Poker face.

My burning question for today (with a side of meltdown, frustration, and melted mascara) is: Are we raising a generation of liars?

Covering a remedial math class this morning due to an emergency, the absent, ill teacher inadvertently forgot lesson plans for this small class. No worries: I asked the school secretary and she repeated what the sick teacher said, albeit it was intended for her other classes. Having paid my dues as a guest teacher while working on my Master’s, I pride myself on being able to think and act quickly walking into a classroom of unknown students.

“What are you working on now?”

“I don’t know.”

“We don’t know.”

After five minutes or more of interrogation, I finally got one semi-honest student to show me their green math workbooks.

“Okay, where did you leave off in the book?”

“I don’t know.”

“We don’t know.”

The roles devolved into me, the interrogator, the Spanish inquisition, to them, the innocent and righteous rebels, fighting for their freedom. Freedom from what exactly?

From the pain of not understanding 4th-grade level math?

Self-esteem and confidence issues aside, these students, (mostly one or two ring leaders who took it upon themselves to lead the others by the nose ) would not have a chance to practice very low-level math problems. Out of about eighteen students, perhaps three actually did what they were supposed to do without incident. I almost hooked one student by saying how good it felt to actually do a problem, solve it, and get the right answer–she almost got engaged. She was the little fish who got away. But almost doesn’t cut it when one alpha student decides she’s going to bully her into not completing her work. Those girls knew exactly where they were in the book, exactly what they were supposed to do, and spent the entire time with masterful work avoidance.

I want to say I can’t blame them: if the news or social media breaks through to them, which we all know it does, it’s full of falsehoods and fantasy. The fantasy and creativity I can handle: I swim in that soup myself, and it’s fun, engaging, and satisfying. I love to write, create, socialize, produce, and yes, talk. But sometimes the dishes need to be washed, and sometimes there is a moment when you need to learn how to reduce fractions. Sorry. And that is how a 14-year-old gets to 8th grade without understand fractions. We let them lie, and we lie to ourselves.

For example, we allow for this nonsense to happen (and it happens on every and all sides):

Republican leaders on Thursday slammed President Obama’s release of his detailed birth certificate as a distraction from the nation’s real concerns and attempted to point the finger at him for bringing heightened media attention to it.

If I was a Republican, Tea Party-er, or Libertarian, even I, right about now, would be tired of this silliness and snake oil. (Wouldn’t I?)

Just as I am a bit tired from my political philosophies constantly being challenged and crumbly.

I am a dork, and read everything, even my silly horoscope from time to time, like a fortune cookie. It’s taken about that seriously. Its generalizations and pseudo-science are just as dangerous for the ignorant mind as belief in oxymoron-ic honest politicians or jumbo shrimp.

My horoscope today (lies): You cannot hide your true intentions now that the Moon is in your sign, for others can see through your attempts at secrecy. Although being vulnerable makes you feel unsafe, your fears could be worse than any real danger. Don’t waste your energy protecting yourself from others; instead work to build your self-esteem so it doesn’t matter if anyone sees through your veneer. Honoring your integrity is the best way to assure your emotional security.

Own emotional security: how do we tell children that you really, REALLY will feel best if you have your own sense of accomplishment? How it really feels to just do the work? Get a little mentally sweaty from using one’s own brain to creatively solve problems and not creatively avoid them?

A teacher told me the other day that one of students said to her, “You know, failure IS an option.”

It sure is – perhaps we promote students who aren’t ready, thus perpetuating the lies. They learn how to hide behind others either with bravado or timidity, but there is a tell.

I see them: but at this point in the year, to still have to be turning over boulders to expose the bugs seems unfair to us all.

How do you handle this?