December 20, 2005

2006 : A New Beginning?

Tsunami is history
forgotten the earthquake in Pakistan
Katrina has ceased to matter
faded the London Bombings

Osama's a disappearing dot in oblivion
Saddam but a ranting shadow.
Darfur, could as well be an exotic cuisine
Banda Aceh, a greeting from some nameless culture.

A drug cocktail's contained HIV
Cancer deaths have dropped.
The Asian Flu will not reach us
Stents'll prevent all future heart attacks.

Hunger and poverty are UN concerns
Global Warming's been taken care of by the Kyoto Protocol.
Nuclear arms proliferation curtailed by the CTBT
Geneva Convention's followed while dealing with POWs.

Fortunate, aren't we?
Self delusional is what I'd call it.
Blessed with a short lived memory
and a nomadic mind to match it.
One that never gathers moss
from things that are past.
Will move to new pastures
until faced with some adventure.
And when that excitement wanes
it'll seek another plane.

This shallow, flippant mind
feels compelled to wander
lest it go assunder.
With all the suffering that's around
can't afford to get bogged down.
Cannot fall prey to compassion
that's a feeling not in fashion.
Novelty's what it has to seek
lest it delve into matters too deep.
Embarked on a perpetual journey.
Rootless by choice with dire fear of destination.

Are we stringing yet another new beginning
like the countless older ones?
Those wailing in purgatory, completely off tune
while searching for their ends that never seem to come.

December 14, 2005

A Failing School System

There are some obvious loop holes that prevent the US school system from being at par with other school systems around the world. The biggest loophole being that we Americans do not accept responsibility for this failure, and instead look for a stop-gap solutions for the problem. The “No Child Left Behind ‘is one such off-the-cuff solution, that now is doing more harm than good to the already ailing system. Change is not an overnight-fix; it has to be brought about methodically and gradually if it has to be all inclusive. If indeed it were done so, then there would be ‘no child left behind’!

The United States should consider having a national core curriculum, like it exists in countries like Japan, China, England, and India, that would mandate a certain level of academic competency across the states. This could be one definitive way of gradually increasing academic standards across the nation. A shared curriculum across state boundaries will also facilitate the build up of shared data bases for tests, projects, teaching strategies, teaching materials, and teacher resources. This in turn will give depth and scope to our education programs, and consequently the quality of the end products, in this case our students, will improve.

A national core curriculum will bring about a consistency in our teacher education programs as well, that have been under fire for the longest time. Having mentored several student teachers from various colleges and universities, I know to what degree education programs differ from college to college. Needless to say that none of these programs really prepare the student teacher for taking over a real classroom. A nationwide curriculum for schools will lend structure and balance to all teacher education programs. There will be a commonality of goals regardless of the college you attend. Furthermore when the novice teacher enters into a real world classroom she’ll find anchor in the national core curriculum, a document she’s already familiar with.

We do not have to become ‘second rate’ at anything if we can take responsibility for what is ours. Right now, it is our failing schools, our teachers, and our students that we need to call ours. Having done that, the next step is to strategize a gradual change in our educational system, and then what follows may not be the best, but it will definitely be something very close to the best.

December 09, 2005

Seasons Greeting

Snowed in!

A whiteboard beckons
to start afresh
write a new piece.

A fresh beginning
old blemishes disappear
no rips, no tears.

A white blanket sheaths
it wipes, it covers, it invites
and offers a world apart.

A cold bear hug...
...yet it warms the heart.

December 02, 2005

Death Penalty Executed in Singapore

"Van Nguyen's death penalty is executed!" A news item that has been bothering me all day! It must have been a long and tortuous wait for the 25 year old Australian who was arrested in 2002 for possession of cocaine in Singapore; a place that has very low tolerance for crime and takes strict action against any violations that occur in its jurisdiction, regardless of the nationality of the wrongdoer. It isn't a surprise then that Singapore is deemed one of the safest and cleanest cities in the world.

The Nguyen incident is reminiscent of the caning of Michael Fay, an American teen, in Singapore during the mid nineties. Graffitti was the charge against Fay who had spray painted some cars in a parking lot. Though we in the west perceived the sentence as harsh, the popular local verdict was that vandalism was a 'crime' by Singapore law, and the flogging of Fay would serve as a deterrant for other youths with similar agendas.

I find it difficult to rationalize what happened to Nguyen, yet aren't we told to 'do in Rome as Romans do', and that ignorance of the law isn't an excuse. I think there are two separate issues at loggerheads in this case; one of the individual's rights and the other that of national sovereignty. That is perhaps why my decision making is clouded by questions such as: Is Singapore law justifiable? Would a different geographic location have changed Van Nguyen's fate? What is the prime objective of punishment; to punish the wrongdoer, to make him aware of his wrong, to serve as an example for prospective wrongdoers?

December 01, 2005

World AIDS Day

"And The Band Played On"

An interesting film based on Randy Shilt's novel. A film made in the early 90s that has raised AIDS awareness for the past decade or so. It's a true to life version about the emergence of AIDS in America, its spread, the frantic search to find its cure, and the dread, both founded and unfounded, that it has created in the minds of ordinary people.

Raising AIDS awareness is the least we can do for those who sufferred and succumbed to this deadly virus for no fault of their own, and also for those who will fall prey to this epidemic if we don't do our bit today.

Do watch this film.