Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Please Don't Dim the Lights.

Here is a picture from my classroom.
We have some electrical issues, so even though it was really nice of the people who built the school to put in dimmer switches, something funny happens if you dim.
It breaks the lights.
Really.
If you dim the lights EVEN ONE TIME, one or more bulbs will start flickering.
Sometimes they make a menacing buzzing sound.
No one has been able to fix or explain this phenomenon.
So, rather than keep wasting the time of the maintenance crew and wasting the money of the taxpayers of California, I duct-taped the lights so you can't dim them.
At first I used the old-fashioned duct tape.
Then I got the pretty kind, the kind that I wear as bracelets, because things that are useful as well as decorative are things I value highly.
People like dimming lights. It gives them a sense of control.
But when the lights you are dimming are the lights inside of people, that is wrong.
No one should try to control someone else's lights.
A lot of times people dim lights inadvertently, or because they think it's for someone else's good.
Like the parent who thinks taking art classes is stupid, because get that requirement out of the way and do something that "counts."
And I see how this kid, who can create things that make the angels weep, is really, really sad at registration and adds an extra science class.
Extra science classes are cool if they keep the lights on.
They are not cool if they dim the lights.
Or the counselor or teacher who tells a kid that she's "not college material."
What? WHAT?
My blood pressure goes up whenever I think about this, because I am thinking of a specific kid I had a long time ago who was, and is, one of the most singularly gifted human beings I have ever met, and an Adult in Authority said this to her.
It is a credit to this student that this reckless stupidity did not break her.
Dimmers are for light fixtures,not people.
I can duct-tape light switches.
I can't control stupid stuff that adults say.
I can try to fix the lights.
Wish me luck.

63 comments:

  1. Oh I remember a career's adviser telling me to rather than think of trying to apply for a university place to find a job in a supermarket and start there. :-(

    Glad I ignored her!

    :-) Take care
    x

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    1. Oh, no. I am glad you ignored her, too. *hearts*

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  2. Very interesting analogy. I think it's sad when adults snuff the lights on children's potential.
    I'm a new follower by way of Mathew McNish's blog. Hope you follow me too.

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    1. Hi Em! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Adults need to do a better job, truth. And Matthew is the best. Followed you! :)

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  3. Hello, Kristen! I can't believe an educator would say something so tactless to an impressionable student. I'm so glad that there are teachers like you in the world who believe in and encourage all of their beautiful students!!

    I have zebra-striped duct tape. :) It's way more fun than the boring silver/gray kind!

    Have a lovely week and happy A to Z!!

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    1. Hi Laura!
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It is hard to believe what people say.
      I love my zebra stripes, too.
      :)

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  4. Good luck. And I hope when I have kids and they are in school, they have a teacher like you.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your lovely comment. *happy dances*

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  5. I love this post!!!! So glad you're out there being the spark. <3

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Kimberly. And thanks for the props!

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  6. Hear. Hear. From a fellow teacher. Kids are supposed to make their own mistakes; the teacher's job is to provide the skills to learn from them.

    Keep up the good work -- oh, and new light switches might be an easy fix. Hahahaha -- Easy fix...School system...That's just funny to me.

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    1. I'm also a teacher, and this post and comment are both great!

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    2. Easy fix--that is a good one! Major kudos to you for rocking your classroom, and thanks for the comment!

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  7. Oh, man, I was just about to write 'Keep up the good work.'
    Um...
    Great metaphor. I also appreciate your use of pretty duct tape. I have the splotchy one here, too.
    I hope there is no more dimming going on.

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    1. I know. I wish I could just send out a world-wide memo: DON'T DIM THE LIGHTS.
      Thanks, Kristen.
      You are a Sister of the Duct Tape.

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  8. Hi Kirsten .. good to meet you - over from Matthew's post on Lee's blog ..

    Kids being put down .. what a ridiculous way to go .. and I do hope you get the lights fixed - dimmers an cause that problem .. but a whole school's worth ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  9. I was once told I was a 'silly sausage' and no good at all at sewing (which I hated) and lo' and behold, I am awful at sewing and still hate it.

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    1. Claire, gah, I am so sorry someone said that to you. I hope that someone somewhere said something that lit you up. Thank you for your comment.

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  10. I love duct tape...never knew it came in pretty bracelet colors and designs, but use it for just about everything...except maybe crochet that is...hmmm...you may have given me a new idea:) haha

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  11. Great post! When I was learning to drive, I was told I was not "a natural driver" and to this day, I drive but I don't like it. Gah, the things that stick in our heads...

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    1. What is a "natural driver?" Are you an "unnatural driver?" What was that supposed to mean to you? How was that supposed to be helpful?
      Madeline, I apologize on behalf of educators everywhere.
      Clearly this was an unnatural teacher and had no place in a classroom.

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  12. Great post. I hope most teachers are like you.

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    1. Hi Carol,
      Thanks for the comment, and I like to think that most teachers are caring people that move kids forward.

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  13. Hopping over from the Challenge blog. Sad that adults who should encourage do the opposite. I'm particularly careful with my child as I want him to have great memories of this time. Forcing him to do what I want won't helping either of us.

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    1. J.L., I hear you. The use of force is just not something that works, and it's sad that so many adults apply it in one way or another. Rock in with your wee one!

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  14. Excellent post, and I very much agree, please don't dim the lights of people. By the way, I love that duct tape!

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    1. Clare, thank you for the comment. May we all work to make things brighter, and hooray for duct tape. :)

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  15. I used to love school and was always trying to prove myself (even back then!), but my strongest memory was when I asked to be moved down a class (the science classes were streamed back then and I was in the top group), because I didnt think I would be able to do it. He told me that he believed that I could and that made a difference because no-one had ever said that to me before. I never got the grade I had been expected to get but I think I made up for it by getting a Physics degree?! Mentors are few and far between which is a shame because I dont think we ever stop needing one even after we leave school.

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    1. This is what it's all about, I think. Thanks so much for this comment, Kate! Even though this isn't my post, Kristen is a friend of mine, and her mission is one that's close to my heart.

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    2. Kate, I am so glad and grateful that you had this teacher who believed in you. The grade really isn't relevant, as you so clearly and ass-kickingly demonstrated. We need more mentors, and we need to be mentors. I don't think we're ever to old to need or to be a mentor.
      Thanks for your comment.

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  16. Excellent. As the mother of three teens (one in his first year of college, a high school sophomore, and a 6th grader - this is a good reminder. Stopping by from the A to Z post, nice to meet you!

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    1. Hi Sheila,
      You are a for-true hero, girlfriend. Thanks for stopping by, and nice to meet you!

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  17. Yeah, I know what that's like. I was highly artistic as a child, but I was also brilliant in math and science, so art was never presented to me as anything real. I did so much math and science through high school that by the time I got to college that stuff was broken. I majored in English even though the administration at my college argued with me about it while pointing at my math scores. Anyway...
    I agree!

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    1. Andrew, you know, being gifted in more than one thing is so cool and I am so mad that no one helped you explore those other worlds. But it sounds like you went your own way and I am all for that, too. Yay brilliance.

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  18. My dad mocked me when I was young because I said I was going to write a book. It took me decades to get past that and write anyway -- and when I was talking about my writing with him one day, I discovered he was envious because he'd tried to write and just couldn't stay focused on one story long enough to complete it. I never did tell him the effect his words had on me.

    I'm doing my best not to dim the switches on my kids.

    Thanks for an excellent post!

    Erin

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    1. This is just about the saddest thing I've ever heard. So sorry, Erin!

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    2. I agree with my friend Matthew here, Erin. I am so sorry, and that is so sad. I am glad that you are writing and keeping the lights on for your kids. Don't you give up on your dream. It matters.

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  19. Awesome post! I love the parallel you draw and am in complete agreement. Happy A-Zing :)

    http://melinmidlothian.blogspot.com/

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    1. Hi Mel!
      Thanks for the props and thanks for stopping by for A-Z! :)

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  20. Duct tape rules! Sounds like you are doing a good job. Thank you for posting this. Happy blogging for the Challenge!

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    1. Hi J.! I am so glad you recognize the awesomeness of duct tape, which is frequently overlooked. I hope the A-Z is going well for you!

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  21. Hi, Kristen! I am hopping over from the A to Z Challenge and am a new follower. I have worked with children in many different capacities over the years and unfortunately can relate to your post. I currently manage a martial arts school in Tennessee and it is amazing to me what an ounce of encouragement can do for a child versus a pound of negativity. Good luck with the challenge!

    Donna L Martin
    www.donasdays.blogspot.com

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  22. I'm a teacher too. I hate when the AP teachers treat reg ed students like lesser beings. Makes me wanna kick someone in the ovaries. Also, love the blog.

    Alphabet stalker from prose-spective.blogspot.com

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    1. Rena, go kick some ovaries, girl. I hear you. Thanks for hopping by, and I will return the visit soon here!

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  23. Was just talking about this idea last night that a teacher ( not to pick on them) can make or break a child.
    Thankd for what you do for the next generation
    hugs

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  24. Beautiful analogy. Who hasn't had their lights dimmmed somewhere along the way? 'Let your light SHINE' is what we're supposed to to do. So glad your students have you. High school is a tough gig.
    Teachers are the BEST!!!

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    1. Thank you, Mare. You have a really cool name, by the way. HIgh school is tough, but so worth it. :)

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  26. Wonderful post! It is so easy to become cynical and down on yourself and responding to children with those thoughts forefront in your mind. They aren't like adults who can easily brush them away, they remember your words and take them so personally...

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    1. I know! I can remember the good, bad, and ugly from when I was in school, and it helps to remember that...thanks for stopping by.

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  27. So very TRUE, we need to shine our light not dim it..

    AND i love your analogy with the duct tape and pretty tape.

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    1. Thanks, Coach! And hooray for duct tape.

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  28. Wow. Just Wow.

    I am a case study in a meandering path of seeming useless interests. I have turned my love for fantasy role playing games and Halloween into a steady means of income. If you follow what you love, and couple that with business sense, there is virtually no limit to what you can do.

    My wife teaches piano, and this whole concept is dear to her.

    My post for today for R is "Role Playing Games". Hope you stop by.

    http://mainstreetarts.blogspot.com/2012/04/role-playing-games.html

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    1. Hi Arthur. You comment just makes me beam. RPG's and Halloween? How cool is that?
      I will be stopping by!

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  29. Luck! and I hope my kids have at least a few teachers that care as much as you!

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    1. Thanks, Bill. I hope your kids get the best teachers in the world. I hope all kids do.

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  30. Holy shit. 59? I don't even average 59. So glad I could help.

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