Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Poem A Day Challenge: April 19 and 20

April 19: “For today's prompt, write a poem about somebody and be sure to include the person's name in the title of your poem (no reason to hide the person's identity here). Write a poem about Abraham Lincoln, Emily Dickinson, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, your next door neighbor, your child, or the person standing behind you.“

Dylan Christopher Jon Kirk
By Bill Kirk

In times past, life seemed to move
More slowly for kids growing up.

Fast forward to today for proof that
Drinking out of a fire hose is not an
Exaggerated metaphor for learning—
Just ask Dylan Christopher Jon Kirk,
A child of the late 20th century,
And he will tell you….

Information is flowing at light speed
And growing in volume nearly as fast.
Yet today’s youth have been gifted
Only with the same 24-hour clock as olden times.

So, what does that mean for
Dylan and his generation?
Given the same available time
To absorb, process and learn,
Mustn't the learning, of necessity, take place
Far more superficially these days?
Have we now moved to a learn-replicate-dump
Learning reality—take the test, forget it
And move on?

How sad it would be if
Academic content is
Still being presented
With 1950s learning expectations,
While the 21st century learning milieu,
Embued with a constant stream
Of rapid-fire electronic stimulation,
Now forces retention at
Such a superficial level
That little in-depth learning
Takes place at all.

Good luck, Dylan Kirk
And to all who follow....

Is that homeschooling
I hear knocking at the door?

April 20: “Today is a two for Tuesday prompt. Here are the two options:

1. Write a looking back poem. There are a few ways to tackle this one, I guess. The narrator could be reflecting on the past or literally looking back (like over his or her shoulder).

2. Write a poem that doesn't look back. This poem would be kind of the opposite, I suppose. Narrator who refuses to look back or who is literally looking forward (or I suppose another option even is that the narrator is blind or something).”

Given the choice, I am looking back at simpler times in this poem. For me, this turned out to be a bit of a reflective exercise as I considered the challenges facing kids these days compared to olden times.

Life In The Recent Past On Planet Earth
By Bill Kirk

It was 1994 when a young lad
With two middle names
Came into our lives.
Little did we know
How different life would become for
Our grandson, Dylan, and his generation.
It’s just not the same for kids these days
As it was for me back in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Oh, sure, there were the usual fistfights
In the alley across the street
From the Junior High School at lunch time.
Out of curiosity some of the new eighth graders
Fresh out of elementary school
Might check out the fight scene.
But once or twice was plenty
To take the bloom off that excitement—
Unless you were in the “in crowd”
Or one of the pugilists in the fight.
Besides, lunch recess was short
And swinging from the monkey bars
Was a lot more interesting—and a lot less risky.

Most of the time, the standard
After school formula was homework first.
Playing outside was all the motivation
We needed to get our school work
And chores done quickly.

The only other widely accepted rule
Was getting home in time for supper—
Without being called twice, that is.
If you heard your mom’s distant voice
Calling your name a second time—
Especially your first and last names,
You had better beat it home pronto.

A two-fingered whistle by your Dad
Meant you had to be standing at the bathroom sink
Washing your hands within two minutes
Or be able to prove a near death experience
While playing hide and seek.

Eventually, we got three channels
On our black and white TV—
And all the good shows
Were early evening—after supper.
Lucy and Desi, The Lone Ranger and
Steve Canyon were de riguer around our house.
And by the time Dale and Roy had sung
“Happy Trails To You”, it was bedtime
Unless it were still light outside.
Then, you might get an extra 30 minutes to play.
It just didn’t get any better than that….

Well, unless it was the super large,
Ten cent, soft-serve cone at DQ,
Which always followed the
Mandatory Sunday Drive
After church and Sunday dinner.

For entertainment, we roller skated
In the street with no helmet or knee pads.
Skinned knees were a badge of honor.
In the heat of the summer,
We chewed the melting tar oozing from
The cracks in the street and
Once every two weeks when the
Mosquito Control truck fogged our street,
Running through the DDT cloud
Was fun until our parents noticed
That we hardly ever got
Mosquito bitten.

It was a simpler time, back then,
Without cell phones and electronic games,
Cable TV, movie rentals and 24-hour stores.
With almost no electronic stimulation,
It’s a wonder we survived to adulthood.

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