Archive for the 'Who Cares?' Category

23
May
14

this week’s ridiculousness

“Toni Braxton Says God Gave Her Son Autism Because She Got an Abortion”

Yeah, that seems fair.

 

“Teacher Fired For Getting Dating Advice From Her Fourth Grade Class”

Best comment ever: OMG She was just crowdsourcing.

 

 

 

ugh,again

First: Which one of these is supposedly “ugly”?

Second: Stop. Just, stop.

13
Nov
12

dumb as a . . . of . . . .?

Husband sent the link to this article to me today because we have been discussing over the past few days whether Petraeus should have resigned or not.

I say that the author might be kind of almost maybe sort of just by a hair missing the point.

I agree that there are some indications that the two “culprits,” Mr. Petraeus and his paramour, Ms. Broadwell, are not, shall we say, the sharpest knives in the drawer.

BUT, no security was breached, no CIA secrets stolen. Mr. P. sent his lascivious emails to Ms. Broadwell from a non-CIA account, and Ms. B. sent emails to Mr. P from an account shared by her husband. But HE had no reason to believe that his non-CIA account would be investigated, and, clearly, Ms. B. had no concerns that her husband would wile away empty hours scrolling through the “Sent” folder. Do any of you ever look in your Sent folder?

Here. Give me a sec.

Yup. Just as I thought. 8708 messages in the sent folder, the most distant from 2009, which is when I bought this laptop. Haven’t looked at 8703 of them since I sent them.

Ms. B’s husband wasn’t the person who caught on to the affair — the FBI was, because Ms. B was so caught up in the weird and untenable position she found herself in that she was jealous of another woman and thought it was a good idea to threaten her in a way that would be absolutely traceable and serve easily as evidence against her.

So yes, kind of stupid. Is it also ironic? Maybe not. First Son claims I attribute irony to coincidence too often, but I do believe that irony includes when one act, taken in the hope of a particular result, results in the opposite.

Anyway. The author points out that Clinton did the right thing by lying through his teeth, and that Patraeus should have followed suit.

I disagree.

Clinton shouldn’t have lied, Broadwell shouldn’t have exposed her own vulnerable position by sending threatening emails, and Patraeus shouldn’t have resigned over some over-developed Puritanical sense of guilt.

IMHO, of course.

 

15
Jun
11

stupid art

Except I don’t see “themes of the human condition, humor, warmth or poignancy”. To me it’s just stupid. And ugly. Stupid and ugly.

I can kind of talk myself into “getting” this one,

if it’s only supposed to represent a “hedgehog in blankets.” But for some inexplicable reason it seems to be part of an exhibition entitled “Disagreeable People.” So is the hedgehog hiding from disagreeable people? or is the hedgehog supposed to represent “people” who are disagreeable, and who should therefore do society the service of hiding themselves from sight and the need for the rest of us to interact with them?

And what’s this supposed to be/mean? Must be some kind of shortcoming on my part. I just don’t get it.

This next one is called “Headthinker,” and was apparently part of an exhibit about what actually happens when we’re sleeping and/or dreaming. It’s not clear whether the “sculpture” was created for this event, or if it was adopted for its use after the fact. In any case, I can’t really figure out what Ms. Ford is trying to say. That thinking makes us tired? That thinking turns us into asses?

It just seems stupid to me. And ugly. Stupid and ugly, ugly and stupid.

Maybe it’s just me.

29
Apr
11

a post not about the royal wedding

Does everybody’s toaster look like absolute crap? I mean, seriously, take a good look. Do you really think you should put food in there, take it back out, and then EAT it?

I tried to find a good picture online, but the only pictures of dirty toasters I could find were so disgusting I couldn’t bear to post any of them and risk having you all think it was actually mine.

They should make one that dismantles and can be run through the dishwasher.

Plus now our dishwasher AND garbage can are both full. I think it might be time to move.

Also, I apologize if the post title misled you into reading this, thinking I was maybe being coy or clever and actually WAS writing about the royal wedding. I’ve been thinking about it all day, trying to figure out what it means that I don’t care, or that anybody does.

Any ideas?

27
Apr
11

everybody’s watching!

A friend of mine on facebook posts this conversation in her status update:

Husband: Turns out Prince who-gives-a-turd is marrying Lady Mc-worthless-pants. I just couldn’t be happier. I hope the news doesn’t talk about anything else ever.

Wife: Hey, get out of the shower! You’re missing pictures of the bride!

I have a good laugh, “borrow” it to put in my status update (with credit given where credit is due, of course), and then, even though I am pretty sure I feel more like husband than wife, proceed to look for a picture of Kate Middleton, who is reputedly quite beautiful.

When I google “royal wedding,” the first listing is E! so I figure, what’s to lose?

This is what I get.

And that’s what I get. Now there are at least 3 minutes of my life I can’t get back. Are there actually that many people out there who care about this drivel? Although I guess I can make it through my day much more effectively and productively now that I know that Blake Lively (whoeverthehellsheis) has dyed her hair red.

Oh, and Lindsay Lohan has admitted, to Jay Leno of all people, that she has finally learned to love herself. Now if she could just stop taking herself out at night and giving herself too much to drink, we’d all be better off, although I guess we would have less to read about.

13
Nov
10

My response to your response to “Functional Illiteracy”

Wow.

I never saw it coming.

As some of you may have noticed, this is a fairly “young” blog, competing with hundreds of thousands of blogs, which averaged 20-60 hits on its best days.

I’ve had over 6,000 hits since I posted “Functional Illiteracy” yesterday morning. When I was writing it, I was just seeing it as yet another rant in a series of rants about the state of education in the 21st century, but it has obviously really struck a nerve.

I’ve really enjoyed the ensuing conversation — exactly what I wanted when I started the blog in the first place — so many people feeling the same frustration; so many articulate and well-thought-out responses, it did make me wonder if maybe the situation isn’t as dire as I thought. 🙂

I have had many thoughts in the past 24 hours as I watched the post and comments “go viral,” and hope you don’t mind my sharing them with you.

There have been many mentions of the influences of technology on the 21st-century student as well as the importance of parents and their role. I would like to expand on both of those a bit.

Yes, there are a lot of cultural influences on our children which are either completely foreign to our experience, or which we adopt without allowing them to “pervert” our use of language or monopolize our time, because we’ve already learned to use language and manage our time. I agree that children shouldn’t have cell phones or access to facebook until they are old enough to see the impact these potential addictions could have on their lives. I worry about cell phone usage in young children with thinner skulls and the potential for tumors, and I also have grave concerns about cyber-bullying; with a 9-year old daughter and all of the requisite “friend” drama, there’s no facebook until middle or high school and then only if I’m a “friend.”

BUT.

Our children will need to live in the world in which they live. I text using textspeak because it’s faster to type on that tiny little keyboard, but I don’t use textspeak in any other situation. Children can, and should, learn the difference. Facebook is fun; I enjoy posting jokes or links to The Onion or a youtube video of a 3-year-old conducting Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, but I can ignore it when I want to, hide people who insist on posting incessantly about what they are eating or who like to berate those who don’t agree with them, and don’t need to check it 100 times a day to feel like I’m “keeping up.” I had a good friend who very strictly regulated the amount of time her sons were allowed to play computer games; her eldest son then went off to a very expensive private college and flunked out because he sat in his dorm room all day and played World of Warcraft. Wouldn’t it be better for them to learn to manage their time and responsibilities and interests when the stakes are a little smaller?

I also think the parent’s role is quite important, but probably not in the way many of you think. I always checked if my children had homework, made sure they had a plan for when they were going to do it, and was happy to look it over at the end to see how they had done. I didn’t feel it was in their best interests for me to correct it for them and have them redo it — if the teacher doesn’t know that my kid is struggling with the material, how will the teacher know he/she needs to spend more time on the topic? I was also pretty sure I wasn’t going to go to college with them, and thought it was important that they learn to structure their time and responsibilities themselves. I did make sure to write a note on the homework if it wasn’t done because my child just didn’t understand it; I also made sure to encourage the teacher to build in some natural consequences if it wasn’t done, i.e. the child sits at his/her desk at recess completing the homework.

And I don’t think we can change our children’s fundamental tastes and personalities. I am an avid reader, as is my oldest son. I read with both of my sons until they were well into middle school. My second son reads the books he needs to for school, and enjoys them, can talk articulately about them, and will not read another one until he has to. I can’t change that, and if I tried to Make him into a reader, he would read, and enjoy it, even less.

While parent’s roles and influences are very important, so, too, are teachers’. My eldest son, now a physics major at Case who scored 33 on his ACT, barely gave a rip about school from first grade until after he had graduated high school. When he was in kindergarten he LOVED it — he had a nurturing, imaginative teacher who enjoyed and indulged his curiosity and complied with his desire for daily “homework.” His first grade teacher was pinched and unimaginative and should have retired 10 years earlier. She would complain to me that First Son worked too slowly, too meticulously, asked too many questions, wanted to “handle” things rather then sitting in his desk with his hands folded learning via The Worksheet. When I requested that she merely send the work home with him, as he loved “homework,” she refused. By the end of the year his work was careless and sloppy. He went from coloring his butterfly with every color in the box in an elaborate mosaic to scribbling over it with a black crayon in 5 seconds. This attitude changed somewhat in 6th grade, with another wonderful teacher who recognized his intelligence and abilities and always challenged him to do better, but the child who would score a 33 on his ACT, with a  perfect score in science and only 1 point off in math didn’t have a high enough GPA to get into Northwestern or the University of Michigan — his top two choices. Case took a chance based on his standardized test scores, and gave him a scholarship based on his GPA which he can’t afford to lose. He is finally waking up to a sense of discipline and responsibility. No matter what I did, what I said, how I fought, he was not convinced that it mattered. I couldn’t do it for him.

Parents and teachers need to support, encourage, provide healthy learning opportunities and environments, and help students realize that THEY are responsible for what they learn, not the other way around.  What good would it have done for me to force him to comply to a standard I set, only for him to get into a college at which he’s not willing or able to succeed?

The passive learning attitude we see so often is a direct result of exactly that — parents, teachers, “teaching” the child that they are not responsible. This has to change.

Teachers also need to be qualified, and some simply are not. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten syllabi from high-school teachers filled with grammatical and punctuation errors. If we aren’t providing a good example for our students, how can we realistically expect good work from them?

I often think also that the bar is set too low. The Vice Principal of First Son’s middle school was overheard saying once that his job was just to get them through the day. This premise is ridiculous. If students are challenged, interested, stimulated, they will get themselves “through the day.”

And testing, especially today’s standardized testing, is making it worse; Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” does leave them behind, because it fills the teacher’s day with the broadest base of factoids known to man and requires them to cram it down their students’ throats. This leaves no time to be sure students actually understand, or can apply, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate this information — in other words use this information to further their own understanding. Because teachers have to teach only to Bloom’s lowest level of learning, there’s no depth to the knowledge — it consists merely of factoids, information, to be memorized and regurgitated. This is a mistake and has to change.

Students are also not taught to respect those in positions of authority. One comment touched on exactly that — parents need to be parents first, friends later (as in when their children are in their 20s). And if parents are demanding respect but the teachers are not, children will constantly challenge that authority.

When I was a Masters student, back in the 80s, and needed to contact my piano teacher, it was suggested to me that I call him. Call him? Really? I could do that? I still call my piano teacher from my undergraduate days Mrs. V_______; she has asked me numerous times to call her by her first name. I just can’t. I’ve had students call me to my face, and in email, by my first name, despite the fact that I name myself Dr. (Lastname) in the syllabus and in every email. I’ve had students email me to challenge the fact that I have information on the review sheet that I said wouldn’t be on the test; I’ve been told that she (the student) didn’t “like my attitude.” Technology allows for this; I would hope at least that most students wouldn’t dare say such a thing to my face. But the fact that they can say it at all astounds and disturbs me.

Students don’t move their feet when I walk between them in the hallways. Students have failed to write down what was going to be on a test, or failed to show up to an exam, and then gone to my department head and lied, telling him that I “changed my mind” or wasn’t where I said I would be. Sometimes the chair supports me, sometimes I get a long email explaining how I need to be more student-centered. This lack of support by administration, and giving students the benefit of the doubt over teachers, needs to change.

I could write for at least this long over the loss to our students as arts and music programs are cut while the football team gets new uniforms and trips to away games that cost thousands of dollars. If there is anything that teaches comprehensive, evaluative, synthetic thinking, it is literature, arts and music. Not to mention “building” adults who are automatons, unable or unwilling to recognize or understand beauty, music, or poetry.

To get back to the point of the original post, the problems I see in writing aren’t merely of this type: lacking of capitalizations and textspeak and using “what” instead of “was.” Students don’t know the difference between there their and they’re, write “could of” instead of “could have,” don’t bother (or don’t know how) to have their verb tense match the rest of their sentence, or the subject is plural and the verb is singular or vice versa. While this isn’t “functional illiteracy,” as I can interpret what they mean, it is a definite problem that should be being addressed in 4th grade, not a college humanities class.

Thank all of you so much for your interest and contribution to this important discussion and topic. This is obviously a source of great concern for many. Knowing this, NOW what do we do?

12
Nov
10

functional illiteracy

A recent email exchange with a (college) student:

im emailing u because i need a grade from you on my progress report tomorrow or else i cant play sat if you could do that i would gladly appreciate it….also while i was looking at my grades on blackboard i saw a E for the folk and religious music quiz…i was wondering did i miss that day or did i just not get any points on the quiz

Your current grade is a D+.
Your grade for the quiz was 13 out of 24 (this information was included on the grade center site he was consulting).

what the quiz points added in with the total?

I don’t know what you’re asking me.

im asking was those 13 points included in with the total points because it had an E for the grade i was just wondering

*******

This is a native-born American student who has apparently graduated from an American high school.  He/she is functionally illiterate, and seems to be either unable to interpret the information on a simple spreadsheet or unaware that 13 points out of 24 is not sufficient to pass.

How can MFA not realize that we are ALL going to pay the price when our children grow up to be adults who can’t read, speak, or write?

Statistics compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics have found that the U.S. seems to be spending about the same amount of money per student as other developed countries, and that students are staying in school for as long on average.

But we’re not measuring up.

According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 4th graders in the United States tested behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Kazakstan, the Russian Federation, England, Latvia, the Netherlands, and Lithuania in mathematics achievement, and behind Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Russian Federation, Latvia, and England in science achievement. Perhaps even more disturbing is that the achievement of students in science has declined in the US over the past 12 years, while it has improved, sometimes dramatically, in every other country ahead of us except Japan. Adults who can’t read or write at a proficient level cost the country hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity and unemployment benefits.

Those of  you who have been following my blog know I’ve ranted about this before, just click here to read the archives. I believe these discussions already include mention of the disturbing trend among 21st-century students where learning is seen as a passive endeavour — they show up, sit there, what else do they need to do? Not to mention their inability to function in face-to-face situations, their lack of respect for authority, and their dependence on technology to the point of obsession (facebook, texting — to the point where whole papers are written in textspeak — no commas, no apostrophes, no capitalizations).

Sigh.

I’m including this in the “Who Cares?” category, because I would like to know if anybody does. I doubt it’s just me. But what can we do?




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