E Carolyn Brown Tucker, Ph.D.

Author   Speaker   Consultant

Mimosa Hill Blog


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Woman in Charge

Posted on May 25, 2017 at 4:45 PM
 

A longtime supporter of KFW, I have been reading some of the event coverage that I missed while I was out birthing my literary baby; I am amazed at what has been accomplished. But also, I am struck by the void of women from rural areas who actually share in the attempt toward activism that KFW strives to initiate.

I come from rural stock. I am rural stock. I know rural stock. And I know why we have been quiet for so long. The silence isn't overly forced on most of us. We accept it as our lot. We even champion it at times as fulfillment of the Biblical mandate given to "Eve" for her part in the original sin. We earned our punishment. We are women. We have no right to demand equal anything. Wonder no longer why we have never had a female president: it is because too many of us females do not support the candidate because she is female. Check out numbers of female voters who vote for females. Numbers of females in the House, the Senate, the Governor's offices. Numbers of females promoted by the state Democratic Committee. Until females themselves can stand together for females, how can we expect better?

How can we effect social change? equity? inclusion? When I was a child in the 60's I dreamed about the daughters I would have who would grow up not knowing such prejudice. But even my granddaughter must contend with the patriarchy that so dominates the social climate and the corporate ladder. How many female school superintendents do we have? How many female bank presidents? Sheriffs? Jailers? Judges? CEOs? Before you start counting, make sure you consider the rural communities, rural churches, rural coal mines, rural farms, rural businesses. Here I am at 67--still a member of a church where it is considered out of place for a female to lead a prayer in services, or to teach a class that has males in it, or speak up in business meeting, or serve as a deaconess. See me. SEE ME!

Hints are for the Hurting

Posted on June 7, 2016 at 1:15 AM

From the time I can remember first learning, then loving, to read, I was drawn by some compulsion to topics about abuse, neglect, incest . . . . I really did not know why. I just knew that for some reason, the topics resonated with me. I always felt horrible after reading about some terrible things that happened to the protagonist or character that suffered the abuse, and I had nightmares about the incidents long after reading the story. There was something dark, sinister, coiled and ready to strike inside me. It seemed I needed the input in order to get angry about what was happening to other children. I needed to feel like I was willing to do something to help those suffering little ones that no one wanted to help. No one believe needed help. No one wanted to admit needed help. Recognizing, admitting, and taking a stand made people feel obligated. Responsible. Guilty. All those things. So why did I push to read more? Why did I need it rubbed into my skin?

     I remember the first I read about: The Three Faces of Eve. A woman had suffered so much she developed Dissociative Identity Disorder and two more personalities. Most of the people who read the book discounted it, claimed it couldn’t happen. But, I needed to read it, to be convinced, to vicariously purge through Eve. Then there was Sybil. She was very young in the first part of the book. Her mother tied her to a piano and forced her to listen to her play all day. She wasn’t even allowed to go to the bathroom. The longer she “held it” the longer she could escape punishment for wetting the floor. Bizarre—Inhumane—Awful. Sybil developed anywhere from 16 to 19 personalities—all with names, characteristics, strengths, talents, different ability levels, different ages. Each personality seemed to be the guardian of one or two personality qualities or emotions: Rage, Hatred of Males, Grief, Evil, Fear . . . . The more I read, the more I was pulled to the genre.

     The next person I remember reading about was Trudi Chase: she developed multiple personalities, estimated by some therapists to number in the seventies. One incident that she experienced included her being lowered into a well, hanging onto a rope, and having a bucket of snakes poured over her. That prompted some of my worst nightmares. I watched Trudi when she was interviewed by Oprah. I was mesmerized by the emergence of the differing personalities. She really seemed to “become” someone else as she moved through different emotions, different experiences, and different terrors.

     I still could not explain my compulsion to read the DIDS stories. But, at the same time, I could not stop searching for them. In fact, I ended up with several volumes in my personal library even today. By the time adulthood found me, I had found The Boy Called It, by David Peltzer. And the two or three other books in his series. By then, I had realized there were some connections between my childhood experiences and some of the things I was reading. The accompanying rage, resentment, hate, and grief were there—but I had re-directed them toward OTHER children. An admission of abuse for me would have been mortifying. Abused children seek the shadows, internalize their abuse and shift the blame for the abuse onto themselves: I could not admit anything had EVER happened to me. Never.

     But soon there would be no successful denial of it. Soon the truth would be known to the surface personality. Soon those injured souls locked up inside of me would not be satisfied with vicarious salvation. Soon I would have to begin my own search for the real me—and for what had happened to her to cause the separation of her emotions so that I could not own any of the bad stuff.

     But those were the days of implanted imagery, imagined memories, therapist induced back flashes, false memories, and a mass rebuttal of anger that surfaced against the accusers for the damage they had done to so many “innocent” people. I was deeply afraid of my memories, my images, my truths, my realities as they were becoming known to me. I was terrified that I was guilty of creating those flashbacks out of some resentment toward my family for something I felt was unjustified. And the circle turned, and the clock ticked, and the sun rose, and the stars aligned . . . .

     I “woke up” one night in a Walmart parking lot, waling my heart out, at the extreme end of a plan to commit suicide. I had little idea of what was wrong with me, where I was, who I thought I was, and why I was so desperate to end my life. Finally, I forced this “other” self to calm enough to call my medical doctor. He was the only friend I could think of that would care if I lived or died. I tried repeatedly to connect with him by telephone. But he couldn’t be reached. So I drove to the clinic where he worked. But he was not on call. The next day, I went back.

     Other things happened, but I cannot remember what they were. All I can recall is that he was visibly shaken by my presence. He took me immediately to a clinic in-house therapist for a residential treatment program run by his clinic. I’ll never forget that day. Nor will I forget the man he took me to. His name was Wise. He hypnotized me. And he told me I was in danger. I believed him.

     And so began my many years of therapy, healing, recovery, and reintegration of “selves.” Of course, there were many other people who borrowed my valley for a while, shared my pathways, listened to my heart-songs and helped me to cross the bridges over the Trolls’ cave. But they are just incidental. The healing was up to me. Up to all of the me’s inside. And the one force inside me that gave me the power to re-assemble the pieces of myself. You can call him God, you might know her as Holy Mother or you might believe them to be as described in The Shack. You might speak His name: Jesus. There are lots of other names you might know him/her/them by. But that isn’t up to me. I know the power as I have learned it to manifest inside of me. The Spirit does belong inside each of us—unless we cast it out. All the holy books tell us that.

     As for me, I have found that my calling him/it by the term God, I offend the fewest people and communicate with the most willing to listen to me. I found God. And that was the power I had to have in order to survive, and thrive. There is nothing that can dissuade me from that truth—because I KNOW it to be true. I experience it every day of my life. My hope, thought, blessing for you would be that you find the power, too. However God determines that it is right for you.

     So back to my train of thought and the compulsion to read those accounts. I was a sick puppy. Probably still am. But I’ve lived an extra 30 years because I did. Sometimes God speaks to us in hints because we cannot handle the truth for it is too big. Hints give us time, space, distance . . . all to process the information . . . so that we don’t crash like my computer often does. The hints are what we can handle. And the hints can guide us to the truth, so that it can be revealed at the right time, in the right place, with the right people . . . .

 

     By the way, another hint I received was the repeated reference to “retards” and results of “inbreeding” in the mountains of Tennessee and Kentucky by Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, David Letterman . . . all the late night guys. They made me hear people laugh at abuse victims. They made me want to laugh . . . until I realized what that meant. Laughing at the results of family-family unions was the laughing at the victims of incest. Now that was a heavy weight to carry around for a while. Want some interesting reading? Read about the “blue” people from the mountains of Kentucky. You won’t believe it. Or maybe you will. Perhaps God is breathing the truth into you at this very moment.

 


The Rural South. Stereotypes, Geography, Color, and Change

Posted on May 31, 2016 at 1:15 AM

Andy, Opie, and Barney; Jed, Granny, and Ellie Mae; Junior, Lulu, Nurse Goodbody, and Buck; The Dukes, Boss Hogg, Cooter, and Daisy; Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy; Duck Dynasty . . . . It isn’t difficult for most to recall portrayals of Southern Rurals on television shows or movies. All of them seem to poke fun at the characters as dim wits in hokey clothes (like flannel and bib overalls) who tell corny jokes in a slow, “unedjicated” twangy drawl, live in run-down shacks or trailers without indoor plumbing, chew tobacco or dip snuff, drink gallons of beer or moonshine, follow NASCAR racers, abhor education, own assorted guns and coon hounds, and practice incest.

      The Rural South stretches from the Atlantic coastline to the Mississippi River, and from the Ohio River to the Florida panhandle. It is unique in values; rebellious in nature; flavorful in fashion, performing arts, cooking, and tradition; competitive in sports; and radical in religious faith. Primarily small communities joined by rich farmland, coal mines, and poverty-ridden school systems, it is a region of country folk, controversy, contradictions, and culture developed around color.

      Few places can claim to be the birthplace of two distinct, radically different and, until recent history, almost totally separate cultures. Even though they have occupied the same geographical region for the last two centuries, the cultures differ in attitudes, architecture, and achievement; they also differ in color. That particular characteristic is what allowed them to remain separate as much as they did. By merely looking at someone’s skin color, we grew up thinking it was completely possible to tell “us” from “them.” The fact that skin color was also an indicator, in the early years of the South, as to wealth vs. poverty, land-owner vs. land-laborer, and master vs. slave is the element that promoted separation of the cultures into “black” and “white.”

      This unfair sorting of people based on color led to ridicule and resentment, understandably so. But the South is nothing if not rebellious, in heritage and nature; the controlling group of European Americans seceded from the union in order to prove their rights to set the standards as the “upper class” chose. Land-owners did not feel that anyone else should make them give up their claim to what they “owned.” So, for more than 250 years the races “co-existed,” though not equally, even after the Civil War. Until the Civil Rights movement began in the 1950’s, African Americans lived unequal and almost completely separate lives from their lighter skinned neighbors; and two cultures evolved within the same geographic area but outside social, educational, and economic proximity.

      Distinctly different styles of music, dance, fashion, linguistic subtleties, food, worship, and value systems can be evidenced still. And some people still like it that way. Culture will not change on command. Nor will it change quickly. Neither will value systems. Changes need to be made, but they will come only after trust and valuation are sensed in the change agents. (A relatively recent example is the KERA mandate of 1990 when Kentucky passed a law that required schools to change curricula and testing. Most of those changes have been overturned in less than 15 years.) If change is to be real, effective, and lasting, it will come at the price of patience, knowledge, and respect—and it will come from the inside out.

     Because educators by definition must be change agents, it is imperative that those of us who teach know as much about this region, its history, its people, and its values in order to accomplish the tasks with which we are charged. To that end, this blog is posted to encourage the recognition and valuing of the Southern Rural (black and white)—because Southern Rural Matters.

 

 

Southern Rural Culture and Student Outcomes: Part 6 of 6: Standardized Tests and Educational Outcomes

Posted on May 24, 2016 at 1:15 AM

“Home culture” is more a part of who we are than a description of where we live. Just as the impact of “place” is far more than the address at which we live; it speaks more to who we are as a bonded group of people. Consider the differences of the long-ago historical territorial, almost warlike, cave-dweller hunters as compared to the isolated, independent, nomadic farmer-gatherers, or to the clustered, more social home-builders who learned to depend on each other for all the supplies they needed.

     Of course, the differences are not quite as pronounced as they once were. However, consider being a dark-skinned student who moves to a white community in the Rural South where the Stars and Bars fly proudly, defiantly, just below the Stars and Stripes on the town-square flag poles. Do you think you would feel the pressure of the “place”?

      Or think about being a fair-skinned, Redneck from the Rural South with a slow drawl like thick molasses who is forced to figure out how to fit in as a recent immigrant to the inner city of Detroit at the same time he is expected to figure out the relevance of calculus or of Islam to his life. Without some recognition and assistance from the teacher in dealing with cultural differences, neither of these two students would be expected to fare well learning new concepts. Issues of culture would trump all else. Parents and educators must learn this lesson first; otherwise, the students have small chances of overcoming the attendant interferences to their learning.

     Recently, the roar of a wave of education reformists has all but drowned out the cry for one-on-one educational plans. This wave comes ashore every few years, sometimes as a “new idea” or “reform,” reportedly for the good of the for the global student stressing a national standards curriculum. Proponents seem to have the benefit of students at heart, but too many are missing the basic lessons that our pedagogy re-affirms repeatedly and with emphasis: The best education comes to the student, meets that student at the student’s individual level in his/her educational progress, and works with the student within the framework of his/her learning style—visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile—and embraces his/her intellectual model (musical, lingual, mathematical, artistic, scientific, kinesthetic, performance, etc.), and addresses his/her needs as assessed by CIS (cognitive skills index) or by achievement tests. Every aspect of the individual plan focuses on the individual’s needs and the individual’s strengths.

     If our educational experts are correct, if a student knows s/he performs better when s/he is taught one-on-one, if standard scores go up when students are addressed by IEPs (Individual Educational Plans), how can we endorse a standardized national curriculum? How can we teach each student at his/her level using national standards of performance and a standardized national curriculum that takes nothing individual as significant for teaching? If the curriculum for which all students everywhere in America are held accountable and all teachers are expected to teach the same concepts at the same rate as all other educators, how can we expect our non-standard students to perform well? To progress? To meet expectations?

      If we teach to the standard, or the middle or average, how do we do right by those on the ends of the charts? When, in our salad-bowl culture, no one has the same historical experience, many of us speak different languages, our religions are radically varied, and even the importance of our gender differs, how can we expect a cookie-cutter outcome? More importantly, why would we want that? Isn’t diversity of cultures what we must celebrate in order to have a well-working global community? And isn’t the IEP (the Individual Education Plan) the best model for all students because it teaches all students as individuals one-on-one?

 

Southern Rural Culture and Student Outcomes: Part 5 of 6: Critical Brain Research

Posted on May 17, 2016 at 1:15 AM

It was in my final few years of teaching, having served as principal, at the Department of Education as a Distinguished Educator; as a School Transformation Consultant; as a teacher at every level, from pre-school through college; within multiple curricular areas, from Homebound and Disabled to Gifted and Talented; that I learned something new—and critical to my teaching. Through reading research into how the brain remembers or learns, I came to understand that there are three requirements for the way that we “teach” so that most students can “learn” a new concept.

     First, new information has to make sense to the student (regardless of how much sense it makes to the teacher). The best way to accomplish that is to use the student’s culture (rural culture) to make connections. If I am an urban dweller just finding my way in the rural community, I will need to educate myself on the values, expectations, and experiences of the local students. I also need to ensure that I find a way to value the rural culture or the students will have a difficult time trusting me or my teaching.

     Second, there must be something inside the student’s brain, already there, for the new piece of information to link to in order for it to find an appropriate “address” inside the biological computer (the brain). That will also require me to be familiar with the rural values, expectations, and, especially, experiences my students have had. Those connections to what they already know about farming, livestock, country music, hunting, gardening, canning, sewing . . . will be important areas for me to learn about, too, if I want to be a good teacher of the rural student.

     Third, the new information has to be presented in such a way that the student understands and can apply it before it can truly “stick.” Again, understanding the rural student’s culture will be imperative. I will need to know the basics of agricultural processes: planting and harvesting crops, insecticides and herbicides, cutting and baling hay; gun use and safety; tilling, planting, and controlling for insects and weeds in a garden, etc. Rural students are often expected to learn early how to work in the fields and gardens and how to use guns and bows to hunt. Details about those skills will be my platforms for building my content (what I teach about Reading, Writing, Math, Art, etc.) so students can use the new concepts in the lives they lead outside school.

     My ignorance of these three concepts during my early teaching years handicapped me and limited what my students could learn for the “long term.” Without meeting the three requirements and not connecting them to place, I was limited in my ability to lead the students to taking new learning past the cultural filters that ultimately cause them to accept or reject new information as “long-term important.”

 

 

Southern Rural Culture and Student Outcomes: Part 4 of 6: Language Predicts Communication Success

Posted on May 10, 2016 at 1:15 AM

My husband (I will call him, Sidekick) and I make a very good team for illustrating the contrasting aspects of culture—a rather interesting, juxtaposed team. Consider this: I was born and reared in the Rural South. I’ve lived there practically my whole life—67years. Yet my language patterns and vocabulary are more reflective of the academic cultures of the Midwest. Extensive academic experiences on multiple college campuses, an investigation of Southern Rural Culture—including intensive data collection through surveys, interviews, and document analysis for the process of writing a 410-page dissertation: The Interrelationships of Parent Rural Values, Parent Religiosity, Parent Involvement, and Student Outcomes in a Small Southern, Rural Middle School (2004). I also studied other high-level courses for the completion of a doctor of philosophy degree in Educational Leadership. As a result, I reflect language patterns of the Midwest.

     Sidekick, on the other hand, was born and reared in the Northern Midwest, where he learned to read, write, and otherwise communicate. However, at the age of seventeen, he immigrated to the Rural South with his family, completed his bachelor’s degree there, married a Southern Belle, raised his own family, and lived the rest of his days on a most typical Southern Rural farm while employed by a textbook example of a Good Old Boy and totally immersed in Southern Rural Culture. As a result, Sidekick reflects Southern Rural language patterns.

     Now, for the illustration.

     One aspect that identifies Southern Rural Culture very quickly to an observer is the culture aspect of language: oral and written.

     Every year of our 45-year marriage, almost every day, I have asked of Sidekick, “What’s the weather going to be like today?”

     Because he has been employed as a farmer for almost all of those 45 years, Sidekick is primarily concerned with precipitation, in any form, in any amount, in any duration. So he invariably replies, “It’s going to rain most of the morning with an accumulation of about three inches by noon” or something of that nature. His answer always reflects water.

     Keeping in mind that I have asked him the same question since Day One, and I explained on Day One that (as a teacher) I intended by “weather” to mean “temperature.” Understand, I need to know how to dress so that I don’t freeze or suffocate during my supervision of students outside at lunch break or during the afternoon “Coke Break.” I keep an umbrella and raincoat for any chance of precipitation, so I don’t really need to know the prediction of water fall in any form, in any amount, or in any duration (unless it is snow and we get the day off—which occurs only during a couple of months a year for a very limited number of days). I want to hear what the temperature is going to be.

     Sidekick, the ultimate farmer that he is, ALWAYS watches at least four weather reports a day. He also, the ultimate spouse that he is, SHOULD know that I need a temperature prediction when I ask the inevitable question. But, consistent with his Southern Rural language pattern, he hears, “What’s the precipitation going to be today?” when I always mean (according to my learned, non-farmer Midwest language pattern), “What’s the temperature going to be today?”

     It would seem that, the intelligent people that we are, we should have learned after 45 years. Have we? Nope. The culture overrides our ears. He hears what his culture has taught him. I say what my culture dictates. And I expect come Monday morning, I’ll ask, “What’s the weather supposed to be like today?” I have no doubts his reply will reflect water fall.

     I can tell you, I’ve tried to stop asking. I’ve asked him to answer with the information I need. But culture is so basic, it seems to kick in before logic does. Ho Hum. I guess I’ll have to invest in a weather predictor.

 

 

Southern Rural Culture and Student Outcomes: Part 3 of 6: Student Outcomes and Stewardship of the Land

Posted on May 3, 2016 at 1:15 AM

Within my extensive rural family, most of the males drive green tractors that pull green equipment. Farming has been a part of the American landscape since the beginnings of our country when almost everyone had a connection to the land and to farmers. Today, the estimate of farmers to the rest of the American population is about 1-2%. Not hardly a majority. But, in the Rural South, the geography is mostly rural and the acres are dedicated to farming or to merchants who service the agricultural industries.

     The green tractor dealers are some of those merchants. No one can give real reasons for the favor towards green (there are also blue, red, yellow, and gray soil tenders); green just seems to be the right color of farm equipment to have in our family. The first generation of farmers to settle in the area chose to farm. The next generation did the same. Of the next generation, four of five offspring lived near the home farm and farmed for a living—most of them with green equipment. The great-grandchildren of the first to settle near the home area, chose to a large degree to do the same. Of the twelve that were born, one was handicapped and three did not live into middle adulthood. The remaining eight all live near the “home farm” and receive most of their income off their own farms using green equipment.

     Additionally, the family chose the Church of Christ early on as the accepted faith to support for most of the family. Even into the generation of great grandchildren, because of family loyalty rather than some doctrine critique or analysis, many of the family members either choose to attend and/or have family burial plots there. Loyalty has traditionally played a big part to the Rural Southerner—to their chosen religion, to their political party, to their school, or to the color of their farm equipment.

      Our home or “place culture” is more a part of who we are than a description of where we live. Consider the differences of the long-ago historical territorial, almost warlike, cave-dweller hunters; as compared to the isolated, independent, nomadic farmer-gatherers; or to the clustered, more social early city-builders who learned to depend on each other for all the supplies they needed.

     Of course, the differences are not quite as pronounced as they once were. However, consider being a dark-skinned student who moves to a “white” community in the Rural South where the Stars and Bars fly proudly, defiantly, just below the Stars and Stripes on the town-square flag poles. Would you feel the pressure of the “place”?

     Or think about being a fair-skinned, Redneck (farmer) from the Rural South with a slow drawl like thick molasses who is forced to figure out how to fit in as a recent immigrant to the inner city of Detroit at the same time he is expected to figure out the relevance of calculus or of Islam to his life.

      Without some recognition and assistance from the teacher in dealing with cultural differences, neither of these two students would be expected to fare well learning new concepts. Issues of culture would trump all else. Parents and educators have to learn this lesson first; otherwise, the students have small chance of overcoming the interferences to their learning.

 

 


Southern Rural Culture and Student Outcomes: Part 2 of 6: How our "Home Culture" Plays Out in Learning

Posted on April 26, 2016 at 1:15 AM

So, what is this cultural filter of place? Is it what Mom or Dad taught me? Is it what Mom or Dad believe? Or is it what Mom or Dad lived without saying anything? It is all of that.

     For example, most of the Democrats I know come from homes where the parents were Democrats. Same for the Republicans. In addition, most of the Baptists I know came from Baptist parents—and so on for the Catholics, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, etc.

     Belief affiliation of our place is so important it is one of those critical areas of culture that also determines in many cases our choice of life partner; or it may include rural vs. urban living; or something as “insignificant” as what brand of automobile, tractor, or cigarette receives our brand loyalty. It will probably affect in large degree our prejudices—racial, sexual, academic, nationality, gender, holy book, or geographical region as choice for “home.”

     If an educator gives little or no attention to the effects of the students’ cultural place filters, no information is probably going to make it past them to last past the chapter test. While just about any piece of information can be memorized for a test, to become part of students’ long term memory, it must “fit in” with the rest of what decorates “home” inside their heads.

     As a student, new concepts must become part of me if I am to accept them as true, as useful, as consistent with the rest of me, and as worthy of my bothering to remember them. Otherwise, after I’ve entertained them long enough to regurgitate them on the chapter test, I’ll kick them right out of my brain to make room for stuff that fits in with the cultural design already in place.

     I’ve heard many times the story of Grandma’s trimming off the top four inches of the ham bone before cooking it for Easter dinner. The practice passed on to Mom who did the same thing although she didn’t know why she repeated the act. But Grandma did it so it must be the right thing to do. The cutting of the ham survived Daughter’s cooking practices, too. It was finally with Granddaughter that the tradition was challenged. She called Daughter the first year of her marriage to ask about the cutting of the ham so she could explain it to her new family. Daughter had never considered it, so she called Mom. Mom had not dared question the strict, no-nonsense Grandma, so Granddaughter called her to ask about why she trimmed the top of the ham. After four generations, Grandma explained the time-honored tradition. “Oh, that? Well, the only pan I had was too small to hold the ham, so I had to cut off the top four inches.”

 

 


Southern Rural Culture and Student Outcomes: Part 1 of 6: Student Outcomes and Rural Culture:

Posted on April 19, 2016 at 12:15 AM


In the early days of this blog, it’s probably a good thing to establish a common thread among the readers and writer(s) of Southern Rural Culture—considering the fact that culture is what the blog is about.

     Culture, refers to the beliefs, arts (visual art, literature, music, performance art), principals, and values of a group of people that make them who they are and how they differ from other groups. Language, customs, clothing, rituals, religion, and politics are other aspects of culture. Southern Rural Culture, then, is those characteristics that make the Southern Rurals different from other groups of people.

     Where is the Rural South? Generally speaking, it is the region south of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi Rivers—but not including Florida. It is excluded from the designation because the culture there has changed—at least for the winter months. Florida is the winter homing region for the elder Northern “snow birds”—those older Northerners who make the pilgrimage to the Sunshine State every six months or so to avoid weather that is problematic to conditions common to senior citizens every winter: arthritis, neuralgia, stiffness, inflammation, swelling, joint pain.

      When we look at the Rural South, we see culture that is probably the most consistent culture region-wide in the United States. The Rural South is the region of the Confederacy, that area of land and people that withdrew from the United States in order to establish a separate country. While many people believe the only reason for the secession from the Union was the issue of slavery, that wasn’t the only reason. While Southerners owned slaves more often than Northerners, the South was an agrarian region and needed intensive manual labor for the tending of cash crops. Crops like tobacco, cotton, and rice required people working by hand many hours a day in sweltering heat in order to produce enough product to keep the farms and plantations going. Most American laborers demanded higher wages than the cash crop producers could afford to pay.

      On the other hand, the Union states were primarily factory based and, therefore, urban instead of agrarian. Places in cities sprung up to reflect different cultures within the same American city. Because there was not one predominant culture, there might be a little Italy, a little China, a little Holland. As a result, those cultures tended to share the elements of culture. Elements of religion, of cooking, of language, of traditions, of politics, of economy began to assimilate and change to something else. Some have called it a mixing bowl. Others say it is more like a salad bowl. Whatever you call it, it became different. Because there were so many more cultures, they could not bond as only two kinds of cultures.

     The agrarian South, however, continued to be agrarian, and the people there continued to be land owner or land laborer. In addition, it was much easier to remain two cultures separate from each other because of the different races. In other words, they could remain separate because it was easy to tell who was like me and who was not. So, in the South (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas), where there was land owner/land laborer, the people developed deeper, stronger bonds.

      It is said that while the South practiced slavery, the North abused child laborers, hiring them for very little money—sometimes even less than the slaves were bringing in if their room and board were considered. So, the moral indignation of the North should be tempered a little.

      Texas was a republic—standing alone in the South but not with the culture of the rest of the South. Culturally the Texans were either Mexican land owners, the white believers in separatism, small groups of native American tribes, or the Mexican loyalists who continued to believe that Texas still belonged to Mexico. Four separate groups who wanted to remain four separate groups.

      The Rural South remains predominantly rural, Christian, white or black, rich or poor (not in the middle), lower in educational attainment, Patriarchal, Republican, Conservative, GOBs with gun rights. Drawing from my own research, Southern Rural Culture also values anti-intellectualism, traditionalism, ethnocentrism, Good Old Boys, stewardship of earth, religiosity, and xenophobia. Few areas can be said to have such a broad base of “bonding.” It might be correct to assume that Rural Southerners are more alike than they are different.

 

City Mouse - Country Mouse: A comparison of educational resources for city vs county schools

Posted on July 16, 2015 at 10:40 AM


Most people mistakenly think Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is actually in western Kentucky. It isn't. West Kentucky includes Paducah, Murray, Webster County . . . and Dixon. You don't have to go to places like Webster County to get to anywhere else, so we are pretty much left alone. Kind of like we like it.

     While we don't really have the same cultural heritage as the iconic Eastern Kentucky dwellers you've probably heard about, we have lots of hills and ridges, low lands, wet lands, rock infested lands, and some of the prettiest flat stretches of green any farmer would drool over.

     We are a proud and historically rebellious people who "bleed" blue or red around state basketball tournament time (UK or UofL). We claim to be Democrats, but most of us are really closet Republicans. We just register as Democrats so that we can vote in the primaries.

     It takes only one or two farmers to feed the same number of people it used to require hundreds to feed, but maintaining highly producing farmers is critical to avoiding mass global hunger predicted in the not-too-distant future. But, despite our love of tradition and strong rural values, people don't value the rural lifestyle they once did. Rural can claim only 5% of the population, and agricultural business can claim only 1%.

     We no longer live in a segregated world; global refers to economy, education, social media, politics, and religion. But the Rural South builds walls--some to keep us in/others to keep you out. Those walls serve to cut us off from the modern global community we actually need to be part of.

     As a result, much angst and dissatisfaction are aimed at the rural food producer, as if we have created crops, beef herds, and chicken flocks with un-organic, GMO, gH, antibiotics, and vaccinations to make money at the expense of consumer's health.

     Rural economic depression and rural education resource poverty, poorly equip the students in rural areas to compete with students of urban schools who have myriad resources, opportunities, government interventions, public awareness campaigns, corporate sponsors . . . etc. Our schools are in disrepair, disconnected from the global world and markets, and claim some of the lowest paid educators in America. Teachers often supply their own classrooms because the money is not forthcoming from states and local entities strapped for money.

     Go visit one of our rural schools and compare it to what our city cousins have. Question our teachers about how much they get paid and how valued they feel. Check out the often barren facilities and then look at a school two counties over with urban resources--and a swim team with Olympic sized pool, fully equipped laser welding labs, CAD with the most up to date software, media centers with access to the most modern technologies and richest resources. Check out the average income per family here, how many kids qualify for free lunch. And find out how much benefit students receive from per pupil spending. Compare it to their urban neighbors. Then tell me what you think about Rural as Educational Minority--worthy of those funds so freely given to "poverty-stricken" urban centers with "minorities."

 


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