Reading “ Estelle’s Tattoo” or Why did We end up with Rape?

     Reading Paul White’s short story “Estelle’s Tattoo” is a shattering experience. As you reach the final line, it’s hard to find the proper words to leave a comment. This piece of writing is food for thought and fuel for attitude. It has haunted me since yesterday and it stirred something inside me.

   This morning I suddenly realised that Estelle’s tattoo is engraved in each young girl almost from her birth. When you are born a woman, your life stands under the shadow of being a potential rape victim. As a girl born and raised by two women, this mark was all too familiar, even if we never discussed it openly. But this status of “potential victim” was hanging in the air and became one of the main reasons for disliking my femininity. And I was not living in a war zone.

  In fact, I was born and raised in a quiet and peaceful, less complex and complicated society, with a low rate of criminality, a place where my Mom could come home from her night shift at the newspaper, walking all alone the streets at 3 am. Still, my mother and my grandmother were watching over me and protecting me as I was growing into a teenage girl from that possibility of becoming the victim of a man. So I’ve learned to watch my back, to walk in broad light and main streets, to hurry up if I a man was following me, to learn to read their glances, smiles or smirks and keep out of trouble. I grew up learning that I can be a prey so I’ve learned to avoid the hunters. This “survival kit” has grown into me without being fully aware of it. Luckily, I am an optimistic person so I didn’t become paranoid about men. In fact, I seldom gave a thought about this, once I became an adult. Until yesterday when I’ve read this heart wrenching story about rape and the life under its permanent threat.

You might dismiss this topic as an exaggeration. “Come on, this is not happening here…We are not like this”. I beg to differ when I see how the community of my fellow citizens reacted at the news of a collective rape happening in a Romanian village. Half of its inhabitants were blaming the girl for luring the boys into having sex with her, despite all the proofs that this was a premeditated act of two of the perpetrators who lured the girl into a friendly meeting, then called in their friends for the …fun.

   You might suggest that women should take defense technique training. But why would they? I for instance, I’m a non-conflicting person despite my strong opinions; I dislike any kind of aggressivity. And for what reason should I train myself in fight? Do I live in a jungle? Is that the real face of thousands of years of civilisation? What happened to us? How did we drift this far that a person has to live her life carrying that shadow of threat simply because she was born a woman? How did we end up losing the count of “Estelles” who have died and keep dying all over the world?

    We keep reading about such cases or hear about them in the media. For days we keep debating…then another shocking event sends the rape case into oblivion. Sometimes we dismiss it because we think that this is something happening only in less civilised areas. Wrong. The fact that a rape victim has tremendous difficulties to report what happened to her is the best proof that in all kind of societies there is something deeply wrong about how we think about women.

   When you learn that in all too many cases/places the victim is first to blame, when you learn that there’s “corrective rape” against lesbians, when you learn that women need to “learn their place” and so on, then you come to realise that rape is a socially/historically ingrained habit that emerged as a byproduct of human civilisation. You won’t find rape at our close relatives, the Bonobo chimps. We share with them a lot but rape is our own cultivated flaw. THIS is something to think about. The fact that rape is a cruel and criminal act performed nowadays not only against women but anyone vulnerable (Gay, Transgender or children) only puts this act in proper light.

   We need to educate this out from our human inheritance, we need to educate mutual respect and we need to cut off from the long forgotten conditions that had lead to this act.Each time when a  “ NO!” it’s disregarded, each time when someone forces itself on another one because it can, it’s à rape and and the life of the victim is brutally changed, if not taken away.

It’s a long way out of this dark shadow and the moment to start is now. We live in the dawn of a new century. We cannot let the “Estelles” to keep dying and to die in vain. We owe them that much just as we owe to our daughters, sisters, mothers, girlfriends to give them the chance to live their lives in freedom and dignity, and not as potential prey/victims.

Paul White’s “Estelle’s Tattoo” is à Must Read. You can find it here :https://plus.google.com/+PaulWhiteWriter/posts/Hpy4M9sMvkH

Don’t scroll down easily. Let’s break the habit and let’s erase rape from our long term inheritance!

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Scrisoare deschisa catre societate: POSDRU si/sau formele fara fond in educatie

Starea invatamantului romanesc este unul din subiectele preferate ale media . Este un subiect “generos”  care a starnit multe pasiuni si “dezbateri” in spatiul respectiv. Este, de asemenea, subiectul la care pare ca se pricepe toata lumea…Sau poate nu?

Rar s-a intamplat  ca in ultimii 24 de ani sa aud o opinie competenta, bine conturata despre situatia reala si perspectivele acestui domeniu social fundamental. In  schimb s-au perindat pe la televiziuni un numar  ingrijorator de  chibitari, indivizi fara o opera academica consistenta, persoane care nu au si nu au avut vreun contact real si fundamentat cu nobila profesie de dascal, jurnalisti superficiali in goana dupa senzational, incapabili sa puna intrebarile potrivite interlocutorilor si la fel de incapabili in a decela raspunsurile cu sens de palavragelile goale.

Invatamantul, in speta cel preuniversitar este si  locul in care ” a prins” cel mai bine inventia numita ” Curs de perfectionare” girata pe bani (europeni) deloc neglijabili prin POSDRU. A prins atat de bine incat a devenit o adevarata industrie iar “efectele” ei sunt greu de contracarat; sunt tot mai  multi cei care profita de diplomele acordate si  de sumele  investite aici. De ani buni  societate romaneasca  se afla sub zodia nefasta a “formelor fara fond” generata de  mediocritatea politicului. Dar dintre toate domeniile societatii ,  invatamantul este cel care s-a dovedit cel mai vulnerabil la rasturnarea valorilor. Acest lucru s-a petrecut in momentul in care  niste  hartii  au ajuns sa prevaleze in fata muncii la clasa, in fata  vocatiei profesorului, a aprecierii de catre elevi si nu in ultimul rand in fata demnitatii dascalului.

Nu doresc sa acreditez  ideea ca perfectionarea continua a cadrelor didactice nu este in principiu, un demers util. Insa utilitatea sa  trebuie cuantificata pozitiv numai in cazul in care efectul cursurilor se oglindeste in rezultate corespunzatoare in munca la clasa. In mediul preuniversitar exista la ora actuala o inflatie de astfel de “diplome” fara acoperire, cursurile ele insele fiind, de cele mai multe ori, lamentabil de slabe stiintific si metodic. Propagatorii  acestor  “cursuri” incearca sa se ascunda dupa o pretinsa cunoastere a metodelor occidentale in ceea ce priveste procesul de educatie.

Daca aceste activitati colaterale ar ramane nivelul unei informari …de masa al cadrelor didactice, daunele produse procesului educativ nu ar fi prea mari. Problema apare insa in momentul in care  numarul diplomelor obtinute la aceste cursuri devine criteriu in mentinerea postului didactic. Se creeaza astfel conditii pentru umilirea unor profesori cu o activitate prodigioasa si prestigioasa la clasa , care nu au nevoie de aceste cursuri si care sunt pusi in inferioritate de  niste “colectionari” de puncte si hartii.  S-a ajuns pana acolo unde unui profesor cu vocatie, apreciat de elevi si parinti, precum si de Consiliul de conducere al scolii sa i se spuna de catre un factor de decizie : ” Stiu ca esti cel mai bun profesor dar degeaba,ca n-ai suficiente puncte.” (vezi…cursuri de perfectionare)

Din pacate ministerul continua cu entuziasm aceeasi politica dezastruoasa de evaluare a cadrelor didactice facand din vechea zicala: “Din greseala in greseala spre victoria finala” cea mai buna caracterizare a strategiei din sistemul de invatamant romanesc. Motivatia oficiala si publica  a acestor cursuri este aceea de a te instrui in solutii educative noi, revolutionare, nemaivazute care sa te scoata pe tine, dascal mult prea clasicizat,  din obisnuintele tale pedagogice care, chipurile, nu mai corespund cerintelor epocii.

Ca sa fiu mai explicit, voi da cateva exemple din cursurile pe care eu insumi le-am urmat. Ati auzit cumva de…Metoda cubului? Dar de cel al celor 6 palarii? Metoda…tzop?  Nu?  Sa va descriu Metoda cubului. Se confectioneaza un cub de marime medie din carton si se numeroteaza toate fetele. Pe fiecare fata in parte se inscriptioneaza  un subiect/o intrebare din obiectul de predare respectiv. Cubul este aruncat in fata clasei pe podea, urmand ca subiectul de discutie intre profesor si elevi sa fie determinat de ceea ce este inscris pe fata superioara a cubului.  In felul acesta elevii au putut intra in contact cu o noua metoda mult mai…relaxanta  etc,etc.

O alta metoda “moderna”: ati auzit de Metoda…tzop?! Inaintea unei ore mai solicitante ni s-a indicat sa procedam astfel : copiii sa formeze un cerc in fata clasei si sa numere din 4 in 4, urmand ca in locul numarului 4 ,8 etc. elevul respectiv sa spuna…tzop! Cei care vor spune 4, 8 etc si nu Tzop! cum cere jocul vor fi eliminati. Se continua acest demers pana la epuizarea cercului…si poate si a orei de curs, evident.

Desigur, pe mine cel putin, utilitatea acestor metode nu m-a convins; prezentarea de ex. a ultimului joc in primul sfert de ora al unei lectii de matematica in care predau, sa zicem,  notiunea de derivata la clasa a XI-a ar submina serios nu numai lectia in sine dar si increderea elevilor in demersul pedagogic si in… sanatatea mea mentala. Povestindu-le elevilor mei de o astfel de metoda am primit un raspuns relevant: “Domnule profesor, dar noi asa ceva faceam la cresa!”

Scriu toate aceste ca sa intelegeti de ce unii profesori ca mine nu vor abdica niciodata de la valorile care li s-au transmis de fostii lor profesori si de ce vom continua sa trecem prin filtrul gandirii noastre orice metode sau conceptii noi, indiferent de unde ar veni acestea. Bine ar fi ca tot ceea ce tine de perfectionarea dascalilor sa nu fie decis si implementat decat de profesori cu cel putin 20 de ani de munca la clasa, cu rezultate deosebite, apreciate de toti protagonistii din invatamant (elevi, parinti, profesori, directori) sau de profesori universitari cu activitate stiintifica prestigioasa si cu o aplecare recunoscuta in probleme de pedagogie si metodica.

Se pune deci intrebarea: putem oare sa plasam in topul profesorilor unei scoli sau dintr-un oras pe detinatorii celor mai multe diplome  fara ca acestea sa se reflecte cat de cat in rezultate meritorii la clasa? Raspunsul meu este un hotarat NU! In acest sens as propune eliminarea totala sau cel putin reducerea drastica a ponderii cursurilor de perfectionare  in evaluarea profesorilor. Cu fiecare zi ce trece, daunele produse sistemului educational romanesc de punctajul pe baza de…hartii sunt tot mai mari. Problema nu e noua dar ” avantajele” colectarii de puncte prin astfel de cursuri devine o obisnuinta…iar apoi, o “trebuinta”. Iar cei care au acumulat avantaje din acest mod de evaluare sunt tot mai multi si deloc interesati de schimbare.  Ei nu sunt interesati nici de calitatea prestatiei pedagogice, odata ce aproape ca nu conteaza in aprecierea…omului si dosarului.

Se mai poate face ceva? Da. Inca se poate, dar trebuie curaj pentru a schimba evaluarea aparentei in favoarea esentei. Trebuie doar ca cei ce traseaza parcursul  invatamantului romanesc sa hotarasca:  alegem redresarea sau continuam greseala?