Archive for the ‘independent school’ Category

missives from the playground

March 14, 2017

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adult playground – in photos

child’s playground – in words

both true.

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how to make chalk hand-prints (best results when 6 – 8-yrs-old):

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get a friend to trace around your body sprawled on the asphalt/ground with chalk

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spend long time deliberately skrushing in various solid colors with huge sidewalk chalks; for clothing, hair, accoutrements, and skin of your silhouetted image [could take 20-40 minutes]

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lightly pat your open palms onto chalk colored self-portrait a couple three times

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place hands firmly in an unchalked spot on the asphalt

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leap up into a handstand – after a breath, plant feet again earthward one at a time and stand tall [takes 1-2 seconds]

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there they are. bright colored hand-prints clear and detectable for all passers-by

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To Rosetta Lee, if i could…

August 21, 2016

To identify as transgender is not telling me anything about one’s sexuality.

The energy of my response is about invisibility and marginalization, to expose and heal.

I’m putting this out in the ether webby ness before any beloved editors can heal and help my wordings. I just wanna get this out there. Stumbling fumblings to be caught and wholed with your support…

I am keen to see how the meaning and use of the term transgender evolves over time. It just may come to reference one’s sexuality. I do not think it does so presently. Presently, I think it reveals one’s gender identity. Below I expound why I find this discernment relevant, in North Carolina, in 2016, no less.

Please engage and change me, relieve me from my confusion and suffering – I want to learn and understand.

Please call me out, or call me in, on any stuck, narrow, binary, right/wrong thinking I express herein. I am much more interested in etymology and the evolution of language, thought, and movement (all pun possibilities intended) than being right, narrow, stuck, etc.

The person I wish I could dialog with (Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee) speaks to her interest in action over too much quibble with words/labels/terminology. I respect that. That lands as workable progressive change process. Yum!

Alas, I quibble whole-heartedly, I question whole-self-edly, with some unknowns – with some experience I had in a session facilitated by her the other day. I wish that I could ask her directly how she came to understand transgender as a sexuality, and further explain a point she and I exchanged about publicly.

Key note: I use pronouns she/her/hers for this amazing leader and activist, as that is what I find online in her self-made website. I am going to trust she is in control of that pronoun usage so publicly; that she is self-identifying with these pronouns, which does not reveal to me her gender identity. We simply don’t have enough pronouns yet for all of us.

I avert social media, excepting email and this blog, so I will not sign up for twitter or LinkedIn, the only options she publicly provides for contact.

I’ve been drafting this letter I fantasize will find its way to her for 5+ days… Today, two articles appeared that wrangle me to post sooner than later. Links are at the bottom of this post. Or, for choose your own adventure, click here and/or here.

This is in large part about the use of a term that she and I disagree on – use of which I find dangerously confusing here in NC in 2016. There is a second part I publicly commented on with her, in the session last week, in front of my brand new unknown colleagues.

Here’s my letter I dream finds its way to her incredible social justice activist heartmindbody:

Hi Rosetta, amazing leader in change-making,

Thank you for journeying down here to the southeast USA so much! I am the genderqueer folk from __ who shared that I’d helped work to get you to ___, as co-clerk of the committee through which __ called for you specifically. As a new staffer at __, I was so delightfully eager to hear and learn from you.

There were two examples in the day, Wednesday, August 17, 2016, at __, when I struggled as the only self-identified and out trans staffer.

I wanted to discuss further with you. Alas, time-space has its limits. Here is a remote/digital form of my querying.

I was so uncomfortable standing for the up-downs exercise, I did not see if you raised your hand as other than cis-gendered. Online, the pronouns she/her are used towards you. I dared to stand up in any way I could, as a potential resource for students and staff. There was no sense of standing proudly for me, as you instructed. I am too new at this school to know… I’ve belatedly heard that you were seen to raise your hand for the up-downs of, “Neither male nor female work for you.” Of course, we could present the up-downs with 8 or 50 or… 200 options for folks, unpacking gender more fully the way race and ethnicity were. I know you know that. I only mention it because many many more people might have stood if the distinctions were furthered, regarding gender nonconforming, any expression other than male or female, and then on to clarities like transgender, genderqueer, agender, etc etc.

I appreciate your naming a couple of times that you are more interested in action than language. That’s good clean fun and actively progressively useful! And -as ever- a both/and situation. The poetics of naming -phew- matter in this season of trans visibility. The two examples regarding language (unpacked below) felt crucial, for me, especially in that they could have confused people regarding trans lives/experience/politics, in NC in 2016 no less.

1st example: transgender as a sexuality

I wish I’d had time to ask you to:

Please share more of how you come to understand and reinforce the term transgender as a sexuality.

You stopped a teacher from interrupting you, after they’d asked why you included transgender as a sexuality. Their interruption was flowing towards something like that they had understood it as a term of gender identity. You explained that the gender identity of anyone can be mis-read or fluid… something to that effect (which is accurate!) You added, in different words, that someone gender nonconforming, depending if they are partnered or attracted to a man, woman or whathaveyou, allows the originally referenced person to be in a transgender sexually attracted dynamic? …I am not clear on your meaning/distinction by this point in the dialogue…

I delight and giggle at my own tightness around use of transgender as a sexuality. Any such condensing feeling marks a growing edge, a sensitive period, a zone of proximal development, something for me to pay attention to!

This encounter I describe was the only interruption in the day, with all staff together, when you held your hand up, palm out, at shoulder height – powerfully. This was the only time someone asked a question from a countering view and you held your ground – stopped them from interrupting you – hand up, palm out, in the air at face height, beautifully full-on Supremes style – thus your response landed as significant important correct?!?!

You got that theatrical performative intensification many script writers only dream of – and it was organic, on-the-spot, in real time, real life. Thus, the weightiness or gravity to your doubling down on your interpretation and use of transgender was amplified.

We were invited repeatedly to be more interested in our response to things, rather than getting hung-up on this or that terminology

I am so curious about your doubling down on your perception and use of transgender as a sexuality.

As you pointed to, there is power in naming “normative” gender as cis-, to counter a historical pattern of uniquely referencing more marginalized identities. Cis- is a way to call out/in mainstream genders.

The T in LGBT has been discerned as a gender and not a sexuality with such effort in media and academia etc. To confuse that in this era of (national and local and global) trans visibility is confounding.

I perceive that the T is about self-hood, not who you love.

As the only self-identified genderqueer person in the audience, it was discomfiting to witness this exchange.

One can identify as gender nonconforming and cisgender simultaneously. I dare suggest every single person, cis- or no, is gender nonconforming. That’s part of the wonderful freedom we transgender folks have to offer the world, just as soon as everybody realizes the usefulness and the emptiness of DNA or plumping based binaries!

I am not certain how you self-identify and do not want to unskillfully project. In case you do identify as a:

  • Woman / cis-woman (gender?)
  • Lesbian (sexuality?) Though this does imply homo/same. Thus the gender id of both parties is possibly revealed. Oh binary. A transwoman who chooses to pass could be within the lesbian territory and often is!
  • Or in case you do identify as gender nonconforming, but not as transgender or genderqueer,

…it may have been as it felt – that you flexed some cis-privilege?

As a (the!?) genderqueer and transgender person in the room, I disagree/d with your interpretation and defense of your use of the term transgender.

Alas, Hail to:

Bisexuals

Pansexuals

I’m sure I’m unaware of many other terms that could suffice…

These terms beautifully meet your meaning, I think.

They seem to meet your point regarding either the perceived and or inner gender identity for any attraction or sexual encounter… noh?! Bisexuality and pansexuality are sadly overly invisibilized too! We could use both terms oftener and educate even more preciously and lovingly about binary and nonbinary sexuality!? Yah?

Part of the energy of my response is about invisibility and marginalization – as all of your national touring work aims to expose and heal. To slide transgender identity into the sexuality realm can obscurate the struggles to simply use the bathroom we are fighting for here in NC.

Never mind the beatings, murders, and suicides that unfortunately increase, with the visibility we didn’t ask for from odd state legislation. (Though it is not odd at all, if we understand the history of state politics by design pushing against national and smaller/local governing fronts.)

One can identify as a transgender asexual.

In other words, to identify as transgender is not telling me anything about one’s sexuality.

One can be a genderqueer pansexual, a transmasculine bisexual, an agender pansexual, a gay trans man, a straight trans man, a lesbian trans woman, a straight trans woman, and on and on…

So, again, I am open to being re-educated about what the term transgender means.

This precious new article speaks from some middle school age folks today, these brilliant evolvers of language and gender – and they are in alignment still with my understanding of transgender. Curious. And I sure love to lean on pre-adolescents to keep up with what’s what any day. Link below as well.

2nd example: danger of trans-enough-ing qualifying

Later in a breakout session for pre-K – lower school staff, I did speak out, after you expressed that “really really really trans” folks tend to self-identify around 3-years-old, with insistence, persistence, and consistence.

You did ground your frames and models as tools only, not to be swallowed whole. Alas, you are in a power position in the role you serve schools across the nation. What you emphasize and speak illustratively to and make a slide for becomes “expert” data, swallowed more wholly maybe than you even ever intend…

You speak fast and identify as a scientist which translate into much intellectual privilege. Your presentation lands as expert info, whether you intend it or not, especially when your exposure to and life living with any topic at hand grossly outpaces the majority of the audience.

Good ol’ intention versus actions versus results. They are most often not in alignment for any of us.

This use of “really really really” plus the young age qualifier is inaccurate and potentially dangerous.

In many layers of gender and sexually diverse identities the “enough” ness – trans enough, bi enough, gay enough, lesbian enough ness is so so damaging.

I queried with my HT provider who is steeped in the medical field of providing healthcare for trans folks. They gasped at hearing of the reference to 3-yr-olds’ prevalence of identifying. There is no (ack, who cares) empirical scientific data to back up the claim regarding early childhood and “opposite” gender identifying.

A 3-year-old who can insistently, consistently, and persistently identify as “the opposite” gender from what they were labeled at birth only exposes that they have been brought up in a binary reinforcing culture – that there are only two clear choices.

Now, sadly, this is largely true for most of us still today. We’re working on it.

Nevertheless, touting such quantitative data in a qualitative field is, I think, dangerous for gender nonconforming, non binary, genderqueer children and olders getting further invisibilized – thus even continuingly further marginalized regarding physical, mental, and emotional health, and social/cultural equity.

 

Ahhh, breather here for humor at my tightness.

I sure do feel strongly about this stuff. Thanks for any laughing and reading along.

Breathing slow and deep is encouraged.

Rosetta, you seemed to graciously understand my point here about qualifying, quantifying, and binary reinforcing, as we spoke publicly. Thank you for that!

Another note is how many folks’ personal histories expose how utterly unknowable and/or inaccessible alternate options were regarding gender identity in their youth. All sorts of privilege and random and profound life incidents play into how and when people self-identify as trans or gender variant.

As I mentioned Wednesday, in some soon years, maybe in this current generation, this particular note could become irrelevant. Attention and visibility for trans existence abounds, whether we are ready or not.

Note: the day after our workshop, NC court-battling legislative legalities doubled down on trying to scientifically dismantle the existence of transgender people. It is fun to live here right now, feels dandy, let me tell yuh.

For folks around my age and older, to be validated or invalided according to when they/we intrapersonally became convinced of their gender self-identity can be incredibly harmful, unskillful at minimum.

In some brevity, this is all about marginalization and invisibility.

The fight for gay marriage invisibilized the T in LGBTIQ for many years in recent history.

Now the T is loudly in the media.

And it will be many painful years before nonbinary genderqueer folks gain any traction of safety or social equity with any visibility.

For now, of course, the visibility for both binary and nonbinary transgender/gender nonconforming/genderqueer folks feels threatening, especially here in NC – which includes cis-gender identified, gender nonconforming, sexually queer folks!

I dare to take the time-space to express my thoughts, even as I see how wonderfully full your schedule is as you travel and lead in so many awesome inclusivity-diversity efforts.

I feel I must wield the many forms of voice and/or privilege I do have, to help make visible mine and so many others’ invisibility, and our presently painfully further marginalized existence as genderqueer, nonbinary, agender, gender nonconforming.

I understand you may absolutely include yourself in this experience, identity, and tenderness!

Please consider how you teach to the identity development of marginalized gender variant folks as happening more legitimately in early childhood. This may be a unique distinction from most other marginalized identities which are, as you say, unavoidably explored earlier in life than most privileged identities. This is only relevant or valuable in context of the external/environmental/societal/cultural/systemic binary.

How can we all present and explore this data with more breath for the spectra?

There were other interesting discrepancies noted between gender & sexual diversity and other forms of diversity… ever more growing and evolving, with the thinking and learning around this wonderful tender living experience. That people are beaten, murdered, and suicide over much of this identity territory calls me to action!

Love and peace and ease to Hande Kader’s chosen family, friends, and ALL!

with sp a c e,

elliott

p.s. There’s a hilarious twist interpretable here, where i could be seen to be cruelly pointing towards Rosetta as not trans enough! My query is more, really, what she means by transgender and is she trans identified or how is she trans identified. that bit could use some clearing, before i then went on into the second example…  Yah, I’m stepping in it! I wish I could communicate with Rosetta. Phew. I am open to dialog – to be called in. Please and Thank You.

A gay middle schooler relieved to meet a transgender girl on the first day of school.

A wonderful trans 101 primer from a self identified genderqueer transgender person – worth the read and thought provocation!

 

sussing out summer

June 26, 2016

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seeing Selma

November 12, 2015

devoting Veterans’ Day to breathing across the Alabama River on the Journey to Freedom (e. pettus) Bridge seemed a fitting way to honor all who have and continue to struggle for freedom…

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My nephew truly wanted to join me. I followed his lead and we spent 900% more time in 2 museums than he original planned! (Seeing those fists pulls my heart in my throat.) He and I were thrilled that my Mom wanted to come too...

My nephew truly wanted to join me. I followed his lead and we spent 900% more time in 2 museums than he originally planned! (Seeing those fists pulls my heart in my throat.) He and I were thrilled that my Mom wanted to come too…

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travel space-time

April 19, 2015

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teachers’ words-of-the-year mini quilts

January 29, 2015

these are words each of the early school teachers chose in August to attend to this year. i prepared these versions of our words for a meeting we enjoyed yesterday – furthering the studies of our brilliant industrious 3 – 6-year-old students (aka colleagues/teachers… we follow them ; )

i work amongst an incredible family of humans who behold the image-of-the-child as full citizens, radical artists, powerful voices… we humbly aim to help their lights glow ever brighter – never dampened…

i gotta say, in the happenstance of using quilting scraps and words, the pun in the final image below was super fun! the teacher this reflects pronounced the word: conTENT – yet the paper scraps quilted together imply that CONtent can be equally ponderous… wondrous…

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(my word is “multiplicity.” last year it was “balance.” that was too much pressure! i tried to shift the load this year!?!?)

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bones to pick

March 8, 2014

i have some bones to pick

2 clearer ones

at the moment

i brush with awe and care

inspecting the dust on the side

a bit

first

before i reveal

what i’m reading:

September 1, 2012

The Disabled Body in Contemporary Art by Ann Millett-Gallant – incredible!!!!!!!!!!!

Richard II by William Shakespeare – readying for LGP’s romping bar-hopping production – richie 😉

some spinkles of ee cummings and rilke – hey, a new school year just started, so i’m desperate for some outer yet familiar inspiration and mirrors of some ok-ness with the space/empty/unqualified/humbled/lost feelings. (yes, that was what my whole thesis was about… i keep slapping my inner mind with my inner mind reflecting on that work too.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer – the why of such a word search is another story 😉

and gobs

of tibetan tantra and montessori-meets-reggio lore that i can’t find good links for

(yay, found this one. read it! scroll down until you see this: Ross, K. (2009). “Montessori and Reggio Together: Exploring Possibilities.” AMS 2010 Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award. click on that link, and open the pdf.)

…ehem

going to see Dead Can Dance this eventide with a beloved friend 🙂

why this sort of vapid post? it’s september. that’s freakin’ me more than usual… watching time and me pass. august 2012 was loaded before, during, and now seeming after, with much weight in its emptiness; its projected freedom to absorb and integrate some huge happenings recently passed. alas, alack, duh. all just keeps on passing ever…

in support of your own free lively research of your life

much love,

ever never elliott

…food for thought…

August 24, 2012

“Whatever they were, they seemed more real than dreams. If there was any reality to the most recurrent of these dreams, it eluded me for the longest time.” ~John Irving In One Person

How good are you at separating fact from fiction? Test yourself on these statements and then check the answers at the end:

1. Students learn better when the instructional format, such as visual or kinesthetic, matches their learning style.

2. A learning disability associated with genetic differences in the brain can be remediated by educational interventions during the school years.

3. Except in cases of extreme injury or trauma, the brain no longer makes new connections after the age of 18.

4. Boys’ brains are hardwired to be better at spatial tasks than girls’ brains.

5. If a child does not learn a language before a critical window closes, he or she will never become fluent.

6. Emotion hinders reasoning and memory in the brain.

7. Cognitive and physical exercises can help integrate the hemispheres of a student’s brain.

8. Most people do not use their entire brain, but it’s possible to bring more of your brain “online” with cognitive training.

9. A student with a dominant left-brain hemisphere is likely to be more creative, but also may have difficulty with spatial skills.

10. Students use different memory systems to ride a bike and recall a phone number.

11. Drinking less than the equivalent of six glasses of water a day causes the brain to dehydrate and shrink, impairing learning.

Answers to the neuroscience quiz:

1. False. Neuroscience has found the opposite to be true. People perceive through a variety of formats and senses, but perceiving is not the same as learning. People process information through many different modes to comprehend a concept or master a task.

2. True. Experience has a greater effect on how brains of all types – even those of people with dyslexia or autism – change over time.

3. False. Neurons continue to grow throughout life.

4. False. Boy-girl differences have not been shown to be innate. The variation between boys and girls is less than the variation within each sex and among different cultures. For example, while American boys outperform American girls on spatial tasks, Singaporean girls far outperform American boys. of course this is still binary based 😉 nevermind there’s no medical/bio defense for such binary…

5. False. The human brain changes throughout life in response to training and experience. While languages are learned more easily below the age of seven, people can learn new languages late in life.

6. Partly false. Positive emotions like excitement and engagement enhance learning. But negative emotions and stress can distract students from learning and reduce later performance and recall.

7. False. In normal, healthy [?!] people, both hemispheres of the brain act in concert and areas associated with language and other tasks are found in both hemispheres. An OECD study found no evidence of different hemispheres creating personality differences or requiring different learning modalities.

8. False. Most people use all of the brain constantly (except those with a severe cognitive disability). Even while asleep, a person uses more than 10 percent of the brain.

9. False. The notion of a “dominant” left or right hemisphere, leading to differences in language or spatial ability, comes from studies in the 1960s on adults whose hemispheres had been surgically divided to treat severe epilepsy. Typically, both hemispheres of the brain act in concert, and areas associated with spatial and other tasks are found on both hemispheres.

10. True. The brain activates in different ways to remember many different things. Recalling facts takes place in the hippocampus and medial temporal lobe, while body memory of a repetitive task activates the motor cortex.

11. False. Severe hydration can decrease cognitive function, but that’s not likely to happen in a typical classroom. Recent studies have found no cognitive benefit from drinking the canonical eight glasses of water a day. Students should drink water when they are thirsty, but there’s no reason to push them to drink a specific amount.

A quiz on neuroscience and neuromyths – in this Education Week article excerpted in the Marshall Memo, Sarah Sparks reports on the nascent field of mind, brain, and education. It appears that many K-12 educators are being exposed to bits and pieces of information, some of it true, some half-true, and some simply wrong. Paul Howard-Jones, a senior lecturer in psychology and neuroscience at the University of Bristol (UK), says, “In the absence of legitimate neuroscience in education, a neuro-mythology has arisen in schools.”

above was shared in my head-of-school‘s weekly “food for thought.”

a moment of “duh” and perhaps not so duh… regarding Montessori and Reggio philosophies/pedagogies:

Montessori wrote, studied, researched, science-ed, etc before neural plasticity was as buzz-worthy as it has been for decades. alas, the “image-of-the-child” was/is? of a person becoming… an adult (in briefest, weakest and simplest terms).

Reggio Emilia inspiration emerges from a slightly ‘younger’ era and it’s “image-of-the-child” is of a person being… thus, a child’s “work” (a Montessori loaded term) is to be a child – not to become an adult or to practice becoming an adult… but to be a person being a child 🙂

i confess, i am purty dern madly in love with both philosophies, and there is much complexity beneath my meager shaft of shallow comments above – just something that crossed my mind.

 my head-of-school also shared what’s below:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

“The Real Work” by Wendell Berry, from Standing by Words.

yar- this is essentially what my thesis was all about: “Space: The Only Learning Environment 😉

cartoons and photos

May 30, 2012