Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Huffington Post”

Too Much Homework?

The United States ranks 17th in the world for education, a legitimate and worrying metric to examine where our country will stand in the next few decades in terms of business, innovation, and the ability to live out our own values and encourage others to follow a similar path.

I realize that, for the sake of our children, I should be calling in more investment into education, a greater status and respect for teachers, and other ways to boost the performance of our children, their grades and general rounded education. I want to live in a smart society.

I should be calling for change because I truly believe that education is the key to advancement, because I believe that every child should be given the opportunity to reach their own potential, find and train for a meaningful career, and use as a stepping stone to rise up in society. I also believe that education helps makes people more satisfied and happy, and that this creates a better world to live in.

I’ll leave this to the experts:

 

But I don’t feel like writing this right now. Like my teenage son, I feel thoroughly burnt out and resentful. In order to pass on a full curriculum, designed by people far more professional and knowledgeable than me, our children are being forced to study, not only most of the day, but during the evenings and most of the weekends.

When he is not studying, he is so exhausted, that all he wants to do is vegetate in front of a screen, and frankly, I understand that.  My work has periods of intense and long hours. During these months, I only want to crash on the couch when I get home and stare at burly young men kicking the pigskin around. Often during these times, when my wife asks who is winning, I need to glance at the scoreboard first before answering.

I’m willing to go through these periods because I love and am inspired by my work, and because I believe that this is the sacrifice the main breadwinner of the family makes. One day, when my children are settled, I will have plenty of time to go fishing, bird watching, do Tai Chi, and sit in a coffee shop and read a newspaper (remember those? I am convinced they will become a status symbol of independence from the clock).

imagesBut there are things I want to do now – and I want to do them with my son. I want to take him biking, to the gym, to practice archery, and read a good book together by the sea or in a forest. I can make that time, get up early, go to bed late, do whatever it takes – train through the pain as one of my favorite t-shirts says (the one I wore playing basketball with a torn meniscus).

But my son can’t. He has math problems to solve, a project to write, an English essay to complete. Sure, he finds times to hang with his friends and some screen time, I don’t resent him this. It is part of growing up.

I remember being in school and looking forward desperately to the summer. I recall my mother being annoyed that I wanted to lie in bed late every morning and enjoy not having pressure or a schedule.

I want my son to succeed in school for all the reasons mentioned earlier and the profound fear that I will not be able to help him, that at some point he must stand on his own, as I did. But I also want to enjoy being together while we still can, while he still wants my company.

He gets a long summer break and deserves it. I will take a week and we will head north into the mountains. We will fish, bike, swim in a lake guarded by a snow-covered mountain. We’ll eat too much ice cream, fight over who gets the hammock, read together by the fire.

DSCN0951None of this will help my son or the USA become more successful in the decades to come, but sometimes life is more than statistics, and more than homework assignments and grades.

Somehow we need to find ways to measure quality of life, to value relationships, to create memories. Perhaps we will find that time is as valuable as making the grade.

—————————————————————————————————–

Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA - At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.  For more about the author, check out his website.

 

Did You Get The Message, Todd Akin?

I wanted to write about your disgusting comment, Mr. Akin, but I really didn’t know what to say. I’m speechless and appalled. Thankfully, there are others far more articulate than me and far more credible. I hope you read Eve Ensler’s article in the Huffington Post. I hope you read every word of it.

Eve Ensler

You offended every woman (every man and child) who has ever been violate, ever been threatened. You have offended every person who loves a wife, sister, daughter, friend, who has been raped. 

If you are so out-of-touch with the people you represent, you have no right to hold the position you do. The right thing is to resign and go home. But before you do - reread Ms. Ensler’s article.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

Smart Girls are at a Disadvantage

I am male and a manger. When I am not writing the next New York Times bestseller, I am running a non profit in which part of my job is to hire, train, coach and evaluate my staff. I take this very seriously and put a lot of thought into each staff member’s professional journey and how I can empower and help them to reach their full potential.

The nature of the non-profit world means that I am often working with young people who are in their first full-time position. They will most likely stay a few years as they learn skills and garner experience that will help them leverage a better paid job. To do all this while working in a nurturing and ideological environment is an attractive initial proposition. After a while, however, they are seduced by either higher salaries or more responsibilities.

Our national organization, Hillel FJCL, prides itself on equal opportunities, with zero tolerance for a situation whereby anyone experiences discrimination because of their religious beliefs, sexual preference, or gender. Recently, one of my female employees shared her concerns about being able to advance in the non-profit world because she is a woman.

Is the Milennial woman still held back at work?

She shared an article by Heidi Grant Halvorson, the author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals. The article itself appeared in the Huffington Post.

Succeed: How We Can Achieve Our Goals

While the article talks of the messages transferred to a girl in the home and classroom, Dr. Grant Halvorson also suggests that women might hold themselves to a higher standard than men, that they are more self- critical than their male counterparts.

Quoting studies from the 1980’s by psychologist Carol Dweck (author of “Mindset“) she suggested that girls are less likely at the 5th Grade level to believe they can improve themselves. Couple this with the other well-known factors – teachers give boys more time, turn to boys to answer questions first etc., then the image projected is that boys experience a more empowering environment at school, university and in the workplace.

Girls are more likely to let a boy answer a question, even if she knows the answer

I am not sure that the millennial, brought up on a mega dose of entitlement necessarily falls into this hole, but there are definitely those who are not seeking the higher status (and high compensation) professions, even though they have the ability. There are still far more young women who are prepared to make compromises and sacrifices to follow their partner than their male counterparts.

Whatever is holding the millennial female back from challenging for equality in the classroom and the workplace troubles me. I cannot influence them growing up at home or in the lecture hall. I can only offer the best possible nurturing working environment.

But whenever one of these young women leave, whether for a new experience, more money, or professional advancement, I can’t help feeling a wave of protectiveness. It doesn’t happen to me with the fine young men who pass through our organization, so there must be something there.

Are woman still held back in the workplace? Please share your views, experiences, and solutions.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26,149 other followers

%d bloggers like this: