Recently, I received bad news about a family member. Their choices landed them in a very bad position. Upon receiving the urgent phone calls and dramatic text, I became nostalgic. My thoughts took me back to the City Park in Commerce, TX; back in the day when it was the place to be on a Sunday evening. There were the best of times, when nothing went wrong and everyone got along; there were the worst of times when you could literally smell the brewing of confrontation in the air before all hell broke loose.
I remember the first time I heard the sound of a gun and bullets ripping through the air. No colors like fireworks; no trace of their [the bullets] location. I don't remember feeling like I was in danger; I can't recall crying; I don't even remember the sound of people running and screaming in panic. In fact, the only other thing I can remember about that day besides the sound of the bullets leaving the gun, is that I never saw blood. Surviving bullets should always be a reminder that life is too short to waste not placing a stamp or living in the joy of knowing who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to live.
The moment we are born may be the very moment we begin reversing the path of bullets...
1983, the year I was born; the beginning of my life as I know it. My mother was a 17 year old high school dropout. I was born out of wedlock to a societal labeled "loser". My father was "un-named" on my birth certificate. But, I was raised "right"; raised to the best of a "losers" ability and beyond. My mother loved me, and all of her children to "the moon and back; to the deep and oblivious". She was the Rockefeller in my life. No filter on the tough way she showed love, the way she struggled, or the setbacks she had trying to grow.
"To the moon and back", she dodged bullet; after bullet; after bullet. Her survival taught me that running was not the best approach to life. Facing the murkiness in a chaotic storm, in rage and in fear, is the strength that we gift ourselves. Boys and girls, women and men, survive hardships and labels because life lends itself to the "comeback kid". Living past those predestined bullets, has taught me you can survive bullets even when you are the target.
Choices are often the bullets in our life...
My Uncle "Head", surreal that I haven't said his name in years, died in early 2000. He was only in his late 20's. He never had the opportunity to see much of his life because he spent most of it institutionalized. He was a great guy that always figuratively seemed to keep his gun loaded. He was the epitome of self-destruction, and yet he was the one that you cheered for simply because he made you feel like you mattered. He was a thief to his own livelihood, and yet he inspired me with the simplest acts of kindness. So to me, his life was not all in vain. Nevertheless, bullets shot right through his soul; it [his soul] lended no shield. Rest in peace James Easter; you taught me a lot about the power of choices.
Everyday we are gifted the opportunity to open our eyes to something new, we must sift through the smoke of the gun; the slippery slope that challenges us to be a great story or a forgotten memory. I will never forget the bullets that my mother dodged in life to give me the opportunity to LIVE my here and now; I'll never forget the choices my Uncle Head made that unfortunately ended his opportunity to see the now and future.
We are our greatest vessel of strength, and our greatest conquers of self-defeat. Everything that doesn't go our way doesn't make us weaker; it makes us stronger and more aware of our absolute power and powerless surrondings and internal flaws. What is life without flaws and imperfections? Inadequacy is an incapable mindset. Without my flaws, my faults, my stumbles, and my imperfections I would be stifled- incapable of growing- and that would make me incredibly-un-incredibly ORDINARY. I live in a reality that I'm not perfect, I will make mistakes, and that is perfectly ok as long as I don't become a victim of my own inflicted misfortunes.
Life will bring a few bullets your way. Survive the disillusion that when things fail to go as planned you then become a failer; a loser; written- off. Because if you don't, you will fall at the helm of a short story entitled "same story different day", and those often get left on dusty shelves.
The world is defined as the togetherness of earth, its people, its countries, and its natural features. How valuable is the idea of six degrees of separation in a world that has transcended into a mass of ongoing and emerging technology? Technology has allowed us to reach someone from the tip of the panhandle to the edge of the Bermuda Triangle. This "new dawn" of communication is arguably as exquisite, if not more so, than the age known as the period of "Enlightenment". There is a profound amount of emphasis on individualism and reason in this day and age, and adolescents are the critical elements to the exploration of such empowering skills.
"Brain Networking", is the idea that kids can exist in a global community of learning, and become responsible for the discovery and delivery of knowledge. Recently, I came across a website/app entitled: www.brainly.com. A few things struck me: 1.) it was free to join, 2.) it was an educational learning community, and 3.) it's a community of students helping students. To some, there may be nothing truly mindboggling or maybe even phenomenal about the concept; however, in this day and age this site is on the cutting edge of a very important factor of what it takes to produce the autonomous learner.
While previewing the site from my cellphone, I thought about my little sister who's currently in high school. During final exams, she called me late one night and said she needed help with Geometry. I chuckled out of embarrassment; being an educator and a college grad, I know she believes that I should have the knowledge to answer almost any question. In this instance, I was clueless. Geometry was one of my worse subjects in high school, so other than a long hour of Googling to try to help her- I had nothing else to offer. This brought me back to the overshadowing question that we often ask ourselves in education, "How do we truly help kids outside of our walls when they need us?"
I thought about the households of those who are economically disadvantaged- the exact label that I was growing-up. How many of their parents are educated beyond high school? Can afford a tutor? Have a computer in their home? Or, can even afford or find a way to get their kids home from after school tutorials? These are problems that exist in abundance in education. Moreover, even in the most affluent or educated of homes, there still exist a high probability that no one within the home will be able to address questions concerning various levels and subject areas in education. So, why is Brainly.com effective?
Even in economically disadvantaged homes, kids most likely have access to a cellphone. Even if they have a cellphone that is turned off, they are able to use the web as long as they can find a wifi server; this is the exact situation my little sister faced through middle and early high school. With this website, students have an opportunity to give and receive help from thousands of students across the world, and it's easy to access and use from any electronic device. With high competition in college admissions, scholarships, and preparation for jobs we've yet to see- the right or wrong answer and knowledge can make all the difference in a GPA, SAT/ACT, AP, or STAAR score. Furthermore, for that student that may not be college bound, but is trade bound and simply needs to know a material property for their welding class- Brainly.com is a meaningful outlet.
The overarching question: How does asking, receiving, and giving answes to questions help kids learn? The cycle of learning is not complex but the process usually is. We best learn through inquiry and the response to that inquiry. When inquiry comes from self, it produces more ownership towards the response; thus, increasing the value of maintaining that knowledge. For example, most of us experienced our first job in the food or retail industry at the lower level. Someone had to teach us how to do the work. Once we learned the "how" we performed the task. However, when we became ambitious or inquisitive and began to inquire about other positions, we had to ask questions in order to learn. This same cycle is how we've always learned, but the process becomes more complex as learning is deepened by levels and expectations.
Homework has become somewhat of an anomaly in education. It's easier for kids to rely on cheating when there's no one there to answer their questions. Most kids will attempt to do their homework, but will become frustrated and give-up when they reach a roadblock of understanding. Brainly.com allows students the opportunity to engage in questioning, understanding, and delivery of knowledge. It's not fail-proof, in the sense that it's going to produce Einstein's, but it absolutely helps households of students level out on an even playing field when it comes to receiving that additional help that's often needed.
We should all live to enlighten ourselves through self- discovery of knowledge. The world is a power of brain networks that we just have to access. There's a lot of power in contributing knowledge and obtaining it. Even the very best teachers will tell you that even they continue to learn by teaching, because they have exposure to continual practice and feedback. Brainly.com is an opportunity to explore individuality in how you learn; there's great empowerment in that.