It’s Going to Take…

…just a few days for me to leave this blog behind.  It’s been a long time coming, just practice here, while better platforms await.  I came late to my awareness of the many platforms that allow the Infowars-type of conspiracy-mongering that forces many parents of Sandy Hook into hiding or to re-live the death of their children. I can’t support a platform that won’t create policy to stop this behavior.  I’m only sorry it took me so long to learn.

You can find me on Instagram as anniedenns and Tumblr as annedennisauthor.

PS:: I can, for now, be found also on Twitter @annieden – where I think the tide may soon shift.  I am actively working on Twitter in networking while I also work on my own writing.  There may be hope for changing @jack’s policies through campaigns like #BlockParty500.  I am interested in intersections of/in disability rights, esp. issues that affect primarily women, chronic illness, domestic violence, sexual assault & rape, esp. campus rape, LGBTQIA, women’s health (childbirth, home birth, breastfeeding, period awareness, menopause), trans people’s rights (esp. adolescents).  I hope to see you at these crossroads and intersections.  I’m the one smiling, waving, and coming to help or hug you!


We Build Word Maps in Our Brains

Concept mapping not new concept in teaching….but now there is proof of actual word mapping and language atlas-making….composition, merveilleux!!!

I Finally Said Something

To Whom It May Concern:

As a young public school student, I can remember seeing teachers at school using paddles on kids that size, 1st graders, in 5th grade….I remember sitting in class and listening to the kids bawling in the hallway and how the whole school would seem to become silent as children were paddled and the echoes went down the hallway. My partner once received swats in a public school in Texas that were so bad that he went home bleeding and has the scars to prove it — that was his football coach.

As bad as this physical punishment approach is, and incorrect, delivered by the state or another, I felt moved, for the first time as an adult and in a nearly 30-year teaching career, to say something.  From what is shown on the videos now in the public domain about the Jasper Primary School incident, the two school employees, and the silent assistant in the outer office, who think they are “doing their job” are equally hideous in their attempts at shaming this five-year-old child and the mother.  They also are hideous in their complete failure to act in an ethical manner.

This one video incident has shamed ME, in effect, as a public school employee in this country — and this behavior goes on probably in your school district as much as it ever did within my generation and those before us, in countless other ways, sanctioned and ignored by state and federal officials who are dependent on state and federal funding, to whatever meager extent, for their existence.

As a parent, I never believed in corporal punishment as effective in any way, shape, or form regardless of any argument, and as a professional, I was vehemently, and continue to be vehemently, against it, for both ethical reasons in what it teaches a child and for the simple fact that it just doesn’t really work. There is and cannot be communication with the whipping hand. We claim this belief constantly as a political position against ISIS and other governments and claim to defend against it, but your school system’s current incident demonstrates yet again that Americans allow this behavior within our own state-sanctioned and protected “safe schools.”   Again, probably just the tip of the iceberg, perhaps only more horrifying in that this incident shows how a school treats a very young child with behavioral problems.

Whatever the mother’s situation, whatever the history with the child’s attendance and absences, or even the mother’s having been jailed for truancy, the school’s methods have failed completely for this child. Pathetic.

As I previously noted, I am a 25-plus year veteran teacher from Oklahoma.  I have a public school teaching certificate and a Master of Arts degree in English, so I do not speak from the position just as a parent of two grown children but from a professional standpoint also. I find it revolting that Jasper County teachers and administrators not only fail to act ethically in this situation but in fact seem, based on what is visible in the videos, to believe in their right to uphold their own methods of punishment, when in fact the parent has apparently previously documented proof of her refusal to consent to this form of punishment for her child (according to the report at
The videos suggest that these employees’ actions point only to the failure of at least these two employees to comprehend their own desires for shaming and blaming this mother and her child, and in acting as the extension of the Jasper County school district, Board of Education, and state officials who act on their behalf, these employees have failed to do their jobs.  Further, these employees, if in any way indicative of the administration of this district, demonstrate a failure of proper and ethical administration of district policy on multiple levels.
If this child is such a difficult student, or the mother such a difficult mother to work with, there is yet still no excuse for acting against the documented choice of the parent in any case.  In fact, most likely, were it not for the mother’s attempts to document this event, we Americans would have gone on to ignore it.
Shame on this entire county’s school system.  I can only imagine that this single incident, like a single cockroach in an apparently otherwise spotless home, is but one version of a rampant, or at least unchecked, problem, and responsibility and accountability must be afforded every opportunity.
My own home state of Oklahoma is similar to Georgia and so much of the American South in what is allowed as punishment for children.  Perhaps this problem may never be eradicated from families with individuals who choose to hurt and abuse their children, but certainly, schools in the United States – and for that matter, so much of the world, could consider a new path:
I must thank not only this mother and child for spotlighting this significant issue but also each of you, your school system, Board of Education, administration, and the employees in question for the reminder that I am still a person who will stand against your efforts to allow the physical punishment of children to continue legally in this country.  Review of information on this incident also through

*note to self:  I will be the woman in WalMart, restaurants, and grocery stores telling the abusers in question to find a different way, making a point of eye contact with their children to show that there are adults who will not hurt them, or writing down their license plates to report to the authorities for hurting children.  Others call the authorities when they see abandoned and abused animals – why not try it for humans, too?  I used to remember to do these things when I was younger.  I’d forgotten – for a while.

Unhoused and At Home

“I’ve never known a writer who didn’t feel ill at ease in the world. Have you? We all feel unhoused in some sense. That’s part of why we write. We feel we don’t fit in, that this world is not our world, that though we may move in it, we’re not of it. Different experiences in our lives may enforce or ameliorate that, but I think if they ameliorate it totally, we stop writing. You don’t need to write a novel if you feel at home in the world. We write about the world because it doesn’t make sense to us. Through writing, maybe we can penetrate it, elucidate it, somehow make it comprehensible.”
The Paris Review Interviews

Andrea Barrett, The Art of Fiction No. 180

Interviewed by Elizabeth Gaffney
Winter 2003, No. 168

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

If you haven’t read this book, (author site) or seen Silberman’s TED Talk (author site), you might want not to miss it before it becomes THE definitive text on the issues surrounding neurodiversity in education, medicine, social sciences, and any other area — his book is soundly researched, thorough, meticulous, overwhelming — if you don’t know much about autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or a collection of other “on the spectrum” names and areas of focus for people who inhabit these domains, after reading this book, you will realize that you have not known much about how a large portion of our world’s population lives.  Don’t miss a chance to educate yourself…if Silberman’s book is missing anything, it’s really a chance for him to look into a second text for applications of his research of this book into public life.  It’s all changing, and I suspect this text will be at the forefront of it.

Concussion – Dr. Omalu’s Story by Jeanne Laskas

I’m a long-time English teacher and tutor. Let me be straightforward: I have tutored and taught many students over the years of my career who have suffered tremendously for the failings of coaches and medical staff who just want to win. Jeanne Marie Laskas’ Concussion, and the true story it reveals, along with the current film version, popularizes one of the biggest “dirty little secrets” of small- and big-time college and professional football.  All I can say is “thank you” to Laskas, and perhaps most importantly, to her subject Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who uncovered the true story of how damaging football (and NFL secrets) can be.  Laskas pursues Omalu’s fight — one that happens in quiet, cold rooms, precisely, slowly, over a long time, a hard-won fight.

Many times, I have worked with students whose vision was blurred days after a hard hit – no computer work, no typing, no reading even possible. Or students who struggled with pain and confusion days or even weeks after being cleared to return to practice, or even the playing field, would struggle to stay awake working for an hour in a tutoring session.

This story and the work presented so far are just the beginning of the discussion of how contact sports hold a place in the American educational system: am I against football for students? Absolutely not. In fact, I’d even have played, or tried to, had the sport been possible for girls my age in high school – I enjoy the game and have watched football since sitting by my dad’s side as a young child.

However, the suffering it can cause – and its effects on college and professional players alike, not to mention on their educational and post-football job prospects – really need to be part of the discussion of player compensation, student-athlete study time and pay, and various other issues. Laskas’ book tells us, in the end, that the suicides, the terrible suffering and lifelong struggles that concussed football players bear from their profession are barely the tip of the iceberg. This book shows you in full just how dangerous that iceberg really is, and just how deeply the man behind its revelation upholds his professional responsibilities. His story will inspire you to be more truthful in your own life and work; one can only hope that this inspiration will reach even further.

Ray Young Bear – Manifestation Wolverine

What I hear most in Ray Young Bear’s Manifestation Wolverine are voices.

His poetics bring them forth – young men, his mother, old women, old medicine—

In one poem, “Catching the Distance,” he gives us his memory of medicine, of his mother, of wounds:

“I was called to eat./my mother sat on the bed/with her bare

back towards me./the powdery medicine rolled itself/ into the blood

over her wounds./  there are plants breathing wisdom,/ offered by

earth, blooming on this land./no one will give the time to learn.”


And in the same poem, the narrator calls down his memories, or tries to:

“i see myself as a snowy haze,/drifting slightly, turning around/ always

wanting to remember more./sometimes it is clear and the wind/

brings to my hand, many choices.”


His poems are reminders, recollections, literally, of voices he will not allow us to forget.  Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, Louise Erdrich, their poems, as well as Richard Leslie Silko’s Ceremony all come to mind – the voices singing the past into the present and future.

I am reminded of Yvor Winters 1954 “At the San Francisco Airport.”  I am reminded of reading this poem in 1986, being stunned in its simplicity.  See also Gerard Manley Hopkins and Robert Penn Warren.

In “Painted Visions,” his narrator speaks of loss and he only says, “I grew back into a child.”

When his narrator gives voice to another child’s story, a holy one, it is a simple report” “we turned to the people and mumbled/something about the little girl/who said she could hold her breath/forever and that she knew the very thought/of a blackbird with dreams of the day.”

What I hear most in Ray Young Bear’s Manifestation Wolverine are voices.

His poetics bring them forth – young men, his mother, old women, old medicine—

We are simply witness to his hearing.  If you read poetry and enjoy it, read this collection. Nothing I can say here will help you than you could find if you sit and read these poems, or better yet, do as Ray Young Bear does, sit with the wind and listen.