Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stream of Consciousness

It's been a weird week. Lots of things rattling around in my brain (mostly because there's nothing else there). I'm just going to kind of let them fall out.

I'm disturbed by the declining quality in public education. The increasing focus on teaching to the test makes me crazy. This week I read that teachers are pushing for more civics education in the classroom. We've cut art and music and phy ed and now we're cutting social studies because our kids can't master the three "R's"? Maybe it is time to take a long step backward and look at how the rest of the world does it? We're not getting it right. Over the course of raising this army of children I have, I've watched the slow decline of educational quality - handwriting, music, art, etc. and feel generally helpless. I wonder what my loyal readers recommend? After seven hours at school, the last thing the Senator wants is for me to enrich his learning experience, but I fear that if I don't, he won't be adequately prepared for real life. Sometimes I think about homeschooling the boys but how can I do that and bring in the paycheck my family so desperately needs? I want them well-rounded and that means music and art education AND civics, science and social studies. I want them to be able to THINK and be CURIOUS. You know with the focus on Reading, Writing and Math, these things all fall away and our children continue to lose ground with the rest of the world.

Speaking of global competitiveness, I read today that Circuit City is cutting 3,500 hourly store employees simply because they are overpaid. These workers can re-apply to do their same jobs at a lower wage rate if they desire to do so. Seems weird. The only way that the business and political community think that we can try to compete is on price. This is sad. We should know by now that we cannot and should not try to compete on price. We need to work smarter, not harder and not cheaper. This mentality erodes our government and our economy and must stop. We need to conquer the weaknesses in our educational system and compete on innovation in science and technology. We compete on innovation by raising children who are curious, capable of reason and critical thinking and by cultivating those qualities in ourselves. If we model them, our children will follow. Children who can develop their thoughts both linguistically and scientifically. We will continue to stagnate and bleed jobs as long as we continue teaching to standardized tests.

We compete also by rediscovering our own inquisitiveness. I am a believer in Lean methodology, for example. It disturbs me that even within our own government Lean is all to often misinterpreted to mean "Less". Yes, if I am personally leaner it means there is less of me. But being professionally "Lean" means that I work smarter and not harder. To make a process "Lean" does not mean eliminating people or machinery unless it is determined that they are truly excess. However, to me, the greatest benefits from Lean processes come when you can do more with what you have. Lean doesn't mean cut jobs, it means more throughput with the same resources. It is thinking, questioning, finding new ways to do more with what you have - or the same with less. It has never been, as far as I know, doing MORE with LESS.

I also think it would be fascinating to apply Lean methods to a variety of sectors - including education. Maybe I am beating a dead horse on our schools today, but I think that too much responsibility has been shifted away from students and parents because too many of them would avoid the responsibility and subsequently the standardized test scores suffer, our children fail, their schools fail and their funding gets cut. It's a vicious circle. Maybe downward spiral is a better description. But you know what? I think failure is okay. As a parent, you set the example by prioritizing education. Children need to see that they will get out of school exactly what they put into it rather than growing up expecting to be spoon-fed throughout life the way they were in school. It needs to stop! And rather than going through math problems on a page one at a time, send it home as homework. You'll have more time to teach civics, art, music and science! Hooray!

My home sale process is causing me stress. First, no one seems interested in our house. It's a great house in a good location. Literally, you are five minutes from so many things - schools, shopping (TARGET!!!), a multiplex, restaurants - and have a nice peaceful backyard anyway. This situation makes me want to puke. Literally. If the house hasn't sold by the time we PCS, our housing allowance drops anyway. If I don't have a job (and that's another source of stress to come later), there's almost no way we can swing that mortgage payment. Especially if we're in housing with NO BAH.

I looked at homes to buy last weekend, nothing spectacular. One I'd wanted to show Sarge now has an offer on it and that is perfectly okay. He's telling me now that it should be three years max back at McCoy so I wonder whether buying a house is worth the trouble. I think we'd be better off living in housing and getting rid of two cats. Want one? But again, there's the BAH and the Michigan mortgage issue to contend with.

On the job front, I think I've sent twenty resumes over the past two or three weeks. Not one call-back so far. At least send me a rejection so I no longer hold out hope, you know? I did get an inquiry, as the result of my monster resume most likely, for a marketing position. It seems interesting enough but is a 25% pay cut vs. my last full time position. Of course, the recruiter promises growth opportunities. I don't know if that's wise or if I can afford to do it, but I'm meeting with them next week for an interview. I'd like to see some other opportunities manifest so I feel like I'm not just jumping at the first thing that comes along, you know? I'm open to suggestions so feel free to offer some. I have also given very serious thought to becoming a financial planner. But it takes three years to build my book of business and we're only planning on three years in the upcoming location. I don't think it is smart to attempt to be a financial advisor and move that often and I don't think I'm interested in staying in one spot while Sarge finishes his career. I'd spend the better part of the next ten years in a long-distance relationship and so would the children. It seems neither viable nor wise. Please, loyal readers, please share your thoughts on the matter. I mean, I always say it isn't about the money and I mean it but I did post my things I'd like to do in the next five years and they're not cheap! In all seriousness, I need to consider the cost factor of commuting and day care and all the fun things that go with it plus find a good cultural fit. That's crucial, you know?

Had coffee with my old boss (from the bad place) on Tuesday. It was nice seeing her. Nothing that went down there was really her fault so I am hoping we can rebuild the friendship. That'd be nice. Having lunch in a couple of weeks.

Make it a great week! Watch this. If it doesn't make you laugh you are way too stressed out!


Tal said...

You're not alone in the education thing Tana...unfortunately, the major feasible option is homeschooling (which I'm of two minds about), and that's not feasible for you or your family.

That their education should be enriched is obvious (it's obvious here too). I guess it's the how that's tricky. Sorry I'm not much help. Try for some ideas. She's great!

As for the house thing...maybe post some pics so that your loyal readers can play Sell That House?