Re: Previous Post

Re: the preceding post, I know what the solution is. Don’t date, don’t have premarital sex. Let your family arrange a meeting with a suitable partner, do a short supervised courtship with zero physical contact and zero alone time, and then get married.

Hmm, wait, where did I hear this before? Oh, I know, it’s the traditional evangelical courtship of the most patriarchal kind. Brought to you courtesy of Jezebel.com.

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Why Do We Hate Nicey-Nice People?

Why does everybody hate people who are too nice?

I don’t agree with the explanation provided in this article. I dislike the too-nice, always cheerful, see-the-good-side-in-everybody folks because they are boring.

There was once this person who, at a first glance, seemed super nice. But then we hung out together and she was making really funny, harsh, incisive comments about everything. And I was, “God, I love you, you are a fascinating person! You are my best friend from now on and forever!”

It’s not about completion for me. It’s about not wanting to be bored by spending time with eternal-sunshine idiots. I like smart, sarcastic people. Also, the nicey-nice folks seem fake. Everybody has an agenda. Just tell me what yours is and don’t pretend to care about nothing but the fate of humanity.

Pedagogy of Delinquency

Somebody asked me to write about the pedagogy of teaching kids with problems of juvenile delinquency, extreme behavioral issues, history of arrests, gang affiliations, etc. I don’t think this will be of any interest to the readers of the blog but since I’m writing about it anyway, I’m just going to publish it here for just in case.

There are several foundational principles to the pedagogy of delinquency.

  1. Respect.

These are kids who value respect like nothing else in the world because it’s so rare in their world. Respect yourself, respect them, and accept nothing but respect towards yourself. There can be no comments on their attire, no requests to remove sunglasses, hoodies, head-wear, jewelry, headphones, etc. No comments on tats or piercings. Don’t try to impose authority until you have earned it. Don’t raise your voice even if you are at MOMA with them and they are swinging on the chandeliers (true story). Be serious, professional, do not condescend. Don’t show emotion because these are kids from emotionally chaotic environments who see exhibitions of strong emotion (whether negative or positive) as threatening. Inform yourself about their culture before beginning to teach. There are certain words and phrases, certain gestures, etc that are out of the question. Speak at a lower volume than you usually would but don’t mumble.

2. Teaching persona.

The best way to go, especially if you are not very experienced, is the most buttoned-up persona you can muster. If you have a naturally giggly, smiley, bubbly persona, can it. This is not a crowd that is well-disposed to respect a class clown. No degree of familiarity is OK. Forget that you have a first name. In a Latino classroom, use usted. In the English-speaking classroom, it’s Mr and Ms. Don’t try to be “one of them” because it’s pathetic and you can’t afford to be pathetic. Don’t dress like the students do and don’t try to share how much you appreciate the music they listen to, etc. A three-piece suit for a male teacher and a business suit for a female teacher. If you are a middle-aged college professor with a bunch of degrees from fancy schools, don’t pretend to be somebody else. Be who you are. These kids can see through a fake in a second because it’s their survival skill. Don’t be a con. They will respect an old fuddy-duddy in glasses but not a con.

3. The past does not exist.

Nobody’s past gets discussed or mentioned or alluded to in the classroom.

“Maestra, do you know that Edgardo was arrested three times last month?” and stuff like that gets shut down immediately. The correct answer is, “I know nothing of the kind and I’m not interested” in the most severe tone you can muster but at a low volume.

4. Trust and responsibility.

Since the past doesn’t exist, everybody in the classroom is an upstanding individual with a stellar reputation.

“Pepe, here is some cash, please go get pretzels for everybody from the gentleman around the corner.”

“But, Maestra, Pepe is a thief! He got in trouble many times at school for stealing. . .”

“That is not true. Pepe is a very responsible, reliable person. Go on, Pepe.”

Pepe brings the pretzels and the change, and I dump it in the purse without counting.

“Joaquin, I have to step out of the classroom for 20 minutes. Make sure the little ones do the assignment and write it out on clean sheets of paper. Everybody, Joaquin is the teacher while I’m away.”

After that, Joaquin, who never completed a single assignment before, hands in a perfect assignment every class. His homeroom teacher thought I was hallucinating when I told her how great he was.

Years later, Pepe emailed me to say he got into law school. Joaquin wrote to say he graduated from community college and was planning to be a teacher.

I honestly never smiled less in my entire life than in that classroom. And I taught exactly like I would a group of graduate students at an Ivy League school.

Battle of Wills

In spite of my age, I’m only now learning about raising a toddler and I want to share what I find with others because, who knows, it might help.

Everybody has heard about Terrible Twos, right? Toddlers discover they have a will of their own that is often at odds with the will of others. They start trying to impose their will, usually at very inopportune moments. So what I found is that it’s never a good idea to enter into a battle of wills with a toddler. I tried a couple of times, and it wasn’t fun. I acquire this unpleasant didactic tone that makes me not like myself.

So the solution is the moment they become contrarian on something where you know you can’t let them have their way, divert their attention to something else (which is obviously not food and not a screen.)

Example. “I don’t want to brush teeth! I hate brushing teeth! Yucky toothpaste!”

“Hey, did you hear what monkey said to giraffe when she sat on her sunglasses?”

“Whaaat?”

As I tell the fascinating story about the monkey and the giraffe, I start walking towards the bathroom, and she follows me because she wants to hear the story. In no time, she’s happily brushing teeth.

Or, “I don’t want to go upstairs, I want to keep playing here!”

“Hey, I think there is a scary cup upstairs and I’m scared of it!”

“Cup isn’t scary, mommy!”

“Let’s go upstairs and I’ll be scared of the cup and you’ll protect me!”

“Because you are my baby! And I’m your mommy! Let’s go, baby, you’ll see, cup is not scary. Silly baby! Come on!”

Sometimes, it’s important to let them win the battle of wills.

Example. “I want to play dollies now, mommy.”

“OK, but first we have to put the Play-Doh back in the boxes.”

“NOOOOO!!!!!”

“OK, tell me with words why you don’t want to. I don’t understand you when you scream. Tell me with words.”

“Because I want to make chairs for my dollies out of Play-Doh. My dollies don’t have any chairs!”

“OK, that makes sense. It’s a very good idea. But after we are done, we’ll put the Play-Doh back in the boxes, right?”

“Yes! Because it will dry out if we don’t!”