Sunday, April 3, 2011

Denver Family Re-union...happy times mixed with sad news

Sunday, April 4, Denver Colorado
After flying here on Friday, on Delta airlines, we are rested, and experiencing the changeable weather of the southwest. This morning was sunny and warm, and this afternoon, rainy with snow. There is a saying in Colorado, "If you don't like the weather in Colorado, wait 15 fifteen minutes and it will change."
Family reunions are prompted by many triggers; some of them might include anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, or even graduations. This particular one is prompted by a doctor's diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer in a forty-something scientist.
Much of the conversation has centred around how busy, driven and tech-dependent the forty-something generation finds their lives to be. One teacher listed her schedule, including e-mails, texts and personal visits daily, weekly from the parents of her students. She currently teaches in a private elementary school in the Denver area.
Leaving the house at 7.30 a.m. and returning home at 6.45 in the evening, with barely a fifteen minute time for lunch, an hour for make-up time for students who are struggling, a couple of prep sessions, and four or five classroom teaching assignments, the twice-weekly faculty meetings, and literally dozens of messages from both parents and students all expecting immediate responses...
Her story left me feeling both exhausted, and grateful for having left the classroom before the "access" to the teacher became a kind of scorched earth normalcy. Since when did parents need to contact the teacher every day, about the progress (or lack) of their child's performance in math? Since when was the teacher so important that dozens of messages each day were an integral part of the profession.
Since when did the technology become the master of the student-teacher relationship?
One has only to guess that the North American tech-addiction is not exclusive to teens. It apparently extends at least to their teachers, parents and school administrators.
The diagnosed male scientist is under experimental program administered by Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York city, and, although the outcome of the experiment will not be known for some weeks or even months, he is determined not to "feel sorry" for himself, to continue working, and to make the most and the best of whatever days he has remaining.
He is truly an inspiration to any who might have the opportunity to meet him!
Caught the last few minutes of the Kentucky-UConn final four game last night, but missed the Butler-VCU opening game, which Butler apparently won by 8 points.
There is a constant feeling of dryness in one's mouth that comes with the altitude (5000+ feet above sea level), and I have already consumed more water in two days that I would normally in a full week.
Warm welcomes from family whom we see once a year at most, always warms the heart and feeds the soul, and the company of early teen nieces, with questions about "Taming of the Shrew"  which she is currently studying in grade nine, have made the first few days a welcome break, and a beautiful gift.

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