Essays and Reflections on Current Events
On the Value of Education
February 6, 2006
I have thought long and hard over the past few days about writing a reflection about the value of education to communities throughout this great country, and how cultural and social issues get in the way of quality education for all children. I wanted to collect all of my various thoughts on this “hot-button” issue. My prompt for this writing was a conversation with a friend recently. This friend is a freshman at an area high school, and this school begins ranking its students from the get-go. My friend was concerned about being the valedictorian of her freshman class. Since when is education and learning so much of a competition? Why has society come to value competitiveness over inquisitiveness and the love of the process of learning? Education is the “silver bullet” to any society — it can make or break any citizen. My belief is that school systems need to refocus themselves… the end product means nothing if the experience of learning is not shared by all. I know of many high school students who stumble through classes only so they can manage to get high grades in everything. Getting an “A” means nothing if knowledge and discovery is not retained, and this cannot happen unless a student is fully exposed to the grand voyage of discovery that is LEARNING. Competitiveness reigns in the mainstream media, politics, and other high-profile areas… and this has polluted the educational process.
Education is not just about grades.
It’s about the journey.
On Major Issues facing Milwaukee
February 1, 2006; excerpt from an essay written for a college scholarship
As I have been exposed to many different parts of my community, I have built my own image of the major issues that are facing Milwaukee. I believe that the most important issue is racial and socioeconomic segregation, which sometime go hand in hand. There are distinct “sectors” of the city for each ethnic or socioeconomic group. I like to think that my work to involve the whole of Milwaukee in artistic ventures such as the Young Playwrights Competition and First Stage Children’s Theater has helped to dissolve these age-old lines in the city. I have networked with politicos and scholars from all corners of the city, and love hearing and discussing their opinions. Despite what popular culture might tell us, words are the beginning and end of discrimination and hatred. People might just be able to form better communities if they set aside their differences and talked.
On Speaking “American”
January 31, 2006
What does it mean to speak “American?” What is “American” when compared to standard english? Does it really matter?
This country was founded as a nation welcome to all people, with no attention paid to race, social class, religion, or gender. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. For most of our history, many “hot-button” issues have stemmed from these topics. Recently, there have been discussions amongst professional politicians with regards to declaring a national language for all Americans. Personally, I don’t understand the rationality behind this idea. It all goes back to our original founding principles. This is a huge country, with so many different cultures as the “source material” to our own. Language is so diverse throughout the nation, with New Englanders speaking what could be considered by outsiders to be a completely different tongue than Southern Californians. Despite this, or perhaps as a result of this, we are all able to effectively communicate with each other. It’s important to preserve our individual styles of and approaches to the English language. Some people integrate slang derived from African American traditions. Others incorporate Spanish words. It’s all a way of preserving our culture.
We’re all speaking PROPERLY, no matter how we’re speaking.