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No-Tie Shoes: Whose Bright Idea Was It?

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When I was a kid of about seven or eight and the Digital Watch became the rave along with the Calculator, I became outraged because I knew even then it was the beginning of the end of people having to use their brain power. What was the incentive to use your brain to learn formulas in math or calculations that people have been doing for thousands of years without a calculator down to the tenth of whatever? Or to read a clock with a face, to know what a quarter after the hour meant, not it is 10:17 p.m.? Whose bright idea was it to have learning how to tie your shoes a thing of the past and say to mothers as a marketing tool, “Look, moms! No reason for you or your kids to spend hours of brain development time crying and arguing. Just buy these shoes without shoe strings!” In New York, a top administrator at a charter school actually made it part of the dress code that all shoes are to either be Velcroed, or slip ons. You know why? Because she said she was wasting too much time in the morning with her own son trying to get him to tie his own shoes. What?! People, we have allowed too many things that have always encouraged brain development from our newborns to our toddlers to our tweens to teens to fall off the ledge and what you have now are kids who are in the seventh grade who cannot spell or read a simple word like disgusted. Or to form a simple and cohesive sentence, paragraph, or outline, for that matter. Is it any wonder that Americans are not at the top of the Education System in the world anymore? … Let’s talk about it …

There are many people who are at fault here starting with the parents. The parents are, first and foremost, the people who set the standard for their children to follow. We all hope that parents will want the best for their children in all aspects of their lives, especially when it comes to getting a good education. Unfortunately in the past decade or two, that seems to be less and less important. Especially in the African-American community, there seems to be an ideology that as long as you can get over and look good while doing it, then how is a good education going to serve you? When Slavery ended, it was what African-Americans were waiting for—that they could actually learn to read and not be killed for it. And a good education was the corner stone of every household (African-American, White-Irish, Polish, Jewish, and other nationalities) that knew coming to the United States meant the best education in the world. For African-Americans and others, the first person to graduate high school went off to college and every dime was spent to make sure that person could achieve their goal and then it was passed down. African-American colleges were built to help ensure that they could attend schools of higher education and be treated fairly. Brown v. The Board of Education stated that separate was not equal and communities went through turmoil to have kids sent and not sent (bussed) to better schools all around the country for both African-Americans and Whites. It really did tear this country apart for about ten years.


I was a product of bussing, and for me, I couldn’t tell the difference between my African-American teachers and the White teachers at the schools I was bussed too. Great teachers are great teachers and I had them at all of the schools I attended in the 70s. Along with my parents helping me every step of the way, especially my father—he would help me with special projects. One time, he even let me shampoo his hair for a survey we were doing in the third grade to learn what purpose a survey has in people’s lives and marketing. I did very well in the Dayton, Ohio Public School System; it was when my family moved to California that my education issues occurred. I was placed into Honors classes because of the great education I had received in Dayton. I had horrible teachers in San Francisco but I still tried no matter what and graduated on time. I went to a Junior College and worked mostly fulltime at the same time. I transferred to San Francisco State University where I graduated with a B.A. in Clinical Psychology with a Minor in Black Studies, all the while living with a raging schizophrenic alcoholic (step-father) making my life and the rest of my family’s lives a living hell. That only made my resolve to go to school stronger and make sure that I got what I needed in life to ensure that my life and household was what I wanted it to be, not anyone else’s …

It is now 2009 and the dropout rate among African-American teens is at an all time high in both high school and middle school. It will only get worse if we do not address it seriously in our community and stop blaming it on the weather and the type of Blue the sky is each morning they wake up. Seriously, we have to stop babying these kids and allowing parents to make up reasons as to why their child is not capable of reading: “He has asthma and the wind blows too much air at him”; “She does not like the color red, it make her nervous. Please do not allow red binders in class.” And on and on. People also have to stop blaming the system when they themselves do nothing to make a change in it. Do you know your child’s teacher? Have you ever volunteered in your child’s school? Or is it, “Why is my child failing?” “Who hit my child?” or “What do you mean he or she won’t sit down? They sit down at home.” Blah, blah, blah. These same parents will expect the teachers to put up with their child’s behavior as if the teachers are wrong for wanting their child to obey the class rules. We have to put a stop to this quick or we will not have any type of working force at all. The customer service industry workforce is horrible and something needs to be done about it. I am not down just on African-Americans; anyone in any group of people whose parents exploited the system needs to be stopped. One little boy in my son’s class would get up from his desk if his teacher did not say a word the way he wanted to hear it and she would not discipline him. He was allowed to disrupt the class anytime because he was a child who was classified as “special needs,” “behavioral problems.” When he got upset, he could yell and scream and nothing was done to him other than what he does at home “nothing” and whatever he liked, (this child was not African-American). I use African-Americans as a major example because (1) I am African-American and (2) my niece’s oldest daughter is eleven years old in the seventh grade and cannot read on a third grade level (maybe even second grade level). I blame her mother, her father, my little niece, and I blame her schools for passing her along as if they were doing her some type of favor. They are setting her up to fail and that by the time she is in the ninth or tenth grade (if not sooner), she will drop out because she cannot keep up with her peers. Her mother knew she had an issue with reading when she was in the second grade and has done nothing about it. The schools know she has an issue with reading (her sixth grade teacher knew and never recommended a tutor) and has done nothing about it, so who is really responsible for this child’s inability to read the word “disgusted”? … I say, the parents and the school …

As I stated before, certain inventions were made supposedly to make life easier for people; you have the digital watch to make it easier for people who cannot read Roman numbers on a watch or clock to tell time. Shoes that you no longer have to tie, I have never seen so many designs; it is amazing and ridiculous at the same time. I do understand that there are people who have benefited from Velcro shoes, like the elderly, people who have severe arthritis, and mothers of children with severe disabilities. That is about it because unless you cannot tie your shoes because of what I have listed about, then I have to ask, “Why aren’t you tying your shoes?”


The same is asked of the use of Calculators and Digital watches. I understand that Physicists and Doctors and other people who have to have a precise time or a precise answer for an equation need them, to be able to really do the work for the world the best way possible, to put in numbers we have never even thought of. For doctors that need a precise time frame to assist their patients, especially when it comes to administering Anesthesia and medications that can be lethal if they are not precisely administered down to the minute, or to give a precise time of death, I can see how they would need the use of Digital clocks. But for the rest of the world, I am wondering why they do not want to try and learn how to read a clock with a face or learning how to do multiplication in their head along with percentages when shopping. Why have so many parents and teachers decided that it is ok for what is about to be two generations of children to grow up dependent on computers with the idea they do not have to use their brain power to even tie their own shoes? Why is society at large ok with kids who do not want to learn, along with parents who do nothing to further their children’s education? Do they think, “Well, as long as they are not in my neighborhood, I do not care, you know, out of sight out of mind”? What I do know is this: if we do not take action now we will have more companies going over seas seeking a work force that can add two plus two and can say their ABCs along with crime rates higher than anyone could have ever imagined.
Part 1 | (Part 2)

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