Monday, March 20, 2006

A Flag Makes Me Think

Monday, March 20, 2006
I took this photo of a long wall, painted in American flag elements, in a Chicago restaurant. It was a fascinating use of the flag theme, and like good art and good music, it made me think. Lately I've been wondering if we are experiencing the long, slow demise of The United States. Are we going to be like England, Spain, France, and other fallen-from-fame superpowers? The clues pointing to such a future are all around us, if we take the time to read the newspapers and open our eyes to the world beyond our borders.

Tonight I went to a parents' meeting on the other side of our county to learn about a state competition for elementary school students. It's called Future Problem Solving, and a team from Phoebe's school (including Phoebe and four other kids) was selected to participate on the Ohio-wide state competition level. The teams are presented a problem and are challenged to come up with a solution which they have to organize, write up, and present as a play.

Phoebe is really into it and I'm glad. We need our children to be problem solvers, because I'm not sure we're doing such a great job these days.

The world we live in is changing so rapidly, I wouldn't be surprised if, in the future, the concept of being a superpower itself became outmoded. My main worry is the real-world problems we're leaving to future generations.

Okay, I am done. You can take the soapbox now. You DO know what a soapbox is, don't you?

As much as I dug the American flag motif on the wall, the overall vibe of the restaurant was somewhat compromised by the presence of two other objets d'art: Reddy Watt and a scary cast-iron clown. Clowns don't usually freak me out, but this one did.
Reddy Watt, your happy friend from the Electric Co-op, who can electrocute you or, apparently, hit you with a hammer.

And to this day, no one knows whether this clown is laughing or crying, shouting, yodeling, or yawning. There are some things in this world that should be left unknown.

Someone stop me before I blog again.


On March 21, 2006 at 10:21 AM Anonymous said...


I have had lots of experience, as a classroom teacher, with these types of programs. In Nevada it was part of the "Olympics of the Mind" organization. The only drawback was having to pick a winner. By 5th or 6th grade students weren't willing to put in the effort to be told by some judge their solution wasn't as good as another groups. Kind of sad, but a reality in the setting I worked. My soapbox speech would be aimed at kids inability to play without adult structure. It was always the ump or referee that cheated them out of victory. Students could no longer go out on the playground after lunch and organize a game without adult help. That's sad! I don't get on my soapbox often as the effort to get up and down increases annually.

The other Bill

On March 21, 2006 at 10:56 AM Rondeau Ric said...


I agree with The Other Bill.

Our kids have not been allowed to play/compete on their own.

As a kid we had pickup baseball games. We understood the rules, everyone got to play every position and there were no losers.
It was fun; it wasn't electronic and didn't require batteries.

Too many children today seem to be pushed into competitive situations before they are capable of handling the pressure of not winning, I don't like the term loser.

Our North American culture seems too have too much casual violence and lack of respect for anything or anyone.

I believe in the three "C"s
Courtesy, Cooperation and Consideration.

I read somewhere that you can tell a declining civilization by the decline in common courtesy and manners.

I think we are in trouble.

You pushed my buttons two days in a row.

Time for someone else to use the soap box.

On March 21, 2006 at 11:22 AM Bill of the Birds said...

Bill & Ric:
Thanks for these pertinent comments. We don't push our kids to join the local sports teams. They make their decisions each year on their own. But I do challenge them to several-times-weekly games of "21" in basketball (Phoebe) and whiffleball (both P and Liam).

They also know that sitting in front of the TV or computer for hours on end "rots their brains." And they in turn, use this on Daddy and Mommy when we're too locked in at our computers.

Still, tonight I expect to spend a hour boob-tubing with the entire clan, rotting our brains with American Idol (Idle).