the midst of those raging hormones and unpredictable emotions?  I am learning to stay away from mirrors these days.  However, I do wonder whether George Bernard Shaw is correct when he writes, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  This is an interesting concept to consider.

One of the things that Generation Z has going for it is the intrinsic motivation to play.  And play they do, which brings consequences on many levels.  Some of these consequences are addressed in the pages of my upcoming book on parenting:  Helping Parents Understand the Minds and Hearts of Generation Z.  I will be referring both to this book, and its companion volume, throughout this blog piece.

Likewise, parents and teachers have many similarities, and some of these are addressed in both this book and my companion work The Entitled Generation:  Helping Teachers Teach and Reach the Hearts and Minds of Generation Z.  For parents, the growth of their children is front and center, brimming with drama and often accompanied by challenges of sibling rivalry.  As teachers, although we can never really go back in time, teaching the same age group and grade levels every year somehow perceptively circumvents the reality that we are getting older.  Parents understand aging, but teachers live with a perception that the time clock is somehow in neutral and that, year-in-and-year-out, relevance and vibrancy still exist. z

Sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, but today’s young people seem to have it made.  Youth is served.  But “didn’t every generation of young people have it made?”  Indeed, there is a point to be made for each emerging generation apparently being better off than previous generations.  Before the reader draws the wrong conclusions, a bit of a sarcastic foray is in order—the likes of which both parents and teachers will identify.

The average person in Gen Z will spend hundreds-to-thousands of hours online by the time they are eighteen years of age, just playing and playing some more.  Gen Z works daily on typing skills, literary interpretations, and drawing rapid conclusions, expressed in a video or a deep 140 characters.  An essential to Gen Z is to remain in touch with friends throughout their days, often interrupting other classes, so as not to miss the latest “LOL.”  At school, teachers just have to understand that students are immediately compelled to send photos, messages or answers to quizzes or tests.  Friends are in need, after all!

Text messaging has done away with the need for writing and passing notes to fellow students.  Stealth recordings are made wherever the Gen Z student chooses, whether at home or on school campuses, and hardly anyone one can stop these recordings from being immediately shared on the Internet.  Any student that needs to talk to one of their parents, or any parents that want to get a message to their Gen Z child, is just seconds away.  “If it is my mom, I have to take this call!”

mom-calls-son

While in class, all anyone needs is an excuse to go to the restroom and then a student can make all the phone calls desired with no one around.  Gen Z have to check in with their boss, or swim coach, to be certain not to leave a very important voicemail unheard.  While in the restroom, if there are other students present, one could also test out the phone’s camera and video to see if its pixels are adequate for immediately uploading to a Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook account.  Faces can always be changed with apps that allow dog faces or circus-mirror-like distortions.  Yes, Gen Z loves to play.

These supposed skills may be wonderful for social media and friends, but writing skills are plummeting to dire levels.  Gen Z parents might want to press their children into thinking about a career in research and rehabilitation of arthritis of the thumbs.

thumbs

Changes in Technology Bring New Choices

Long gone are the days of pagers, typewriters, gigapets, Tomagatchies, Furbies and other machines and toys.  Parents remember those.  How many veteran teachers remember the duplicating spirits of the mimeograph machine, or the horrendous chalk dust, and overhead projector blue hand syndrome?  Now, teachers just deal with whiteboard marker fumes all day.

Times have changed and they have changed for parents as well as for teachers.  They have not changed for students of Gen Z.  Like precious generations before them, all they know is what they know in the present.  Parents realize what teachers realize:  the main reason times have changed is because culture has changed.  One of the major cultural changes, of course, is in the explosion of educational and personal technologies and the impacts these have on the developing brains of Gen Z children.  Parents can read all about this in chapters three and four of my book titled, Helping Parents Understand the Minds and Hearts of Generation Z.

Parents today have extreme pressures placed upon them, with routines of work, school, extra-curricular activities, church—you name it!  When a child of a previous generation needed to be disciplined, the child was sent to his or her room.  There was little to occupy the boredom.  There are some differences with today’s children, however.  Getting “grounded” today may not equate to such a detriment.  In fact, Gen Z children sent to their rooms for discipline might realize an open invitation for an awesome time.  Parents today have to contend with smart phones, computers, instant messaging, cable-television, iPads, DVD players and video games.  The matter is exacerbated if Gen Z children have to split their time between two parents, in different homes.  One home’s discipline may be another home’s panacea.  If these equate to grounding, we all should shudder to see full flight!  Changes in technology bring new choices to parenting.

Another wonderful thing about being young is that parents and teachers are virtually clueless when students copy and paste documents together from the Internet, including sharing files and pirated music.  The “think, pair, share,” of classroom collaboration did little for the unmotivated students.  But just think!  If parents all became young again, we would be taught to work together in groups and turn in assignments derived from collaborative efforts, all sharing in the fruits of the reward.  Everyone gets an “A.”

Being young again would also mean being “normcore” stylish.  Or, we could just wear our hats and hoodies in classes, claiming our heads are cold, while budded and listening to our favorite tunes.  If we were young again and our parents allowed us to have smart phones and iPads, what is so wrong with using them whenever we would so desire?  We would just be entitled to them.

Shaw concluded that “Youth is wasted on the young.”  Couple that with another of his famous sayings, “I want to be all used up when I die,” and Gen Z might begin to realize its role in the lives of parents and teachers.  Make no mistake about it: parents are gigabytes in a terabyte world—while their Gen Z kids’ heads are in the Cloud.

How About Some Manners?

Assemble a large group of people together in one location and watch the displays of manners.  At times when my awareness is heightened, I ask myself, are things really as bad as they seem on social media?  Are people, young and old, really this rude—and must we tolerate these behaviors in our schools and at home?  The first question parents should ask any of their Gen Z children’s teachers is “How is my child’s behavior in class?”  The chances are that children willing to practice rudeness and lack of control at school, are probably not much better at home.  Respect is first and foremost about obedience to people and rules.  Gen Z has grown into respecting self over others, seen gloriously in the identity movements encouraged by culture, including the promotion of the same at some schools.

I am curious as to when things changed enough to tolerate the wearing of baseball-type caps inside buildings, such as restaurants, churches, and in school classrooms?  Also, would someone tell me why T-shirts and bare feet are allowed on golf courses? What is this Gen Z world coming to, these days?  Where are they learning all of these practices?

oversized-ball-cap

Some younger Gen Z children scream in stores and are allowed to roam freely, touching most everything in sight.  Are we teaching our young people to think of anyone but themselves?  Don’t look now, but we are all somewhat part of the culture affecting Gen Z.  Are families so stressed out that precious little time is spent actually drawing contrasts in culture for children?  Has anyone else noticed that a smaller amount of people actually hold doors open for others?  What about the phrases, “Excuse me,” “Thank you” and, “You are welcome?” Apparently, these phrases are becoming parliamentary dinosaurs, in favor of the phrase, “No problem.”  Also, few people return lost items to those whom they know, let alone to strangers.

How will Gen Z learn honesty if no one shows them how to be honest?  If they do return an item at all, most people feel entitled to lift anything of value, because of their “good deed” according to some self-oriented “finders-keepers, losers-weepers” notion.  Gen Z will, however post all of these good deeds online, drawing attention to themselves, so the world can see how splendid their actions appear.

Do parents really want their young people filling their minds with abusive talk about women, especially preached by today’s entertainment industry?  Are these neo-American cultural norms for Gen Z?  Take heart!  The independent spirit demonstrated by Gen Z children can be harnessed for good.  Chapter five of my book suggests partnering strategies and methods to assist parents in understanding the minds and hearts of today’s children.

The biblical Golden Rule:  “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us,” seems to have changed meanings today. The current meaning reads more like “Do unto others before they do unto you.”  This shift would make the late Anton Szandor LaVey smile, for this is the humanist tenet he boldly proclaimed in The Satanic Bible, in founding the Church of Satan in 1969, at Daly City, California.  Talk about cultural contrasts!

satanic-bible

Ralph Waldo Emerson noted: “Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” I think Emerson was onto something.  If parents, teachers, coaches and other adults do not model acceptable, positive manners, where can we expect the younger generation to learn them? Seriously, what is lost by wearing a belt, pulling up one’s sagging pants, or speaking without profanity?  Social media allows culture to impact Gen Z immediately and also allows them to share in the culture, almost as quickly.

Accepting the Challenge

Now where do we place the blame for what many see as a breach of manners in our culture today?  We would all like to pin it on one group or another, and maybe some of that might be justified. However, there is no discounting the reality that there just seems to be a spirit of rudeness that stretches across our culture.  The world saw this in the recent presidential election and our nation sees it in the form of protest on college campuses.  Technology is right in the middle lending to this incivility.  Participation in social media assists in chipping away some of the moral fabric that even the best of families practice.

So here’s the challenge.  Manners, like character and morality, are best discussed at times when openness and peace exist. There is a greater acceptance and understanding in times of peace.  These are what educators call “teachable moments” and they exist for us all.  Teachable moments must begin at early ages and be practiced consistently and from within the fabric of the family.  But difficulty exists there, too, when standards of behavior on weekends differ from weekday standards.  Holding Gen Z accountable may be difficult, but it is critical for the present and for the future of America.

Where can we look for help?  Is it the media?  Schools? The entertainment industry?  Given the changes in the political landscape in 2017, we are left to wonder about the future shifts of education in America.  Maybe, we should all retreat to the Internet for 12-hour sessions of online video gaming to occupy our time until it is all figured out.  After all, who needs an imagination, when one can use a programmer’s imagination for guidance?

In terms of the problems, certainly, we all can continue to blame the traditional whipping posts. There are no easy pinpoints on this one.  But we can begin to shape the world one person at a time.  Gen Z is worth the effort.  Answers do lie in the possibilities of all of our cultural agencies working together—including faith organizations.  But we must ask a serious question:  Is it likely that the cultural wealth of America’s past can once again become valuable over the present fractures in culture, resulting in selfishness, identity politics, and material wealth?  That remains to be seen.

In Gen Z, we have made America young again.  The advice in this book will be helpful toward understanding these wonderful youth.  Parents might even feel a bit younger, themselves, after reading this book.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Regardless, there are some solutions to the issues parents face today.  All things considered, while the nation discordantly adjusts to Making America Great Again, let us not forget Generation Z and the previous generations of Americans which made America great in their own rights.  Here’s to Generation Z and to the greatness that comes next!

This original blog has been inspired from my upcoming books on Generation Z.  These books can be found at https://rowman.com/Action/Search/_/zarra/?term=zarra, on Amazon, and ordered online and at any brick and mortar store.  Both are due to be released on June 1, 2o17

Some Complaints from Teachers

21 Sep

common-sense-education-covers

Has anyone ever checked to see how many bureaucrats and politicians have their children in public schools in their districts?   If they are going to tell their constituents what to do in education, and truly want to be representative of them, then maybe they should be required to place their kids in their local public schools.  Most teachers are sensible creatures.  Most are obedient and tow-the-line.  However, schools are at breaking points.

One of the more serious complaints I am hearing from teachers–especially from those here in California–is that special education students are now mainstreamed and taking so much time away from other students. What this has done to the classrooms is this: Mainstreaming has taken teachers away from doing their jobs effectively, and in some states teachers are being evaluated by the job they do. Did anyone consider the rigors of Common Core, teacher evaluations, and special education students when they made this change in law and policy?

Some of the other complaints and concerns that have come in from colleagues are found in the following:

The premise is that over 80% of special education students can perform at the same levels as all other students, if teachers modify instruction for them, make workload accommodations, and deal with their disciplinary behavioral issues uniquely. That sure sounds like many special education students cannot perform at the same levels as other students in the class.

There are so many concerns with this type of policy, especially in CA. It is prevalent in high schools, as well, given that a prime motivator is to graduate students at any cost. Without special education modifications, many special education students would not make it to graduation.

First, teachers are not special education experts.

Second, students are not competing at the same levels when modifications and special accommodations are made in regular classrooms.

Third, in some California districts, one cannot grade a special education student any grade lower than a C-. Even with this, the students fall farther and farther behind.

Honestly, given the lack of challenge teachers now provide some special education students, if I was a parent of a special education student–and knowing the stress of deadlines and regular assessments–I think it would do more harm than good for my child to be in a classroom both without modification and with it. In classes around the nation, nearly one-third of each class roster contains special education students.

Fourth, regular classroom teachers are not trained in special education strategies, disciplinary methods for challenging behavioral issues and violence, or spending large amounts of tutorial time one-on-one with special education students. Teachers that have to do so, do so at the detriment of the other students in their classes.

Fifth, most special education students need “special” education, not “regular” education. What happens is that classrooms dumb-down the learning, so as not to lose everyone by either the pace or the requirements.

Our public school classrooms are flooded with students who would be better served in their own focused programs. Students in regular classrooms are being shortchanged by the time spent on students which need special attention, special accommodation, conferences regularly, and the students themselves are given so many accommodations that they are actually learning that they can do whatever they want and the system must comply. Essentially, our public schools are a mess and we are reinforcing and enabling.

In closing, teachers that are speaking out apparently have a lot to say. Is it any wonder then, that teachers are leaving the profession in large numbers nationally? This trend is terribly disturbing for the so-called “profession” that I love.

Ramp up the rigors and show grit. Learn how to change mindsets and bring down those with anxiety and rebellious temper flare-ups.

Do so while modifying your classroom rigors, not stressing out the students, and modifying expectations and work output.

Sounds like two ships passing in the night.

Continue to speak out teachers . . . In the meantime . . .

Just call me Dr. Common Sense. 🙂

 

The state seeks to include students with disabilities in funding for high-needs students.
EDSOURCE.ORG

The Number of Inappropriate Teacher-Student Relationships Keeps Rising, and So Do Arrests: Professional Development Needed!

18 Sep

texas

Head’s up to all public school districts, and private schools.

When it comes to establishing relationships–including the proper use of communications technology and social media between students, teachers, coaches, and administrators–and even with parents, there is a terrific blurring of personal and professional boundaries.

My book Teacher-Student Relationships:  Crossing into the Emotional, Physical, and Sexual Realms is a guide to reduce the problems, by enhancing the boundaries and calling into account the higher calling of teachers, coaches, and administrators.  The book details the problems associated with inappropriate relationships and offers solutions to make education a much safer place for all.

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I am available to assist faculty and students to discern where the boundaries are at this time of confusion on many fronts, between teachers and the pupils and athletes they are charged to teach, protect, and mentor in their classes, or on the fields.

Feel free to email me at erniezarraphd@aol.com, or post a comment here.  I will return messages.

Please click the following link, to read about the serious abuse issue occurring in the nation, but particularly Texas.  My work is quoted and I am referred to repeatedly, in the piece.

http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2016/09/13/texas-teacher-sexual-misconduct-cases-hit-time-high/

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