Fave Reads Friday #10.2 – Meritocracy and other Made Up Words

Have you ever heard that word Meritocracy? Did you know that it’s not a real word? More of the many bits of information that I learned while reading The Big Test by Nicholas Lemann.

The word meritocracy was created by Michael Young in his 1958 work titled The Rise of Meritocracy. His work was meant as a satirical piece to pick apart  a system in which children, from a young age, are chosen for their role in society (think something like Giver or Divergent) and that a chosen few are meant to rule based on MERIT; which in this case is determined by intelligence. The word meritocracy is a combination of two unrelated root words, merit a Latin word and cracy (kratos) a Greek word. It is roughly translated to mean that through your worth your are given power.

The idea behind a meritocratic society is that through standardized testing we could best choose who would be successful at what skill and then guide our citizens toward that lot in life so as to be the most productive society in existence. This is what Lemann writes about in The Big Test. However, the main idea gets twisted over time and the use of these standardize tests also gets twisted.

Think about this……when I was in Kindergarten I was given an IQ test which pushed me into the talented and gifted program at my elementary school. The reliability and validity of such tests are often highly debated, but essentially I was chosen. I was bored in traditional school, but never really taught that being able to learn quickly and test well is not the same thing as having true merit. I was involved in talented and gifted programs through 8th grade, breezing through on good test scores. Upon reaching high school I was put on the advanced track for science, math, and language arts. I attempted the advanced track for social science (history) and language, but ended up dropping out of each. When I was in 7th grade I began taking the SAT and ACT exams as part of a program that offered summer camps to students identified as talented and gifted. I scored so well that I went to a camp and studied exercise physiology and biomechanics one summer and genetics in the summer between 8th and 9th grades.

My high school emphasized involvement and I was on sports teams, involved in debate, the lit mag, the yearbook, cultural awareness groups, volunteering at my elementary school and church, and holding part time jobs. I did all that I could on a limited budget and without true guidance as to what any of it meant.

Upon graduating high school, with alright grades and high test scores, I received zero scholarship offers and, because my family was not well off, I attended a state school and proceeded to do fair. I didn’t know how to study and lacked the discipline to perform homework to the fullest. Why? Because I’d always tested well which had been enough to get by in all schooling up until college. I spent time testing out this and that and avoided things that were too challenging or required too much work on my part as far as classes went. I was going to be a lifeguard instructor at one point, but decided that I didn’t have the time. I had a million part time jobs and didn’t stick with any of them very long. I got married and moved around.

In the last couple of years of my undergraduate programs I started to perform better in school and finished with a fairly decent GPA. I eventually became certified as a Personal Trainer and, after moving around a bit more, decided to take a stab at graduate school. (Mostly because a graduate degree “guaranteed” a better job) I studied for about a week and took the GRE; doing well enough to get into graduate school. This attempt at school was much of the same as college…..fair. But, fair is not good enough for graduate school.

I left graduate school for awhile at the end of my marriage and then attempted an MBA. I didn’t want to have to take the GMAT, so I dropped that as well. I eventually ended up at another graduate school where I flourished academically and where my interest in a lot of different things started to grow. I have always though of my journey to where I am today as more linear than it was. I had always considered myself a good student. But, after reading Lemann’s book and considering the true meritocracy I started to really question my own journey.

Last week Evangeline commented about about the idea of two different students applying to college:

This is fascinating. After taking the SAT and a few state mandated standardized tests, the whole system has piqued my interest. The idea of a number playing such a significant role in my future seems a little scary. I know colleges say they look at applicants holistically, but in real life, if person A has a perfect SAT score and person B has an average score, we know who’s getting accepted. I’ll definitely be adding this to my reading list. Thanks for sharing!

Which of these two students has merit? Who should we give the power to? How would you decide?

These are all questions that have been going through my head regarding myself, my children, and the world around us since reading Lemann’s book. How should we decide who goes to college? What is college for? Who should be running our country? What is merit?

Lemann ends his book with many of the same questions and I’m not sure I have the answers. All I know is that being selected at age 5 or 6 did nothing to make me the type of societal member that was going to contribute highly to significant causes….life has done more of that to me than anything…..yoga has done even more. Being identified as having the ability to learn and learn quickly didn’t help me to be successful because there was no guidance in the process. I wrote this post two and a half years ago about education:

TOLT: Book Reviews and The Great Education Debate

in which I talk about a book by Amanda Ripley and the future education of my own children. My children are now starting school (both of them) and we’re not in a traditional school. There is testing to help the teachers understand how the students are progressing, but the schools they go to also focus on grace and courtesy and a universal understanding of respect for yourself, your community, and your environment. These are the types of merits I think we should be basing our decisions on:

  • How kind are you?
  • How much have you done for the good of others?
  • Are you a litter bug?
  • Can you think bigger than yourself?

Maybe if we considered some of these questions before voting our government would look different at all levels. Maybe if we considered some of these questions for ourselves our lives and communities would look different…..

What is meritorious to you?

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TOLT – 1 Week Until Preschool!

Today is Thursday and I’m not having to get up and go to work for the first time in many weeks. But it also means that it’s the last Thursday, for awhile at least, that I could have slept in…..because next week my baby starts preschool! And, in the words of Peg Plus Cat, I AM TOTALLY FREAKING OUT!

Thank you, in advance, to Amanda for a place to vent my worries.

THINGS I AM WORRIED ABOUT WITH PRESCHOOL 1 WEEK AWAY

  1. The Goodbye – When my first son went to school two years ago, he walked right in and I had to call him back to say good-bye to the little guy and me. This time around it will be the big one and I dropping off the little one on the first day. I’m not quite sure how this will go. Part of me wants him to be hesitant and still need me. Part of me wants him to be brave like his brother and waltz right in like he knows the place.
  2. What to do with Kid #1 – So, on the first day of preschool my oldest son will still be 12 days away from starting school for the year. So, it’s kind of new territory for us. There was just the two of us before the little guy came along, but since then I can’t think of another time in which it’s been just the two of us (unless you count volunteering at his school). So, what will we do with our time together? I HAVE NO CLUE! We have had lots of little moments together, but never 3 whole hours of us time in the last 4 years. I’m thinking I might take him to show him my new work as it’s right across the street. We might go out to breakfast. We might just go crazy….who knows?!
  3. More Friends – Okay, so this really shouldn’t be a worry, but I’ve already found that this summer was harder than any other before to make sure we had at least one play date with each of our friends. Why? Because now we have the friends we made prior to school, the friends from preschool that we’ve held on to, and now kindergarten friends. That doesn’t even account for the friends we’re about to make this year for both kids! I already know one of the families in the preschool class and we like them and have mutual friends, but there’s a reason we throw a large party a few times a year….we don’t have enough time for all of the friends!
  4. No Nanny – Yep, she left us and graduated and moved home and got married and is a grown-up with a full-time job now. The last two years have been a breeze because of our nanny and I can tell you it was the best experience we’ve ever had in childcare. So great, in fact, that I can’t seem to find anyone who lives up to her! And now we’re going to try and do it all on our own without her or anyone else. Already I’m dreading it. What will happen when one of the kids gets sick? Who will be there to help out in emergencies? What about when I need someone to set out something to defrost during the day? Who will eat all of the leftovers?! Really, our nanny was like a part of our family and we miss her dearly!
  5. The End – There will be no more kids at home after this. Granted preschool is only 2 half days per week, but this is the end of being a full-time stay at home mom. I have worked most of the time that I have been home with my kids, but I no longer have kids that are home full-time after next Thursday. It went too fast…..

New Foods

We’re now on the backside of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It’s something that I think a lot of people I know struggle with from time to time and I thought it pertinent to mention. Also of importance is this great post I read over the weekend:

I was looking at my calendar the other day and planning out meals through the end of March and into April. I like to rotate things, especially our staples: Mexican food, something grilled, something seafood, something pasta, and breakfast for dinner. We usually eat something from each category each week because I try to bring a balance of what my kids will already eat to exposing them to a little something new and also a dash of what I WANT from time to time. Continue reading “New Foods”

Throwback TOLT – Thinking About Thursdays

I started this blog in January 2014 and had not yet found Running With Spoons or the TOLT, but somehow I posted this little gem titled almost the same thing. I think it was around this time that I was reading Commitness to Fitness and Charlotte was also linking up with Amanda and yet I had no idea. So you can click here to read the original if you like:

Thinking About Thursday

Or enjoy this little snippet from the post:

Random Mom Thoughts
Don’t you hate that moment when you’re changing a diaper and it looks like peanut butter is in there and then you feel some left over crunchy peanut butter between your teeth from the lunch you just ate? Yeah, that just happened to me this afternoon and I think I’ll be taking pbj sandwiches out of the lunch rotation for a few extra days.

Either way, have a great Thursday and take a moment to look back at your old writing to see how it’s changed!

pigeonPS: Yoga practice today will be some much needed pigeon pose. Look for some more info on pigeon pose in Mini Movie Monday #4 or check out these two other posts of mine:

On The Road Again

Taking Inventory

 

What was your first TOLT?

Scaling Back

I’ve been away from the blog for yet another week of trying to make decisions and get through the day. I feel this ever looming presence of a need to reflect and take inventory that keeps me from moving forward as I’d like to. So, to combat that heavy feeling, I’ve decided to scale back on a lot of my goals. The best part of this decision is that it makes me feel confident in what I can achieve and not like I’ve hit yet another set back.

This new frame of mind allows me a little more freedom in my life….. Continue reading “Scaling Back”

Rio in My Backyard

Tonight the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will open. Like Caitlin at Fit and Feminist I have some mixed feelings about the coverage of the Olympic games, how host cities are chosen, and the overall commercialism that dictates what is supposed to be an amateur athletic event. I’ve enjoyed laughing at the TODAY show and NBC Nightly News as they cover the “amazing” number of female athletes competing for Team USA.

Are we still that far behind?

So, tonight I introduce the Olympics to my children. Continue reading “Rio in My Backyard”

That OTHER Time I Didn’t Finish Something

Happy Thursday to All! Three weeks from tomorrow I start back teaching at CFCC and I can’t wait! Summer has been great, but I’m looking forward to meeting new students and serving another purpose (other than lunch maker, playdate scheduler, and shuttle bus) on the regular. I LOVE being at home with my kids, but I also got a Masters degree so that I could use it.

Anyway, today I’m linking up with Amanda at Running With Spoons for another of her infamous TOLT posts. So, check out her site and all of the other great posts you’ll find there today on the link up.

Today I want to really focus on a little sadness I had in my week. It was all about an ending that didn’t happen. Continue reading “That OTHER Time I Didn’t Finish Something”

Fave Reads Friday #5: 4 F’s in May

I’m not quite done with my book I’m currently reading, but thought instead that I’d share some of my favorite reads so far this month from my blog roll in the manner of four F’s:

Female Post:

This one is for all the moms out there, because it’s Mother’s Month in my eyes!

Mommy Shorts: JetBlue Awards Passengers Every Time a Baby Cries

Fitness Post:

The article everyone is talking about…..

New York Times: After “The Biggest Loser” Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight

Food Post:

I have two things on my “To make” list by Monique at Ambitious Kitchen….they will appear on my What I Made Wednesday posts in the next few weeks, but you might like to try them before I do (so this one gets double billing).

Ambitious Kitchen: Baked Sweet Potato Donuts with Dark Chocolate and Coconut

Ambitious Kitchen: Broccoli & White Cheddar Quinoa Mac and Cheese (really an April post)

Funny Post:

Really anything by The Bloggess is HILARIOUS! But I liked this one best so far (I’m kind of behind in my reading online as well…)

The Bloggess: My nose is an asshole. But not literally. Thank God.

 

What’s the best post you read this week?

Want to share one of your own?

Do so in the comments below! I’ll read it!

12 Years of Yoga: NETA Yoga

A quick thank you to Amanda for hosting a platform on which I can tell part of my story!

When I started teaching NETA Yoga it was a course written by Linda Christy Weiler. It was a different type of yoga exposure for me as some of the material was more “Mind” than the “Body” portion I’d originally been trained with and had previously worked with. During this time I kept practicing the way I always had and thought still little about the impact of the other parts of yoga.

I started teaching for a ballet studio early in the mornings and about two months after that first workshop I was pregnant with my second. I do believe that my yoga practice and the way I look at life since becoming a mom has helped me to get pregnant and to stay healthier than I ever have been. I eventually left the ballet studio after a few months and continued to teach online for ECU and travel for NETA through the end of my pregnancy. I remember going to a workshop when I was a few months pregnant and running off of the plane and into a bathroom to vomit. It didn’t help that there was a seafood restaurant right near the gate.

I was a little less cautious with the second baby and traveled by air, ate a little more seafood (but not more than recommended), ate at restaurants more, and didn’t nap constantly when I felt tired. I also walked almost every day with friends around the neighborhood and tried to stay as mobile as possible with my toddler in tow. I even did gymnastics with him (including trampoline) for awhile longer than most. I was lucky again to not really show much during my pregnancy until the end.

I used my yoga a lot this pregnancy in practicing how I wanted to deliver. I also used a lot of cow/cat at the direction of my midwife to turn the baby around because he was sunny side up. My delivery again didn’t go anything as planned and after my baby was here I was left without work to do.

The wonderful people at NETA that I work for were nice enough to let me do some curriculum work for them and as I did such a good job in that area, I got a new and even more exciting task to do with a newborn…..write a yoga manual. NETA wanted a revamp on the course that we had and they wanted it to be their own. So, starting in September of 2013, I started writing….and researching….and writing more. I was still mostly unemployed as I’d left ECU and only taken on a very limited part-time gig with a kid’s gym teaching kids yoga. So, my two boys and I spent our days as most stay at home moms do….playing, cleaning, and attempting to learn everything about yoga.

I remember having tons of books spread out across the floor and having my almost 3 year old looking at pictures and saying: “I can do that!” and then attempting to get into poses. I was learning so much more about the postures of yoga and all of their many benefits than I ever knew. This was the easy part of NETA Yoga…..the hard part came when I was asked to write other sections of the manual. Writing about teaching techniques too was easy, but about how to do meditation?

I had practiced what I now like to call “fake mediation” before. You know…when you sit quietly with your eyes closed and pretend to meditate, but really you just think about a million different things and try to figure out what you’re going to do after this meditation session. Yeah, even as an instructor I was still doing a lot of that! How about Affirmations? Well, I have a personal mantra, but I’d never instructed anyone else in how to write one.

Okay, now for the really hard part….tell us about the history of yoga, the 8 limb path of Raja yoga, and Sanskrit and Chakras and everything else that you have always brushed to the side and considered a different “type” of yoga….

It took 9 months of research, phone calls, reading books, emails, writing drafts, consulting, practicing, and edits to finish this project. During which time I started the blog, moved, and was hired on at CFCC.

Because I will keep getting better with age….chair pose when I’m older!

I feel like I never really LIVED my yoga until I took on this project and I haven’t stopped growing in yoga since. No one other moment in my yoga journey has impacted my practice as much as this project in such a profound way as to make me truly identify as a Yogini. It has improved the way I live, the way I work, and the way I teach and yet, I have continued to learn, research, and grow over the past two years since its completion. It’s probably the project I am most proud of completing.

What is the one project you are most proud of accomplishing?

12 Years of Yoga: Time Off

Being a stay at home mom was a plan that someone else had for me in my first marriage. I was willing to go along with it that time around, but when I found out I was pregnant in the middle of grad school, I had different plans in mind. I assumed I would just get a job and we would hire a nanny to come to our house and help us with our son. However, once I had him in my arms, I didn’t want him going anywhere else.

It wasn’t intentional that I ended up at home with my son. I applied for jobs and moved to where my husband had a job and continued to apply for jobs. I did odd work (wine tastings for his brother) and a race or two for the company I’d interned with (RTE), but I didn’t have any real work until he was almost a year old. I started teaching online for ECU in the same LPAF program I’d worked in during my grad program, but they were making more changes and teaching online was very different than face to face. I again found myself floundering in the field I thought I’d be so successful in.

At that same time I was hired on by NETA and then sat in wait of the first time I would get to travel and teach a workshop. I was terrified! Then the day came….June 2012. The workshop coincided with about the same time as our anniversary, so I was able to take my husband with me on my first trip out to Myrtle Beach, SC. I was teaching at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC (a place I’d applied for several jobs over the course of the past year and a half). I was teaching a yoga certification to 5 participants and I had no clue what I was doing.

I practiced and read and rehearsed with my little guy at home in preparation for the workshop. And still I bombed! I felt like I knew nothing when I got there. I talked too loud sometimes and too quiet at others. I was so out of a regular teaching practice that my demonstrations were terrible and I basically read the entire training manual to them….word for word! I was crushed by the end of it all and reconsidering everything I ever thought I could do.

Yoga felt like the enemy who had just judged me unworthy…..