It's not like I'm a huge lover of change either. I don't like change in my daily life, in my routine, in the things that are familiar, but I'm also adult enough and wise enough to understand that change, is not only often necessary, it is a good thing. For the most part, change, when it is with the goal of overall improvement is something that I welcome. Change is good.
But, recent events in my life have taught me that adults are almost just as stubborn about change as children. They want to know the why's of change, the what's of change, how is this going to affect ME and my life of change, and they fight change tooth and nail. Oftentimes in communities, bringing about change becomes even more fractious and antagonistic as people pit themselves against one another, very much in the same way I put myself against Son when he is fighting his change. People try to protect their own interests, instead of thinking about the goals of the greater good. Nowhere do I see this more in communities where I want to see improvement, like schools. Teachers isolate themselves so that they can avoid change, leadership forgets to motivate for change, and parents sit by and talk about the days of old, without ever pushing for new ideas and transformation.
If you are unaware, a radical shift (or maybe it won't be that radical, who knows?) is brewing on the horizon, that will hit your child's school in the United States in two years. 45 states in the US have adopted new nationwide standards in mathematics and language arts. There are 5 states that still have yet to adopt the new standards (Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Alaska) but the rest of the nation has adopted these new state wide standards. In theory, the entire nation will be teaching and learning the same thing. No longer will there be state by state variances. (in theory.)
If you're not aware (and I've only begun studying this in the past six months or so), there will be a shift in what is being taught in language arts nation wide. There will be a shift to more narrow field to focus on, and more depth in studying the topics that are covered. Teachers will have to change what they teach, as shift will move towards more informational texts (less fiction taught in school), more explanatory writing (less personal biography taught), and more depth required in each of these areas. I see the return of research in high schools, research papers and lengthy reports on a single topic, and a shift to challenging kids to decode texts to get facts and information, instead of the focus on just getting kids to "read whatever" in class.
Change is coming. I know that teachers are scrambling, because they are going to have to change. I have to change what I focus on teaching. Students have to accept shifts in what they are learning in school But I have to believe and take a leap of faith, no matter how hard, that this change is good. This change is worth it. This change is going to make lives better. I'm not sure how it will, but I trust the intelligent people that are putting things together, working like crazy, and coming up with ways to challenge our educational system so that it can improve. How can we be happy as a nation, when we perform so poorly against the world? I'm not fighting this change. I'm learning how I can embrace it. I'm studying the standards, figuring out what they mean, and preparing myself to assist Children to move with the change.
Change is good. We may not like it when it's hard, but it'll be worth it. I believe it.
To learn more about the Common Core State Standards, read about them here. Each of your state's department of education will also have a stance and a statement regarding this.
If you're reading to change things up in the kitchen, I suggest making this Lemongrass Chicken. It's not your typical stirfry with flavors, but change is wonderful in the case of this dish. Served with jasmine rice it just makes you happy. (certainly makes me very happy.) The flavors are slightly exotic, but comforting at the same time. The stir fry ingredients take a bit of time to prep, because cutting and mincing lemon grass is difficult, but the flavor is SO worth it, believe me!
Lemongrass Mini Lesson
If you're relatively unfamiliar with using lemongrass, the stalk is super hard to cut, because it is so fibrous. This recipe, however, uses the inner stalk of the lemongrass, which is far more tender.
Cut off the top of the lemongrass, leaving about a 3 to 4 inch piece.
Using your knife, split the lemongrass stalk lengthwise, so that you can access the tender portion of the stalk. Discard the tough outer leaves (or if you're making a curry, you can keep it around to add to curry.)
Using your knife, mince the tender stalk into tiny pieces.
Lemongrass Chicken Stir Fry
1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed, meat cut into 3/4-inch pieces
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon curry powder (I use Trader Joes)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 plump stalks of lemongrass, tender white inner bulb only, minced
2 shallots, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup sake
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
In a medium bowl, toss the chicken pieces with 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 1 teaspoon salt, curry powder and turmeric powder. Set aside.
Mix together in a bowl chicken stock, sake, fish sauce and sugar. Set aside.
In a large skillet or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil until small puffs of smoke begin to appear. Add half of the chicken and stir-fry over high heat until browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Add the lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add chicken stock mixture and bring to a bowl and cook until liquids are significantly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken to the sauce and simmer until heated through, then serve.
Garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve with rice.