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November 18, 2011 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Kids: tough world. Gut it up.

Tough week for kids. Battered thoughtlessly by adults who should know better: merchants, the President, OWS, – even Congress.

The onslaught of Christmas seasonally appropriate music and stores’ holiday campaigns commences.

Joyously? (Oh, come on. Get into the spirits. Jingle with enthusiasm. For the kids!)

While holiday music is mainly designed to get adults into the buying mood, kids are affected differently. Yes, while the music does signal in-coming (presents, sugar treats, parties), it also brings family manic cheeriness alternating with short tempers and grim unreasonable demands to tolerate endless trips to the mall – and not getting anything NOW. Upset schedules. Irregular meals. Sensory overload ahead. Ho! No! No! Happy mortification days.

Peanuts' Christmas

Holiday cheers contrast with Presidential sneers and jeers – in front of company, no less.

While visiting an Australian school President Obama commented that students in the US have “fallen behind” in math and science. Continuing he said US kids “don’t get the support when they are very young” and are “already behind” when they enter elementary/grammar school. Talk about a body blow to school kids. So much for developing pride in your country with those wide-eyed little guys. Their own President is bluntly pointing out their flaws in public. Doomed before they set foot in the door. Concerned about childhood depression? (Hide the razor blades and bottles of medicine.)

Seriously, Vintage Granny used to say, “Some things are family business and you don’t share that information outside the house. It’s like saying what kind of underwear you have on (or not on) – so inappropriate for polite conversation.”  She had all sorts of bits to share, like: “Don’t ever criticize or say bad things about yourself in public. There are plenty of others that will be glad to do that for you.” Sounds pretty reasonable. Along with “Every thought that come across your head does not have to come out of your mouth.” With age, that advice has become more and more wise. Didn’t your family raise you with Olde Proverbs and sayings to guide you? Oh, right. Perhaps an alien concept. (All those early colonial proverbs, Ben Franklin’s Sayings of Poor Richard,  and even Shakespeare’s pithy phrases are so outdated anyway.)

Peanuts' wisdom

Seriously, President Obama, you don’t want anyone saying stuff about your kids, so how about you return the courtesy by respecting our kids? If there’s a problem (and public education is not doing well) deal with it in-house not abroad. Discuss it with parents of at risk children not teenagers in another country – even if you know it will please and amuse them. We all liked to be amusing, loved, and adored, but not at the expense of others, please. Right now our little school guys are feeling a little ashamed and sad because of what you think of them. It would be better if the parents felt the blame and shame. (But then again, maybe they have already taken that “America has gotten a little lazy” remark the wrong way.)

Of course, in NYC it’s worse: some kids are terrified.

Nov. 17th, some small children just trying to get to school were terrorized by shouting pressing crowds of OWS protestors in lower Manhattan. (Video) Police and parents tried to reassure the children, but face it. These kids are little…and short. OWS adults were big and loud. Routine, predictability, and consistency means safety to kids. Large numbers of enraged, rumpled big people are bound to be disturbing. Kids want adults to be under control – not ranting and having what appears to be angry temper tantrums over something unknown. It makes them anxious….and I’m talking about the school kids here. OWS protestors – pick on someone your own (physical) size. Try to grab attention elsewhere.

Actually some Canadian kids may be able to get the ball rolling.

They may be small, but their message is clear and being heard. (video) A Toronto school is making things safer (sound familiar?) by banning “hard balls” like soccer, baseball, volleyball, tennis balls, and footballs on the playground. The play area is small, and a parent got hurt from a soccer ball hit. The kids, being modern little guys, are not taking this ban quietly. They have a petition and are chanting for the media quite adamantly. They want their balls back. (Observe, OWS) It’s a simple clear demand with one specific action requested. Clean and neat, the kids (as well as the message) are determined, but not being a nuisance. They are getting up each morning and brushing their teeth, dressing neatly, going to work on their school lessons, and probably eating their broccoli and taking their vitamins as requested. Yet their message is getting results. The school has already announced the ban is temporary and the administration is working to develop guidelines to address safety yet to allow child play. No littering, no work disruption, no stopping traffic or impeding others, no demanding free PlayStations. One simple message with one clear action requested. Oh, right. These kids are Canadian – not US students who are behind. Canadians. Some example they are with their cold weather, hockey, actors, singers, comedians, and sense of humor.

Despite it all, one glimmer of hope: a vegetable possibility.

Commonsense for everyday life

School kids everywhere have held their breath. Would they pull it off? Would pizza be proclaimed a vegetable and continue to grace the school lunch plate? So far Congress says “Pizza, yea!” (with a half cup of tomato paste.) Yet, the controversy still rages. This vegetable issue will not be buried, pulled, or chopped and discarded. People are steamed.

Meanwhile, armed with Congressional support, kids will be whining, “but Mom, it’s a vegetable. Let’s have pizza tonight.” And tired from all the seasonal shopping, wrapping, and decorating, Mom will probably agree.

Besides, it’s Christmas  the holiday season. It’s time to be nice. Besides, kids today live in such a tough world, just for once, give them what they like.

Cold pizza for breakfast is better than no breakfast at all.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge



  1. Homestead Ramblings / Nov 18 2011 11:22 pm

    Well said!


  2. Bongo / Nov 19 2011 2:04 am

    I guess Santa (or is he banned too – after all he was a saint) will be bringing balls to the Canadian kids and science and math books to the kids in the U.S. Then President Obama can go to Australia to tell them our kids are studying hard to catch up. Merry Christmas.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 19 2011 4:09 am

      Actually Santa was banned at a hospital – but they reversed themselves so the jolly old elf will be making an appearance for their kid patients. I got a real laugh at the video of those Canadian kids – they were very intense. It is a small playground, but kids need to be kids (adults should duck – or wear helmets. US kids probably need fewer books on bullies and more books on critical thinking/logic/reasoning…and maybe going outside for science classes rather than sitting in windowless boxes. Sigh. Bongo – always a joy to hear from you. nose bump. Good dog!


  3. notesfromrumbleycottage / Nov 19 2011 5:39 am

    Too many of our schools no longer have recess so kids can jam more information into their brains inorder to pass standardized tests that will determine if our schools get money – or not. Since reading and math tend to be the majority of these tests, science and arts get to take a back seat.

    OK maybe all of that is not true but it feels like it.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 19 2011 3:34 pm

      Actually, it’s true. One very large district here thinks it’s OK to keep kids out of “recess/gym” from Aug to Jan/Feb until after the state tests.(those kids go to “test tutorials” instead.) No wonder there’s so much ADHD-type behavior – even adults can’t sit still as long as they expect kids to. Although there absolutely must be accountability, schools are into data worship and the cult of standardized tests. Realistically a one day “snap-shot” from a multiple choice test reveals very little about what a kid knows (but with “clean data” you can manipulate it all sorts of ways and make all these nice charts and graphs and make comparisons and infer/draw conclusions – and make “wise instructional decisions”! Ah. but that’s for another blog post…) The problem with math and science education. Focus on standardized tested subjects is an issue. But since forever, people (especially women) with those degrees generally find better paying jobs with more prestige and respect. Instruction would probably improve if teachers took only content courses in college as undergrads (no education courses) so they will have a solid background in subjects they plan to teach. It would be better if all potential teachers had a college degree before ever entering into any university/college teacher training program (College, 4 yrs + 1yr teacher training)…but that’s also for another post…I will get off my soapbox now. Appreciate you stopping by!


  4. Snoring Dog Studio / Nov 19 2011 12:33 pm

    It took quite a while for me to sift through the hundreds of conservative comments unleashed in great glee over Obama’s comments about students. Of course, Fox News led the pack of wolves. It took several minutes to discover that what Obama said is actually factual.

    “The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.”

    And this: The impact of improving math, reading and science scores could be radical: A recent OECD study with Stanford University projected that if the U.S. boosted its average PISA scores by 25 points over the next 20 years, there would be a gain of $41 trillion in the U.S. economy over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010.

    The United States spends more per student, on average, than other countries.

    Bush said the same thing about students in 2006. I doubt he was lambasted so thoroughly then. As far as “trashing” the U.S.? Well, facts are facts. And Obama was sending a message to Congress that there are far better things to focus on than stupid pizza as vegetable decrees.

    Wow. People lie in wait for anything Obama says that they can jump all over. Twisting his comments so that it appears he disdains and disrespects U.S. children is just plain silly.

    And as far as the OWS “terrorizing” kids – Wow – some hyperbole, there. I wonder how many kids were made comfortable by all the Tea Party protests.

    I wasn’t going to comment on this topic, but I support Obama and once in a while, I’ll go out on a limb and express that support.


    • katecrimmins / Nov 19 2011 3:34 pm

      Interesting perspective. I believe that as soon as someone gets elected to any position, they are bashed for everything they say and do. I have to believe that Obama, as Bush before him, tries to do the right thing as he sees it. Generally speaking, I don’t believe any of our presidents gets the respect they should. I wonder why anyone wants the job.

      History will determine how they did, not any of the current newscasters.


      • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 19 2011 3:39 pm

        I agree. Nobody is perfect and actions speak louder than words. Just wanted to stick up for the kids. It’s a little tough for them right now. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and join the discussion.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 19 2011 4:15 pm

      Have experience in the education commercial industry and research centers funded by both administrations. (all Presidents get bashed – it’s been tradition since this country began – it’s how balance is maintained and progress is made. But this post was more a “gentle prodding to be thoughtful” – not a bash. It is under the “humor” category) It would be much better if Washington would ban edu company lobbyists. Bush was too close too one company when he was TX Gov, and they rode his coat tails to DC. The kids are the losers. It’s how all this data mania got started. Education results were better with less money being spent per child – even with a much higher teacher student ratio. Money is not the answer. Teacher preparation needs to be addressed. What subjects are offered and required needs to be examined. Also it needs to be noted that the students themselves have changed. The President is saying some important things. The issue is he’s not saying it to the ones that need to hear it. (Oh, little kids get scared. Let’s all agree everyone should back off and give them calm and space. That’s the deal. They can’t learn with if upset. Adults can do what they want, but nurture the little guys in peace.) Seriously, enjoyed your comments. Thanks. Welcome!


      • Snoring Dog Studio / Nov 19 2011 5:51 pm

        I’d love to see lobbyists banned from stalking our elected officials. In a way, it seems that money shouldn’t be the issue, yet, have teacher’s wages and the infrastructure for schools kept up with inflation? I doubt it. The thing I notice a lot all over the country is people arguing about what the problem is and still nothing gets better and the kids suffer for it. You’re probably right in that Obama hasn’t made it enough of an issue that kids are paying for this mess. Right now, the country is in a world of hurt over lots of issues related to the economy, but to me, the long term solution has to be in education. Or we’ll definitely be left behind.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 19 2011 11:42 pm

          Education is the future. Nothing will get better without improvement in education K-12. Teachers are not paid for their efforts (most work extremely hard – but there are some that should be fired immediately.) Most teachers spend a quite a bit out of their own pockets for their classrooms and kids. The money is not going to them. I know for a fact that one audit discovered money from a grant for teachers’ books, and learning materials went instead to resurface a track. Their excuse? Oh, we are going to just make photo copies of the books and stuff for the teachers – that will work as well. (No, sorry, you have to give the money back.) If things aren’t bad enough, some districts shoot themselves in the foot. You are right when you say too much discussion/arguing and nothing seems to get better. Research is there, but too many more concerned with pushing a product or a particular “learning system” (many ego driven) than doing what is best for kids. And people / authors who never spent one day in the classroom are determining curriculum, teaching strategies, and making instructional decisions. Bad situation, but you have to keep up the struggle in hopes it will get better. There are some bright young stars picking up the charge and out there trying. Education is everyone’s business.


      • literarychicks78 / Nov 20 2011 9:04 pm

        I home-schooled three of my kids. Because I devised most of my own curriculum, I spend a lot of time reviewing textbooks. The errors some of them contain are incredible. The most memorable was found by my teenage daughter in a book meant to prepare her for the SATs. Howling with frustration, she tossed the book onto the table and proclaimed, “Mom, this stupid book is asking for the grammatical error in this paragraph. There are four. Which one do they want?” The girl was correct. The answer key recognized one error, but there were three others. Another book I reviewed spoke of the United Nations’ intense involvement in the battles of World War II. (For any poor soul that may have been educated from that textbook, the United Nations was founded after the conclusion of World War II.) And then there was the fourth grade geography book that defined a canal as “land covered by water.” (Wouldn’t that make the Atlantic Ocean a canal?) The list goes on and on.
        If the textbook companies can’t get their facts right, how are children supposed to learn?


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 20 2011 9:47 pm

          Textbook publishers are not kids’ friends. Their only concern is profit. Often the “revised” editions were not re-written by original authors but by cheaper contract people – who now use WIKI and the internet for info without making sure the sources are valid/research-based. (It’s cheaper than paying an expert author) The industry has changed a great deal. Anyway, by the time a book is published, the info may be outdated in some subjects. Use primary sources for accuracy. Use 3+ authoritary sources to confirm information for accuracy/ bias.
          One of my favorite public school stories is about a popular, experienced World History teacher/Social Studies Dept. chair who sent home maps and tested students on the Soviet Republic even though it had broken up weeks before..her excuse? “Oh, I run off the whole year’s worksheets and tests from the publisher at the beginning of the year – and I’m not going to redo all that.” So all her student learned/tested on incorrect information. (And she watched TV at her desk half of each class period as the kids did worksheets.) And what example was she setting for the rest of her department – especially new teachers? Bad textbooks and bad teacher = kids who don’t know anything – and it’s not their fault.
          Oh, the answer for the SAT errors, they were looking for the “worst” error (?) Seriously. Realistically, that question probably got pitched out – a certain number are always found to be “bad questions”(too many kids answer incorrectly or question stated to vaguely)It’s a statistical thing.
          Lots of good materials out there. It does take time to review them, but it’s an investment in your children


  5. PattiKen / Nov 19 2011 6:02 pm

    I’m new to your blog, but I’ll be back. You’ve accomplished something many have tried to do, but most have failed: rendered me speechless. So, I’ll just say this:



  6. katecrimmins / Nov 19 2011 6:51 pm

    I love when a post starts a lively discussion. You got it going today, Philosopher Mouse!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 19 2011 11:51 pm

      Who knew on a Saturday…is the weather bad? Thanks for the visits. Nothing like poking the ant bed. I do wonder sometimes if people read closely and realize it is a “humor” category or just go ballistic over a couple of emotionally charged words…..And did anyone notice the Huffington Post link to the OW anti-pizza-bad-foods-in-schools protest planned for today – thought people might be interested in going…..And even more important, did anyone notice the picture/etching of Shakespeare look a lot like Benjamin Franklin? (Now that’s eerie similarities…). Always glad to be entertaining. Thanks again


  7. mindwarpfx / Nov 20 2011 1:48 am

    lets not forget that parents play an inportant part in every kids edu. And yes we as a nation love to throw money at a problem, like throwing a ball at the milk cans at the fair. Will it go away then? great points in this post.
    All the best!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 20 2011 2:22 am

      Parents are a child’s first teachers. But life is not so simple for many kids. (Example: See last post) Very complex problem. Thanks for joining the conversation and for stopping by


  8. funnyortragic / Nov 20 2011 5:15 am

    I do not believe in my heart that pizza is a vegetable, any more than I believed that ketchup is…of course, I think that primarily because of the salt and corn syrup…but corn syrup comes from corn, right? Therefore, chocolate cake covers most of the food groups. I mean, it has eggs–that’s protein, it has milk, that’s a dairy, it has wholesome wheat from the flour, and it has a vegetable in chocolates. I mean, it comes from a plant, right? AND it has antioxidants. Forget logic. I LOVE this philosophy! Chocolate cake for every meal it is!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 20 2011 10:22 am

      And ice cream for everyone! Such sweet logic.(I think pushed by large food companies, they actually tried to classify ketchup as a vegetable a few years ago…the amount of salt did it in. Big money involved in all of this) Enjoyed your comments. Thanks for stopping by


  9. Snoring Dog Studio / Nov 20 2011 10:58 pm

    You are so right, philosopher – about the textbook publishers. They really need to be investigated for the corruption that decides which textbook gets in a school and which one doesn’t.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 21 2011 12:56 am

      Each state determines how the districts/schools select books. Some have “open adoption” where each district makes selections themselves (Textbook companies hate these as it is very time consuming to go all those places), Some like TX and CA, have state-wide adoptions where state committees/ panels review books and decide or offer a list of approved materials districts may choose from, some have one mandated selection state-wide (companies love this). THere is some safeguard against corruption, but there has been some. What is a concern is that the major text companies are pushing for a national curriculum which would make whoever “won” that bid would make a lot of money. The small group of big textbook companies tend to buy up competition. The number of edu publishers has really shrunk. You would be surprised at all the markets, small companies, and products a major text company like McGraw-Hill owns (media, print, distant learning, EDU K-college, technology, and more). Also a concern is the relatives of political office holders that are employed by the major companies. Big international businesses with major lobbying money.


  10. jannatwrites / Nov 21 2011 6:39 am

    I wonder if Obama’s comment was taken out of context? Oh, right. That couldn’t possibly happen. The media doesn’t ever do that, right?

    My younger child is in Kindergarten, and it’s kind of a bummer to find out I should have taught him long division and physics in pre-school. I knew cutting, coloring and pasting were overrated.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 21 2011 1:25 pm

      Yea, you always wonder about what else was said and going on. He does say a lot of witty things and seems to like being around kids. Wish he would engage more with kids and parents here. It would have an impact.
      Kinder years are great fun – enjoy! Cutting, coloring, pasting, singing songs and discovery of the natural world are so critical for development – do you think American students would be less stressed if they were allowed to be children and taught material and subjects appropriate for their age and level of development – maybe they wouldn’t burn out and still be eager to learn as the get older? I can teach a 3 year old to read, but not sure that’s best for the child – child may not/often doesn’t develop a love of reading and a life-long reading habit…kids aren’t data widgets. Have a great time playing (serious kid work there). Thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion.


  11. The Hook / Nov 23 2011 1:50 am

    “Cold pizza for breakfast is better than no breakfast at all.”
    I LOVE IT!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Nov 23 2011 2:10 am

      OK guilty. I always save a piece for breakfast. (My grandmother said the nicest thing about being an adult was that you could eat apple pie for breakfast – and she considered it a fruit dish.) Enjoyed your visit. Thanks


  12. Kellie Kennedy / Feb 21 2012 7:30 pm

    Loved your comment on Obama and opening again his OVER SIZED mouth on how America does not meet any expectations. I agree totally … clean your own house first OBAMA before slamming the poor kids. Or let the press start slamming YOUR kids in public. Ya right!


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