Classroom Management

Classroom

Teachers may be highly educated and up to date on all the latest teaching techniques, but without proper classroom management students will not be learning up to their potential. In The Everything Classroom Management Book by Eric Groves, Sr., classroom management is discussed in depth. Being a former teacher, I still found this book very impressive.

The Everything Classroom Management Book

One day a fellow coworker  at the Fulton County Public Library (also a former teacher and principal) passed by and saw this book laying on my desk. He stopped to look at it and even he was very impressed with it. If there are any first year teachers or aspiring teachers out there I would highly recommend this book for you. Veteran teachers will also find it useful. Filled with content about organization, time savers, and everyday routines this book is already impressive. However, the book goes far beyond the expected. Other topics discussed include legal issues, building relationships, job protection, and alternative careers in the education field.

The next book I came to was The Laughing Classroom: Everyone’s Guide to Teaching with Humor and Play by Dianna Loomans and Karen Kolberg.

The Laughing Classroom

This is a book that basically describes creating a classroom where learning can occur through humor and laughter. To outsiders, these classrooms can sometimes appear out of order, this may be when students are learning the most. It’s important to engage students to hold their interest and this is the primary objective of this book.There are many activities / lessons in this book to help promote humor and laughter in the classroom. This would be a good resource for teachers and others who work with children.

Among Friends: Classrooms Where Caring and Learning Prevail by Joan Dalton and Marilyn Watson promotes a teaching philosophy of building relationships among students and teachers. When students feel a sense of inclusion (no outcasts) they are better able to learn and want each other to succeed.

Among Friends

This philosophy is very similar to The Big Idea by Dennis Littky with Samantha Grabelle which was discussed in my previous post Educational Product.

There is so much that needs to be happening in the classroom environment before any learning can occur. These books will certainly point educators in the right direction.

What do you remember about classroom atmospheres when you were in school? If you’ve been in a classroom recently, how do the classroom atmospheres compare now to when you were in school?

 

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Teaching

Teaching

As I continue my read through of the Fulton County Public Library, I find myself immersed in nostalgic memories of my own former teaching career as well as laughing myself silly.  I have really enjoyed reading the books for this post.

The first book that I read was I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza.

I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had

(Yes, for those of you old enough to remember this is the actor, Tony Danza.) For those of you not old enough to know who Tony Danza is, he acted in the sitcoms Taxi

Tony Danza, Judd Hirsch and Danny DeVito (from left) 
Taxi

and Who’s the Boss?

Who's the Boss

Before Danza was an actor, he was a professional boxer.

Danza Boxer

It was during his boxing career that Tony Danza was “discovered” and then became an actor. What most people don’t know is that even before Danza’s days as a boxer, he trained to be a teacher.

Life has a strange way of taking twists and turns. After college, Danza intended to actually be a teacher but his boxing career took off and he pursued it for awhile. Because of his boxing, he then became an actor, and because of his acting career and his desire to return to his love of teaching, he was offered a reality show called Teach. Teach is a one season DVD series with 7 episodes.

Teach Tony Danza

Tony Danza was actually hired at an inner city school in Philadelphia as a first year teacher. Danza bravely agreed to be filmed as a first year teacher.  There were some concessions that had to be made to the Philadelphia school district to ensure that students would actually receive a legitimate education during the reality show. A teaching coach was assigned to the classroom. He sat at the back during the classroom sessions and then made recommendations and suggestions afterwards. Danza was expected to be like any other teacher in the school and he had extracurricular duties.

This first year teaching experience led to writing I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I’ve Ever Had, a book which I totally enjoyed. Danza truly does have a heart for kids. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that Danza’s eyes got opened. According to him, teaching is the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life. It’s harder than being a professional boxer. I would totally recommend the book. I liked Teach, the DVD series, but I actually liked the book better.

The next book I read was “Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens?” Teaching Lessons from the Bronx by Ilana Garon. I had to read this book for it’s title alone. I also perk up when I hear about aliens (for more about this see my post Shelf Browsing Leads To Memory Lane.)

Why Do Only White People Get Abducted by Aliens

Garon is a young Jewish teacher who explains the realities of teaching in an inner city school in the Bronx. Her book follows the first 4 years or so of her teaching career through two different schools and a sabbatical. While I liked the overall story in the book, I have to admit that I did have some difficulty relating to some of the cultural elements of the students and teachers. Since I’ve never lived in a huge city like New York, many of the concepts were quite foreign to me. For instance, rather than having huge school systems, many of the larger school buildings have been reinvented and may house multiple schools within the same building complete with their own staffs of support people and administrators. In both this experience and also in Tony Danza’s experience, all three schools discussed house their own police department to control their students and the students are sometimes dragged out of class in handcuffs.

The next book I came across was Hugs for Teachers by Martha McKee, Caron Loveless, and LeAnn Weiss.

hugs for teachers

This book is a very quick read book which is faith based, inspirational, and motivational. It is one of those books that you may want to give as a gift to your child’s teacher.

Finally the last two books I read (and laughed myself silly reading) were:

F in Exams   F for Effort

Both of these books by Richard Benson are compilations of wrong (but often quite creative) test answers. I literally laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes and trouble catching my breath! If you need to laugh, I highly recommend these books!

Were you aware that Tony Danza is a certified teacher? Have you ever been to a school that has it’s own police department? Have you ever given “creative” test answers when you didn’t know the real answer?

 

 

 

Homeschooling

Homeschooling

Several different approaches to this post have been considered. There is just no way to adequately cover homeschooling in one blog post so I’ve decided I will make this post a bit of a survey post to show some of the many options when homeschooling.

Beginning with the most well known version of homeschooling is the Stay at Home approach. This approach in and of itself has many different versions although the most common is when kids learn at home and are taught by one or both parents.

Real-Life Homeschooling

In Real-Life Homeschooling: the Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home by Rhonda Barfield many different methods of homeschooling are explained by the real life families who do them. Many people have an idea in their heads that all homeschoolers do (if they are taught at all) is sit and do worksheets all day. While worksheets might play a part in some homeschooling programs, they are actually not very typical. Most homeschoolers get a very hands on approach to learning complete with educational field trips and instruction in home arts skills. Often homeschooling parents are very capable and good instructors. They have good days and bad days–just like teachers in a public school. When a homeschooling parent is not strong in a certain academic subject and other family members aren’t able to fill in the gap, sometimes they will join Cooperative Home Schools.

In the cooperative homeschooling approach parents may formerly join other homeschoolers and/or organizations. Some cooperative homeschoolers are organized informally because the homeschooling families know and trust each other. Each co-op looks and functions differently. Sometimes homeschooling parents will teach different subjects which may be set up by the day of the week. For instance if one parent is very strong in Math and another is stronger in Language Arts, they may trade kids for a day and teach their particular subject to ensure that the kids are taught well. This isn’t all that different than changing class periods and teachers in a public school. One advantage to setting up a curriculum where students learn math skills on a Monday is that there is more time to explore and practice a particular subject. A more hands on approach can be utilized without time restrictions which allows children to work and learn at their own pace. Some parents using this approach may set it up differently where Math is half a day twice a week or whatever works in their particular situation(s).  The possibilities are endless.

In addition to the two approaches listed above, now there are also Hybrid Home Schools. This approach amounts to part time homeschooling. In this approach students may attend an actual school (often a private one) a few days a week and learn at home the rest of the week. This approach has also been called the Collegiate Model since the schedule will resemble a college student’s schedule.

I have also heard of some newer versions of homeschooling which I believe would fall into a hybrid description. In this approach a small amount of homeschoolers (maybe 3 or 4 students from different families) are taken to another home, usually another homeschooling family. They maintain fairly regular school hours but are instructed in small groups by the homeschooling parent(s) who reside there. A fee is charged (similar to private schools) to take on these extra students, but all the benefits of homeschooling are maintained. Though there are regular hours there is heightened flexibility in scheduling to accommodate family schedules, doctor’s appointments, and the like.

Although I’m sure all of us could think of a few exceptions, usually homeschooling families are quite dedicated and organized. In my read through of the Fulton County Public Library, I came across many resources and suggestions for homeschool organization, including how to keep academic records and create transcripts for college entry. Since I can’t go into all of this in depth, I will just show a few of the (many) books that I checked out on this topic.

The Well-Trained MindThe Complete Guide to Homeschooling

Setting the Record Straight

The cost of home schooling ranges from free to quite expensive. Many families strive for the free range while still providing quality education. For those interested, the following book would be a good place to start your research.

Homeschool Your Child for Free

Another book worth checking out is The Well-Adjusted Child: the Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole.

The Well-Adjusted Child

Homeschooling families are often accused of neglecting the social development of their children by keeping them isolated. This has been changing quite a bit in the last several years. Homeschoolers are now much more conscientious about providing socialization activities.

Homeschooling laws may vary from state to state. According to the A -to-Z Homeschooling  site, in Indiana all you have to do is start homeschooling. There aren’t a lot (if any) forms to fill out. There are, however, some guidelines for parents which are recommended by the Indiana Department of Education. If interested in homeschooling, be sure to check the laws of your own state. Some states require the supervision of homeschoolers by a licensed teacher.

Do you know anyone who is homeschooling? Is homeschooling something that you would be interested in? What is your opinion of homeschooling?

Schools

School

Schools are such important institutions in today’s society. Have you ever wondered how and why our educational system came into being? The One-room Schoolhouse by Paul Rocheleau does an excellent job of chronicling the origin of public education to present day.

The One Room School House

Before there were colonies in America, public education was virtually nonexistant. Only the elite and members of the clergy were formally educated. Most common people were illiterate.  A few commoners learned to read if they were taught by the elite or learned by being an apprentice but this was more the exception than the rule.

American colonies were more or less settled by groups of people seeking religious freedom.  With the invention of the printing press privately owned Bibles were more common. The Quakers in particular wanted their children to be able to read. Schools were established primarily to teach people how to read  their Bibles.  The primary textbook of any school was the Bible. Every school day was also started with prayer.

One room schoolhouses were built. They were usually situated near a field and built in areas where children lived. Early educators made school buildings convenient to where the children were, whereas today schools are built for the convenience of the school districts and children are bussed to the schools.

The one room school houses were built out of a variety of building materials, usually whatever was available locally.  Sometimes there were embellishments to the basic rectangular design of the schools and as colonies became more prosperous they would be built with a bit more flair since schools often pulled multiple duties as schools, churches, voting places, and social halls. The earliest schools that were framed buildings were not usually painted in the beginning since paint was very expensive and not readily available. Again, when colonies became more prosperous it was reflected in their schools. Paint began to be a part of the buildings as well as other embellishments. The financial health of any given community was often reflected in the details of their school(s).

Some schools were built from wood / trees:

Old One Room School Indiana County, PA Route 110 1969

log one room school

Some builders used mud and built schools in an adobe style:

Adobe one room school house

Some were brick:

brick one room school

Some were made of stone:

stone one room school house

Sometimes different structural designs were tried with more progressive ideas such as this octagonal one room school:

octagonal one room school

The idea behind the octagonal design was the progressive thinking at the time of believing if the student desks were placed around the walls, the teacher could maintain a close proximity to students by being in the center of the room and more readily accessible to all of the students. It didn’t take long to figure out that placing students behind the teacher’s back was not a good idea. Many a teacher who tried this method found him or her self the object of mischief.  This design didn’t last too long.

Particularly in the colder states,  “cloak rooms” began to be added to one room school houses. A cloak room was just an inside wall. It’s primary purpose was to keep out as much cold air as possible when the door (or doors) were opened. However, the back of this wall was used to store coats, jackets, lunches, and  free time items used for recess periods or lunch breaks.

Cloak Room

Lunch Pail

lunch pail 2.

The cloak room also had the advantage of allowing the teacher to see exactly who was coming in to the school and who was leaving. A popular arrangement was to place the teacher’s desk in front of the cloak room wall. In this way the teacher knew the comings and goings of students and his or her back was protected. In the next image, note the doors on both ends of the cloak room wall. Boys and girls entered through separate doors.

Teacher's Desk

One room school houses in the US were in use roughly from the 1700’s to the present day.  The majority of one room school houses finally closed their doors as schools in the mid to late 1940’s. Some of the one room schools had been updated with modern lights and electricity. As communities began to grow and the populations grew, sometimes the one room school houses were partitioned off into separate rooms and often there was more than one teacher. In those areas that were growing rapidly, sometimes second stories were added to the buildings. Eventually multi-room schools were built and began to resemble the schools we know today.

Those of us who went to elementary schools built circa the 1940’s or 1950’s will remember cloak room hallways attached to our classrooms:

Cloakroom

These “modern cloak rooms” were actually a small hallway with hooks on each side. Boys used hooks on one side and girls used the opposite wall of hooks. Just like their predecessors, these cloakrooms also stored lunch and items used at recess or lunch periods. These cloakrooms were not only practical, they were also a nostalgic nod to the past.

School Lunch 3

Quakers (New Englanders) weren’t the only people to influence schooling and education. There were other middle and southern colonies. Since like people seemed to settle mostly together, there were other ideas pertaining to education. In Europe, elite education had long been established. The elite from the southern colonies sent their children overseas to be educated “back home” in England. Of those children who remained to be educated in the south, their educational model was based on England’s schools. The middle colonies were comprised of quite a diverse melting pot of people all seeking to pursue their own religious beliefs. The majority of these people became unified and learned to be tolerant of each other because they were primarily Protestants. Since the primary goal of the schools at this point was to teach people to read their Bibles, the educational system was eventually able to blend and meld towards common goals. There were some exceptions to this such as early groups of Jewish immigrants in Rhode Island and New York. In Maryland there was a Catholic settlement. However the majority of people in the New World labeled themselves as Protestant and the thirteen colonies considered themselves a “Protestant nation.”

Schools were segregated in the south. Black schools in the south were often run down structures, ill equipped with books and supplies. Often untrained teachers could only teach what they knew.

Black One Room School

If  blacks learned to read before there were black schools in the South,  it was likely because a white person taught them. It was extremely dangerous in some southern states for a black person to be literate. Unfortunately there was a prevailing attitude of extreme white supremacy and an era of slavery. Plantation owners feared a slave rebellion if blacks were educated.  After the  abolition of slavery, black schools were allowed but were often extremely overcrowded.

Overcrowded Black School

These horrendous conditions were tolerated at first because southern blacks were grateful to have any educational opportunities at all. Some black educators were happy to have whites stay out of their curriculum. However, the black schools were still at the mercy of white overseers.

Not everyone agreed with these conditions, however, and both blacks and whites worked towards a more equal system of education. In 1954 the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously  “that legally-sanctioned racial segregation in the public schools is a violation of the US Constitution’s promise of equal protection of the laws.” It was still several years until desegregation was fully enforced in all states.  However, this ruling by the Supreme Court forever changed education in the US and was a major victory celebrated by many blacks and whites alike. Unfortunately not everyone was happy about this turn of events. The need to fight discrimination on many fronts–including education–eventually led to the Civil Rights Movement.

As the various settlements grew, education was becoming compulsory. Most settlements were required to have an elementary school which taught basic subjects of reading, writing, religion, and colonial law. Girls were educated in these subjects until the ages of 10-12. Girls then often received additional lessons in sewing, weaving and other home arts. (Today we can see a similar model in the Amish community where girls are usually educated to the 8th grade and then receive instruction in sewing and home arts.)  Girls (usually from elite families who made sure to educate both their sons and their daughters) did have the option of going to a “Dame School.” Often this was a residential school taught by a widow. The widow would take in a number of children for a fee or something bartered and teach the girls fundamental skills. Wealthy families could hire private tutors to teach their children at home, while those families who were not wealthy may have made a contract  called an apprenticeship. Under this agreement a child (almost always a boy) would be an apprentice for a specified period of time and learn a trade from a skilled craftsman.

For those who were exceptional students, the colonies provided “schools of higher learning.”  In the earlier years of the colonies, these schools were almost always comprised of boys.  These schools were free to the poor, but were funded through tax payer money and were sometimes called English free schools. Just like in Europe, these schools often taught their material in the original language. For instance if the original source was in Latin, the subject would be completely taught in Latin. The same was true of subjects (like the Bible) that were originally written in Hebrew or Greek. These schools were also called “Latin grammar schools.”

Around the mid 1700’s, people began to complain that the grammar schools were outdated and needed to be modernized. Many did not think that the classic approach to education was beneficial to colonial life. In 1749 Benjamin Franklin wanted to add content subjects such as business, technology, sciences, mathematics, and other subjects that would be more practical to colonial life. Franklin thought the content should be chosen according to the vocation that a given student wanted to pursue. Franklin was ahead of his time though and was considered too “secular” in his thinking so the grammar schools continued for some time teaching core concepts in foreign languages and teaching the Bible.

Eventually other core subjects were added in to the school curriculum and more opportunities opened up for girls and women in higher education. One of the reasons that women began to be better educated was the growing demand for more teachers. At that time, most teachers were female although there were some men involved in education. My Grandma, Amy Wolcott Cramer, taught school in a one room school house in Iowa.

Below is a picture of Prill School built in 1876 and located right here in Fulton County, Indiana (approximately 15 minutes away from the Fulton County Public Library):

Prill School

Prill School has been preserved as a museum and sometimes local school children go there to learn about the past. I couldn’t find out for sure, but I believe this photo was taken just prior to the preservation work.

Inside Prill School

For those of you who like a ghost story, it is said that the Prill School area is haunted by a former teacher. In the picture above, a young woman plays the part of a school teacher named Sarah. To locals she is known as “Sister Sarah.” There are many Sister Sarah stories. Here is one from strangeusa.com:

Prill School is haunted by a woman named Sister Sarah. Some say if you go out there on the night of a full moon and you sit with your rearview mirror facing the tree in the yard, you will see her ghost next to or in the tree. Other people say that on a full moon if you leave a piece of paper with questions on it and come back the next day, there will be answers written on there to the questions that were asked. Sister Sarah was a teacher in the school when it was open. There are many stories to how and why she died and God knows which one is the truth. There are so many stories to if you go out there at night. [Sic]

This is but one of many stories. If you are interested in a few more stories, follow the link to Sister Sarah. Many local people still claim to have had bizarre experiences at Prill School including one of my coworkers. There are probably hundreds of Sister Sarah stories but not all Sister Sarah stories are related to Prill School. Some surround her home, grave, and area where she lived.

There are still many one room school houses in Indiana and indeed in the country; all of which are in various conditions of existence. I believe that some are still open and functioning as Amish schools. There are some one room schools in the US still operating as historical or specialized schools. Some of the old one room schools have been converted into private homes. Sadly many of these historical treasures sit in states of disrepair.

Amish School

Other books I checked out but don’t have time to comment on:

School Days

On the Same Track Schools That Do Too Much

Have you ever participated in a one room school reenactment? Are there any one room schools in your area? If so, what are they being used for? Where you aware that US schools were started with the express purpose of teaching people to read the Bible?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Educational Product

What's Education For

Most of us believe we need to provide our children with a quality education. However for every person you ask to define what “quality education” means, you would probably get a different answer.  We also need to be thinking ahead to what we want to happen at the end of the school years. Are we preparing students for factory and/or vocational jobs? Are we preparing students to further their studies in colleges and universities? Do we want to ensure that students become life long learners or are we just happy with producing cookie cutter copies of graduates who were all educated exactly alike? These are just some of the many things that educators and parents need to consider. What is an acceptable educational product? Though there aren’t any easy answers to these questions (and many others), it is important to consider educational options based on what parents and students want as the desired outcome of the educational experience.

Once we determine what is a desirable educational product in our students, we must then consider how we approach learning and teaching to achieve that outcome. There are many possibilities in the United States. Many different methods have been tried in the US and many are still an option. To explore these options, I checked out the following books all with alternative ideas to standard educational approaches.
Reskilling America

In Reskilling America: Learning to Labor in the Twenty-First Century by Katherine S. Newman and Hella Winston the authors believe that a more vocational education is what America’s graduates need. They believe that high schools should not be pushing every student towards college classes. They believe instead that when students graduate high school that they should already have employable job skills and be able to enter the labor force immediately.

The School Revolution

In The School Revolution, Ron Paul advocates for homeschooling. In some developed countries (Germany for example) it is illegal to home school your children. The US allows for all sorts of differing educational experiences–including many forms of homeschooling. Ron Paul believes that parents should be educating their own children at home. As a former teacher I can see pros and cons to this approach. As a Christian parent, and especially in recent years, I can definitely see the appeal of this approach. (Hopefully I will be commenting more in depth on this topic in a later post.)

Secret Societies 004

In The BIG Picture: Education is Everyone’s Business by Dennis Littky with Samantha Grabelle, the author believes that the traditional school model (a student leaves home to go to a school building) is workable, however he believes that the educational model of traditional schools needs some serious overhauling. Of all of these books, this is the one that really resonated with me. We’ve all heard that schools teach the “three R’s: Reading, (W)Riting, and (A)Rithmatic.” The approach modeled in this book is based on a lot of collaboration with school, home, the students, and the community.  This educational approach still has three R’s although they differ from the traditional ones. In this case the three R’s stand for Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor.  There is heavy emphasis in this approach to build a culture of trust and respect. Kids will be respectful and open to learning if they are themselves treated with respect. Producing students who want to learn and will become life long learners is one of the core goals of this sort of approach.  There is so much good information in this book that I could never fit into one post so I will encourage those who are interested in it to read it for themselves. If you are a parent or teacher and want the best for your student(s), I highly recommend this book. The book itself has put all the big ideas into boldface print so you could even skim read it and still come out with a great understanding. I really did love this book and the ideas are not that hard to carry out, but it does require educators, parents, and students to all be on the same page in the educational process. When I was in school learning how to be a teacher, this is also how I was taught and how I was taught to teach. I cannot say enough good about this book.

Did you have a teacher who treated you with respect? Do you lean towards a particular educational model? What is your idea of a perfect educational product?

 

370 Education

Education

After spending over a year exploring the 360’s (Social Problems & Social Services), I am finally ready to move on to the 370’s, Education. Education is a constantly changing field with many subtopics. Being a former teacher myself I am excited to see what the Fulton County Public Library has to offer in this category.

All of us would probably agree that a good quality education is important. Most of us would agree that our educational system is not perfect and can always be improved. Some of the first books I encountered in this section do indeed have an emphasis on improving what happens in the classroom. In theory parents, teachers, and students should all be working together to get the most out of our educational system. With limited resources and funding, America’s teachers have to be creative and that is exactly what I found to be true in I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids by Kyle Schwartz.

I Wish My Teacher Knew

Ms. Schwartz is an elementary school teacher who emphasizes building relationships with students and their families. She believes this helps bridge the gap between school and home as well as establish trust between teachers, students, classmates, and parents. As a first year teacher Ms. Schwartz explained to her class that she wanted to get to know them better. She had the simple idea to use a sentence starter, “I wish my teacher knew…” and have her students finish it. The wide range of answers that students came up with totally astounded Kyle Schwatz and she has used this idea in her classroom ever since. She also shared the idea on social media and it went viral as other teachers across the country picked up on it. This simple idea has helped teachers across the country be able to connect better with their students, adjust lessons to fit individual needs, combat hunger and poverty as well as many other tough topics. If you are a teacher or if you teach informally in any capacity, I suggest that you read this book.

When I was teaching, I did something similar in my classrooms. All of my students kept a journal. They could write what ever they wanted to in their journals. This was an ungraded communication between me and my students. When my students entered my room the first thing they did was get their journals out of the journal basket and write in them. Often the students wrote notes to me which I answered every day.  My students thought it was cool to be passing notes with the teacher. Like Ms. Schwartz’s  students, my students brought up all sorts of topics. The only journal rules were that there were to be no bad words (most of my students were middle schoolers) and that they had to write at least one sentence everyday. The majority of my students wrote much more than one sentence. This gave purpose to their writing and they didn’t feel intimidated because they were not graded (although I did correct their spelling). This also gave me the opportunity to interact privately each day with every student I had. Often problems were solved this way. Sometimes students made suggestions and other times they just wanted to tell me that their cat had kittens. The students felt “heard.” At other times I could simply let an individual student know what I appreciated about him or her.

Equally as important as the idea of students communicating with teachers is the need for teachers to communicate with parents. The next book is similar to the previous one except that in this book the emphasis is on teachers wishing parents knew various things.

What America's Teachers Wish Parents Knew

Though this is an older book, I still think it is beneficial for parents to read it. Much of the information in this book is still very relevant. Successful students usually have cooperating adults in their lives.  I recommend this book for parents of school aged children.

I wish I could say that there is a third book about what parents wish teachers knew, but I could find no such book. (For all of you authors out there, here is another topic wide open for you). I searched the Fulton County Public Library for such a book and could not find one. Then I broadened my search to Evergreen (our statewide library consortium) and could not locate this type of book there either. I’m sure that we have books encouraging parents to communicate with teachers but not a simplified one like the previous two books.

Did you have teachers who communicated with you in writing? If you were a teacher how did you communicate individually with your students? Thinking about your favorite teachers, was their communication style something that sticks out in your mind?

Boy Scouts

Boy Scout Pledge

The Boy Scouts first began in Great Britain when army officer Robert Braden-Powell discovered that his book, Aids for Scouts, was being purchased and read by young boys interested in information about outdoor living, observation, and skills needed by army scouts. Though Braden-Powell intended his book to be a military manual, it soon was being adapted. Recognizing that his book could help teach boys life skills and values along with competence, Robert Braden-Powell  soon adapted his work into Scouting for Boys. First published in 1908 Scouting for Boys sold millions of copies and the scouting movement was officially born. Robert Braden-Powell became the founder of the Boy Scouts.

Scout Stuff

The first 100 years of the early Boy Scouts (and to a small degree the Girl Scouts) is outlined in Boy Scouts of America Scout Stuff: A Centennial History of Scouting Memrabilia by Robert Birkby. This is an adult picture book with very interesting pictures and facts about the Boy Scouts. Many facts shared in this post come from this book.

Another Englishman, Ernest Thompson Seten,  lived in Canada and had a similar idea to that of Robert Braden-Powell. Seten was an avid outdoorsman who encouraged boys to experience the great outdoors and develop skills for outdoor living. Seten called his organization Woodcraft Indians. Eight years after founding the Woodcraft Indians, Seten was invited to fold his organization into the Boy Scouts and Seten himself became the first Chief Scout. Seten was the primary author of the Boy Scout Handbook. Largely due to Seten’s efforts, the Boy Scouts core values and ethics were formed.

Seven years after the birth of the Boy Scouts in England, an American businessman, William D. Boyce,  was lost in London during a fog. An English Scout noticed the businessman’s plight and guided him to his destination. Boyce was so impressed with the young man and the idea of Scouting that he brought the idea back with him to America and formed the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). It was easy enough for city boys to join the Boy Scouts of America but Boyce was concerned that boys who lived on farms and ranches were not being reached. Boyce founded a separate organization called the Lone Scouts of America (LSA). The literature for LSA was a sort of independent study that Lone Scouts used to guide themselves in order to advance and were sometimes able to meet up with other Lone Scouts for activities.

BSALSAlstoday

Another adult picture book also celebrates the Boy Scout Centennial History with fascinating pictures, stories, and facts:

Boy Scouts of America

Other books I checked out were:

The Official Handbook for Boys

Legacy of Honor

In addition to reading about the Boy Scouts, I live with an expert on them. That’s right. I married a Boy Scout. The Mister also worked for the Boy Scouts and did fund raising for them. The plaque on the left was awarded to The Mister’s district for his leadership in fund raising.

Boy Scouts 005

There is Boy Scout memorabilia all over my house.  The Mister was quite excited when he found out that I would be writing about the Boy Scouts and wanted to show off a few items in his collection. The Mister missed being an Eagle Scout by just three badges. His troop disbanded when he was three badges short. He could have been a Lone Scout to earn the last three badges, but he says his parents didn’t push him to pursue them and he was not motivated enough at that point in time to pursue them himself which is something he regrets. Here are some of his badges and other symbols:

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There is also a lot of art work associated with Scouting:

Boy Scouts 001

Because I could never possibly get all the items in the Mister’s collection in just one blog post, he requested to do a Boy Scout display at the Fulton County Public Library to show off some more of his collection.

Since the Dewey Hop blog explores library resources and services as well as items available for check out, this is as good of time as any to introduce another resource – our patrons themselves.  Any patron of the Fulton County Public Library can display things in a display case just by getting on the schedule. Below are a couple of displays relating to seashells and things collected during WWII:

Ship Display

Jewelry 1

Also currently on display are these display cases to honor veterans which were done cooperatively with the Mister and several staff members:

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Veteran's Day Display 2017 002

This is a close up shot of a picture of my Dad back in the day and his medals:

Stanley Cramer, Sr and medals

Unfortunately I couldn’t find more display photos but Fulton County Public Library patrons have created many displays to showcase personal collections, hobbies, and causes. Some of the displays that I remember were displays of items made from toothpicks, homemade dolls, and model ships.

Here is the Boy Scout display currently on view along with a few close ups:

Boy Scout Display Case

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Were you ever a Boy (or Girl) Scout? Do you collect anything you would like to see displayed? Have you ever presented a display?

 

Secret Societies

Secret Society

Secret societies are difficult to write about since they are, afterall, secret. Many things that are known are repeated in the literature–not that a lot of that exists since it is often secret also.  Having said that, it is amazing the amount of literature that is available about secret societies. The first three books about Secret Societies that I checked out contained much of the same information.  Here are the first three books I perused:

Secret Societies Sylvia Brown

 

Secret Societies A History Arkon Daraul

 

The Hidden World of Secret Societies Behind Closed Doors LIFE

Many secret societies began in secret because of beliefs that differed from the mainstream culture. Had certain groups stated publicly what they believed, the members would have likely been killed by their king or other leaders. Being secretive was about self preservation. This was particularly true of groups with occultic connections. Not all secret societies had occultic connections. For example early Christians were considered a dangerous sect by both the Jews and the Romans. This forced many churches literally underground. Many secret societies have origins dating back to ancient Egypt and some claim to date back much further.

In Secret Societies: and How They Affect Our Lives Today, Sylvia Browne divides these groups into the broad categories of political societies, religious societies, and the dark side of secrecy. Browne also says that secret societies have the following in common:

The Oath of Secrecy: Sometimes under penalty of death or excommunication, members not only pledge to keep all the secrets within the society, but often vow to give away money or other personal possessions.

The Oath Against Division: Members promise not to deviate from the group’s teachings or start their own organization based upon the one to which they’ve given the oath. They also vow to always work for the betterment of the society and not for themselves.

The Oath of Absolute Obedience: Members pledge to absolutely obey the rules and order of the society. They must also pay homage to their headmaster or founder and often (but not always) follow the laws of the land.

The Oath of Honesty: Members swear that they’ll never tell a lie about anyone in the society or about the organization, and they promise to live within the group with honesty and forthrightness.

The Oath of Support: Members vow to give support – morally, spiritually, or even financially – to the society. This can even extend to reporting insidious conduct that would bring harm to associates.

(pp 6-7)

In Secret Societies A History, Arkon Daraul discusses numerous secret societies from all over the world. The author attempts to explore the beginnings of each group. The author also points out that many of these groups are suspicious of others. According to Daraul some Arabs are suspicious of Jews who they consider to be a suspicious and dangerous secret society bent on taking over the world. The author also believes that Freemasons and Catholics eye each other with similar suspicions. In short, it’s about perspective.

The Hidden World of Secret Societies: An Illustrated History of the Most Mysterious Organizations published by Life Books is a fascinating adult picture book with interesting comments on several known secret societies.

The best known secret societies are: The Illuminati, The Freemasons, The Bohemian Grove, The Opus Dei, The Ku Klux Klan, The Black Hand, The Knights Templar, The Bilderberg Group, The Anunnaki, and Anonymous. For a brief description of each of these groups, follow this link:  Ten Secret Societies.

In Sacred Secrets: Freemasonry, the Bible, and the Christian Faith by Mike Neville the author attempts to explain many of the Freemasonry practices and rituals. Being Christian myself, I was rather fascinated with this book. The little that I know about Freemasonry is not compatible with my beliefs. There are some professing Christians who are also Freemasons and I’ve always wondered how they reconciled the two belief systems. In addition I’ve always wondered about the Freemasons and the Bible.

Sacred Secrets

Of all the groups that I read about, Freemasons are probably the least secretive group. A Freemason is allowed to tell anyone that he is a Freemason. In addition, a Freemason may tell you what degree Mason he is and may even tell you about some lodge meetings. Of the known Freemasons that I’ve met, most appear to be good people. One thing I have learned though is that in Freemasonry nothing seems to be what it appears to be. I am not insinuating that all Freemasons are bad people. I mean quite the opposite, actually. I think very good people get involved in Freemasonry and perhaps not all of them are fully aware of hidden agendas which may not be revealed unless they go further into the organization. I base this idea on the fact that I have known of Freemasons who tried to get out of the organization and met with or feared a lot of oppression and even violence.

Bearing in mind that I’m writing about a secretive group I can not guarantee 100% accuracy in my information. However, from many things I’ve read and watched in documentaries, You Tube, etc. I’ve attempted to assimilate information for this post.

Freemasonry dates back at least to ancient Egypt and some think that it even predates that time period, possibly to creation. Some believe that the aprons worn by Masons are symbolic of a fig leaf worn by Adam after he (and his wife, Eve) ate forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, Freemasons may talk about the Tree of Life and The Knowledge of Good and Evil. Some gather from this that there is “secret (and/or evil) knowledge” which may or may not have connections to the occult.

Freemasons use a King James Bible in their rituals. Masons do not accept the inerrancy of the Bible nor do they think it is a reliable historical document. Of the rituals I’ve come across there are 18 that any Mason may choose to complete. There are also 4 special titles or degrees which only Christians can pursue. Each ritual is associated with Bible stories, characters, or the most important building to a Mason, Solomon’s Temple.

Indeed the buildings that the Freemasons meet in seem to be modeled after Solomon’s Temple in dimension and arrangement of the interior. Though the more modern verbiage seems to be to call their buildings a “lodge” most were built being called a Temple. One can still hear some of the buildings being called Masonic Temples.

This is the Masonic Temple (or Lodge) in Rochester, Indiana.

Masonic Temple Rochester

The front entrance of this building calls itself a “Masonic Lodge.” However on concrete slabs embedded in the building, it is called a “Masonic Temple.”

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Masonic Things 011

Since we are talking about the actual buildings, here is one last image of the building in Rochester, Indiana.  Note that where windows should be, they are bricked up. All Masonic Temples, or lodges, either do not have windows or they are completely covered. No outside light is allowed inside the building with the possible exception of near the front door(s) where there may be a small vestibule. However, in the building proper there will be no outside light. Masonic Things 012

As far as I can tell there are three titles or degrees made up of various rituals (all associated with the Bible). Within each title or degree is a course of study. All Masons enter the Craft as Third Degree (Craft) Masons. As a Third Degree Mason a member, or brother, may choose to do nothing else and remain a Third Degree Mason or he may choose to further his study and move up in the organization.

Within each title or degree are 33 (a significant number) steps with 33 being the highest number to be achieved. Therefore it is possible to be a 33rd Degree Mason in one degree but not another. High status in one degree does not transfer to other degrees. If a Mason would want to be a 33rd degree across the board he would have to complete all of the necessary study for each title or degree.

Additionally there appear to be some blood curdling oaths taken with many (if not all) of the degrees. These oaths are mostly secret but basically seem to be the Mason saying, “May all of  <these terrible things> happen to me if I break my oath or reveal secrets” (highly and liberally paraphrased).

Structure of Masonry

Being Christian is not a prerequisite for being a Mason. Most modern day Masons are not Christian. Not long after the King James Bible was printed on the printing press it was adopted by the Masons for ritualistic use. Up until the 11th century Freemasonry was more “Christianized.” In the 11th century the Masons attempted to “deChristianize” in order to attract a broader range of people. The word “God” was changed to “Supreme Being” among other similar such changes. To become a Mason one has to believe in a Supreme Being of some sort. This appears to be a central idea since Freemasons will often refer to the “Grand Architect of the Universe.”  Masons are builders and their logo shows the tools of the trade, or Craft.  The lodge, or temple,  will feature an open King James Bible with a compass and a builder’s square laid on top of it.

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Approximately 2 years ago, a Masonic Bible was donated to the Fulton County Public Library.

Masonic Bible Donation

It is in a display case in the Indiana Room. It is currently opened to a two page illustration of David and Goliath. Masonic Bible 2

Underneath it is Masonic literature that speaks of shaping the world.

Masonic David and Goliath

Because Masons were craftsmen and free to wander around seeking work  it wasn’t long until the word “free” became associated with “mason” and “masonry” giving us the compound words “Freemason” and “Freemasonry.”

freemasonswiki

In the image above, we see the all seeing eye, a compass, a builder’s square, and the letter G. The letter G seems to be somewhat of a mystery. Some think it refers to the Grand Architect of the Universe. It may or may not be a reference to God or the “Sun god.” In Freemasonry, there is a lot of talk about the sun and the moon. The sun is the “greater light” to rule the day and the moon is the “lesser light” to rule the night.  This wording is taken directly from the book of Genesis. In a lot of Masonic art you will see the G on an image of the sun or a sun disc so it could also be marking the “Greater light.” There is also speculation (and I tend to agree with this) that the letter G changes meanings for the various degrees the Mason has completed. Whatever the meaning of the letter G, it is often seen in artwork associated with Freemasonry.

washington_freemason

The artwork above is loaded with meaningful Masonic imagery. Nothing is unimportant. Unfortunately one blog post won’t allow me to comment on this painting in depth. Imagery seen here is repeated in multiple architectural sites throughout the world. Many of our government buildings in the US are loaded with Masonic imagery.

At the courthouse in Rochester, Indiana there is an embedded concrete slab placed there by the Freemasons. You can make out the date 1895 at the top in a triangle. (Triangles have significance to Freemasons.) Underneath is a slab with Masonic information. The information on the slab is legible if you were actually standing there, but the photo isn’t great since I was aiming the camera way above my head. It was difficult for me to get everything in view. Due to the lighting I couldn’t see where I was aiming. I did however want to make sure I got the 1895 date shown.

Masonic Things 006

Exactly 100 years later, the Freemasons left a centennial and rededication cube. (Cubes are also very important to Freemasons.) It is located at the same corner as the original stone slab. This stone is engraved on three (another significant number) sides.

Masonic Things 002

Masonic Things 001

Masonic Things 003

Look around any building or organization pertaining to government and you will find evidence of Freemason involvement. Many things I read suggested that the ultimate goal of Freemasonry is to control the world through government and commerce. Some have even suggested that Freemasonry will lead to the One World Order predicted in the book of Revelation.

Several US Presidents and other political and religious figures are associated with Freemasonry and were sworn in on Masonic Bibles.  Some of the Presidents are pictured below.

Freemason Presidents

Freemasonry has influenced almost every area of life. There are ciphers which the brothers learn to decode messages at times. Some “messages” are encoded in architecture, music, art, literature, money, etc. Geometry and numerology is of extreme importance to the craft. Since one blog post won’t allow me to go in to all of this about “hidden knowledge,” I will encourage those interested to follow my link (you will need to scroll down for the video) about secrets in plain site for an in depth explanation. The You Tube presentation is very long and about the first third of it is laying ground work important to understanding symbolism for the rest of the presentation. Secrets in Plain Site. If you stick with it, you will uncover some very little known information. This presentation will cover topics I can’t fit in in one post.

In the DVD series, Cities of the Underworld secret societies are sometimes discussed. Among them in season one are the Christians, Cult of the Dead, Freemasons, and Mithraism. If you have an interest in preserved ancient history, this is must see viewing. If you are a Christian, you will absolutely want to watch this episode (Secret Pagan Underground) in which the first ever Christian monastery, Christian school, and Christian cathedral like structure has just been discovered. You will also learn the extent that Christians went to to protect themselves (and thus the Gospel). Also, if you are interested in the Freemasons you will want to watch the episode specifically about them. Information is revealed linking Freemasons to the Underground Railroad among other things. I found both episodes fascinating.

cities of the underworld

Is there a Masonic Lodge near where you live? Have you noticed Masonic symbols in public (particularly governmental) buildings? Where you aware that the Christian underground world was so extensive?

Addendum to Secret Societies:

N.G. Secret Societies 1

Although I had no way of knowing this would happen, almost the same day that Secret Societies posted on Dewey Hop, National Geographic released a special edition paperback book about Secret Societies. I have skimmed through this book (and intend to read it) but wanted to let everyone know that if you are interested in this topic, you really should take a look at this book. It has many different secret societies in it and has several pages in it about the Freemasons.

Also at the same time the library added this DVD which you may want to check out.

Knights Templar

 

Prisons

Prison

No Criminology section of a library would be complete without also taking a look at prisons designed to keep  bad guys (or bad girls) off the streets.  Prisons have varying levels of security depending on the nature of crimes committed. Most of us are aware that our penal system is flawed.  In Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman,  the author comments on her experiences and observations during her year of incarceration in a women’s prison.

Orange_Is_the_New_Black_book_cover

Kerman comments on the system being punitive and not rehabilitative. There is a sort of economy system and culture within the walls of the prison, neither of which do anything to prepare offenders to reenter society and thus contributes to the recidivism rate. Often relatives such as sisters or mothers / daughters spend much of their lives in and out of prison. The author comments on the generational aspects of incarcerated families. It’s what they know.

Although this isn’t typically the type of book I would just pick up and read, I did find it interesting to read about what a woman’s prison is like from an insider’s perspective. Also interesting is the way in which Kerman describes her fellow inmates as people just trying to maintain some human dignity in the face of an uncaring and punitive system. One thing the author makes crystal clear is the need for more rehabilitative and educational programming on the inside.

There is a DVD series Orange is the New Black.

DVD Orange is the New Black

This series was originally created in 2013 and streamed by Netflix users and is now available to the public as a DVD series with several seasons.

The next book I came to in my read through of the Fulton County Public Library  is The Punishment Imperative by Todd R. Clear and Natasha A. Frost.

The Punishment Imperative

This book basically echoes Piper Kerman’s ideas that our penal system is in need of some major and rehabilitative changes. Where Kerman’s book reads easily and delivers ideas in an engaging and entertaining fashion, this book reads like a college term paper and throws a lot of facts at the reader without necessarily engaging the reader. The thesis of the book is located on p.16 and reads:

This book is about an American idea that took root in the 1970’s, rose to dominate discourse and practice through the 1980’s and 1990’s and has, as we enter the second decade of the new century, shows distinct signs of having run its course.

The rest of the paragraph goes on to explain that the authors regard our current penal system as a “grand social experiment in punishment.” The rest of the book discusses the consequences of our current system and attempts to explain the high rate of recidivism.

Perhaps of more interest to me was the next book Prison Profiles by Mary Knochel, Ph.D. and Rafael Ramirez, J.D.  These authors are fellow Hoosiers writing about different types of incarceration in my home state of Indiana.

Prison Profiles

I found this book highly informative and interesting. This book follows fictional characters through the Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC) beginning from the time they arrive in the sally-port of the DOC. All of the characters are actually composites of  male inmates with actual details of their crimes and incarcerations. One character, Clarence Speakman, is totally fictional but is used to describe the role a Classification Specialist within the Department of Corrections. Classification Specialists are the only DOC employees who actually interact with both prisoners and paperwork. All other employees of the DOC deal only with prisoners or paperwork.

The men arriving in the sally-port are all wearing jeans and T-shirts. Each has a brown paper bag containing personal possessions. They are all in full restraints which consist of handcuffs, leg shackles, and waist chains. The list of prisoners on the transport is compared to the abstract of judgement which is paperwork that confirms that these prisoners are supposed to be arriving at the Reception and Diagnostic Center.Once confirmation has occurred, the men are allowed to exit the transport. Once the men enter the building their paper bags are collected by an officer who begins to catalog each bag’s contents and label who the items belong to. At this time, the officer also decides what is contraband and must be mailed to a relative and what the prisoner is allowed to keep. Shortly after the prisoners arrival, a second van arrives which contains boxes of paperwork. The prisoner’s “packet” of paperwork will follow each man throughout his stay in the DOC. From this moment onward, the goal at the Reception and Diagnostic Center is to decide where and how each prisoner will do time.  This procedure is called the classification process and takes anywhere from 30-45 days to complete. Once the classification process begins the prisoners are considered to officially be in the custody of the DOC.  Although there are more than 20 prisons for men in Indiana, every man begins his journey through the system at the Reception and Diagnostic Center in Plainfield, Indiana. The only exception to going to the Reception and Diagnostic Center is if an inmate has been sentenced to death. In that case, he is taken directly to death row (also called x-row)  at the Indiana State Prison.

Reception and Diagnostic Center Reception and Diagnostic Center 2

 

 

 

 

Every man entering the Indiana DOC does so naked with fellow new arrivals. They are taken to a “strip area” and told to strip.  After stripping they are then strip searched and showered. At this point each man is given a towel to wrap around himself while he waits for his turn to be “de-loused.”  The men work in pairs and spray each other with a fumigant before finally being issued prison clothing. At the Reception and Diagnostic center inmates wear tan t-shirts, undewear, blue scrub pants, socks, and sandals.

The next step is a quick medical evaluation by a nurse where standard vitals are gathered: height, weight, and blood pressure. Inmates are questioned about medications in an effort to avoid missing scheduled dosages of any prescribed meds they may take. Those inmates who are in good health will be seen by a doctor within 48 hours. Inmates with more serious issues will be seen sooner than 48 hours.

After their medical intake, inmates are sent to an inmate barber. The new arrivals have 2 style choices: above the collar and above the ears or a burr.  With haircuts done, it’s on to fingerprinting and being photographed for the official prison ID. At this point, inmates are given back their paper bags with any possessions they are allowed to keep during their incarceration. Any items deemed to be contraband will be mailed to the inmate’s relatives. If an inmate has $30 or more in his prison account, the inmate will have to pay the postage to mail the item(s) to relatives. If the inmate does not have $30 in his account, the DOC will pay this expense.

Once the entire group of incoming prisoners has completed all of the above steps they are taken to a Count Officer to be assigned a bunk in the Admitting and Orientation Section (A&O). Elderly and sickly patients are assigned to bottom bunks but all other bunk assignments are random depending on where there is an available bed. There are a few permanent residents of this section. They are prisoners with medical conditions requiring daily dialysis. These prisoners are housed here to facilitate treatment. Permanent residents of this section have cardboard boxes for their possessions and temporary residents keep their paper bags.

Prisoners are escorted between their temporary cells and the dining hall for meals. After dinner on the arrival day inmates are required to attend an orientation class where they will be told about procedures and will be given a rule book. When finished with the orientation the prisoners are transferred to a pod where they will remain for the rest of their stay at the Reception and Diagnostic Center.

At this point the classification process begins in earnest. Inmates days will now be filled with medical, dental, and psychological examinations. If an inmate is illiterate, he will be administered an oral Beta IQ test. Only those offenders with low literacy skills have their IQ tested routinely by the RDC staff.  Some inmates may have taken an IQ test during the Pre-Sentencing Investigation (PSI). Prisoners may refuse to undergo any type of testing although most do not refuse since it gives them something to do. Once tested, certain personality profiles indicate the need for psychological interviews. All inmates who reveal tendencies toward substance abuse, sexual deviance, or violent behavior will be seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

immate testing

All inmates will be seen by a Classification Specialist. The Classification Specialists use a point system that will determine what an individual inmate’s security level will be and where they will be housed during the incarceration. Points are assigned based upon such things as the severity of the current offense, severity of any prior convictions, bodily injury in prior convictions, and parole violations. There are 5 Security Levels which are earned by having a score as follows:

0-9 Level One – Facilities have a defined boundary but no fences, open dorms, and minimal staff supervision.

10-17 Level Two– Facilities have single or double fences with single razor ribbon, some towers, single housing or multiple dorms, direct and indirect staff observation

18-22 Level Three-Facilities have a single fence with double razor ribbons or double fences with single razor ribbons, manned towers and/or perimeter detection devices, secure single housing and/or multiple dorms, and close staff observation

23-37 Level Four-Facilities have walls or double fences with razor ribbon, many manned towers, perimeter detection devices, and constant direct staff supervision

Level Five– No inmate in Indiana is ever sent directly to this level. This level is popularly called Super Max and is reserved for inmates who commit offenses within the prison system.

Once an inmate is scored in this way, behavioral considerations are taken into account and may change the score. For instance if the prisoner has been involved with drugs and alcohol in an illegal manner he may score another 5 points. Other things are also taken into consideration such as if there were infractions or escape attempts during a previous incarceration. The Classification Specialist may then make certain recommendations. For instance if the offense(s) are alcohol related it may be recommended that the inmate should complete a rehabilitation program before becoming eligible for work release programs. Medical needs and educational levels of each inmate are also reviewed before assigning an inmate to a particular prison.

The remainder of the book follows the six inmates through their prison assignments and describes how their environments and experiences may vary for each. Pursuit of educational programs, work and work release programs, recreational activities, and whether or not they took advantage of things like drug and alcohol rehabilitation opportunities.

In addition to all of the above things, this book also describes the history of the prison system in Indiana and comments in depth about the way in which the Indiana DOC has always stressed rehabilitation over punishment. This book is an older book and some of our current prisons were actually being built at the time it was written. Overcrowding wasn’t such an issue at the time of this book. The idea of the Reception and Diagnostic Center is to find out the needs of the inmates and then assign them to the facility best suited to deal with the need. For instance young offenders may need to complete high school. They may be sent to the Plainfield facility where there is an actual high school for the inmates. Some inmates may possess skills such as carpentry and may be sent to a facility where they will be able to work making furniture–which is then sold in the community. As much as possible all inmates will still be able to achieve educational goals and be productive members of society even behind bars. This is part of the rehabilitative mind set in Indiana. Even prisoners need to feel useful. As much as possible it is stressed that inmates can still positively contribute to society. For instance inmates can participate in the Locks of Love program.

Unfortunately prison conditions have changed. Overcrowding has many drawbacks. While prisoners may be recommended for certain facilities, placement ultimately now comes down to the luck of the draw and where there is an available bed with that inmate’s security level. Some other factors may affect a prisoner’s placement as well. For instance if there are known gang rivalries or “separatees” (a person or persons who it would be dangerous for a given inmate to be around) an inmate may be assigned to an other than first choice placement.

Do you believe prisons should be more punitive than rehabilitative? Do you know anyone currently in prison? Do you have recommendations to improve the system?

 

 

 

 

 

Future Crimes & Rogue Justice

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In 2002 Tom Cruise starred in the movie Minority Report, a Stephen Spielberg directed film.

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Minority Report is a futuristic tale based on a Phillip Dick story with the same title. The plot is about crime fighting in the year 2052. More specifically,  fighting crime in 2052 seeks to prevent crimes before they happen. Cruise’s character is the head of the Precrime Unit and is himself accused of a future crime. The Precrime Unit is connected to “precogs” who have psychic ability and are a component of the actual computer system.  Crime details are reported and the Precrime Unit goes to arrest the accused, thereby preventing the crime. This movie raises important ethical questions such as: Is a person guilty of a crime they haven’t yet committed? If the future is known but can be changed, where does a person’s freewill  fit into a predetermined outcome?

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In Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman the author explains everyone’s vulnerability through all of our interconnected devices. Many (though not all) of these future crimes deal with Identity Theft. Goodman discusses crimes such as murder that can be committed remotely. For instance, sending a lethal jolt of electricity through a pacemaker could kill. More and more our reliance on technology and the way those technologies rely on each other makes all of us vulnerable to new and appalling crimes.

Criminals have proven time and again that they are early adopters of technology. This proves to be challenging for law enforcement agencies who tend not to be first adopters. Criminals have created a significant gap between themselves and law enforcement officials. Only in recent years have the “good guys” realized that they need to narrow the gap, but at what cost? Is privacy a thing of the past? Technology is a two edged sword.

If you think that a world similar to the 2052 Precrime Unit is only fiction and will never happen, think again. It’s already here.  Though the details and technology may be somewhat different than the movie depictions of these events, predicting crimes before they happen is happening today in China. Predict Crimes Before They Happen. People are tracked by surveillance and more or less assigned points based on their activities. The higher one’s points the more suspicious one is considered. For instance if you shop for kitchen utensils (such as knives) and later shop for tools (Such as a hammer or an axe) you might be considered suspicious. Similarly patterns of behavior are tracked to determine if one is a thief or other type of criminal. Needless to say this raises all sorts of ethical questions about everything from privacy to when law enforcement should intervene. Is this sort of surveillance profiling even legal or moral? The questions are endless.

This type of Precrime activity has been in the US since at least 2010. In Indiana when you get your driver’s license picture taken, you have to pose for a facial recognition photo. You are not allowed to smile, there can be no bangs on your forehead, and you must remove your glasses. These are just some of the facial recognition points that are used by facial recognition software.

Facial Net

The next image is information released by Homeland Security.

FAST Vision

Those “non-intrusive sensors” and “prototype system” could look like this:

FB Facial Recognition

Crowd Face Nets

facere

You are on camera almost everywhere you go. Any time you are in public (and sometimes even when you aren’t such as when you are on the internet at home) information is being gathered about you. Your shopping habits, work habits, daily schedule, etc. is all being tracked. This kind of technology can be used for very good purposes or for very bad purposes.

 

Rogue Justice

In Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State,  Karen Greenberg talks about how our  American liberties have been compromised and our laws weakened in the aftermath of 9/11 and the War on Terror. Spying on American citizens by our own government has become commonplace. Situations such as illegal and indefinite detentions have become the norm in certain situations and the use of torture by some government entities is either condoned or completely ignored all in the name of national security. Greenberg, who is a top expert on Guantanomo, torture, and terrorism makes the point that justice suffers when our reported beliefs about liberty clash with matters of national security. This is a book that will make the reader think and question some of our currently accepted protocols.

Where you aware that facial recognition is already being used to track you and your movements? Do you see other parallels between the Precrime Unit in 2052 and our current world?