On History, Making Mistakes, Revision (and a little Harry Potter too!)

Epiphanies are cool. Especially when they come out of nowhere and hit you, BAM! Two years ago, a very sweet student (and his mama) knew of my love of obsession with Harry Potter and bought me the illustrated version of The Sorcerer’s Stone. Even though I’ve read it many times, I thought it would be fun with pictures.IMG_3921

So, I started reading it, getting sucked into that wonderful world yet again, and then I started realizing that it didn’t quite read the same as the Harry Potter I’m used to. After a while, it dawned on me that this is probably the British version, and I got to a part closer to the end where Harry, Ron, and Hermione is focused on academics and I noticed that they kept saying they are working on their “revisions”. It struck me as odd because I know this isn’t a word we use in school unless we’re talking about revising our writing toward the end of our writing process. So, in true nerd fashion, I pulled out my American version of the book, found the exact page I needed, and discovered that the word “revision” had been replaced with “studying” and it was like the heavens opened up and went AHHHHHHH with flashing lights and glitter confetti and all that jazz.

Why does this even matter? Well, it turns out that I LOVE that “revision” in England means the same as “study” or “review”. Revision, broken down etymologically, means to literally “look again”, “look back”, “see again”. This term, I realized, is completely appropriate not only to describe a crucial part of the writing process, but also a crucial part of life in general.IMG_3920

{Side note: Stay with me here, I’m going to take you down one of my crazy thought trains that usually makes my husband go, “WHAT? How is that related?” In his defense, I sometimes don’t actually speak aloud the first half (oops), but instead expect him to be magically clairvoyant.}

Anyways, back to revision. I always told my 4th graders that revision is the most important part of the writing process. It is where you can turn some okay writing into GREAT writing. It is where you can clarify, emphasize, and energize your message. It is where you can look back into your writing again, picking out the pieces you love and discarding the ones that aren’t worthy. And in order to do all of that, you have to really get comfortable and study the writing.

In addition to writing, I also loved teaching social studies to my 4th graders, which consisted of Texas history. While it is fascinating to learn about the past, I think the reason I love history so much is because it is so important to know. And learn from. History provides a unique opportunity to study, to look back, and also to revise as we move forward. My dad’s entire parenting philosophy, he told me a while back, was basically to let my sister and me make a whole bunch of little bitty mistakes when we were young, so that we could learn big lessons from them and hopefully make fewer big mistakes later on. Ideally, we learn from mistakes, they change us, and (hopefully) we grow. I believe this idea works on a personal level, but on a larger scale as well.

In teaching history, I found that every year I had to remind my class that not all white people were “bad”. They were usually horrified as we studied for the first time in their short lives the removal of Native Americans to reservations, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement. When looking at these issues, it’s not hard to understand how they could feel that way. However, I always found their shock and terror kind of refreshing. They have (mostly) grown up believing that every person’s life has value and that the color of their skin bears no importance in determining the kind of person they will be or what they are worth. And they were always determined not to let these injustices repeat themselves.

Over the weekend, I watched and listened. I read so many different posts, opinions, comments about what happened in Charlottesville. Thankfully, *most* of what I read condemned not only the actions of the white supremacist protestors, but also their entire worldview and philosophy. I found myself, however, a little lost and confused, wondering how in the world we are STILL in this place. Why there are still people who believe that the color of a person’s skin can determine the worth of a human being. It goes without saying that we have absolutely no control over what family, situation, or race we are born into. These people who believe they are “superior” to others were simply born into their “privileged” (a term I use lightly because really? Are they privileged? Believing what they do? I’m not sure I’d call that a privilege) lives with no effort whatsoever. And they’ve turned their “privilege” into blind hatred and violence.

As parents, I believe that learning from history, from both a global standpoint and a personal one, and becoming a new person on the other side of our mistakes and failures is one of the most important things we can teach our children. We must teach them to own up to their mistakes but also see the value in them, study them, revise their future actions based on what they learned. We must learn about the struggles of others, within AND outside of our own culture. We must read the stories of different cultures and first-hand accounts of people who lived through much different experiences than our own. We must study together about dark periods in history. We must have important conversations about racism and prejudice and hatred and how to combat those things in our own minds and in public. (Here is a great resource for parents with an excellent book list on these topics!) And most of all, we must teach them to love. To be generous. To show kindness. My basic understanding of the gospel is this: Jesus told us to love God and love others. Not, love God and love others but ONLY if they’re white, Christian, straight, or financially well off. He said to love others. ALL others. This is the legacy I will pass on to my son and my daughter.

Currently Reading: IMG_3917Completely the opposite of this kind of serious post, I am reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and literally crying my eyes out from laughing so hard. I can’t even be in the same room as a sleeping baby or husband for fear of waking them up. I snorted. Multiple times. Lawson is a very funny writer who happens to suffer from severe anxiety and depression, among other issues. Between the humor, however, she speaks very candidly and tenderly about her illness in a way that just makes your heart go out to her. Check out her blog post on a giant metal rooster named Beyonce here if you want a little taste!

Currently Cooking:  Feeling super homesick for New Mexico for some reason, so I decided to whip up something green chile-ish. And it did not disappoint!

To make this delicious concoction, which I don’t even know how to name:

  1. Chop up like 5 or 6 red potatoes, toss in about 2 TBSP of butter. Then season with salt, pepper, and other spices of choice. I love this green chile seasoning I got at a craft fair in Albuquerque a while back. Put on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, stirring about half way.
  3. Meanwhile, brown a pound of ground beef. Drain off excess fat, dump in a whole bottle of 505 Roasted Green Chiles (yes the whole bottle) and add between 1/2-1 cup of chicken broth (depending how soupy you want it). Let simmer.
  4. Fry some eggs- just enough for the yolks to be runny.
  5. Put potatoes and egg on plate. Cover with green chile/beef mixture. Top with cheese. Drool. EAT!! So so so good.

Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.

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