Archive | August, 2011

Apples are NOT the Way to Your Teacher’s Heart – Roast Chicken Is.

30 Aug

Teaching is about learning, right?

Learn how to make a badass roast chicken from Mr. Keller. Mmmmmm….

 

 

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Babbitt in Mean-mugging American Values

29 Aug

For the past week or two, I’ve been reading Babbitt, by good ol American author Sinclair Lewis (who had a wonderfully ugly mug. Check it out).

This Yale literati published Babbitt in 1922. The book is a scathing satire on the Modern American (Wo)Man of 1920, strongly criticizing the value placed on consumerism and the desire to belong to High Society. Though the Great Depression came between us and the publishing of Babbitt, it seems that the two American Gods have been once more safely adopted into our 21st century homes. Consumerism and Class are worshiped by the masses.

The similarities between the 1920 socioeconomic conditions Lewis so heartily mocks and the conditions of today are eerie: the promotion of business at the expense of the people. The busting of strikes and organized labor. Corrupted relationships between business and government. There’s even a theme of TEACHER BASHING.

That’s right. It looks like the Good Fellows of 1920 were doing the same thing as the Good Fellows of 2011, or rather, the Good Fellows have simply never changed.

“Before I close I must call your attention to a problem we have to face, this coming year. The worst menace to sound government is not the avowed socialists but a lot of cowards who work undercover – the long-haired gentry who call themselves “liberals” and “radicals” and “non-partisan” and “intelligentsia” and God only knows how many other trick names! Irresponsible teachers and professors constitute the worst of this whole gang… Those profs are the snakes to be scotched – they and all their milk-and-water ilk! The American business man is generous to a fault, but one thing he does demand of all teachers and lecturers and journalists: if we’re going to pay them our good money, they’ve got to help us by selling efficiency and whooping it up for rational prosperity! And when it comes to these blab-mouth, fault-finding, pessimistic, cynical University teachers, let me tell you that during this golden coming year it’s just as much our duty to bring influence to have those cusses fired as it is to sell all the real estate and gather in all the good shekels we can.”

– Babbitt, 187/88

Bring influence to have those cusses fired? That paragraph reminds me a bit of Scott Walker’s attitude toward teachers. Remember when he got punked by a journalist pretending to be David Koch? Teachers are not the enemies of Business nor are they they ones stealing all the money from the middle class. Let’s recall that the top 10% of households in the United States own 83% of the wealth.

We the people need to check our government and large-scale business. We need to set our minds on what matters, and take the focus off consumerism. We need to figure out a system that invites change, and then we need to change. If we refuse, we may face a disaster on par with the Depression. The rich cannot keep getting richer. Remember this gal?

"Let them eat cake!"

Let’s stop history from repeating itself.

Catch-22 in Ed: Laws to Fix Broken Laws, Which Really Fix Nothing, At All

25 Aug

Here’s my problem with privatizing education – it’s a scandal.

The argument for privatizing public education is that public schools are failing our kids. Alternatives (private education) should be available.

This is great – in theory. If children truly are not learning at an institution, they should be allowed to pursue education elsewhere. But here’s the problem with sending kids away from public schools:

Public schools are determined as “failing” by arbitrary federal laws and standards. The private alternative education centers are not constrained by the laws the government puts on public schools to improve performance. However, private education ventures are being supported by public funds (this is the purpose vouchers serve). If the federal government truly believes that its laws will improve the state of public education, any institution receiving any amount of funding from public tax dollars should be subject to the same laws.

But private institutions are not.

Is this not contradictory? The government imposes laws to improve public schools and shuts them down when they cannot meet standards. In the same breath, our federal powers turn around and hand public funding to schools that are unregulated. Let’s not forget that we’re also shutting down public schools and inviting private charters to take them over. Has anyone ever read this book?

Ah, yes. More federal laws and regulations fix everything!

So we create laws to improve public school performance, and when these laws don’t work, we create more Laws. More Standards. We make schools sign on (ahem, RACE TO THE TOP) to receive desperately needed funding. Then we give funding to lawless schools and marvel at their performance (even though it’s been proven to be no better than a public school).

If we want to offer alternative education to kids using public funds, why can we not create a special public school in which federal laws and regulations are suspended? That way, public funds go to public institutions and the people retain their voice.

Instead, we’re slashing funding for education, giving some of what little we have to private ventures, and attacking those who serve in the public system.

Maybe I’ll just join the military.

Education Ordo Amoris v.2 (Updated for Ever-developing Beliefs)

15 Aug

Ordo amoris. What is it? What does it mean?

“Augustine says the “order of love” (ordo amoris) is the “brief and true definition of virtue.” According to this order, the human person must love everything in creation according to its proper relationship to God, which means loving God above all creatures and not inordinately loving any creature as the human person’s ultimate end.” – MUSE

So Augustine has the universe whittled down to a hierarchical pyramid, with the quest for god sitting on top. This is the standard, the bar, the student who always, no matter the circumstances, throws the curve by getting an A. According to Augustine, all love must be measured in relationship to god. No exceptions.

So what of the love of learning?

If I may define the quest for god as a human being’s inherent need/search for meaning in the universe, then I will draw similar conclusions to the quest for learning. For what other reason do we learn than to explain ourselves and the world? And we love it. Just watch a baby looking at colors and shapes.

In the Zone.

Therefore, the love of learning cannot be far below the love of god on Augustine’s scale. We loved learning so much that we thought it should be accessible to everyone. So we institutionalized it and gave birth to Formal Education. Let’s take a look at how our current society feels about education, specifically those doing the educating:

Oh you pathetic teachers… You are glorified baby sitters who leave work at 3 p.m. You deserve minimum wage.”

“Teachers are using students for their political props”


Come on. Not even Mister Rogers is on our side?

“Students can’t master simple division or fractions because today’s teachers — churned out through lowest-common-denominator grad schools and shielded from competition — have barely mastered those skills themselves. Un-educators have abandoned “drill-and-kill” computation for multicultural claptrap and fuzzy math, traded in grammar fundamentals for “creative spelling” and dropped standard civics for save-the-earth propaganda.”

Rather than stockpiling up rage to spew out a phonetic frenzy of teacher hate, one might consider using all that time and energy to, perhaps, DO something about the system so detested. Like vote in a local school board. Demand better evaluations for teachers. Support public voice by supporting public institutions.

Parker Palmer states in The Courage to Teach, “People who start movements do so not because they hate an institution but because they love it too much to let it descend to its lowest form” (p. 177).

This is the movement – return the institution to its higher purpose by loving it, and therefore undertaking action to change it. We cannot allow our public schools to fail.

Love the institution by changing it. Education Ordo Amoris. Let’s bring it back.

A $40,000 SUV: the Natural Choice for a Dying District

11 Aug

Sometimes you need to search for the incredulous. Other times, it hits you in the face.

A news article I just stumbled upon could have been found on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Titled “DPS’ chief Roberts defends purchase of $40,000 SUV with district funds,” I doubled checked my news source. Yup. Detroit Free Press. Doubled checked the acronym. Yup. Detroit Public Schools.

The same DPS that is $327 million in debt? The one that’s closing half its schools? And what about that new budget?

Oh, that’s right. When the old guy failed to resolve the $327 million in debt in five years, we (or should I say the Honorable Governor Snyder, who took away Michigan citizens’ voting power)  replaced him with a guy who talks about $40,000 SUV’s as if every man, woman, and infant baby in Detroit could purchase one.

“”I’m driving the heck out of it.”

Haha! You’re a funny man, Roy Roberts!

There she is, Big, Shiny, and Oh-so-necessary.

Roy Roberts and his jocular manner regarding his new purchase with district funds reflects on his ability to act as DPS’ “Emergency Financial Manager.” The lone wolf (dare I use the word?) with ALL THE POWER thanks to Snyder’s new law. Did I mention he’s an ex GM executive? Oh, and his measly contract of one year only allows him a salary of $250,000.

How strange.

For more info on Michigan’s latest snake:

“Roy Roberts New Financial Manager For Detroit Schools”

Rick Perry, You Go Back To Class

9 Aug

Translation: “Stop profiting with our education. Our dreams don’t belong to you.”

I just heard about the protests in Chile. Guess what SECONDARY students are protesting?

You got it. Privatized education that was instituted in 1973 under the REIGN OF A DICTATOR. Hmmmm…..

Read the article HERE.

Photos courtesy of this cool site.

Ricky Ticky, you better listen up! Thanks for the love, Chile.

A Student, A Person, Not a Number

8 Aug

Woo-hoo for local news! I’m all about it and the most recent is sent to me from my mom via the Escanaba Daily Press (check them, out, they’re alright).

However, the most recent local news is somewhat… depressing. Are we surprised?

“With the state’s unemployment rate stuck in double digits and school districts struggling financially, even experienced teachers are finding themselves out of work. ”

Well, let’s be a downer. As a soon-to-be graduated pre-service teacher, I’m not finding that news particular uplifting. But what media organization reports anything positive? It seems, in the modern world, that positive news is for saps.

Yes, unemployment is up. Yes, teaching jobs are shrinking. But we buck up, we get on. The real alarming news is the following:

“Since peaking at 117,973 in the 2004-05 academic year, the number of public school teachers in Michigan has shrunk by nearly 9 percent, a loss of about 10,000 jobs, according to the Center for Educational Performance and Information. That number tracks the 8 percent drop in public school students, to 1.56 million, that Michigan has seen over the past five years.

Why is the percentage of public school students dropping? Could it be that we’re opening our doors wide open for private education ventures, closing hundreds of districts, and closing networks to the public sector?

Dear Michigan,

Stop telling your citizens and public employees they’re not worth a damn. Fund public schools. Don’t close them. End of story.

Sincerely, Much Love,

A Student, a Person, Not A Number.

Thanks to the Daily Press (and Mom!) for the great article.