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2002-09-11 - 4:56 p.m.

Today was weird. The kids wanted to watch the CNN coverage of all of the ceremonies while they worked. We did a project on family and traditions - kind of the positive side. I wanted them to think about what they have. It kind of goes along with some on-going exhibits at two local museums about neighborhoods/ communities/ cultures.

But I found the coverage very ... disturbing, obviously. I have a lot of emotions about it. Still anger, distress, mourning --- but also a kind of disgust at how some people have exploited it and how others have used it as an excuse to force patriotism, etc. To me, patriotism, like any other type of belief, cannot be forced - if it is, it isn't genuine and therefore is of no value. I can't make the kids love America - and I don't believe it's my job to do so. But I can talk about the issues with them and remind them of what they have. Many of their parents are immigrants, so that right there is an object lesson for them.

Our history teacher did a neat project on propaganda over the ages and how public opinion is shaped by images, words, and music. I thought that was a good topic for today. Because democracy requires informed citizens. Another good lesson would have been rights and responsibilities of a citizen. Because to me, when I pledge allegiance to the flag, it is a mere symbol of the things that really matter about this country - our ideals. And I find some of the security measures we are undergoing to be counter to those ideals. It's such a complicated topic, especially to discuss with kids. But I'm glad they wanted to talk about it, although I wasn't able to give any answers.

Today I found out that our "bad kid" (she writes this on her folders) had awesome grades for her first report. I said, "You know you're going to college in a few years, right?" She just grinned. She walked out of the (stupid) social worker's office the other day. She said that the woman was lecturing her and lecturing her and telling her all the stuff she was doing wrong and she finally had had enough and she walked out. Inside, I cheered. Good for her. Kids don't have the option of removing themselves from an adult who is being unbearably obnoxious the way adults do - at least without getting in trouble.



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