For those who may not know, Thirteen Reasons Why is the title of a book first published in 2007 and recently adapted to a Netflix Series. The story follows a fictional teenager named Hannah and, in short, how she shares her thirteen reasons for deciding to take her own life. For various reasons, the book and series have captured national interest with many believing the story “glorifies” suicide. Many young adults are reading the book (a New York Times best-seller) while many parents are concerned about the messages youth are receiving.
One thing it does do is generate conversation and I’m honored to have been invited to participate in a Coffee Talk with Pastor Reeni Cipullo. This informal discussion of the book and Netflix Series will tackle questions like
Do books and films like this glamorize suicide?
Were Hannah’s reasons for taking her life valid?
Why are young adults captivated by the book/film?
What does the book/film say about adults?
Should I read/see it if I haven’t?
For those who have read/seen it, how did it impact you?
and any questions or concerns you might have.
This is a free event with an opportunity to get the facts and discuss your concerns and questions around the story and issues young adults face. All are welcomed!
I have created a resource page for information on this topic and will have additional material available at the Coffee Talk!
Bet you didn’t know today is World Teachers’ Day! Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies,” is the slogan for 2015.
By sheer coincidence, today I will be working with eighty third graders as part of the Valley Grange Words for Thirds Program. The program is designed to give third graders their own personal dictionary. I have the honor of facilitating the process and teaching the kids a little history and some basic dictionary skills.
Another coincidence was that one of the email newsletters I subscribe to included a very appropriate quote by thinker Friedrich Nietzsche (October 15, 1844–August 25, 1900).
Your true educators and cultivators will reveal to you the original sense and basic stuff of your being, something that is not ultimately amenable to education or cultivation by anyone else, but that is always difficult to access, something bound and immobilized; your educators cannot go beyond being your liberators. And that is the secret of all true culture: she does not present us with artificial limbs, wax-noses, bespectacled eyes – for such gifts leave us merely with a sham image of education. She is liberation instead, pulling weeds, removing rubble, chasing away the pests that would gnaw at the tender roots and shoots of the plant; she is an effusion of light and warmth, a tender trickle of nightly rain…
There may be other methods for finding oneself, for waking up to oneself out of the anesthesia in which we are commonly enshrouded as if in a gloomy cloud – but I know of none better than that of reflecting upon one’s educators and cultivators.
And therein lies a wonderful way to celebrate this relatively unknown day… thinking about those who have educated and “cultivated” us. We are all teachers and educators. We are all learners and students. I expect to learn something from these kids today. And I hope they learn something from me and the experience they have.
As I read Nietzche’s thoughts I was most struck by his suggestion that educators are liberators. Dictionary Day today will have, for me, a slightly different meaning today. I will be considering how today’s lesson and the book each child leaves with will be freeing and surely contribute to the person each becomes. As the kids would say, “Awesome!”
Part of my summer reading program will be reading about reading! This morning I found a great resource–37 Ways to Help Kids Learn to Love Reading | Edutopia. Some of these are really awesome. Admittedly, most are from and for classroom teachers, but many are adaptable for home use or at a public library. One that sounded like tons of fun is creating “voice cards.” A deck of cards is created identifying various voices (cowboy, teacher, etc.) The child draws a card and then reads aloud using that voice. I can hear the laughter, pardner!
I recently had the distinct privilege of helping out in the 4-H booth at the Piscataquis Valley Fair… in the process I met an awesome five year old who was quite excited over the prospect of entering Kindergarten next week. She thought it was really cool that I sometimes teach at her school as a substitute and wanted to be sure that I knew she spells her name with a “K” and not with a “C.”
One of the great joys of being a sub is getting to experience the excitement of “back to school.” If you miss that excitement, there are some opportunities coming up!
I’ll be teaching the Substitute Training Course twice: On September 10 for PVAEC in Dover Foxcroft and on September 13 for RSU 19 in Newport. This one day course includes classroom management strategies and teaching stratgeies… for information or to register, contact PVAEC at 207 564-6525 for the Dover class and RSU 19 Adult Ed at 368-3290 for the Newport class.
On September 23, budding authors and publishers can attend the “Is there a book in you? Publish it!” class in Dover Foxcroft. This evening class explores the opportunity of “Indie Publishing” and print on demand technology. This is an evening class that will also be offered in Newport on October 21.
If you are in the Bangor area, I’ll be a guest at the ERA Dawson Mixer on September 8 for those with an interest in a real estate career. Typically, other speakers include lenders, insurers and title companies. For information about the Mixer call Julie Williams at 947-6788 or email email@example.com.
Of course there’s the usual schedule of Real Estate Courses: Sales Agent starting on September 17, Associate Broker, and Broker both starting in October.
Also in October, you can take the Your WordPress Website class in Dover Foxcroft at PVAEC or in Newport at RSU 19. Building a site can be fast, easy, and free!
“Are you old enough to dance?” is just one of the many questions “Mr. Boomsma” has been asked by the children he works with as a volunteer and substitute elementary school teacher. In his book, Small People—Big Brains, he points out that his original knee jerk reaction was the child had asked it wrong and really meant “Are you too old to dance?” But whether this is just an example of the literal thinking of a child or one of the many insightfully innocent statements kids make, it becomes another one of the stories about simplicity, exploration and wonder contained in the book.
Boomsma explains that the book formed when he realized after years of telling stories about his experiences with kids—sometimes hysterically funny stories, sometimes extremely insightful stories, and sometimes tragic—he’d already “written” most of it—all that was left to do was compile and publish it. Completed just over one year ago, he’s already hinting there may be a volume two as the stories keep coming and the kids still seem to have a lot more to teach him. He especially likes it when the kids ask “Mr. Boomsma, what would happen if…?” and wishes more adults would recapture some of that exploration and wonder because “thinking with kids about that question can lead to some amazing discoveries.”
Jack Falvey, a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s says of the book, “This is a light and fast read until it isn’t, and then you stop and read a sentence or a thought a couple of times… If you have ever been in a classroom, on either side of the teacher’s desk, you will enjoy these classic and classy observations on the art and science of learning.”
Boomsma’s work with Valley Grange and children will be featured in a soon to be released issue of Maine Seniors Magazine where he will be identified as a one of the magazine’s “Prime Movers – seniors and organizations who have truly become icons in their communities.” “I have figured out a lot of things about working with kids,” he jokes, “but I don’t have a clue how to be a community icon. I wonder if it involves dancing.”
“Mr. Boomsma” will be at the Guilford River Festival on Saturday, July 26 with some of his Valley Grange friends and the Bookworms who volunteer to listen to the kids read at Piscataquis Community Elementary School. There will be balloons for kids and funny stories about kids for adults. Signed copies of Small People – Big Brains will be available for purchase. And maybe even some dancing!
(Adapted from a press release…)
Walter Boomsma (“Mr. Boomsma”) writes on a wide array of topics including personal development, teaching and learning. Course information is also available here!