Sunday, October 24, 2010

October: Month of the Rosary

October is the month of the Rosary.  Like every other Catholic in the world, I own a rosary.  Unlike every other Catholic in the world, I lose them regularly.  When I wasn't busy losing my rosaries I found that the plastic ones fell apart too easily, metal ones I could afford were too fragile and would fall apart after a week or two in my pocket, I could never tell where the decades ended or began on the knotted rosaries, and the ones made of cord and wood beads often resulted in the beads splitting off after an accidental wash. 

Solution:  a rosary ring.  The ring is simple,  easy to use, doesn't fall apart, and since I keep it on my key ring I don't lose it.   There's no special story about it.  No one important or special gave this particular rosary to me.  It's not blessed by the Pope.  I didn't take it on a trip with me.   It didn't help me find my vocation.  The only real story is that I have a rosary ring, and I use it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adult Film Star Tests Positive for HIV, Studios Stop Production

From Article:
At least five companies in California's multibillion-dollar adult entertainment industry have halted production after an actor tested positive for HIV, and more shutdowns were possible, the head of a major production company said Wednesday.
 You can only play with fire for so long till you get burned.

The Hypersexualization of Cancer: How "I heart Boobies" bracelets miss the mark.

"I heart Boobies."  "Save the Ta-tas."  Two provocative phrases meant to raise breast cancer awareness.  These two slogans have been around for sometime now, but have made national news over the last couple of months.  I have never paid much attention to the breast cancer awareness slogans, and wrote it off as an immature way for someone to make a buck on someone else's misfortune.  No longer am I able to ignore the "I heart Boobies" campaign, as students at the school at which I work are now wearing them (mostly adolescent boys).

Upon seeing the bracelets on my students' wrists I have made a new rule for my classroom, no "I heart Boobies" bracelets in my classroom.  Some of the students try to argue with me about it and here are the reasons I give them"

1.  A Hypersexualization of Cancer.  One would think the last thing on the earth that would become hypersexualized would be cancer; however, that is no longer the case. The "I heart Boobies" bracelets take a serious issue such as cancer and trivialize it by reducing cancer to sex.  The logic presented in the bracelets is disheartening, as it makes the survival of breast cancer to be only about saving boobies and not about the real goal which is saving a person's life.  For a person who has cancer surviving cancer is not about saving a body part.  Many cancer sufferers would, if they could, gladly go without a body part than die.  Surviving cancer is about living a longer, healthier life, free of cancer.  I fail to see how "I heart boobies" raises that kind of awareness. 

2.  It Objectifies women.  By focusing on loving boobies, these bracelets and the campaign run the danger of reducing the woman down to be only her boobies.  When in reality, a woman is a person with human dignity and not merely a set of boobs.

3.  Human beings: Not Animals.  "I heart Boobies" and "Save the Ta-Ta's" bear too close a resemblance to other famous "Save the" campaigns: Save the Whales.  Save the Rain forest.  Save the Ozone.  Cancer is not Captain Ahab, and Cancer is not a mean businessman who is trying to deforest the rain forests for profit.  Again, this runs the risk of stripping a human person of their dignity and reducing the person to be either merely animal or merely a thing.

4.  Maturity.  Most adolescent boys (yes the boys are the ones who like wearing these) are not mature enough to have a serious conversation about breast cancer.  When 14 year-olds still laugh at the word "ass" when used in the Bible to refer to a donkey, how can we expect them to think seriously about something like breasts.  Most boys of this age still blush at the use of the words "penis" and "vagina."  Plus, if an adolescent boy needs to wear a reminder on his wrist that he likes boobies then he has a fundamental emotional problem and needs to seek help immediately.

5.  Psychological.  The "I heart Boobies" disregards other dimensions of cancer.  Mainly the psychological struggles cancer sufferers commonly go through: depression, anxiety, stress.  These are to a much higher degree than what most people face on a day to day basis.  Plus a number of the cancer sufferers must face the reality of an early death.  

6.  Sexist.  By hearting boobies, the campaign forgets about the male demographic who suffer from breast cancer, for men don't have boobies.  Why is the male demographic being ignored in this campaign?  Are people so aware of breast cancer that they already know men migth suffer from breast cancer as well?

 7.  What About Other Forms of Cancer?  I highly doubt that other forms of cancer would be treated with the same disrespect to the human person.  What kind of slogan would be used for testicular cancer?  What kind of slogan would be used for prostate cancer?  What would the slogan be for colon cancer (*More people actually die from colon cancer every year than breast cancer.)?

In brief, the "I heart boobies" bracelets miss the mark in raising breast cancer awareness.  Certainly they might raise money for breast cancer research, but at what cost?  If people were really interested in raising awareness of breast cancer, how about starting with the possible connection that oral contraceptives (birth control) might raise the risk of acquiring breast cancer in women.  [UPDATE: I removed a link that went here that discussed the possible connection between abortion and breast cancer.  Much of the data reference was 30 years dated.  She directed me to the American Cancer Society site to two links on breast cancer and abortion.  The short story is that the ACS finds no causation between abortion and breast cancer.  Though it did not go into whether or no there is a correlation between abortion and breast cancer.  However, a recent study in 2009 by Dr. Dolle on Risk Factors for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer states that there is a link between birth-control, hormonal levels, abortion and breast cancer.  It is worth a read.]

Also, I'd like to see these individuals raise awareness by sticking with the pink bracelets and replacing the "I heart Boobies" slogan with "Mom", "Sister", "Aunt", "Grandmother" or "Friend."  It raises awareness in a more concrete way by connecting cancer to a person and not to a set of breasts.

Lastly, on the advice of my friend from the update above, if you know a woman encourage her to get an exam, do a self exam, and get a screening for breast cancer and if possible get one often.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Church Doesn't Hop on Bandwagons.

Where does one begin responding to such non-sense?
Mike Sweitzer-Beckman writes in a recent article at the NCReporter , "This past month, I read with a heavy heart about the multiple reports of gay teenagers who took their own lives as a result of bullying."
I do hope he has the same heavy heart for straight teens who take their own life because of bullying.  Why is it significant that these individuals were gay?
Some people say that bullying happens to everyone. I would say that there is a difference between getting picked on because you got some new glasses or braces and being bullied because of a marker of your human identity.
Whoa there, since when does your sexuality orientation define human identity?  I thought it was being made in the image and likeness of God that define human identity.
Who is missing from this list? I have not heard any prominent Catholic Church clergy speak out on this catastrophe.
Why this matters I have no idea.  As time and time again the Catholic Church has said the same thing over and over and the world refuses to listen.  But Mike might want to read the USCCB's statement on violence against women in which it states very clearly, "The Catholic Church teaches that violence against another person in any form fails to treat that person as someone worthy of love. Instead, it treats the person as an object to be used."
I think the better questions is not why are catholic leaders not speaking out, because they already have, but why was the Catholic Church ignored?
It is time for church leaders to stop waiting for the bandwagon to pull on past and to take a stand to lead the charge.
Since when is jumping on a bandwagon a good thing?  I thought most people hated bandwagon jumpers because they are individuals who aren't true to the message.  Also, the problem is exactly as Mike states, bandwagons pass on by.  Bandwagons are trends and fads, something the Church has never been and has never stood for and those trends soon too will pass.
Do we want our church to pull another Galileo and get it right some 500 years later?
When in doubt, throw Galileo at the Church.  Won't people allow the Church to move on?  Also, does this guy know anything about the Galileo the Church Canon case (yes he was a Canon of the Catholic Church)?  Galileo's views were 'condemned' as something incompatible with the catholic faith at the time because Galileo, at the time, did not have sufficient evidence to support his , at the time, theory.  Moreover what got him in real trouble was when he started acting as theologian insisting that scripture needed to be reinterpreted in light of his theory.  Lastly, it was a panel of 12 cardinals who made the decision.   Twelve Cardinals hardly speak for the entirety of "the Church."  The ruling of the 12 cardinals was not an infallible decision.

The church has a mission to be prophetic, to listen to the social and natural science experts around us
Which social experts?  The ones who say homosexuality is a mental disorder?  The ones who say that people have certain inclinations to sin (oh wait a sec. this sounds like church teaching)? 
Also, being prophetic means to proclaim God's message and not to hop on board with the latest trend.  Being prophetic means standing for the unfailing and eternal truths of God.
Moreover, who would want to jump on with social and natural scientists who promote a lifestyle that is clearly unhealthy?  The Center for Disease Control writes in HIV among Gay, Bisexual and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) that "Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM)1 represent approximately 2% of the US population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV and are the only risk group in which new HIV infections have been increasing steadily since the early 1990s. In 2006, MSM accounted for more than half (53%) of all new HIV infections in the United States, and MSM with a history of injection drug use (MSM-IDU) accounted for an additional 4% of new infections. At the end of 2006, more than half (53%) of all people living with HIV in the United States were MSM or MSM-IDU. Since the beginning of the US epidemic, MSM have consistently represented the largest percentage of persons diagnosed with AIDS and persons with an AIDS diagnosis who have died." 
Who in their right mind would want to promote a styling of living that accounts for over half the new cases of HIV?
Last month a group of students and even some clergy at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Minnesota attended the weekly Mass wearing rainbow-colored bands to stand in solidarity with those in the gay and lesbian community who are being bullied across the country.

They did not raise a ruckus. They did not shout out during the homily.

Regardless, they were refused the Eucharist by Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Minneapolis/St. Paul archdiocese.

The Minneapolis StarTribune reported [3] that Dennis McGrath, the spokesman for the archdiocese, said people wearing a rainbow sash are not allowed to receive the Eucharist because they are making a political statement.

However, in denying these Catholic faithful the Eucharist, the church is ironically making a political statement. It is a case where a church leader took a stance and it doesn't seem to agree with Jesus' teachings on justice and love for neighbor.

The Acrhbishop was not making a 'political statement'.  The Archbishop was making a THEOLOGICAL and MORAL statement.  People really need to stop politicizing the Church.  It is only a political statement in the eyes of many because they foolishly think that an ancient institution and religion that is nearly 2000 years old is Left or Right.  Why does noone every ask if Ghandi is left or right?  Also, I would be willing to bet the Archbishop would have done the same for individuals who wore "I Hate Fags" buttons.
Also, the Archbishop was forced to make a decision on the spot.   As a teacher, I have learned that if it looks questionable and smells fishy, it often times is.  The Archbishop saw something questionable and instead of letting others unknowingly eat and drink condemnation on themselves, he saw it fit as the pastor of their souls that they refrain from receiving the Eucharist at the celebration of the Eucharist.  It was a very pastoral response to the situation.
There is plenty of scriptural basis for treating our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters with dignity and respect.
Jesus commands us to live in right relationship with one another in John 15:12-13, 17:
"This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends ... This I command you, that you love one another."

Dignity and respect, yes.  Remember, love does not mean letting others do harm to themselves and others at the same time.  Love does NOT mean never having to say "I am sorry."
They crack open another story from the Gospel of John when Lazarus is called out of the tomb by Jesus and begins to live a new life. This is a metaphor for gay and lesbian people who have just clarified their sexual orientation to the world. Rather than hiding in a closet, a gay or lesbian person is given new life.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION HAS NOTING TO DO WITH THE RASING OF LAZARUS!  The story isn't even about Lazarus.  It is about Christ being the Resurrection and the Life.  It is aimed at showing how Christ fulfills his words with actions.  This is a horrendous misuse of Sacred Scripture where its focus is turned off of Christ and onto the reader.  Such an interpretation does violence to the Word of God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Peace Project: A Short Story

Date:  310418211.3a7
Subject: The Planet known as 'Earth'
Entry#: 4473811
Last Entry Date:  21948372.2s1 (approximately 250 Earth years.)
Watcher #: L7487-924

Since the last entry, the planet known as 'Earth' has changed more rapid than usual.  The life span of the humans who live on this planet is significantly shorter than ours -- thus the need for quick adaptation.  In order to make an accurate report, I have spent some time reading their archives for this entry to determine what caused this change to the species and the planet.  This is what has been determined.

On the night of the 11-12 of December 2512, war as the humans knew it ended, and with it -- some of their species might say -- so ended humanity.

It began long ago.  Attempts at peace.  If what their literature says is true, it began some time in the days of their pre-history.  Wars were fought for peace. Tribes attempted to establish peace and control the whims of humanity.  Later, politicians, clerics, philosophers followed in suit.  "Peace" they all preached, and "War" was their answer.  A tool was made, and the tool was misused.  This was the state of humanity as accounted for since the records of their pre-history. 

A noticeable shift in humanity could be seen by those who were vigilant in the year 2213.  It was the year when the Peace Program was first invented by several undergraduate students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  As computers became smaller -- desktop, to laptop, to netbook, to handheld computing, to wrist computing the size of watches, and credit card computing -- the ever shrinking technology allowed three MIT students to hypothesize a way peace could be had by means of the computing devices all people carried with them.  When the Peace Program was first released, no one expected much from the program -- not even the students' professors.  It had every indication of being a failure at a lofty humanitarian effort of peace.  But the program survived through the years and developed with each advancement of technology.

The Peace Program gained its biggest support and push in 2315.  During this age, people installed and implanted computational devices in their bodies 8 days after birth.  This was the law of the world and none were exempt.  The race to be the first nation to reach the outer planets is what initially drove the implantation of the Limbabellum Stimulation Devices (LD) in citizens across the world. The LDs enhanced the computational thinking power of the mind and senses by tapping into the long dormant recesses of the brain.  Some years after the mandatory implantation of said devices, the IQ of the entire planet rose on average 100 points.  Fifth grade students were doing advanced physics and first grade students were reading and writing commentary on the Shakespearean Canon. 

Though the LDs, implanted near the cerebellum, were regulated and monitored by the World Union Government (WUG) -- an informal unionized government whose laws had no bearing on the populace but were obeyed by all, this did not stop the commercial industry from tapping into the device and using it for their own means.  Soon an entire industry existed solely to produce products for the device.  Many aimed at tapping into the neurotransmitters to which the device was connected to produce a variety of effects.  The most common of products were ones that caused a decrease in the learning curve for whatever was being learned.  Instead of it taking years of laborious practice and numerous failures, master musicians, writers, mathematicians could be had in a mater of months.  By means of the LD, the Peace Project was able to take hold in society, instead of creating a virtual world one only heard and saw, the Peace Project engineers were able to tap into multiple senses and stimulate a release of serotonin into the brain producing a state of peaceful bliss in the person using the Peace Project.  Users reported a dip in stress levels, better sleep, and more productivity.

The government allowed for the Peace Program to use the LD, but strictly regulated with harsh penalties which transmitters and sections of the brain could be stimulated and which could not.  Moreover, with the advent of the marriage of the LD and the Peace Project, the World Union Government (WUG), exercising reason, saw it fitting to limit the amount of time a person could use the Peace Program with the LD.  Each Peace Program was sold with a timer that would shut down the Peace Program after using the system for the maximum time allotted by the WUG (45 minutes).  The Program would then not reboot for a full 48-hour period.

Though the regulations were in place, it was only a matter of time before some one worked around the restrictions and blocks put in place by the government.  As it is with humanity, the good is often twisted and misused.  An un-authorized Peace Program was put into secret use in the Maximum Security Prison of Louisiana, which violated the Cerebellum Convention documents that set an international standard upon which sections of the brain can be stimulated and for what length of time those areas may be stimulated, and was used to stimulate the neurotransmitters that were, by law, not allowed to be stimulated by the device.  The Peace Program harnessed the neurotransmitters and increased the dopamine and serotonin levels in the mind to create a world of peace for the individual who was plugged into the Peace Project terminal.  The un-authorized version included, not for public release of knowledge, sensory receptors and stimulators that covered the head and eyes. Sensors and receptors were even inserted into the nasal passages, ears, and mouth.  Those who were plugged into the terminal were in a different world and not only electronically by means of a computer, but there in the senses also. 

The Peace Program was first put to use in the prison on the most violent of inmates who continued their violence in prison despite their location and condition.  The goal of this un-authorized Peace Program was to aid in the rehabilitation of the violent criminals.  It was used both as a disciplinarian tool as well as a learning tool.  It was deemed more humane than solitary confinement; yet, more effective than other programs: group therapy sessions, psychotherapy, and pharmaceuticals.  So the warden at the Maximum Security Prison of Louisiana saw the program as no problem. 

Ted Robicheaux was the first inmate sent to the un-authorized Peace Program.  He was sentenced to life incarceration for the killing of ten individuals over a course of 5 years.  He killed his victims by means of a systematic removal of the flesh.  After the removal of a strip of flesh, he cleaned the wound in an attempt to make His victim live as long as possible.  He kept pints of his own blood on hand in order to supply the victim with more time before death.  He would cook and eat the strips before the victim's own eyes, all done without the aid of narcotics and in a sound proof room in an upper alcove of his house in the Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Robicheaux said it was a "spiritual experience."  "Ecstasy" he said.  It was "like Theresa of Avila wounded by beauty's arrow."  Robicheaux continued his violence in prison, which resulted in the majority of his first two years in solitary confinement.

Having no living family, Ted Robicheaux was the perfect candidate for this experimental implementation of the un-authorized Peace Program.  At first Ted responded well to the program.  While attached to the machines, he was peaceful and never bothered a person.  When he attended his mandatory group rehabilitation meetings, he produced a level of calm that none had seen him with before.  While attending those meetings he said little.  Though calmer, he was more withdrawn from those around him. Finally, and unexpectedly, Ted became agitated, full of anxiety, anger and wrathful, ready to snap at any person who did not let him be in his own mind.  He exhibited symptoms of depression and often had mood swings from rage to tears.  Systematically, his violence returned, all the while he kept asking for the Peace machine.  He wanted to be hooked back into the machine.  It was there, he said, while covered with electrodes and wires that he "could be himself."  It was "more real than the real world, more sensual than the senses," and "more peaceful than peace itself." Ted Robicheaux got what he desired.  He was permanently installed into the Peace Machine after killing the members of his group rehabilitation during one session.  Due to the Life-to-Life Act of the World Union Government (WUG), which stated, "all measure must be made to ensure the survival of all peoples.  Regardless of their state of life."  steps were made to ensure Ted's survival while installed into the machine:  feeding tubes were placed for nourishment, orderlies were present to assist in his cleaning and changing, and technicians were on site full time to monitor both the machines and Ted.

As months passed, the guards at the Maximum Security Prison of Louisiana reported a positive boost in morale by not having to manage Ted.  The reports were so positive, that soon, other prisoners were installed into the Peace machine: first the violent, then the uncooperative, than the emotionally disturbed, the troubled, the sad, the happy, and it continued over several years till finally the entire prison population was installed into the peace machine.  When the reports came out that the Maximum Security Prison of Louisiana violent incidents had not only decreased over the years but submitted a report 10 years after the installation of Ted Robicheaux in the the Peace Machine to the World Union Government Office of Correctional Institutes (WUGOCI) a violent incident rating of 0%.  This report resulted in the prison being audited by the WUGOCI.  What the WUGOCI Czar found upon his arrival pleased him greatly, and he started a mandatory implementation of the unauthorized peace program across all correctional institutes in the WUG region 10 -- formally known as the United States.

The same pattern was followed and over a course of 10 years, the violent incidents in the WUG region 10  correctional institutes dropped to an all time low of 1%.  Other WUG regions, impressed with the success of the unauthorized Peace Program in WUG region 10, began adopting it in their prison systems with similar results.

Years later, Judges and juries began sentencing people to the Peace Project for a length of time.  Like with Ted, after released from the Peace Project, anxiety increased in those released, and eventually a more serious crime was committed so they could be reinstalled to the Peace machine; repeat offenders were permanently installed. The connection was never made that the Peace Program might be causing the anxiety and crimes.  Causation was never proved and a correlation seemed to have been ignored.  As the crime rates fell, Judges began sentencing individuals to the Peace Project for even the least serious of crimes:  speeding (for it showed signs of aggression which would lead to violence); littering and plastics  (it showed signs of disrespect to the earth and humanity and leads to rebelious behavior and contempt for positions of authority); speaking badly against certain people, parties, ideologies and beliefs (this showed even more aggressive behavior and aggressive behavior begot only more aggressive behavior); and even certain lifestyles were sentenced to the Peace Project.
Wars were non-existent on every front: political, spiritual, and economical.  Jihad was no longer the fear of the world.  From a certain point of view, peace stretched across the world. However, Friends turned friends in to the Peace Project.  Son was set against Father, and Mother was set against daughter.  During this time, the world became scared.  At any moment, a person could be taken away by the Peace Patrol, those officers sworn to protect Peace and the Project.

In the spring of 2400 A.D., WUG agencies across the globe opened Peace Centers, for a nominal fee and a promise of donating their body to the Peace Project upon the end of their life.  People who did not want to live or who couldn't function in the normal world would go voluntarily to these centers and get installed into the peace machines never to be seen again.  Their athletic stadiums, skyscrapers, missile silos and other monolithic structures of every age were transformed into these centers.  Humans in rectangular boxes measuring 6 feet in length, 3 feet in width, and 2 feet in height, were stacked upon each other creating the appearance of massive storehouses.
So, on the night of December 11-12, 2512, Edward Johnson finished fully automating the Peace Machines to function without the aid of human intervention.

His final entry into his log read:

    I am finished.  A lifetime of work.  I can now join my brethren in the Project.  Though when I install myself, as the last of my kind, peace will be and war will be naught, the hungry are fed, the naked have become clothed, the sad rejoice, the sick have been healed, and the dying live.  The Kingdom of Heaven is now.

We will the planet known as Earth, we will continue to monitor.  Though I suspect that monitoring will be less frequent now that their world is installed into their Peace Program. 

This ends report #4473811.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

Hilarius New (to me) Blog: Extra-Ordinary Monkey Business

Ever tire of the endless stream of liturgical abuses?  Fear not.  Join Granny Snark for some relief over at Extra-Ordinary Monkey Business and poke fun at the things liturgist think are acceptable: West Coast churches are frequently seen on the blog.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Teaching, Fantasy Football, and Advice to Parents: What a Teacher Wants From the Parents of His Students

By now most schools have already had their parent back to school night and possibly parent teacher conferences.  Both of which amount to a total of about 10 minuets with direct contact between teacher and parent.  As important as teachers are in America, and with many public school systems across the nation failing, one would expect a different approach and attitude toward teaching.  However, this is not the case.

The majority of parents seem satisfied with only seeing the teacher for a minimal amount of time.  Of course, if their child is doing well in class, then the parent is satisfied with the minimal amount of parent-teacher interaction.  However, if the student is failing, no amount of parent-teaching time is enough till the student is passing with grades the parent deems sufficient.

This fact is bothersome.  Especially when one considers the amount of time parents spend doing other non-essentials hobbies.  For instance, August and September gives way to the start of football, which has been elevated to a status far above that of any other weekend activity.  Moreover, if a person were to engross himself in football to the degree EPSN dictates, nothing productive would happen between August and January. 

Today, it is not just a matter of watching football on the weekend.  Now that Fantasy football has come very mainstream, it further skews the importance of the weekend entertainment known as football.  Instead of just flipping on the TV on Sunday to watch your favorite team on the gridiron, one now spends many hours researching the pass defense their number one receiver and quarterback are facing that week. 

But even before rosters are set in Fantasy Football leagues across the nation, the fantasy draft happens.  Leading up to the draft fantasy ‘coaches’ examine the various players and the roles those players have on that team, they examine the rookies and take into account the style of play the rookie is familiar with and decides whether or no he will fit in with his new professional team, they examine the returning and exiting players and how this will impact the play of a franchise player, and they hope dearly to find the one sleeper of the season who will dominate the field of play.

Yet, when compared with something of much importance, say education, parents spend little to no time getting information on the people who teach their sons and daughters.  Very few parents consider asking the teacher, “What is your teaching style?”, “Who were your professor, and how did they form your ability to educate?”, or “How does your education influence your philosophy on the student’s ability to learn?”  The only explanation I can muster for why this is is that parents assume too much about educators.   Parents assume that teachers, who might have 150+ students, can teacher accordingly to the learning style of their son or daughter.  Assuming such a thing is ludicrous because the teacher would have to adjust to 150+ different styles of learning.  The smarter route is for parents to help the student adjust to the teaching occurring in class as much as possible, as the student will have to do this on their own once they enter college.  Further more, every fantasy footballer know that the player who does not adjust to the coaching preference of the head coach is a football player who has little success on the team.

So what is a parent to do? 

First, spend more time on the essentials and less time on the unessential of life.  Consider, “How much TV did I watch today?” then compare it with how much you helped your child with his or her studies.  If there is a vast discrepancy between the two where TV watching far out weighs the amount your help your son or daughter with his or her studies, then there might be a problem. 

Second, inquire from the teacher as to their teaching style.  Does the teacher mostly lecture? Is the teacher more hands on experiential learner? 

Third, you are the parent, the keeper and primary educator of your child, limit your child’s distractions when they do study.  Listening to music, texting on cell phones (I’d recommend taking the cell phone away from the teen during study time), and surfing the Internet does not equate to effective study habits.  There is a reason that for many years the recommended environment for effective study is a quiet environment free of distractions, because it works. 

Fourth, stemming off the third point, monitor your child while he or she is studying.  A good place is the kitchen table or the dinning room table. 

Fifth, make your child show you their complete homework.  Few teachers never give homework.  Most teachers give homework every night.  Assume the latter.  If they tell you they finished it at school, have them show you it anyway.

Sixth, spend a little bit of the evening quizzing your child on the notes they are taking in class.

Seventh, Everyone wants their child making good grades, but not every child is an “A” student in every subject.  However, this does not mean you should lower your expectations.  The student might not see the need for math now, but they will realize the benefit of it later.

Eighth, realize that your child is your legacy. Your job is to get your child to the level of mature responsibility so that he or she can be a productive member of society.
Ninth, if your child says that the teacher is being mean.  You should read this as "the teacher is challenging me, and I don't like it." 
 In no way am I suggesting that people do away with sports or remove them from their life all together.  What I am asking is that the non-essentials of life be placed behind the priorities of life.  What it boils down to is that TV never brought us to the moon.  Baseball did not get us any closer to inventing the microprocessor.  Hockey did not lead the way to great new systems of thinking.  The first thing is to remember to keep the first things first.

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