Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #7 – You don’t know it’s enough til it’s enough

shopping--outlet--skirt--skirts_3196466“Miss, I haven’t seen you wear the same thing all year.”

This comment came from one of my year 12 boys last week. Now let’s face it, boys aren’t the most observant, I’m sure I’ve worn several things multiple times, but he does have a point.

I’ve generally aimed to mix and match and not wear the same thing multiple times in the classroom… in a weird sort of way I think it’s respectful to the kids… but who would have thought that four months in to not buying anything I’d still be managing to not double up. In fact, as I think about it, there are multiple items in my wardrobe (I’d take a stab and say 20) that I actually haven’t worn all year.

So, once again I find myself asking how it was that I ever really believed that I ‘needed’ more stuff. Maybe it’s because you don’t know it’s enough till it’s enough. You don’t know you’re being excessive until you realize how easily you can live with less.

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Please teach your children about unconditional respect.

I’m sure that one of the most horrifying moments for a parent is when they hear their children parroting them and suddenly realize what they sound like. I can sympathise.

But there’s one thing I’m hearing from kids that goes beyond simple parroting; it highlights a core issue about what we’re teaching the next generations about respect.

See, they think that in order to give respect, favour has to be earned.

That’s just not right.thumbnail

Last week I was teaching my German students about the formal and informal versions of ‘you.’ I gave them an example: “If Tony Abbot came to our school and needed directions…”

I couldn’t even finish my sentence without yells of ‘elephant ears,’ and ‘we hate him.’

They’re 13 year olds. They can’t vote for another 5 years and I’d be willing to bet they know next-to-nothing about politics. They’re parroting what they’ve heard their parents say.

What I want to know is, can the parents hear themselves? Can we hear ourselves? Those kinds of comments aren’t about exerting our right to have a political opinion; they’re about slander and bullying.

What kind of values are we teaching our children when we publicly malign and disrespect the person in the highest position of power and authority in our country?

Is it any wonder that teachers and police officers and parents themselves aren’t receiving the respect they deserve?

Some kinds of respect are unconditional.

The Barr Smith Library Reading Room

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I love the Barr Smith Library reading room.

I never managed to study in there, though. Instead I’d have to hole up at some 70s style desk, in a dank corner, behind the stacks on level 2, because the beauty of the reading room made study impossible. Sometimes I’d sit in there though, pretending to work. I was always amazed by the air. Unlike the rest of the library, dull, stuffy and smelling of old books (surprise surprise), the reading room seemed to have the natural airflow of a European cathedral.

The reading room embodies my romantic ideas of universities; the paradoxical mix of tradition and history with freedom of thought and inspiration. I love that as I sat there my feet would rest on an old pipe that ran beneath the desk as a testament to a bygone era (someone once told me, the pipes used to carry hot water to keep the students’ feet warm). The old wooden desks, with inkwells in the corners, were inlaid with bottle green leather, and I’d smile as I looked at the various etchings and carved graffiti that I romantically imagined predated the war era (but that were probably circa 1990s).

The Barr Smith reading room made me feel like I was a part of something great; that I was one in a long line of scholars who had and would change the world. It almost whispered to me, ‘Seize the day girl; make your life extraordinary.’

Proud Teacher Moments

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I love those moments that make teaching worthwhile. It’s a tough job, but such a rewarding one. You see hundreds of students come and go. You lose track of who graduated when, and what they’re doing now, and for the most part they vanish off into the world somewhere, hopefully slightly better equipped for life because they sat in your classroom. Often, though, you just never know. But then there are the ones who stay in touch; who make you proud. Not because they’ve done anything greater than the ones you never hear from again, but because they come back to tell you. This young man makes me proud. He’s one of SA’s up and coming footballers, he’s dedicated and down to earth, and he’s published a blog on the Port Adelaide Football Club’s website. He told me I taught him everything he knows. I didn’t. But maybe I helped him a bit along the way, and he’s been kind enough to come back and tell me.