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Category Archives: Literature

The broken tooth, the coming crown, the 2014 Florida Book Festival and Writers Digest

I broke a tooth over the weekend and visited the dentist this afternoon spending a few hours in THE chair. I hate those shots that numb your jaw making it feel swollen like a puffy blimp. In a few days I will return for the fitting of the crown.

But when I returned home with that numb jaw, there was a surprise—a double dose of what I think was good news.

“”2014 Florida Book Festial and Comment by Writers Digest Judge“Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose” didn’t earn any awards from Writer’s Digest, but the judge’s comments were appreciated. :o)

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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Not Broken! – Part 5/5

You may want to skip this page if you prefer opinions without facts used as support (this is known as hot air or natural gas).  I tend to support my opinions, some say, with too many facts (what I consider to be six cups of coffee).

There are more comparisons we should look at, and the first is comparing literacy in America with its northern and southern neighbors in addition to the top-ten countries with the highest reported high-school graduation rates.

In fact, there is another measurement that may be more meaningful than a country’s reported high school graduation rate. That measurement is functional illiteracy.

The United States and many other countries claim high literacy rates because the definition of literacy says, “The adult literacy rate is the percentage of people age 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life.”

However, functional illiteracy means that reading and writing skills are inadequate “to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level.”

Functional illiteracy is contrasted with illiteracy in the strict sense, meaning the inability to read or write simple sentences in any language.

For example, my older brother, (died age 64 in 1999) graduated from high school in the United States in 1953 and was considered literate due to the definition of literacy, because he could write and read at a second grade level.  However, he was functionally illiterate and never read a newspaper, magazine or book in his life. In fact, he could not fill out an employment application.

Now, let’s cast serious doubt on comparing high school graduation rates in America with other countries.

According to the United Nations Human Development Report, the United Kingdom, that reported the highest secondary (high school) graduation rate in the world, has 21.8% of its adult population age 16 – 65 considered functionally illiterate.

Switzerland, in second place for high school graduation rates has a functional illiteracy rate among adults of 15.9%.

Norway, in third place, has a 7.9% functional illiteracy rate among adults.

I could find no information on functional illiteracy in South Korea, fourth place, and Japan, fifth place.

Italy, in sixth place for high school graduation rates, has a functional illiteracy rate of 46% among adults

Seventh place Ireland has a 22.6% functional illiteracy rate.

Eighth place Germany has a functional illiteracy rate is 14.4%

Ninth place Finland’s functional illiteracy rate is 10.4%

Tenth place Denmark’s functional illiteracy rate is 9.6%

America’s functional illiteracy rate was reported as 20% among adults.

However, for a better comparison with a similar culture that has similar values and similar problems, I looked north to Canada and discovered that among adults aged 16 to 65, about 42 per cent scored below Level 3 in prose literacy, which is considered the threshold needed for coping in society. Source: Vivele Canada

In addition, the CBC reported on Canada’s shame, saying that nearly 15 percent of Canadians can’t understand the writing on simple medicine labels such as on an Aspirin bottle and an additional 27% can’t figure out simple information like the warnings on a hazardous materials sheet.

For further proof that comparing high-school graduation rates between countries as a way to judge America’s public education system was and is wrong, in 2009, Canada’s high school graduation rate was reported as 78% but the country has a functionally illiterate adult population ages 16 – 65 of forty-two percent (more than twice that of the United States). Even comparing literacy rates is not a fair comparison between countries, for example, because in Finland most parents teach his or her child/children to read before they start school at age seven showing us that culture has a lot to do with literacy too.

However, in America studies show that 80% of parents never attend a parent-teacher conference.

What about Mexico—just south of the US.  According to Mexico’s 2010 census 93.7% of Mexican males aged 15 and older were literate compared to only 91.1% of females, but what about functional illiteracy?  Mexico comes close to Canada with 43.2% of its adult population aged 16 – 65 functionally illiterate as my brother was.

Compared to America’s closest neighbors, the public-education system in the US is doing a fantastic job. Is there room for improvement? Of course, but the overall evidence shows that America’s public schools do not deserve to be condemned as broken. Instead, the facts say that most of America’s public school teachers are doing the job they were hired to do while it is politicians that are telling them what to teach.

Another factor to consider is High School graduation rates by race/ethnicity in the United States

For the 2007-08 school year, 91.4% of Asian/Pacific Islanders graduated from high school (156,687); 81% of Whites (1,853,476); 64.2% of American Indian/Alaska Native (31.707); 63.5% of Hispanic (443,238), and 61.5% of Blacks (415,111). Source: U.S. Department of Education

Most schools have all five races/ethnicities represented in the same classrooms (the schools I taught in for thirty years did) with the same teachers. However, when the numbers are averaged, critics of public education blame the teachers.

When averaged, the graduation rate in 2008 was 74.9%, which makes the public schools seem to be earning a C while they are earning an A- for the Asian/Pacific Islanders and a B- for Whites.

Really? How can the same teacher be so successful with Asian/Pacific Islanders and Whites and not with the other ethnic groups?

This is the advise I told our daughter when she was in grade school: “The only excuse to fail and not learn in school is when students do not pay attention, ask questions, read, do homework, class work, etc.  There is no excuse. Even if the teacher is incompetent, a motivated student will still learn.” And she did.

In addition, the graduation rates increase when the GED is included with traditional high-school degrees. In 2009, the completion rates of 18-through 24-year-olds was: 88.3% white, 87.1% black, and 76.8% Hispanic. Source: U.S. Department of Education

If an Asian or White student is successful with a teacher, why can’t the Hispanic or Black student have the same success with the same teacher?  After all, the teacher is responsible to teach and the student is responsible to learn (or has this been forgotten).  If the teacher wasn’t doing his or her job, then the Asians and Whites should have graduation rates similar to Hispanics and Blacks.

Return to Not Broken! – Part 4 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 3/4

Yes, my wife and me felt it was more important that our daughter be happier as an adult than during her childhood, which is why we left the TV off, no video games, no social networking (at least until her second year in high school), limited the number of school dances she attended, no mobile phone for personal use and focused on her reading books, doing homework, learning ballet, piano, how to change a flat tire, install a toilet, change a lock, install drywall, tile a floor, etc.

And last but not least, we never bought or drank any brand of soda. There was water and then there was water (sometimes there was fruit juice such as apple or orange juice).

Needless to say, many of our daughter’s peers in middle and high school felt sorry for her, because she wasn’t having as much fun as they were. However, our daughter graduated from high school with a 4.65 GPA and was accepted to Stanford University (the only student from her high school that year) where she is starting her third year majoring in biology with goals to pursue a medical degree.

Contrary to popular opinion, she’s happy and loves to dance and play the piano and enjoys reading books. She has a boyfriend at Stanford she loves too and the two share many similar interests. She might want to be happy every waking moment and have loads of fun but she learned as a child that there is a difference between work, happiness, entertainment, bring bored and depression.

To achieve a better chance at adult happiness, her mother and me had to say no to many things leading to boring hours doing homework and studying in addition to reading books to fill the empty hours.

After all, according to the law in California (it varies by state ranging from age 14 to 18), one is a child until his or her eighteenth birthday. Then the child becomes an adult with a life expectancy of at least 84.9 years (on average) if he or she has a college education and earns an above average income. You see, education and income has a significant impact on health and a higher life expectancy and the average college graduate earns much more than a high-school dropout or high-school graduate.

Science Daily reported, “New findings from Harvard Medical School and Harvard University demonstrate that individuals with more than 12 years of education have significantly longer life expectancy than those who never went beyond high school. … Overall in the groups studied, as of 2000, better educated at age 25 could expect to live to age 82; for less educated, 75.”

In addition, The Economic Policy Institute discovered “While life expectancy has grown across the United States between 1980 and 2000, the degree to which people live longer has become increasingly connected to their socio-economic status.” The average life expectancy of the least well-off in 2000 was 74.7 years while it was 79.2 years for those that were most well off—meaning they had more money and usually a better education.

However, if left up to most children in the average family that does not live in poverty, happiness means not exercising, eating lots of sugary foods swallowed with gallons of sugary sodas, watching TV, listening to music, social networking, playing video games, hanging out with friends after school and on weekends, sending daily text messages by the dozens—and according to surveys and studies that is what the average child in America is doing ten hours a day.

Where are the parents?

Then there is this thing about parents blindly encouraging kids to follow their dreams without a realistic backup plan.

Continued on July 26, 2012 in What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 4 or return to Part 2

View as Single Page

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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“The Concubine Saga” Web Tour Schedule – June 2012

So Many Precious Books May 30 Review & Giveaway

Broken Teepee June 1 Review & Giveaway

My Little Pocketbooks June 30 Review

My Little Pocketbooks June 4 Interview & Giveaway

Bookish Dame June 6 Review

Bookish Dame G & GP June 6 Guest Post & Giveaway

J.A. Beard June 8 Interview

My Devotional Thoughts June 8 Review

My Devotional Thoughts June 9 Guest Post & Giveaway

Book Dilettante June 11 Review

Book Dilettante June 12 Guest Post

Joy Story June 12 Review

Books, Books, & More Books June 13 Review & Giveaway

Live to Read June 14 Review

Peeking Between the Pages June 14 Guest Post & Giveaway

Col Reads June 15 Review

Celtic Lady’s Reviews June 18 Review

Ink Spots & Roses June 18 Guest Post & Giveaway

The Readers Cafe June 19 Review

Knitting and Sundries June 20 Review & Giveaway

Sweeps 4 Bloggers June 21 Review & Giveaway

The Reading Life June 22 Review

The Reading Life June 21 Interview

Historical Fiction Connection June 22 Guest Post

Layered Pages June 25 Review

Layered Pages June 26 Interview
Historical Tapestry June 25 Guest Post

Peaceful Wishing June 26 Review

To Read or Not to Read June 27 Review

To Read or Not to Read June 28 Guest Post & Giveaway

M Denise C. June 28 Review

Succotash Reviews June 29 Review & Giveaway
Moonlight Gleam June 29 Guest Post & Giveaway

Jayne’s Books June 29 Review & Giveaway

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PRESS RELEASE
FOR RELEASE before June 1, 2012
CONTACT:
Lloyd Lofthouse, author
lflwriter@gmail.com

IN THE 19th and EARLY 20th CENTURY, ROBERT HART WAS CRUCIAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF CHINA!

WALNUT CREEK, CA (3/2/12) — Robert Hart (1835 – 1911) was the ‘Godfather of China’s modernism’ and the only foreigner the emperor of China trusted. In fact, Hart played a crucial role in ending the bloodiest rebellion in history, and he owed this success largely to his live in dictionary and encyclopedia, his Chinese concubine Ayaou. In Dragon Lady, Sterling Seagrave wrote that Ayaou “was wise beyond her years”. In Entering China’s Service, Harvard scholars wrote, “Hart’s years of liaison with Ayaou gave him his fill of romance, including both its satisfaction and its limitations.”

With sales in the thousands, award-winning author Lloyd Lofthouse brings My Splendid Concubine (2007) and the sequel, Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine (2010) together in The Concubine Saga (2012).

My Splendid Concubine was the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

In the sequel, Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine, he was the only foreigner the Emperor of China trusted.

Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Robert Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese and soon finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.

My Splendid Concubine earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the 2008 London Book Festival, and in 2009 at the Hollywood Book Festival and San Francisco Book Festival.

Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the Los Angeles Book Festival, Nashville Book Festival, London Book Festival, DIY Book Festival and was a Finalist of the National Best Books 2010 Awards.

 

In addition, The Concubine Saga picked up an Honorable Mention in Fiction at the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival.

Lloyd Lofthouse served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Marine and lives near San Francisco with his wife and family with a second home in Shanghai, China. As a former Marine, Lloyd earned a BA in Journalism and an MFA in writing. His Blog, iLook China.net, currently averages 600 views a day with more than 200,000 since its launch in January 2010. My Splendid Concubine.com, his Website, has had 72,000 visitors since December 2007. At Authors Den, his work has been viewed 336,000 times.

Virtual Author Book Tours.com arranged the June 2012 book tour of 27 book Blogs.

In addition, in 2008, following the launch of My Splendid Concubine, Lofthouse appeared as a China expert on more than 30 talk-radio shows from The Dr. Pat Show on KKNW 1150 AM in Seattle to The Smith and Riley Show on WFLF 540 AM in Orlando Florida.

The Concubine Saga
ISBN: 978-0-9819553-8-4

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The Magic of Literacy – Part 2/2

As a child, reading the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs is still  a fond memory.  Before there was Star Wars, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Interview With a Vampire and Harry Potter there was John Carter of Mars.

When I discovered several months ago that John  Carter of Mars was going to be a movie, I was excited, and when the movie came out, I went to see it the first day it was released — it was everything I imagined it should be.  I have no complaints except that I wanted more.


10 Minute Movie Review from the FLICK pick

There are eleven books in the series and they are free through Gutenberg.org or offered at a low price through Amazon Kindle with no waiting for years as we did for each Harry Potter book and the movies that followed.

The Barsoom series is responsible for me going on to read books such as The Lord of the Rings (three times), the Anne Rice vampire series starting with Interview of a Vampire, all of the books written by Ursula K. Le Guin, and C. S. Lewis along with dozens of other authors and hundreds of books.


ten minute extended clip – movie trailer

Since reading is crucial to cultivate life-long learning, what better way is there to motivate a child/teen to read books than to have them watch a movie such as John Carter first. Once curious, those eleven books are waiting.

In addition, TV-Addiction.com says, “Reading requires the child to imagine what the words represent and this acts like exercise for the mind,  creativity, imagination, and constructive skills. Television (including computers) does the reverse and fills the mind with nonsense images that blunt the child’s intellect and imagination.”


John Carter – a surprisingly good movie

Then Veronica Scott writing for Ezine @rticles says, “With children and their development, nothing is more important than imagination to help the growth of thought processes and creativity, while research has proved that watching too much TV or spending too much time surfing the Internet stunts the imagination and actually retards the development of that area of the brain.”

Last, Life-Long Earning shows that Imagination and Creativity is vital for Critical Thinking and Problem Solving to take place.

What are you waiting for?  If you haven’t seen John Carter yet, go, and do not forget the eleven books that are waiting to ignite a child’s imagination and love of reading.

Return to The Magic of Literacy – Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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The Magic of Literacy – Part 1/2

Visiting both mobile and brick-and-mortar libraries as a child turned me into an avid reader and a lifelong learner leading to my earning an Associate of Science degree, a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing in addition to a teaching credential—about nine years of college.

As a child, one of the grade schools I attended was across the street from my parents’ home, which brings me to the cultivation of my imagination. Books!


Reading at home is important too!

However, learning to read wasn’t that easy for me. Soon after starting school, my fate and my future hung in the balance. Experts at the first grade school I attended tested me and told my mother I would never learn to read or write. In those days, there was no term for dyslexia. In fact, the “experts” didn’t know about dyslexia.

Nevertheless, my mother made liars out of those so-called experts and taught me to read at home. How she did it is another story, and it didn’t hurt that my parents both loved to read.

Both my mother and father did not have the opportunity to graduate from high school. The Great Depression and other family tragedies were responsible for both of them dropping out to find jobs and contribute to their financial survival at the age of 14. My mother ran away from home and found a job as a waitress and my father mucked out horse stalls at Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California.

Fast forward to me as a child that learned to love reading books, and once a week, a county library bus visited the grade school I attended.

Years later, I worked in the high school library and managed to read sometimes two books a day.  It was as if books were feasts for my imagination and soul. I read all the historical fiction I could find on the British Empire, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and American history. Then I discovered science fiction and fantasy, which led to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series. Later, I would add westerns and mysteries to the mix and eventually start reading literature at a much older age. As a child, I wasn’t ready for literature — not exciting enough.

Continued on March 12, 2012 in The Magic of Literacy – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

 

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Persistence Pays Off!

Over the years, as a teacher and a parent, I offered this advice to my students and children: “Follow your dreams but have a back-up plan. Sometimes your dreams don’t pay the bills.”

When we follow our dreams, whatever they may be, we often face failure and rejection, which may lead to depression and giving up. Since this is the story most people experience, it helps to read one where someone did not give up on her dream and struggled for almost a decade.

Amanda Hocking’s story is inspirational and the foundation of that inspiration was her persistence.

It wasn’t easy. She says, “In the past ten years, I’ve probably got hundreds or maybe thousands of rejection letters.”

As the rejections and criticism saying she couldn’t write arrived in the mail, she thought, “This sucks! I should just give up.”

However, her passion to write kept her going. In a recent post on her Blog, Hocking says, “You cannot control everything that happens to you. But you can control how you react to it and how you feel about it.”


In the first video, The Young Turks discuss Amanda Hocking’s story.

Tired of rejection, Hocking turned to the Kindle e-book in 2010 and self-published. She says she grossed $2,000 in 2009.  Today, she is a millionaire.

Amanda Hocking is now the rock star in the e-publishing world – selling hundreds of thousands of self-published e-books. Her young adult paranormal books have caught on like fire, getting her attention from the traditional publishing world and even Hollywood, which recently optioned one of her trilogies in addition to Hocking signing a contract with St. Martin’s Press for $2 million.

Amanda Hocking was born in 1984 and completed her first novel at age 17. She has now written twenty-two novels (published and unpublished).

USA Today reported, “Like writers from time immemorial, Hocking’s motivation to create a fantasy world stemmed from harsh reality.

“I grew up poor. I was an only child,” says Hocking, whose parents divorced when she was 11. “We lived out in the woods. We couldn’t afford cable.”

A rocky adolescence followed. “I was really unhappy … really depressed. Me and my mom fought constantly.”

According to USA Today, three things saved her:

One—the computer her parents gave her for Christmas when she was 11.

Two—the day her mother told an eighth-grade counselor to stop nagging her daughter to find other activities besides writing.

Three—she completed her first novel at 17, wrote constantly, took writing classes at local colleges and regularly queried agents and publishers, only to be rejected until she was already a self-made millionaire at 26.

Since dreams do not come with a guarantee, there is always the chance they may not come true but without persistence, they don’t stand a chance.  No one that has climbed Mt. Everest did it in one leap. They did it one-step at a time. For Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, the climb took seven weeks from the base camp to the top.

It took almost a decade for Amanda Hocking’s dream of being a successful author to come true. For me, the same dream took more than four decades. In both cases, persistence paid off—something all young people can learn.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

 

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The Raptor and the Rats

One of the raptors ratted me out, and Grendel called me to his office to sizzle me in his hot seat. He yelled at me for going against Sauron’s orders. He moved closer until I could smell the dead flesh of vulchers and cigarettes on his breath.  He demanded that I admit guilt. I suspected the motive was grade inflation.

I stared at his jugular wondering how fast it would take to tear it out with my teeth. Like Beowulf, I wanted to destroy the monster. To my dismay, as my PTSD was getting ready to launch, the VP, who was there to witness this interrogation, stepped forward and stopped us. 

I think she saw the hunger in my eyes.

After school, she came into the teacher’s lounge, as I was getting ready to leave campus.  We were alone.  She looked around with a tense expression and made sure the hall leading to the staff lounge was empty.

Then she leaned closer and whispered. “You were right.”  And she quit a few weeks later to accept a position in another school district abandoning us to the beast.

Damn! Talk about the rats leaving the ship. Soon, teachers started clambering down the ropes to escape.

Part three of three
Back to part one

See more about Grendel here.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart.

 

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What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Viewed as Single Page

More than twenty years ago, I attended a lecture at one of the Claremont Colleges. I do not recall the speaker’s name but he was a successful journalist that wrote for major publications such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

He had published a memoir of raising his normal, above average daughter and a younger son with an IQ of eighty. The lecture was about how his wife and he raised the son to graduate with honors from high school and be accepted to Harvard where he earned a degree in engineering.

I wish I could remember this journalist’s name and the title of his memoir, but it has been too long. However, I have not forgotten his story. If anyone reading this post knows the title of the memoir, please tell me in a comment.

When this journalist’s son was old enough to start school at age six, the parents agonized over how to raise him so he could live a normal life and compete for jobs in the marketplace as an adult.

Job hunting and earning a living is not without its challenges and competition (on July 6, 2012, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 12.7 million Americans were unemployed, while the number of Americans living in poverty was more than 47 million and many go hungry daily).

For the journalist’s family, to achieve their goals as responsible parents, it was decided to retire the family television to the garage and read books every night with a family hour before bedtime to discuss what each family member read.

Twelve years later, the son with the eighty IQ earned a perfect score on the SAT and the high school principal claimed he had to have cheated. The father argued that his son had not cheated, so the school made the son take the SAT again in a room without any other students, and he was monitored by three staff members. The son earned a second perfect SAT score. Soon after that, the son was accepted to Harvard

This brings me to a post I read at clotildajamcracker (a Blog) called What’s the Matter with Kids these Days?

The post is worth reading—specially the comments. However, the problem is not kids—it’s parents.

In fact, I read one comment from the Headless Coffee Guy that said, “Hey, I hope my daughter will grow up to be a super genius who will find the unified theory in physics, solve world hunger, save the whales, and write her first symphony at 4. … But alas, I think ultimately, it’s really not up to the parent to decide what their child wants to be. We can only nurture and suggest, but it’s really up to the child to make up their own minds. All I really want for my daughter is to be happy.”

Is there anything wrong with Headless Coffee Guy’s concept of parenting as expressed in that previous quote?

When I read, “All I really want for my daughter is to be happy“—that was, in my opinion, a possible excuse to shirk responsibility.

There so much more to parenting than a parent wanting his or her child to only be happy.

What does happiness mean? I’m sure that most everyone would have a different answer. I have several answers depending on the circumstances. I’m happy when my monthly CalSTRS retirement payment is deposited in my bank account, watch a good movie, read a good book, eat a tasty meal, finish daily exercising, have no pain and especially when my wife is happy since that makes life better for me.

However, many today seem to think “happy” means you have to avoid being bored even if that includes not doing homework, classwork, reading or drinking water.


“Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups (ages 2-19 years).”
Source:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.org

You might say, “What, drinking water?” Dr. Michael Dedekian, a pediatric endocrinologist at Maine Medical Center, says, “I have children who come to me, and they are being absolutely honest when they say, ‘I can’t drink water. It tastes disgusting to me.’ (They say) that water has become unpalatable.” Source: Minnesota Public Radio.org

Why?

The answer comes from Track Mom.com, who said, “Surveys have found that parents are major role models for their kids’ eating habits, even more so than their peers. … Almost one-third of the children surveyed drank soft drinks daily, and most drank ‘regular,’ not ‘diet,’ drinks. … Virtually all of the respondents liked or ‘strongly liked’ the taste of soft drinks.”

Like most parents, my wife and me wanted our daughter to be happy too. However, we felt it was more important that she be happier as an adult than a child and that meant making sacrifices.

Yes, my wife and me felt it was more important that our daughter be happier as an adult than during her childhood, which is why we left the TV off, no video games, no social networking (at least until her second year in high school), limited the number of school dances she attended, no mobile phone for personal use and focused on her reading books, doing homework, learning ballet, piano, how to change a flat tire, install a toilet, change a lock, install drywall, tile a floor, etc.

And last but not least, we never bought or drank any brand of soda. There was water and then there was water (sometimes there was fruit juice such as apple or orange juice).

Needless to say, many of our daughter’s peers in middle and high school felt sorry for her, because she wasn’t having as much fun as they were. However, our daughter graduated from high school with a 4.65 GPA and was accepted to Stanford University (the only student from her high school that year) where she is starting her third year majoring in biology with goals to pursue a medical degree.

Contrary to popular opinion, she’s happy and loves to dance and play the piano and enjoys reading books. She has a boyfriend at Stanford she loves too and the two share many similar interests. She might want to be happy every waking moment and have loads of fun but she learned as a child that there is a difference between work, happiness, entertainment, bring bored and depression.

To achieve a better chance at adult happiness, her mother and me had to say no to many things leading to boring hours doing homework and studying in addition to reading books to fill the empty hours.

After all, according to the law in California (it varies by state ranging from age 14 to 18), one is a child until his or her eighteenth birthday. Then the child becomes an adult with a life expectancy of at least 84.9 years (on average) if he or she has a college education and earns an above average income. You see, education and income has a significant impact on health and a higher life expectancy and the average college graduate earns much more than a high-school dropout or high-school graduate.

Science Daily reported, “New findings from Harvard Medical School and Harvard University demonstrate that individuals with more than 12 years of education have significantly longer life expectancy than those who never went beyond high school. … Overall in the groups studied, as of 2000, better educated at age 25 could expect to live to age 82; for less educated, 75.”

In addition, The Economic Policy Institute discovered “While life expectancy has grown across the United States between 1980 and 2000, the degree to which people live longer has become increasingly connected to their socio-economic status.” The average life expectancy of the least well-off in 2000 was 74.7 years while it was 79.2 years for those that were most well off—meaning they had more money and usually a better education.

However, if left up to most children in the average family that does not live in poverty, happiness means not exercising, eating lots of sugary foods swallowed with gallons of sugary sodas, watching TV, listening to music, social networking, playing video games, hanging out with friends after school and on weekends, sending daily text messages by the dozens—and according to surveys and studies that is what the average child in America is doing ten hours a day.

Where are the parents?

Then there is this thing about parents blindly encouraging kids to follow their dreams without a realistic backup plan.

Kids are immature, lack knowledge and a sense of reality—at least those American children that are sheltered from the harsh realities of life and competition.

Therefore, many childish dreams are totally unrealistic, such as becoming President of the United States. My wife and me know a family where the oldest son, now a graduate student at Stanford University, dreams of becoming the governor of California one day, yet he hasn’t joined a political party yet.

Anyway, for children dreaming of becoming president of the United States, the odds are almost impossible. After all, there is only one position for that job and since April 30, 1789, when George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States, there have only been forty-four presidents counting President Obama.

Then there is the requirement that one be at least 35 years of age to qualify. With 310 million Americans and two major political parties, competing to become the president of the United States is a long shot with a tough road to follow.

How about professional sports (another popular dream job)? Over the years, while I was still teaching, many of my high school students, mostly boys, told me that it was a waste of time for them to study because they were going to be pro athletes and did not need an education.

However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are only 16,500 jobs in competitive sports and the median pay is $43,740. Most professional athletes do not earn tens of millions of dollars. Only a few earn that kind of money, but those few are all we hear about in the media. From 2010 – 2020, only 3,600 new positions will open up in pro sports or 360 a year (on average). The competition to land one of these positions in pro sports is fierce but not as fierce as president of the US.

How many plumbers are there in the United States? According to the BLS, in 2010, there were 419,000 plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters working in the US with medium annual pay of $46,660 per year. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases to and in businesses, homes, and factories.

Using the BLS Website, we may quickly discover that the number of jobs held by accountants in 2010 was 1,216,900 and there would be 190,700 new jobs coming available between 2010-20 or about 19,000 a year, while the average medium pay for actors (another popular dream job) is $17.44 per hour with new openings numbering 260 per year (on average)—a ratio of 73 accountants to each actor.

I read once that about 40,000 aspiring actors flood into Hollywood each year to compete for those 260 potential positions that pay $17.44 per hour (on average).

Another popular dream job, mostly for girls, is to become a fashion model. According to the BLS, the annual medium pay in 2010 was $32,920 with about 200 openings per year (on average). On the other hand , median pay for barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists (beauticians) is $22,500 per year and there are 10,000 new positions opening annually (on average)—a ratio of 50 barbers or hairdressers for each fashion model.

My son, who is currently in his thirties, refused to have a backup plan. Last I heard he was a waiter/bartender. The median pay for waiters/bartenders is $18,130/18,680 annually. He wanted to be an actor/singer.

I was a public school teacher for thirty years and the median pay in 2010 was $53,230. In 2004-2005, my last year in the classroom, I earned more than $80,000. There are 3,380,000 teachers working in the US public schools. Teaching was my back up plan. My dream was to become an author and there are about 145,900 working writers and authors in the United States and the median pay in 2010 was $55,420—a ratio of 23 teachers for each writer/author.

The odds favored teaching.

Just because you can dream, that does not guarantee that the dream will come true. I never gave up on my dream and after I retired from teaching in 2005, my dream became reality in 2008 with the first of three novels of “The Concubine Saga”. My dream was born in 1968 and became reality in 2008—it took forty years.

I’m glad I had a backup plan.

However, I can still hear the average American parent telling his or her child how proud they are that he or she is going to be president of the United States or a famous pro athlete, or actor, or fashion model one day, and then the TV is turned on to watch a popular reality show such as American Idol where the odds of winning are sixty-thousand to one but no one tells us that.

Discover Brainwashing American Style or Avoid the Mainstream Parenting Trap

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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A Square Peg in a Round Hole

I am the square peg that fit in a round hole. I’m the last guy anyone would expect to teach poetry, grammar, writing and literature.

In fact, I did not enjoy kindergarten through twelfth grade. In grade school, I was the puny guy bullies lined up to terrorize. In high school, I was six-foot four and weighed one-hundred-and-twenty-five pounds. If I turned sideways, I disappeared—a good way to hide.

In high school, I read an average of two paperbacks a day. During lectures, I sat in the back dressed in black wearing shades reading Andre Norton or Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury. I read a series of books about the Civil War while my history teacher talked about the Revolutionary War.  When other kids played baseball, football or basketball, I was reading about Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan.

When I graduated, my GPA had a decimal in front of it. After high school, I joined the Marine Corps.

Then LBJ lied about the Tonkin Gulf incident and became George W. Bush’s role model for the future invasion of Iraq. What irony, a Democrat teaching a Republican how to use false evidence to start a war. That might be the only time a Republican learned anything from a Democrat.

I came back from Vietnam with a dose of Post Traumatic Stress and almost drowned in booze. When I was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1968, I had no idea what was causing me to wake up sweaty seeing Vietcong in the room.

I slept with an eight-inch blade.

In Vietnam, a sniper came within an inch of killing me. The round caressed an ear, and I thought, “God, get me home alive in one piece, and I will go to college like my parents wanted.”

In 1973, I graduated with honors with a BA in journalism from FSU. In 1975, at thirty, I earned a teaching credential at Cal Poly Pomona.  The MFA arrived later.

From 1975 to 2005, I taught English, reading and journalism in the public schools, and I didn’t torture or shoot anyone.

Discover why Substitute Teaching is not a “Tea Party”

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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