Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan #ASMSG #IARTG #T4US

Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”: The Purpose And Power Of Language

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From Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” (76-81), it is evident that language has an effect on our lives. Language defines the type of person we are generally and it has an effect on the choices we make regarding our careers, our partners, where we live, work, etc. In “Mother Tongue,” Amy Tan discusses the many ways in which the language that she speaks is multidimensional. It is private, it is public, it is family, it is academic. It is the sum total of her identity. Her story exemplifies us. In the same way that language defines Amy, it also defines all of us.

I am not a scholar of English or literature. I cannot give you much more than personal opinions on the English language and its variations in this country or others.

I am a writer. And by that definition, I am someone who has always loved language. I am fascinated by language in daily life. I spend a great deal of my time thinking about the power of language — the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth. Language is the tool of my trade. And I use them all — all the Englishes I grew up with.

Recently, I was made keenly aware of the different Englishes I do use. I was giving a talk to a large group of people, the same talk I had already given to half a dozen other groups. The nature of the talk was about my writing, my life, and my book, The Joy Luck Club. The talk was going along well enough, until I remembered one major difference that made the whole talk sound wrong. My mother was in the room. And it was perhaps the first time she had heard me give a lengthy speech, using the kind of English I have never used with her. I was saying things like, “The intersection of memory upon imagination” and “There is an aspect of my fiction that relates to thus-and-thus’–a speech filled with carefully wrought grammatical phrases, burdened, it suddenly seemed to me, with nominalized forms, past perfect tenses, conditional phrases, all the forms of standard English that I had learned in school and through books, the forms of English I did not use at home with my mother.

Just last week, I was walking down the street with my mother, and I again found myself conscious of the English I was using, the English I do use with her. We were talking about the price of new and used furniture and I heard myself saying this: “Not waste money that way.” My husband was with us as well, and he didn’t notice any switch in my English. And then I realized why. It’s because over the twenty years we’ve been together I’ve often used that same kind of English with him, and sometimes he even uses it with me. It has become our language of intimacy, a different sort of English that relates to family talk, the language I grew up with.

So you’ll have some idea of what this family talk I heard sounds like, I’11 quote what my mother said during a recent conversation which I videotaped and then transcribed. During this conversation, my mother was talking about a political gangster in Shanghai who had the same last name as her family’s, Du, and how the gangster in his early years wanted to be adopted by her family, which was rich by comparison. Later, the gangster became more powerful, far richer than my mother’s family, and one day showed up at my mother’s wedding to pay his respects. Here’s what she said in part: “Du Yusong having business like fruit stand. Like off the street kind. He is Du like Du Zong — but not Tsung-ming Island people. The local people call putong, the river east side, he belong to that side local people. That man want to ask Du Zong father take him in like become own family. Du Zong father wasn’t look down on him, but didn’t take seriously, until that man big like become a mafia. Now important person, very hard to inviting him. Chinese way, came only to show respect, don’t stay for dinner. Respect for making big celebration, he shows up. Mean gives lots of respect. Chinese custom. Chinese social life that way. If too important won’t have to stay too long. He come to my wedding. I didn’t see, I heard it. I gone to boy’s side, they have YMCA dinner. Chinese age I was nineteen.”

You should know that my mother’s expressive command of English belies how much she actually understands. She reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week, converses daily with her stockbroker, reads all of Shirley MacLaine’s books with ease–all kinds of things I can’t begin to understand. Yet some of my friends tell me they understand 50 percent of what my mother says. Some say they understand 80 to 90 percent. Some say they understand none of it, as if she were speaking pure Chinese. But to me, my mother’s English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural. It’s my mother tongue. Her language, as I hear it, is vivid, direct, full of observation and imagery. That was the language that helped shape the way I saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world.

Lately, I’ve been giving more thought to the kind of English my mother speaks. Like others, I have described it to people as ‘broken” or “fractured” English. But I wince when I say that. It has always bothered me that I can think of no way to describe it other than “broken,” as if it were damaged and needed to be fixed, as if it lacked a certain wholeness and soundness. I’ve heard other terms used, “limited English,” for example. But they seem just as bad, as if everything is limited, including people’s perceptions of the limited English speaker.

I know this for a fact, because when I was growing up, my mother’s “limited” English limited my perception of her. I was ashamed of her English. I believed that her English reflected the quality of what she had to say That is, because she expressed them imperfectly her thoughts were imperfect. And I had plenty of empirical evidence to support me: the fact that people in department stores, at banks, and at restaurants did not take her seriously, did not give her good service, pretended not to understand her, or even acted as if they did not hear her.

My mother has long realized the limitations of her English as well. When I was fifteen, she used to have me call people on the phone to pretend I was she. In this guise, I was forced to ask for information or even to complain and yell at people who had been rude to her. One time it was a call to her stockbroker in New York. She had cashed out her small portfolio and it just so happened we were going to go to New York the next week, our very first trip outside California. I had to get on the phone and say in an adolescent voice that was not very convincing, “This is Mrs. Tan.”

And my mother was standing in the back whispering loudly, “Why he don’t send me check, already two weeks late. So mad he lie to me, losing me money.

And then I said in perfect English, “Yes, I’m getting rather concerned. You had agreed to send the check two weeks ago, but it hasn’t arrived.”

Then she began to talk more loudly. “What he want, I come to New York tell him front of his boss, you cheating me?” And I was trying to calm her down, make her be quiet, while telling the stockbroker, “I can’t tolerate any more excuses. If I don’t receive the check immediately, I am going to have to speak to your manager when I’m in New York next week.” And sure enough, the following week there we were in front of this astonished stockbroker, and I was sitting there red-faced and quiet, and my mother, the real Mrs. Tan, was shouting at his boss in her impeccable broken English.

We used a similar routine just five days ago, for a situation that was far less humorous. My mother had gone to the hospital for an appointment, to find out about a benign brain tumor a CAT scan had revealed a month ago. She said she had spoken very good English, her best English, no mistakes. Still, she said, the hospital did not apologize when they said they had lost the CAT scan and she had come for nothing. She said they did not seem to have any sympathy when she told them she was anxious to know the exact diagnosis, since her husband and son had both died of brain tumors. She said they would not give her any more information until the next time and she would have to make another appointment for that. So she said she would not leave until the doctor called her daughter. She wouldn’t budge. And when the doctor finally called her daughter, me, who spoke in perfect English — lo and behold — we had assurances the CAT scan would be found, promises that a conference call on Monday would be held, and apologies for any suffering my mother had gone through for a most regrettable mistake.

I think my mother’s English almost had an effect on limiting my possibilities in life as well. Sociologists and linguists probably will tell you that a person’s developing language skills are more influenced by peers. But I do think that the language spoken in the family, especially in immigrant families which are more insular, plays a large role in shaping the language of the child. And I believe that it affected my results on achievement tests, I.Q. tests, and the SAT. While my English skills were never judged as poor, compared to math, English could not be considered my strong suit. In grade school I did moderately well, getting perhaps B’s, sometimes B-pluses, in English and scoring perhaps in the sixtieth or seventieth percentile on achievement tests. But those scores were not good enough to override the opinion that my true abilities lay in math and science, because in those areas I achieved A’s and scored in the ninetieth percentile or higher.

This was understandable. Math is precise; there is only one correct answer. Whereas, for me at least, the answers on English tests were always a judgment call, a matter of opinion and personal experience. Those tests were constructed around items like fill-in-the-blank sentence completion, such as, “Even though Tom was, Mary thought he was –.” And the correct answer always seemed to be the most bland combinations of thoughts, for example, “Even though Tom was shy, Mary thought he was charming:’ with the grammatical structure “even though” limiting the correct answer to some sort of semantic opposites, so you wouldn’t get answers like, “Even though Tom was foolish, Mary thought he was ridiculous:’ Well, according to my mother, there were very few limitations as to what Tom could have been and what Mary might have thought of him. So I never did well on tests like that

The same was true with word analogies, pairs of words in which you were supposed to find some sort of logical, semantic relationship — for example, “Sunset is to nightfall as is to .” And here you would be presented with a list of four possible pairs, one of which showed the same kind of relationship: red is to stoplight, bus is to arrival, chills is to fever, yawn is to boring: Well, I could never think that way. I knew what the tests were asking, but I could not block out of my mind the images already created by the first pair, “sunset is to nightfall”–and I would see a burst of colors against a darkening sky, the moon rising, the lowering of a curtain of stars. And all the other pairs of words –red, bus, stoplight, boring–just threw up a mass of confusing images, making it impossible for me to sort out something as logical as saying: “A sunset precedes nightfall” is the same as “a chill precedes a fever.” The only way I would have gotten that answer right would have been to imagine an associative situation, for example, my being disobedient and staying out past sunset, catching a chill at night, which turns into feverish pneumonia as punishment, which indeed did happen to me.

I have been thinking about all this lately, about my mother’s English, about achievement tests. Because lately I’ve been asked, as a writer, why there are not more Asian Americans represented in American literature. Why are there few Asian Americans enrolled in creative writing programs? Why do so many Chinese students go into engineering! Well, these are broad sociological questions I can’t begin to answer. But I have noticed in surveys — in fact, just last week — that Asian students, as a whole, always do significantly better on math achievement tests than in English. And this makes me think that there are other Asian-American students whose English spoken in the home might also be described as “broken” or “limited.” And perhaps they also have teachers who are steering them away from writing and into math and science, which is what happened to me.

Fortunately, I happen to be rebellious in nature and enjoy the challenge of disproving assumptions made about me. I became an English major my first year in college, after being enrolled as pre-med. I started writing nonfiction as a freelancer the week after I was told by my former boss that writing was my worst skill and I should hone my talents toward account management.

But it wasn’t until 1985 that I finally began to write fiction. And at first I wrote using what I thought to be wittily crafted sentences, sentences that would finally prove I had mastery over the English language. Here’s an example from the first draft of a story that later made its way into The Joy Luck Club, but without this line: “That was my mental quandary in its nascent state.” A terrible line, which I can barely pronounce.

Fortunately, for reasons I won’t get into today, I later decided I should envision a reader for the stories I would write. And the reader I decided upon was my mother, because these were stories about mothers. So with this reader in mind — and in fact she did read my early drafts–I began to write stories using all the Englishes I grew up with: the English I spoke to my mother, which for lack of a better term might be described as “simple”; the English she used with me, which for lack of a better term might be described as “broken”; my translation of her Chinese, which could certainly be described as “watered down”; and what I imagined to be her translation of her Chinese if she could speak in perfect English, her internal language, and for that I sought to preserve the essence, but neither an English nor a Chinese structure. I wanted to capture what language ability tests can never reveal: her intent, her passion, her imagery, the rhythms of her speech and the nature of her thoughts.

Apart from what any critic had to say about my writing, I knew I had succeeded where it counted when my mother finished reading my book and gave me her verdict: “So easy to read.”

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Timeles #Love Story: Book Review of Yukio Mishima’s, “The Sound of Waves” #ASMSG

Yukio Mishima’s, “The Sound of Waves” is a book that captures and engages the active reader on a number of levels. Active reading is important, because unless you share the cultural background of the author, you will miss out on the complexity and depth of the story. First things first, however. The author was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature on three separate occasions, and there are those who believe he should have been awarded the prize. Judging by his body of work as compared to some of the past winners, Mr. Mishima would have been a more than worthy recipient. Yukio Mishima, as a writer, is a master of his craft. After publishing his first book at the age of 16 (no mean feat in Japan), he went on to write forty novels, plays, and hundreds of short stories and essays. Prolific, I think, is the word that was invented to describe this author’s literary production.

In this truly timeless story of first love, Mishima uses evocative language to paint pictures in the mind of the reader. We hear the sound of the waves, we see the ocean, we feel the rain, the storms, the typhoon even. We hear the laughter, the joys, the tears, the pain, the hopes and fears of the characters involved in the story. We understand the way the plot develops as it does, with jealousy playing a major role in the story. That’s human, to feel jealousy when someone else is happy, when someone else has got something you wanted, but you did not manage to get for yourself.

The parents are portrayed realistically, willing to go to great lengths to satisfy their own dreams, to sacrifice to raise a family alone. The parents of Shinji and Hatsue, as well as the other children of the island, are easy to relate to. They want the best for their children. Their motivations are universal.

Culturally, a society in which nature and ancestors are venerated is made understandable to the reader. Shintoism plays a major role in shaping the reactions of Shinji and Hatse to the adversity their love is subjected to. Their actions speak volumes for the traditions and beliefs of the Japanese people. It is with little wonder when we actively search for more information and discover that this book has been made into a movie and filmed on 5 separate occasions in the past 50 years. It’s a classic tale which appeals to a wide audience on each retelling of the story. Again, it is both a timeless love story and a testimony to the values and morality one finds in the Japanese Shinto religion.

Despite all of the numerous islands that Japan has, Mishima set the story on Uta-Jima, a fictitious island. This gave him the ability to construct a remote fishing village island that would not only be contrasted with the modernity found in cities, but also be universally recognizable to the Japanese reader, and at the same time, be familiar to any other reader from outside of the Japanese culture. The result is a familiarity with the isolated setting, and an appreciation of why this island is not more technologically advanced than it appears in the story. After all, we are in the middle of the book before it dawns on us that we are reading a book set in the middle of the 20th century, since the Korean War is mentioned in the story.

Having praised the author extensively for his imagery, descriptive language, storytelling, characterization, capacity to convey Japanese cultural and religious practices, I now point out that he took a calculated risk in resorting to the use of an insect to intervene during an attempted rape. He didn’t pull it off convincingly, in my opinion. It was out of place in a story that was so very realistically written. I’m not opposed to a love story having humourous aspects, but as he used it here, he is asking the reader to suspend disbelief (and laugh) when we would have been more than willing to believe that Hatsue herself had overcome her attacker. Hatsue, after all, is young, in excellent health, strong enough to pull boats up on the beach, and used to hard work. She is also a pearl diver, capable of holding her breath and diving deep into the ocean to wrest pearls from its depths. Her attacker was physically her inferior, and in my mind, she would have easily defeated Yasuo. He would have taken nothing from her except perhaps a lump on his head from the can of WhoopA$$ she would have opened up on him.

Overall, the story is gripping, emotional, and very satisfying. It brought a lump to my throat, choked me up, and yes, I admit that I shed a tear (or two) at multiple times during the reading of this book. As a writer, it’s the kind of book I wish I had written myself, as a teacher it’s the kind of book you want your students to read and discuss. As a human being, it’s the kind of story you wish would happen to everybody, at least once in their lives, namely, to be truly loved in a pure way. I recommend this book very highly to anyone who has ever been in love. The book definitely transcends time and place, and will live on forever through the eternity of the human existence. Well done Mr. Mishima.

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Sir Ken Robinson: ‘The education system is a dangerous myth’ #ukedchat #ASMSG #edchat


Source: TES Connect
In an exclusive extract from his new book, Sir Ken Robinson argues that our approach to teaching is wrong – and hundreds of years out of date

I’m often asked the same questions: what’s going wrong in education? Why? If you could reinvent education, what would it look like? Would you have schools? Would there be different types? What would go on in them? Would everyone have to go, and how old would they have to be? Would there be tests? If you say I can make a difference in education, where do I begin?

The fundamental question is this: what is education for? People’s ideas differ sharply on this issue. Like democracy and justice, education is an example of what the philosopher Walter Bryce Gallie called an “essentially contested concept”. It means different things to different people according to their cultural values and how they view related issues such as ethnicity, -gender, poverty and social class. That doesn’t mean that we can’t discuss it or do anything about it. We just need to be clear on our terms. So before we go on, let me say a few words about learning, education, training and schools, terms which are sometimes confused.

Learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills. Human beings are highly curious; from the moment they’re born, children have a voracious appetite for learning. For many, that appetite is dulled as they go through school. Keeping it alive is the key to transforming education.

Education means organised programmes of learning. The assumption is that young people need to know, understand and be able to do things that they wouldn’t if left to their own -devices. What those things are and how education should be organised to enable students to learn them are core issues.

Training is a type of education that focuses on learning specific skills. I remember earnest debates as a student about the difficulty of distinguishing between education and training. The difference was clear enough when we talked about sex education. Most parents would be happy to know their teenagers had had sex education at school; they’d probably be less happy if they’d had sex training.

By schools, I don’t mean only the conventional facilities that we are used to for children and teenagers. I mean any community of people that comes together to learn with each other. School, as I use the term here, includes home-schooling, un-schooling and informal gatherings both in person and online, from kindergarten to college and beyond. Some features of conventional schools have little to do with learning and can actively get in the way of it. The revolution we need involves rethinking how schools work and what counts as a school. It’s also about trusting in a different story about education.

Happily ever after?

We all love stories, even if they’re not true. As we grow up, one of the ways we learn about the world is through the stories we hear. Some are about our own families and friends. Some are part of the larger culture – the myths, fables and fairy tales that have captivated people for generations. In stories that are told often, the line between fact and myth can become so blurred that we mistake one for the other. This is true of a story that many people believe about education, even though it’s not real and never really was. It goes like this.

Young children go to elementary school mainly to learn the basic skills of reading, writing and mathematics. These skills are essential for them to do well in high school. If they go on to higher education and graduate with a good degree, they will find a well-paid job and the country will prosper too.

In this story, real intelligence is what you use in academic studies: children are born with different amounts of this intelligence, so some naturally do well at school and others don’t. The ones who are really intelligent go on to good universities. Those who graduate with a good university degree are guaranteed a well-paid professional job with their own office. Students who are less intelligent naturally do less well. Some may fail or drop out. Some who finish high school may not go any further in education and look for a low-income job instead. Some will go on to college but take less academic, vocational courses and get a decent service or manual job, with their own toolkit.

When it’s put so baldly, this story may seem like too much of a caricature. But when you look at what goes on in many schools, when you listen to what many parents expect of and for their children, when you consider what so many policy-makers around the world are actually doing, it seems they really believe that the current systems of education are basically sound, and that they’re not working as well as they should only -because standards have fallen. Consequently, most efforts are focused on raising standards through more competition and accountability. You may believe this story too and wonder what’s wrong with it.

This story is a dangerous myth. It is one of the main reasons why so many reform efforts do not work. On the contrary, they often compound the very problems they claim to be solving, such as the alarming drop-out rates, the levels of stress and depression – even suicide – among students and their teachers, the falling value of a university degree, the rocketing cost of getting one and the rising levels of unemployment among graduates and non-graduates alike.

Mass production

Politicians scratch their heads over these problems. Sometimes they punish schools for not making the grade. Sometimes they fund programmes to get them back on track. But the -problems persist and often get worse, because many of them are caused by the system itself.

All systems behave in ways that are particular to them. When I was in my twenties in Liverpool, I made a visit to an abattoir. (I don’t remember why. I was probably on a date.) Abattoirs are designed to kill animals. And they work. Very few escape and form survivors’ clubs. As we came to the end, we passed a door that was marked “veterinarian”. I asked the guide why the abattoir had a veterinarian – wasn’t it a bit late for that? He said that the veterinarian came in periodically to conduct random autopsies. I thought, he must have seen a pattern by now.

If you design a system to do something specific, don’t be surprised if it does it. If you run an education system based on standardisation and conformity, which suppresses individuality, imagination and creativity, don’t be surprised if that’s what it does.

There’s a difference between symptoms and causes. There are many symptoms of the current malaise in education and they won’t be relieved unless we understand the deeper problems underlying them. One is the industrial character of public education. The issue in a nutshell is this: most developed countries did not have mass systems of public education much before the mid-19th century. These systems were developed to meet the labour needs of the Industrial Revolution and they are organised on the principles of mass production. The standards movement is allegedly focused on making these systems more efficient and accountable. The problem is that these systems are inherently unsuited to the wholly different circumstances of the 21st century.

Creative Schools: revolutionizing education from the ground up by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica is published by Allen Lane.


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Congratulations! Myths, Monsters & Love #ASMSG #IARTG #RRBC

Congratulations! “Myths, Monsters & Love From The South of Chile” is live in the Kindle Store and is currently enrolled in KDP Select. It is available* for readers to purchase here.

Thank you for publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). We hope you enjoy the benefits of KDP Select. You’ll earn a share of the monthly global fund when your book is selected and read past 10% from Kindle Unlimited or borrowed from KOLL. Plus, you can use the book promotion tools including: Kindle Countdown Deals, time-bound promotional discounting you set for your book on or to help readers discover your book; or schedule a Free Book Promotion so readers worldwide can get your book free for a limited time.

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The Kindle Direct Publishing Team


This book is dedicated to young and old alike. It is a centuries-old myth that has been passed down from generation to generation on the island of Chiloé. This island is located in the extreme southern sector of Chile, far from the urban center of the country.

This fact partly explains the fertile ground available for the myth’s survival to the present day. More importantly, its context is a superstitious world that sought to explain the mysteries of the natural world through the medium of dreams and myths. In fact, according to Joseph Campbell, “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” ~ Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth”.

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In Loving Memory: Bryan Keith Baker #RRBC #ASMSG

In Loving Memory-p1

Recently, I had the pleasure of teaching a unit about friendship with my students. During the progress of this unit, I was reminded of my nephew, Bryan. Let me share with you how this connection came to me, because I believe it is a valuable lesson worthy of being shared with my friends and family all over the world.

As part of the unit, we dealt with Aristotle’s ideas about friendship. Aristotle identifies three kinds of friendship in the book, “Nichomachean Ethics”. These are: 1. utility, 2. pleasure, and 3. goodness.

Although Aristotle acknowledges two schools of thought about whether we choose our friends because they are like us, or whether they differ from us, he takes a clear stand on which of the three types of friendships he considers to be the best. In fact, he states: “But the friendship of the good…is perfect.”

As I reflect on this, agreement with Aristotle is clearly indicated. Yes, in forming a friendship, we would like our friends to be useful to us, and vice versa. We would also like to enjoy pleasant moments, having fun, in the company of our friends. It is this point which forms Aristotle’s opinion that friendship based on goodness is the best type of friendship.

Let me ask two questions here. Would you or I wish to continue a friendship with someone who was unwilling to help us, or worse, gave us help which was worthless, of no value? The answer is, if you will allow me to answer for both of us, NO!

Let me ask my second question now. Would you or I wish to continue a friendship with someone who was boring, with whom there were no enjoyment, no fun, no pleasant moments? The answer, again, if you will permit me to answer for both of us, is NO!

Such friendships, based on pleasure and / or utility, can only be temporary. As we have seen, the friendship is terminated, when it no longer provides the utility or enjoyment one is looking for. Time and time again, we have experienced friendships in which we “give more than we get”. Sooner or later, common sense, or the need for self-preservation, dictates that we end such an unsatisfying friendship.

However, a friendship based on goodness is quite a different matter. Aristotle tells us that friends who are good, “…equally wish good to one another, inasmuch as they are good; but their goodness is inherent in themselves; and those, who wish good to their friends for the friends’ sake, are friends in the greatest degree; for they have this feeling for the sake of ‘the friends themselves… Their friendship therefore continues…and virtue is lasting.”

Friendship inherit in yourself, to wish good for your friends’ sake, are friends in the greatest degree.

As I reflect on the legacy of my nephew, Bryan Keith Baker, a year after his passing, I am convinced that Aristotle’s concept of friendship based on goodness applies perfectly to Bryan’s life. Yet I beg you not to take my word for it, because I am biased in this matter, being his uncle. Instead of my words, let’s please take the words dedicated to Bryan by his friends in this beautiful poem:


He was different, he was special…
unique in a thousand ways.
He was giving, he was loving,
and we’ll miss him all our days.

His legacy was friendship,
he was so giving of his time.
His bequest was his faith in God.
His child, family and friends
were constantly on his mind.

He knew sorrow in great measure,
and was stung by illness too;
but neither could defeat him…
nothing his faith couldn’t subdue.

Of course, the Lord will welcome him
with Angels magnifying;
the beauty of the celestial place,
devoid of pain and crying.

But forgive us Lord,
for sinning, for wishing
he was here.
It’s hard to give up someone
we have come to love so dear.

Because you see,
he was different,
he was special…
unique in a thousand ways;
he was loving, he was giving,
and we’ll miss him, miss him,
all of our days.

Ithica - Family

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The Bryan Keith Baker Memorial Scholarship for Rivercrest High School Students #ASMSG #RRBC

Bryan Keith BakerThe Bryan Keith Baker Memorial Scholarship for Rivercrest High School Students provides financial assistance for 1st & 2nd semester of college/university.

Several basketball games will be played on March 14,2015 starting at noon at the Charles Strong Recreation Center in Luxora, Arkansas. The proceeds from this event will be used to help fund the Bryan Keith Baker Memorial Scholarship for Rivercrest High School Students.

We will have our first memorial basketball tournament in memory of our beloved Bryan.

Date: March 14, 2015
Time: 12:00 (NOON)
Place: Charles Strong Recreation Center
Address: 602 Canal Street

We, the family and friends of Bryan, are very excited about this and we are looking forward to seeing everyone. There will be three (3) games played.

The class of 1995 vs. old school team.

The winner will play Bryan’s co- workers from Memphis and Forest City Arkansas.

We will raffle off an iPad at the beginning of the 3rd game.

Come out and cheer for the COLTS class of 1995.

Contact Katherine Warren for more information about how you can donate to help fund this scholarship.
Event Facebook Page:
(Please check out the page and like it)

It will be wonderful to see you at the fund-raising event. Let’s pack the house one more time in the name of education to honor Bryan’s legacy!Gym at LHS


BryanBryan Keith Baker, born December 28, 1976 to Katherine Warren and the late Joseph Warren Sr. Bryan was raised in Luxora, Arkansas and attended grades K-6 at Luxora Elementary School.

While in school, Bryan participated in basketball and was a volunteer for the school’s safety patrol program; the program was responsible for assisting students crossing the street to school safely and to raise and lower the United States flag before and after school.

At this age, Bryan was already implementing selfless service and putting others safety and needs above his own. From 7-12th grade, Bryan attended Rivercrest Junior and Senior High School and excelled in school, band, basketball, track, and numerous student clubs.

Upon graduation from Rivercrest High School in May 1995, Bryan enrolled at Grambling State University in the fall semester and chose nursing as his major. While there Bryan found a different passion and changed his major to Criminal Justice because he felt that he could make a greater impact on the lives of others.

Bryan graduated from Grambling State University in May 2000 and started working at Juvenile Court in Memphis, Tennessee where he touched countless youth and co-workers with his positive demeanor and upbeat personality.

Because of his dedication, many troubled youth were given second chances in life and many came back and informed him of how much they appreciated his motivation and genuine care.

After leaving Juvenile Court, Bryan started working at Memphis Recovery Center and worked with troubled teens that fell victim to numerous substance addictions. Not deterred with one’s background, Bryan was on a mission to open the eyes, hearts and minds of the youth that were at the recovery center in order to allow them to have a second chance in life and take advantage of the opportunity to live out their dreams as positive, productive citizens in their respective communities.

To this day, there are numerous teens that still go back to the center and share their experiences with others and take out time because of all of the time and sacrifices that Bryan dedicated to them.

With the desire to further advance his career, Bryan joined the Federal Bureau of Prisons in both Forrest City, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. During this time he crossed paths with individuals from all over the world and because of his out-going personality, he never met a stranger in all of his encounters.

He remained a diligent worker that always had a positive message and provided words of encouragement to help people realize that it is never too late to change no matter how old you are. While working with the Bureau, Bryan became ill and was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma Cancer. After a strong battle with cancer, he succumbed to his illness on March 4, 2014.

Today and forever more, our family remains committed to letting his legacy live on through the next generation of youth.


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#PublicSpeaking: What #Amazing Nonsense You Are Talking! #ASMSG #IAN1 #IARTG #edchat

The author at a recent public speaking event in Hualpén community, Concepción, Chile.

The author at a recent public speaking event in Hualpén community, Concepción, Chile.

To be a good public speaker, never give up. Face your fear. “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” ~ James Baldwin

In this book, I share my story, from a variety of angles, of how I face my fear of public speaking. I don’t preach, I don’t lay out a magic formula. I simply share different ways I deal with public speaking, from a variety of viewpoints, stories, activities, some old, some new.

I study people, I do what ancient speakers did to train themselves, like Demosthenes, an ancient Greek lawyer from Athens who was often humiliated and made fun of due to a speech impediment before becoming a much admired public speaker. And then who can forget England’s King George, a man with a stammer and a nation to lead. To lead a nation, in wartime, you must speak to your people – in public – in spite of your speech impediment, despite the stammer, despite the fear.

I share people and stories and activities that helped me. I am convinced you will be helped, there is something here that will aid you in overcoming your fear. At the very least, by knowing my experience, you will know that public speaking fear is normal, and using the information that helped me, begin to search for your own way of dealing with your fear.

In fact, it must be your way. You are the one who suffers, and you must help yourself. Know you are not alone. I admit that speaking in public scares me to death, and I am a teacher of English, a leader, a person responsible for helping young people reach their full human potential.

Nonetheless, I am afraid of public speaking, always have been, and always will be. That fear is constant. It is a feeling of sheer terror, when you are about to open your mouth in public, and risk humiliation if what you say, or don’t say, is foolish.

It is the kind of fear that is best resolved by simply, well…just being quiet, literally keeping your mouth closed. Except that doesn’t make the problem go away, it only defers it for another day. It’s like being haunted by a ghost, when the night comes, the phantom returns, the fear of public speaking visits us again.

Most people are afraid of public speaking, many to the point of a phobia. I am afraid of public speaking, just like you are. We worry about being embarrassed, making a fool of ourselves, getting humiliated by something we said. In fact, some people become absolutely terrified, paralysed, by the very thought of being shamed by public speaking.

In fact, many studies have shown that people fear public speaking more than death! This makes sense to me. Death happens only once, with public speaking we die a thousand deaths!

A common myth about the fear of public speaking is that it’s possible to completely eliminate it. In my case, I can’t eliminate it, but I have learned to control it, to make it work for me, not against me. You can too.

Credit: Fame Pictures, 2008

Credit: Fame Pictures, 2008

Even the most confident public speakers, people like Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Tina Fey, Warren Buffet, Socrates, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, Thomas Jerome Baker, will all tell you that they feel some degree of anxiety before stepping in front of an audience. Call it stage fright or phobia. Call it fear or simply nervous anticipation.

The fact is, we all have to overcome nervousness when we have to talk in front of a group, large or small. As the stakes get higher, you will feel anxiety. The most common way to try to eliminate your public speaking phobia is by “desensitization”. As with any phobia, you have to put yourself through the anxiety-inducing experience so many times, again and again, until your body stops reacting to it, or until you learn how to make your nervousness and anxiety work in your favor, and not against you.

However, not only is this a long, difficult process, but most people give up before they reap the rewards for their efforts. If I have a secret, again, it’s this: be perseverant. Never give up, and you will become the best public speaker you can be.

What The Reviewers Are Saying

5.0 out of 5 stars Don’t Be SAD, February 6, 2015
By Josh DVerified Purchase

This review is from: Public Speaking: What Amazing Nonsense You Are Talking! (Kindle Edition)

According to the National Institute of Health, SAD, or Social Anxiety Disorder, is one of the most prevalent anxiety disorders. SAD includes the fear of public speaking. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the intervention of choice for SAD, and it includes exposure to anxiety-provoking stimuli to induce systematic desensitization and reduce anxiety. That means if you are afraid of public speaking, the cure for your fear is public speaking! You must face your fear to overcome it. The information in this book will help you to understand your fear, to realise that you are not alone, and give you tips that can help you get over your fear of public speaking. I recommend this book highly.


5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and Pragmatic
February 6, 2015
By Chref
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This book explains thoroughly the process of understanding what public speaking is, and how to approach it without fear paralyzing you or crippling you. It provides a lot of practical and pragmatic suggestions to improve your public speaking. I recommend it highly for beginners and even experienced speakers will find it useful too. I give it 5 stars.


5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Ways Are Still Good February 4, 2015
By Vessy Tab
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I was very impressed with this book. There is a lot of research that went into this book. Readers are treated to anecdotes, quotes and tips from people like Demosthenes, Cicero, Socrates, James Baldwin, Edgar Allan Poe, Tina Fey and King George too. What all these people have in common is that they are all great public speakers. The book is packed full of so many gems you will be referring to this book again and again in the future. When you compare how Demosthenes and King George worked in similar ways to overcome their public speaking problems, you can see that the old ways are still good. The methods Demosthenes used are still good today. Highly recommended.


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Las verdaderas lecciones de #Finlandia: Mario Waissbluth entrevista a Pasi Sahlberg, experto en #educación #MondayBlogs #ASMSG #Chile #IARTG

La semana pasada tuve el privilegio de conocer y conversar en privado con Pasi Sahlberg, el especialista finlandés (o finés) en política educativa, de renombre mundial, que nos estuvo visitando en Chile. Es matemático con post grado en educación, e hizo clases 20 años en una escuela pública de ese país, por lo cual no es únicamente un académico del tema. Es autor de la mundialmente citada obra “El cambio educativo en Finlandia: ¿qué puede aprender el mundo?”.

Aprendí más en esas 3 horas que en 3 meses. Por ello, le solicité una entrevista, que plasmaré aquí. Esta no es una columna, sino una entrevista con transcripción traducida pero textual de las respuestas.

En este polarizado país, me temo que algunos lectores encontrarán aquí párrafos para abanderarse pro o contra la reforma, a favor del gobierno o la oposición, y borrarán de su mente los párrafos que no les convienen. Pero, en fin, sigamos discutiendo y tratando en lo posible de generar un consenso nacional. Sin ese ingrediente, estamos fritos, y Sahlberg lo deja muy claro.

1. Ya todos sabemos de la importancia de los profesores en Finlandia, y de los elevados grados de autonomía que ellos y las escuelas gozan. Vamos un paso más alla, entendiendo que ningún país puede copiar a otro, especialmente con trayectorias tan disímiles como las de nuestros países. ¿Podrías comenzar identificando los aspectos culturales y sociales que marcan la situación educativa de tu país?

“Creo que las políticas educativas deben ser aprendidas, nunca copiadas… tal como enseñamos a los niños en nuestras escuelas. Es común no sólo en Chile sino en muchos países intentar imitar la educación de Finlandia, y siempre recomiendo no hacerlo. La principal razón es que la sociedad finlandesa ha logrado funcionar bien en su conjunto, no sólo en educación. Las políticas de salud, empleo, juventud y medioambiente están intrínsecamente ligadas con la educación escolar”.

“Si acaso hay un aspecto de nuestra educación que es más importante que otros, es el foco sistemático en incrementar la equidad y la igualdad educativa: educación parvularia universal, atención preventiva a niños, y escolaridad obligatoria sin selección ni especialización temprana”.

(Nota de MW): Como me explicó Sahlberg, hay procesos de elección de escuela por los estudiantes, en el tramo de 16 a 19 años, con selección por promedio general de notas incluyendo las de arte, deportes, etc., tanto para escuelas técnico-vocacionales como científicas, y aquellas altamente especializadas, y todas son igualmente demandadas. Este es el tramo de la “Educación Media-Superior”, a diferencia de Chile, en que la selección se hace a los 13 años, al menos hasta hoy.

Para leer más, haz click aqui:

Entrevista de Mario Waissbluth a Pasi Sahlberg.
Publicada originalmente en Voces de La Tercera.

“Ningún país del mundo ha sido exitoso con sistemas como el chileno. Se requiere más foco en la equidad de resultados, mejor gestión de la libertad de elección y de la segregación, mejorar la profesión docente, y construir una reforma con una visión clara de futuro, y esa ha sido la sugerencia de muchos especialistas internacionales”.

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#MondayBlogs: Pasi Sahlberg in #Chile #ASMSG #edchat #education

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar for teachers of English at the Hualpén Municipal DAEM as an invited guest speaker. The seminar was entitled “Improving English Speaking Fluency and Effective Teaching Methodologies.” In this opportunity, I chose to give a talk about whether becoming bilingual in English was an impossible task for Chile. I ruled out a more historical talk about the progress of ELT in Chile due to time limitations. Maybe next year?

Recently, the Finnish education expert, Pasi Sahlberg, who teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was in Chile. Sahlberg was the director general of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation (CIMO) in Helsinki, Finland, and an adjunct professor at the Universities of Helsinki and Oulu. He has been a teacher and teacher educator, as well as an education specialist for the World Bank and the European Commission.



3 Key Findings of PISA 2012

1. Countries that give schools autonomy over curricula and student assessments often perform better. PISA shows how success is often associated with balanced professional autonomy with a collaborative culture in schools. Evidence also shows how high performing education systems engage teachers to set their own teaching and learning targets, to craft productive learning environments, and to design multiple forms student assessments to best support student learning and school improvement.

2. High average learning outcomes and system-wide equity are often interrelated. Equity in education means that students’ socio-economic status has little impact on how well they learn in school. Equity is high in the agenda in all successful school systems. Focus on equity means to give high priority to universal early childhood programs, comprehensive health and special education services in schools, and balanced curriculum that has equal weight in arts, music, and sports, and academic studies. Fairness in resource allocation is important for equity, too. PISA 2012 shows that fair resourcing is related to the success of the entire school system: High student performance tends to be linked to more equitably resource allocation between advantaged and disadvantaged schools.

3. School choice does not improve the performance of education system. School choice and competition between schools are related to greater levels of segregation in the education system. That, in turn, may have adverse consequences for equity in learning opportunities and outcomes. Indeed, successful education systems do better than those that have expanded school choice. All successful school systems have a strong commitment to maintain their public schools and local school control. PISA 2012 data show that the prevalence of charter and free schools with related competition for students have no discernible relationship with student learning.

Source: The Guardian

Short Bio

Pasi Sahlberg is Finnish educator, author and scholar. He has worked as schoolteacher, teacher educator, researcher and policy advisor in Finland and has studied education systems and reforms around the world. His expertise includes school improvement, international education issues, classroom teaching and learning, and school leadership. His best-seller book “Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland” (Teachers College Press, 2011) won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award. He is a former Director General of CIMO (Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation) in Helsinki and currently a visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, MA, USA. More on his website: and Twitter: @pasi_sahlberg.

Digital edition of La Tercera Newspaper

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