Five things to know about human trafficking

As your typical composition teacher, I have the proverbial stack of papers about human trafficking that I need to grade before tomorrow’s classes. Thirty-five for tomorrow and 15 more for Thursday are due BACK to the students with my corrections.  I am distracting myself with updating my WordPress account with this new posting.  I have been remiss in writing because I have been so busy staying ahead of my students.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we only have about five weeks left before they will be giving their ppt presentations to go with their research papers.  Thankfully I am having them write a persuasive research paper on something they choose to write on, with my approval, of course.

The following is something I found in an old folder and relates to the tough things I need to be reading from my students’ papers.  It IS a reality that is so far removed from our university setting…yet we are part of the problem when we remain unaware of other people’s suffering.  One thing I had shown a part of was a clip off of YouTube titled “Dark Side of Chocolate.”  Unfortunately, I did not share what a reporter from CNN, Amanda Kloer had written about “5 things to know about human trafficking:”

Editor’s Note: Amanda Kloer is an editor with Change.org, where she organizes and promotes campaigns to end human trafficking. She has created numerous reports, documentaries and training materials on human trafficking in the United States and around the world.

Human trafficking might not be something we think about on a daily basis, but this crime affects the communities where we live, the products which we buy and the people who we care about. Want to learn more? Here are the five most important things to know about human trafficking:

  1. Human trafficking is slavery.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It involves one person controlling another and exploiting him or her for work. Like historical slavery, human trafficking is a business that generates billions of dollars a year. But unlike historical slavery, human trafficking is not legal anywhere in the world. Instead of being held by law, victims are trapped physically, psychologically, financially or emotionally by their traffickers.

  1. It’s happening where you live.

Stories about human trafficking are often set in far-away places, like cities in Cambodia, small towns in Moldova, or rural parts of Brazil. But human trafficking happens in cities and towns all over the world, including in the United States. Enslaved farmworkers have been found harvesting tomatoes in Florida and picking strawberries in California. Young girls have been forced into prostitution in Toledo, Atlanta, Wichita, Los Angeles, and other cities and towns across America. Women have been enslaved as domestic workers in homes in Maryland and New York. And human trafficking victims have been found working in restaurants, hotels, nail salons, and shops in small towns and booming cities. Wherever you live, chances are some form of human trafficking has taken place there.

  1. It’s happening to people just like you.

Human trafficking doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, age, gender, or religion. Anyone can be a victim. Most of the human trafficking victims in the world are female and under 18, but men and older adults can be trafficking victims too. While poverty, lack of education, and belonging to a marginalized group are all factors that increase risk of trafficking, victims of modern-day slavery have included children from middle-class families, women with college degrees, and people from dominant religious or ethnic groups.

  1. Products you eat, wear, and use every day may have been made by human trafficking victims.

Human trafficking isn’t just in your town – it’s in your home, since human trafficking victims are forced to make many of the products we use everyday, according to ProductsofSlavery.org. If your kitchen is stocked with rice, chocolate, fresh produce, fish, or coffee, those edibles might have been harvested by trafficking victims. If you’re wearing gold jewelry, athletic shoes, or cotton underwear, you might be wearing something made by slaves. And if your home contains a rug, a soccer ball, fresh flowers, a cell phone, or Christmas decorations, then slavery is quite possibly in your house. Human trafficking in the production of consumer goods is so widespread, most people in America have worn, touched, or consumed a product of slavery at some point.

  1. We can stop human trafficking in our lifetime.

The good news is not only that we can end human trafficking around the world, we can end it within a generation. But to achieve that goal, everyone needs to work together. Already, activists around the world are launching and winning campaigns to hold governments and companies accountable for human trafficking, create better laws, and prevent trafficking in their communities. You can start a campaign on Change.org to fight trafficking in your community. You can also fight trafficking by buying from companies that have transparent and slave-free supply chains, volunteering for or donating to organizations fighting trafficking, and talking to your friends and family about the issue. Together, we can fight human trafficking … and win.

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Museums and Teachers Need to Unite

The following is the title of a presentation I took notes on about a month ago: “Collections in the Classroom: Museums and Teachers unite”
Currently as an instructor with 85 university students in Composition, I have not had much time to devote to our museum these days. I am glad I went to the AALSH conference when I did, before the heavy duty papers were coming at me to grade. It is good to be in the middle of October yet with our temps, it still feels like September, Indian Summer. Soon it will be snowing here and we will forget about all the wonderful tree colors that are ablaze and green grass that will be covered in white.

Anyway, I am glad I have a job and I am glad I can volunteer at the museum, just the two are not getting equal time…kind of like this blog. Too busy to write. Soon I will have a break, I’m happy that my husband bought tickets for us to see the grandkids in December when we will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. Difficult to believe, but true. The following are my notes from what I took at one of the AALSH sessions:

Pick primary sources that are available for teachers – they had it wired so that people could ask questions simultaneously to their giving their presentation. They had people choose what picture the teachers would like over what the museum people from MNHS chose. The museum chose people with the billboards while the teachers chose the crowd shot that had more going on and not as obvious. Differences exist in what museum people look at and what teachers know kids will like. The eye opener was to find out that the museum people picked the wrong photo

Standards – state and national – there is no social studies common core. There is C3 = Career, College and Civic Life
Historical thinking skill
Inquiry based learning
Stanford History education group (SHEG)
Library of Congress teaching
National archives – Tent Summer Institute
Teachers prefer smaller created displays and not large databases (takes too much time to pore over)

Students want something that is relevant and to answer the question “Why does it matter?”
“Primary Source Speak” – become fluent in primary source lingo
Students need to feel engaged and connected.
The MNHS had a hard tack, a cracker that was 120 years old but you have to give context for the students to appreciate that.
There is a Primary Source disconnect – teachers and students are a unique audience
Teachers are typically not experienced researchers
Eisenhower wrote an eloquent letter to the troops before D-Day (a museum person would appreciate this) However, a letter WITH a photo of Eisenhower talking to the troops is much more appreciated by the students. Connect letter with photo.

Collections Speak – create resources with teacher collaboration – organize by theme and topic. “If you Walked in My Shoes” from Smithsonian, each pair of shoes tells a different story. Everyone wears shoes, they can relate to this exhibit
Host focus groups – LOC (Library of Congress) primary sources, apply for the $5,000 to $15,000 grants…hold institutes

Primary Source camps – teaching students to be histories – posing and answering questions about…

What teachers want – need to use a selection criteria – encourage critical thinking and inquiry, provide historical evidence. Multiple perspectives, relevant to students, invokes emotions (The preference for K-Grade 4 = everyday objects but for Grades 5-12 students = event based)

Give historical context – using high quality photography is very important but written at a 6th grade level, use links to additional info

Website for National History Day – tons of resources. MNHS History Day – designed with Smithsonian such as the 100 year anniversary of WWI
Talk about the Distinguished Service Cross medal for example, list the soldiers, personalize this by getting to learn about ONE soldier from that long list. Digging into battle fields, some 6th graders wrote an editorial about this and it got published.
Need a personal book, use another HOOK – turning the classroom into the collection, make the students mini-curators of their own artifact. For example some student might bring a piggy bank to the classroom the first week of school. They have to dig and find the background of what piggy banks were used originally for. How do you record – tell a story of the artifact, some get very personal, but it is relevant to the students
Easle.ly – info graphics
Virgil FOL Tangborn Itunes course
Am. Assoc. for State – Outline 1) purpose 2) resources 3) results
Social Media – Twitter, digital artifacts
Author Gary Paulson “Charlie Doddard – Civil War
Ipads, ibooks, homework completion rates went up
Copyright Addendum
Educational clause (Sec. 11011) doesn’t provide for unlimited classroom use
1 created before 1923 – it is okay to use
2 created by federal government
3 if lives in public domain

Primary source accessibility – consider maintenance
“Tumbler” museum
Housing covenant for Ramsey County – restrictive
1947 post WWII, there was a contract that was against blacks, Mongolians to move into that area of the Twin Cities
Civil Right movement, it did happen here, segregation
Inside-out – happened in our locality – Andrew Volstead was from MN but hated by many for the stand he took against
Outside in – restrictive out, Jim Crowe lynching
Personalizing – not just a range of dates, statistics
Engagement
1 LOC – primary source sets – created a teachers guide
2 Montgomery County in Maryland – created a website
3 Smithsonian project

Traveling trunks are very popular
Send stuff Ohio history Connection – rent boxes
Collection of replicas and artifacts
Olmstead County (Rochester) – kids are tactile
British Museum – teaching history 100 organizations, from 5,000 B.C. to present, connected to all the teaching standards
Fire Museum of Maryland – example of Jesse James duster in Northfield, bring in other facts about the banks, robberies
Newseum: Digital Classrooms
Freeborn County Historical Society: Discover History in Albert Lea, this is a HUGE community event

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So, I want to publish a book on Kazakhstan

I attended a national history conference in St. Paul, Minnesota two weeks ago. These notes are from the seventh out of ten sessions that I attended in three days. I went to this session because I want to publish much of my notes and anecdotes that I picked up from my Kazakh students the three years I taught there. I have the title of my book already, I just have to have time to organize and pare the material down. The following are my notes, obviously I could see it would not work for my international audience. I also know I would need to do an e-book because I have such a niche market.

“So you want to Publish a History Book?”
First identify your reading audience, once you have that answer, that will determine your media. Potential audience ranges widely. Micro-histories, duplicated, print on demand, broad readership, old proverb “Graduate students start out knowing a lot but end up knowing less and less. By the time they get their degree, they know nothing.”
Non specialist audience
Cross-over – converge on specialist, context, provide background
Get balance right, succeed
AALSH committee Writing Local History today
Thomas Phelp wrote before 1976 “Researching, writing, and publishing local history” reprinted 4 times
Thomas Phelp wrote: “Analyze your audience, there are five major types: 1) dedicated and knowledgeable of subject; 2) adults in real interest in subject; 3) adults who are affluent, causual interest in history, coffee table book 4 juvenile readers aimed at schools and library sales; 5) adults living outside of your area, the sophisticated author

Good news these days, it is easier to get published; bad news is that the specialist monograph only sells about 200-300 copies on average.

Midlists title – appeal to non specialists, ex military, history, Civil war
Fixed costs and variable costs – the first being about research, design, etc.
You may save on paper and binder if you go with e-books. Savings in electronic, short essay “Why Books Cost” Convert to files for e-readers, desktop composition
Important to distinguish audience vs. paying customers
Research tools on web, customer base vs. audience to justify expense of book 7% of book titles sell more than 1,000 copies.
We live in an age of do-it-yourself, actually selling a book is hard. You want a full service publisher, an intl. publisher, someone who can effectively promote your book

Syracuse Univ. Press has served as an incubator
10 important questions 1) what are the design strategies, how are you involved?
2) 70% of e-books bringing books to where the readers are, order e-books
3) where publisher sells books
4) individual bookstore, publisher websites, find out the places books are sold
Figure out who buys the book
Editorial vision – narrow focused to do well
5) ask publisher what subject they front list and back list 400 titles, look at their catalogs
Editors in Chief – hands on editors
They spend a LOT on covers
6) what is the most important thing to publish this book (honor a community?)
Community building, digital shorts, library aggregators, Project Muse or J-Stor
Repurposed for sale, chapters
Wendy freshman, living History
7) are there ways my book be a part of public, publishing IS community
8) what partnership they have developed, events, promotions, newspaper, radio, pod-casts
Finally, Books + MNopedia + MN history journal (5,000 word article)
9) keep content alive and audiences active, get help from Debbie Miller,

Kent Calder talked with Univ. press, it is different than Historical society presses
This is an extention of the parent institution, scholarly, intellectual, and creative
Titles related to a regional community of interest

Monograph – 700-1000, you would be lucky to sell 200-300 copies
Offer broader presentations for general public, “peer review” the University can find a bigger audience
They like well crafted proposals, how to send out a proposal

Successful proposals – In house editorial committee, expert readers in 4 weeks and then Faculty Advisory board, multidisciplinary, you can suggest readers in proposal

P&L Project 750 copies at $29.95 hard cover, 68% (must be higher than 50%)

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Second Keynote speaker – Marilyn Carlson Nelson

I had the privilege of hearing Marilyn Carlson Nelson give her keynote address at the AALSH conference last week. She is proud of being from Minnesota where the MN Historical society is so highly regarded, they are one of the leading societies in the nation. When she went to the MNHS in St. Paul, she saw Oven heart pioneers, how they were preserving that info, she saw the early published cartoons of Charles Schultz. There were archival drawers with a pair of overalls from the late 1800s. It was patched together with mismatched cloth but to her there was a sense of eloquence in the simple everyday material. Marilyn had a sense of gratitude looking at this artifact because of her feeling indebted to the hard work of the early immigrants.

Marilyn is an economist and now a leader of a global CEO group, she has had to answer to many people all over the world. She was familiar with the expression “If you can’t ride two horses at once at the same time, get out of the circus.” The MNHS has a 75 year history. She is reminded of what Carl Sandburg, Swedish poet, said, “It cost to build this nation, took men and women to throw in all they had to shape the future to this present time…civilization perishes when they forget where they came from.”

The role of history, she believes there is the “invisible hand” in Sandburg’s poem. She has a visceral feeling of “We must tell the present where we came from.” She experienced the anniversary of Normandy during D-Day invasion celebration recently. She was on Omaha Beach and she was reminded of the vastness of the soldiers’ sacrifice. The repeated words of “Commitment, courage and sacrifice” kept running through her mind. She heard in her mind, “Do not forget the price of your freedom, do we really appreciate our freedoms?” As she was leaving that ceremony, she heard a young soldier playing taps…it was very emotional for her.

The Walker Art Center has on the side of its building “Bits and pieces making a semblance of a whole.” She has a grandson who is going to Harvard and taking a course titled “Tangible Things” where they discuss history through and stuff around you. People make history through what they gather. She has an example of how her grandmother never made bread, she was afraid to use her yeast. The grandfather wanted to change that so he went to a bake shop and got the recipe. Except it was for a day’s worth of bread that they would sell, not just for a small family. So, they set to work and had yeast and dough rising out of every pan they had in the house. Many years later when they were cleaning out the old house, they found a tiny pan on the very top shelf in the back corner with her grandfather’s writing to explain the dried up old bread in the pan, it read, “Nelly’s first bread.”

They had heard in their family’s oral history about this baking episode but it was made real when they saw the handwriting of grandfather and the bread that her grandmother had made. They were entrusted with stewardship, every person is called upon to be a leader. She has written the book “How We Lead Matters.”

Marilyn was asked another question by her 12 year old grandson one day reflecting on their own history. She asked herself, “Do they REALLY know us?” This spurred Marilyn on to pull together little family anecdotes, find great leaders who had inspired her. She put her life lessons together and gave it to a friend to ask if she should publish this for just her family or if the general public should read this. McGraw Hill contacted her shortly afterwards and it became a book of the core lessons she had learned, there were timeless messages that were very personal in this book that was initially meant to answer her 12 year old grandson.

It wasn’t only about looking in the rearview mirror but also into the present. She wrote about her own grandfather who had come as a Swedish immigrant to the new land, holding his father’s hand with their very few belongings. What that small trunk held told the story of what these immigrants treasured most, clothing, Bible, tools. It also told what they chose to leave behind in the Old Country. Marilyn mentioned about Moberg and the book “The Immigrants”, the Neilson family had a “chest of essentials.” The Moberg trail, 1948 started to do research. He wrote about the “four oak walls of the chest” which was meant to protect, the planks and the ancient clothes chest, new name, all other the “American chest”

Tangible item – sadness and hopefulness 1812 – 1842 brought from Norway, America’s chest 1776, brought to St. Paul in 1876. A replica was made of it in 1998. This became a physical reminded to Marilyn where her ancestors had come from. Her grandfather came to MN in 1938 and started a company with a borrowed $50. Packing trunk leave beind past, about diversity of women and minority, in the early 1960s she was studying intl. economics at Smith College Historical context, BEFORE Title 6, 7 and 9 , she was to stay on the job, started as an analyst, she was living history

Tools to innovate in chest, challenges of public dollar and private funding, other people traffic, history about prohibition, music from 1920s
Collaboration: only way to make into the future. U of M Business – Carlson school of Management, business plan went 200%, they wanted customers to come back to same exhibit. They had interest groups in themes of music and arts, saw it with new eyes. Make old fresh and new again, look at the market conditions.

The Carlson credo was “whatever you do, do with integrity, serve with care, whatever happens, never, ever give up!” That was the guiding principle for their employees and then the chaos of 9/11 happened. They had built that credo into everyone and had to trust the decision making that their company would take care of both employees and customers even when there was no communication. The actions of their employees was to build a common culture and make the right choices.

We need to take out of our trunks the old way of thinking, especially the Civil rights. In the 1940s, Hubert Humphrey was the mayor of Mpls. The Twin Cities was considered the anti-semitism capital of the nation. He said, “If we don’t believe that all men are created equal, we should stop saying it.”

Ideals gap and actions, early copy of the Constitution, it was written in the Dakota language, there is the irony. Carlson credo, wary of beliefs, values are more enduring. History tells us, slavery was an ___ exchange, changed laws and customs. Historians helps to discern what is fact and fiction. We have grand opportunities as part of our journey. Individual history – recounted in family stories. All living link from past and future.

One last story, tangible, a piece of fabric is hanging in Marilyn’s closet, it is more precious than her wedding dress or a designer gown. It is a simple pink and white striped Candy Striper outfit for hospital volunteers with the name tag “Juliet Nelson” on the apron. In the pocket of that dress is the senior speech that Juliet gave as an 18 year old, it was something to the effect, “Life is always fragile, what if something happened to you today, unperformed duties, unsaid words, unfulfilled plans…” She had a strong sense of her own journey. A Greek poet, Caketry (sp) once wrote “When you start on your road to Ithica, pray that it is long.” In other words, don’t hurry the journey along.

Three months after that speech was made Marilyn and her husband brought Juliet to her dorm room at Smith College and met her dorm mates, her roommate, etc. Ten days later she was killed in a car crash. Marilyn yearns for her physical presence. She has her Candy Striper uniform still, she is proud of her 18 years, volunteering her time, that uniform is tangible proof that she existed.

Marilyn ended with “May our journeys be made real, Historians make it happen, Journey all is here, each of us is in the making.”

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Back from a GREAT national history conference

I returned from a 3-4 day AALSH conference in St. Paul, Minnesota the other day. Featured as one of the guest speakers was Garrison Keillor. There were 1,035 participants at the conference. Keillor revealed that this is the 40th anniversary of Prairie Home Companion, his famous radio show on NPR radio. Keillor has written 19 books of fiction.

GK started talking about Wabasha, a Sioux chief. He told the Europeans not to cross the Mississippi. Apparently the river was not wide enough, they crossed over. He was promised land and then a large sum of money for that land. There was the 1862 Sioux uprising and to him it was a great travesty. He went to Nebraska and died around the time of Little Big Horn. There is now a street named after him but GK thinks the Indian chief would have preferred the money.

GK said that Minnesotans try to be hospitable but people from St. Paul use a “preemptive sense of superiority” just in case people from else where don’t like them. He was asked by the AALSH to speak and at age 72 he believed he was old enough to be asked by a history conference to speak on history. He claimed that history IS local. He said there were other things going on during the rock and roll era of the 1950s, it was not just Elvis. The 1960s was the age of protests but not everyone was protesting. He said that the 50s and 60s was a large boom for education. It boosted people into the middle class.

GK looked back to the beginning of St. Paul and claimed that Pig’s Eye Lake was a half a mile away from where we sat listening to him. The man Pig’s Eye was really named Pierre Parrant and the French name sounds better but for ten years this area of St. Paul was called Pig’s Eye. He sold whiskey to soldiers at Fort Snelling in 1819. He was actually a French Canadian here before the Anglos came. There were other businessmen and they went up and down the trail in the RRV up to Pembina and back. The soldiers were innocent aliens from back East.

Mendota operated a still but they were kicked out and Fountain Cave was up river which operated a tavern. In 1840 a chapel was built and it was named after Apostle Paul. Then there was Frank B. Kellogg (not the corn flakes guy) who was a self-taught lawyer. He became Calvin Coolidge’s Secretary of State and he negotiated the Kellogg-Preon Pact which was signed by 62 countries in 1928 to not go into war again. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in Paris. He lived in a house on Fairmont Ave. People don’t honor Kellogg now, they don’t know about him but they remember Pig’s Eye even though he was a public nuisance with his whiskey. The Kellogg house is on Crocus Hill.

Now there was also the renowned John Dillenger in 1934 who showed up in St. Paul and holed up for safety with his girlfriend Evelyn. He got into a gun fight with the FBI on Lexington Ave. but was here only one month. Of course there was Mark Twain who showed up but he went everywhere. There was also Thoreau who came in 1861 and he took copious notes around the lakes but he only lasted a year, died in 1862 back in Concord.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in st. Paul in 1896 on Laurel Avenue. He was honored at the Fitzgerald Theater Rice Park with a statue and since he was only 5 foot 7 inches tall, he was given five more inches so people could look him in the eye. He was on Summit Avenue at a townhouse in 1911 and left St. Paul when his book was accepted by Scribners. He married Zelda in New York and Scott and Zelda were quite the sensation. He would get $4,000 a story for the Saturday Evening Post. Zelda became a psycho and in the 1930s and 40s ended up in Asheville, NC. Scott wanted to regain his prominence in Hollywood but died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of 44.

People of St. Paul still remembered the scandalous stories of Scott and Zelda. He came back to St. Paul in 1921 with Zelda pregnant. They rented a place on Goodridge Avenue and he wrote “Winter Dreams” there only in one year. Apparently one Christmas Eve he came to St. John’s cathedral completely drunk and asked where he was during the service. Scandalous! The second hand memories are fading as the story tellers die. Scott was an amazing stylist and authors words live on.

James J. Hill house lived in his house on Summit Ave. for 25 year years, he died in 1916. The headquarters for Great Northern had been St. Paul until it moved to Fort Worth, TX. GK thinks that James J. Hill house is bare and dark. One time GK ran into a Great Northern janitor who showed him the old headquarters on 5th Street and Kellogg Blvd. it had been abandoned and left as is from 1910. The high draftsman tables were still there with stools, it showed the GN RR office for JJHill, a modest place above facing the street. It was a lonely piece of history.

Ernest Hemingway came in 1961 and had electric shock to treat his depression. He died in 1962 in Idaho. There was also Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot. The Houdini came through and Gorgeous George. But Minnesota has its famous native from 1941, Robert Zimmerman who goes by Bob Dillon. In 1960 he left Hibbing, MN and went to NY and told stories of being from a migrant worker background. Actually his father was an appliance store owner.
Actually for GK, history IS local. His ancestor was in Rhode Island is John Crandall and another famous one was Prudence Crandall who was kicked out of some organization in 1833 because she believed in helping the black slaves.

Then GK talked about a book “Discovering Whota Heritage.” A 16 year old heard his mother was on a South Dakota reservation, he had never known his mother knew Lakota. Kids had been sent to mission schools to get education. She left her tribal family and married a Swede. This son had written a book and was giving a talk where GK went to listen, he was sympathetic to authors. During the Q&A time Clyde Bellcourt stood up and thought he was in a powwow, he talked on and on about something that was close to his heart from an Indian perspective. The young man who had written the book about Indians was blonde and white featured, he was not really speaking from an Indian viewpoint though he was empathetic because of his mother’s roots.

Yes, history is local for GK, the loyalists moved north to Canada in 1777 and that is where GK’s ancestors ended up. GK’s grandfather James Keillor went to New Brunswick and in 1880 came to Anoka to help his sister whose husband had died and left her with three small children. He stayed on until they were all grown up and then he married Dora Powell. They had eight children together. That is when GK quoted and sang part of the hymn “And Thou whose presence takes delight…My comfort by day, my salvation” His grandmother was 30 and his grandfather was 65. Their house burned down and the grandfather was raking through the ashes looking for photos. There was a sense of citizenship for GK, “My ancestors had come and stayed. They came in 1880 to Anoka.” He has visited his grandfather’s grave in the Anoka cemetery. He has also gotten a hold of love letters written by his parents. He had always thought of his father as taciturn but after reading these letters he thinks otherwise. There was poetry in them despite the common everyday things he wrote on like manure spreaders and crops on their 160 acre plot of land.

GK spoke about the Diary of Anne Frank when she lived on 6th street in Amsterdam at the age of 14. This is one person’s story over a mass of statistics. A girl’s diary which discussed many things that happened. She wrote about hearing the school bell that rang every day which was 100 yards away. GK said that he would like a biographer to write an emotionally generous piece on him. What he learned from a person who is at the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam that he was a student there while Anne was hiding so close by.

GK has 1970s cassettes of his early shows and he wants them destroyed, so many mistakes. He also has gone through his scrap books to find a very angry LONG letter to the newspaper publisher in St. Paul that made it into print. GK said that if you are going to write an angry letter keep it short, it was embarrassing to him that he wrote so much. He quoted from the hymn “Abide with me fast falls the even tide, the darkness deepens Lord with me abide.” A Friend of his was dying and those were the words he clung to, they had substance such as “change and decay.” That is the human element that is a real life experience. “Abide with me.” Is what we need, words with meat in them.

GK goes to colleges and high schools and the kids these days don’t know the words by heart of songs we take for granted like Battle Hymn of the Republic or Julia Ward’s hymns, “My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, they have trampled….” They get their smart phones out and read the text from that. Kids these days do NOT know the words to beautiful poetry.

GK was being honored at his h.s. alma mater in Anoka and he was around 400 kids who were happy and cheering to chants he remembers. They did not know who he was, he liked being anonymous in this crowd. He ended his talk with Robert Frost’s favorite quote about life that can be summed up in three words, “It goes on.”

That was the last of what Garrison Keillor spoke on, that life DOES go on despite whatever we do or say. I have not followed Keillor for years but I actually liked what he had to say, he seemed to be historically accurate. The better keynote speaker was Marilyn Carlson Nelson, I’ll write about her in my next post.

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Finished FULL week of classes

Yesterday marked the end of the third week of teaching composition I classes to my 85 plus students. The two earlier weeks were only four days long because we started on a Tuesday and then we had Labor Day Monday off. So, this was a tolerable week because my last class had about five football players missing (they sit in the front rows) and some of my farmers (they sit towards the back) who are hauling sugar beets. This one class I have at 1:00 p.m. every MWF is a puzzling one. I have 20 students with only four girls and then the athletes and farmers. What a strange mix. They are compliant and dutifully follow my instructions but I have to keep on top of them constantly. It’s the girls that have been the quirky ones lately. The one woman from Somalia or Liberia is probably my best student. Otherwise, all the rest are from here except the football players who are from California, Florida and Texas.

I actually feel sorry for these football players because we have a really bad team competing in Division II, we should be back in Division III because we are just a small university. Don’t know what they were thinking when they moved on up to compete against really tough players from bigger schools that have the backing. Some of my players are quick and good, they get it. Others are here for the full ride scholarship and are NOT academic at all. It was said that once the season is over, they high tale it out of Minnesota and back to the warmth of their former states. We shall see how many last in MY class.

The students are learning about logical fallacies, thesis statements, in-text citations, research databases and a host of other things related to APA formatting style. They have already done one essay for me about their grandparents and I had to ask a second time in their revision paper for FIVE descriptive adjectives about their grandparents. Out of the 85 essays I got with their rough drafts, I only got about 3-4 concrete descriptions. Did they think I was kidding? I had a scoring rubric that read on the top “Follow Instructions Well.” They will know that everything I ask of them, I mean it.

Now I have assigned Paper #2 which is titled “Words Matter” and they have written a persuasive essay on one of the following words like: competition, cooperation, resistance to corruption, patriotism, persistence, trustworthiness, thrift…I can’t remember the other three. These are values we talked about earlier and these were the ones that rose to the top as most important to them out of a list of 40 cultural values. THEN they also have to include in this paper an antonym to the word they choose. So, even though some would like to do “resistance to corruption” it will be difficult to find a journal article that would support corruption. We shall see what they will come up with for essays of 1,000 words.

I was pleased with some of the first essays that I saw with Paper #1. I had started to read one in my first 10:00 a.m. class yesterday and got emotional when I read about a set of grandparents (described very well) who were at the deathbed of the grandpa. They had been married 62 years and the author was able to capture the moment of their loving eyes towards each other during that poignant scene of his departing. She wrote that you could FEEL the love in that hospital room. Oh my, I couldn’t get through it without tearing up and getting emotional. My students looked at me kind of funny but it made my point. I told them, I don’t even KNOW this elderly couple but the power of words is important. Before moving on, I said that an author has the ability of making emotion come alive in others.

Okay, enough written, back to grading papers!

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Too much of too many people

Yesterday I met with five of my six classes. I just have ONE class today and I need to fill one hour and 15 minutes with activities to keep the time moving. Their Tuesday and Thursday schedule covers the same thing I do in my three 50 minutes classes on Mon. Wed. and Friday. Oy, there is much to learn and DO with kids who don’t want to be taking this class in the first place. That is especially true in my Comp LAB class which is a catch-all place for those students who did not do well in their writing classes in high school. The problem is that I have to have new material for them because I have some of my same students in that LAB that I have in my Comp I class. They don’t want to have things repeated but the repetition would do them some good.

I have one small class of eight students at the very end of my Monday and Wednesday classes. That is where I have one student who from Day One made it clear that she thought she was too good for this lab class. Yesterday she made a “suggestion” that I should NOT say my motto of “everyone to class early, we start early and end early.” She had her reasons and then I told her to talk to those few students who always show up right on time to tell them to get to class earlier. She told me that would be like bullying which is a bad thing to do to other students. I told her that there is a nice and polite way to encourage them to be early or at least on time to class. Here this little 18 year old is letting me know what I should or shouldn’t do and letting me know what is wrong with my teaching while at the same time she rolls her eyes about what I teach and does her passive aggressive act.

Well, the way I can fix that is to keep giving her and the rest of this particular class grammar quizzes. I also suspect that she lifted her first paper and she clearly did not follow instructions. So, I will also give this class a quiz on the syllabus that I put together, clearly she and a few others in this small class have not read it. She has also not gone on Moodle for about a week so that means she has either printed out the syllabus or she doesn’t care to know about it.

I figured out that I have been around too many people with Sunday being filled with my standing behind the booth at the museum. That was our Pioneer Day and I was selling my two history books and one booklet. People mostly came to listen to the old time music but I talked to many people then. So the way I figure it, I have seen and talked to too many people. I need to chill out at home and be away from all this. Maybe it is better to write and not make much money than to teach and make a bit more money as an adjunct teacher. I am invisible to most everyone on campus when they make faculty assembly lists anyway. I guess I am getting the catch-all classes that other comp teachers who are permanent don’t want to teach.

Yes, I am feeling sorry for myself right now. I need to read the revisions of my 85 papers and maybe I will feel better, especially if there are some improvements to what they wrote earlier.

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