All posts for the month June, 2014

Everything is Awesome…Or Is It?

Published June 19, 2014 by Susan Woodward

Lego MovieAll the kiddies who have seen the Lego Movie know this song.  I hear my 9th graders bopping to it in the halls, especially as we near the end of the year.  Go ahead and play it for yourselves to hear the be-bopping tune that will have you dancing around with the idea that “Everything is Awesome”…the lyrics are even included for you to sing along!

Okay…now look closely at what is so awesome:

– walking and working in formation

– everyone looks alike

– everyone thinks alike

And if you have even seen the movie, only those who conform to watch the same television shows, buy the same products, wear the same clothes, and act the same as everyone else is considered “awesome.”  Anyone who dares to be different or creative is shunned.


The villain of the film is Lord Business.  Need I say more?

As I was sitting in the theatre watching this with my six year old granddaughter who was bopping and squirming with delight to the music in her seat, eyes brightened by the colorful and fast-paced animations, all I could think about was the droning of America.  The more I watched, the more I understood this film as a masterful work of satire of how Big Business controls the masses, and the masses are so caught up in what BB is selling that they think that everything is awesome.  As long as you don’t rock the boat, don’t voice dissenting opinions, don’t try to educate the masses that they have been duped into lining BB’s corporate pockets, then everything is awesome.  No one bothers you except with maybe an occasional pat on the back and, “You’re a real team player…awesome!”

Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with being a team player…we do need to work together toward common goals, support one another in times of need, cheer one another’s accomplishments.  That’s team work.  I’m talking about the creation of Drones of America… teaching children to think and do things one way, and if they don’t do it the way they have been carefully taught, then they are marked wrong.

Hello, Common Core testing.  Hello, Lord Gates.  Hello, Prince Pearson.

The movie infers that Lord Business watches and knows what is going on, and as long as everyone is in accordance with the plan, then everything is awesome.  And, of course, everyone has to be on board with HIS plan.  LB is in charge, and he knows best.

Just like Lord Gates seems to know what is best for American education.  It was his money and his power that allowed the CC to get pushed through.  If anyone from the Joe Schmoe class had come up with the idea, he’d have been shot down as a crazy radical who thought that controlling how children learn and think was a great idea.  Add a little (okay, a LOT of money) into the equation, and let Lord Gates be the spokesperson, and lo and behold, it’s not such a radical idea after all.  In fact, it’s such a GREAT idea that the federal government jumped on board, dragging with it a majority of state governors.  The modules on EngageNY are an attempt to create a one-size-fits-all curriculum for every child, regardless of ability (including students with learning disabilities and those whose first language is not English).   And the hasty implementation of this idea with its “hurry up and test ’em” attitude has set this nation’s greatest natural resource, its children, up for failure.

Good job.  Awesome.

All kids across America will have the exact same experience, be taught to think the same things, complete problems the same way…so much so that if one moved across country, the child could walk into any classroom of his/her grade level and be on the same page as he’d been on previously.  Like a machine moved to another room…just plugged into a different socket.

And that is what is going to be created.  Machine cogs who are programmed to work in cubicles, assembly lines, and Walmart.  No individual thinkers, no creative ways of finding answers to problems…just drones who can fill in the working slots of Corporate ‘Murica.

That way the people in charge can STAY in charge.  Those who HAVE can continue to have while the rest stay put…and all the while thinking that everything is awesome.  No one is bothering me because I am a do-bee.  I don’t rock the boat, so everything is on an even keel.  I keep my mouth shut, go to work, do exactly what I am told, and never question anything, even if I disagree.


It’s the creative thinkers, those who do NOT think exactly like everyone else, who will find the cures for diseases, will find a way to balance the budget, will find answers to society’s problems.  If everyone thinks exactly the same way, if everyone does his/her job in exactly the same way as everyone else, then where will we find our next innovators?  Our next inventors?

Do not tell me Lord Gates got to BE Lord Gates by being like everyone else.  He couldn’t have.  But once one gets to the top, in order to STAY at the top, everyone else has to be kept down.


I look forward to my new assignment in teaching Juniors this year.  I have already decided that this video will be our first Visible Thinking exercise, and we will dive right in to the Transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  The first pieces we are going to read are “Self-Reliance”, “Life Without Principle” and “Civil Disobedience.”

And you know what?  That IS awesome!



What a Difference a Year Makes!

Published June 8, 2014 by Susan Woodward

One year ago (yesterday) I completed my first-ever 5K… I was dying!  I nearly collapsed when I came across the finish line, I was dehydrated because I had not learned about how to hydrate correctly, and I had make the horrible mistake of thinking that dried prunes were a good before-the-race energy snack.

This was me one year ago…happy to be alive after 5K of power-walking.  It was huge for me at the time because I was just starting on the road to getting into better shape and being healthier.

I remember crashing once I got home, my legs shaking and muscles screaming.  But I was SO proud of myself!!

That was my first 5K race… I did three more this past year:

Run For Your Life (chased by zombies)- August

Push Yourself – October

It’s a Wonderful Run (in a snowstorm)- December

It seems I have a particular pose I like to strike to show off my “strength”…

In any case, June 2013 was the beginning of training for power-walk racing for me…no running.  I like my knees the way they are…even without the ACL in one of them!

After the holidays, I began getting ready to up my game… and I did the Spring Forward 15K in Mendon Ponds Park.  I was in PAIN for days after climbing those HILLS for 9.3 miles!  I had not hydrated correctly (again…didn’t learn…), and I ended up on the couch for several days not being able to move around much.  It took nearly three weeks to recover!  Once I managed to get over the soreness, I decided to try the next level… a half-marathon.  Heck, I was walking, right?  Not like I had to RUN for 13.1 miles!

So I joined up in a few walks with the Genesee Vally Hiking Club and took myself to the mall during the cold weather to walk the halls.  Another 15K with the hiking club nearly did me in… I completed the 10 mile hike, but even though I drank lots of water, I STILL was a hurting puppy from dehydration.  I decided to do some research about how to prepare myself…

And it turns out that the best thing I could use to help myself was Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!  🙂

The week before the half-marathon in Niagara Falls, I put chia seeds in everything.  I also drank an entire case of coconut water (which I now love and crave every day…).  I got some of those energy gel pouches to carry with me during the race, as well as some of those rehyrdrating gummies…and they worked!

NFWHM-FINAL-FLAT I managed to complete the 21.1K!!  That’s more than FOUR 5Ks at one time!!  For me, that was like doing the YMCA race, Run For Your Life, Push Yourself, and It’s a Wonderful Run BACK TO BACK!!

And I DID it!!! 

In 18 months, I went from couch (and a pack a day) to silks to 5K to 15K to a half-marathon!!  And I am STILL smoke free!!

And I got to meet a wonderfully inspiring woman, Kathrine Switzer, who was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (in spite of the judge trying to force her out of the “male” race by trying to rip off her bib).  She signed her book Marathon Woman for me, and I shall be reading that as soon as school is out…it shall inspire me to keep going, even when I am tired, sore, dehydrated, frustrated, or just plain lazy.






What a difference a year makes!!!

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