Sunday, August 29, 2010

Minor Musings That May Never Become Modest Proposals

The beginning of the school year has given me a sound beating.  I feel overwhelmed and totally unable to develop a coherent post.  Of course, one could argue that none of the posts here have been coherent , but that's a different discussion.  I decided that I would do a post with just the bullet points of stuff I've been thinking about and haven't had time to develop.  Maybe I'll come back to them.  Maybe I'll make this a weekly post.

1. I just watched Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten ABC's This Week.  I was underwhelmed.  It seems as if both believe that business model or some sort of data driven factory model will serve education.  Weingarten contends that teachers need to learn who to make teaching a science.  Since NCLB began, schools have been inundated with demands to become more scientific.  Education has not improved under the scientific regime.  Maybe it's time to stop looking at education as a science and to start treating it like a craft.  If policymakers changed their view, education might be able to adapt some guild model instead of a factory model.

2. I had a good blogging routine going, but I really had trouble making regular posts when I couldn't maintain the routine for whatever reason.  It got me thinking about how much of my life is based on routine.  That musing got me thinking about how much of my life might be a rut.  I stopped before I got too depressed.

3. I've been trying to cut back on the spending lately.  Walmart had Diet Dew, my version of Olympian gods nectar, on sale for a dollar for a 2-liter.  As I walked around the store, I noticed the local store featuring more generic versions of popular products.  That non-scientific observation got me wondering whether the corporation's economists are anticipating another economic downturn or if the local economy is far worse than I thought.

4. It's getting more and more difficult to try to find common ground with students.  I played "The Cave" from Mumford and Sons Sigh No More album because it has allusions to The Odyssey.   The band has a video on VH1's Top 20 Video Countdown, so I thought students might at least be a tad bit interested, but the class seemed underwhelmed.  It seems as if students find a comfortable niche and refuse to look beyond it.  That fact would be fine if confined to music, food choices, or which sports of follow, but it seems to apply to any form of civic engagement or cultural literacy.

5. In a similar vein, I had seven sophomores read this CNN opinion piece about a comic book featuring Islamic superheroes.  At least five of them asked me to define mosque.  Every mainstream news outlet, Channel 1, and late night talk show have covered the ongoing controversy about the mosque near the World Trade Center, but they seem oblivious.  Not only is no place like home; apparently, there's no place but home.

1 comment:

caheidelberger said...

On point #1, I just finished reading Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. His critique of the education system and the false duality between art and science would seem to support the idea that you and I share, that turning teaching into science is bad.

On points #4 and #5: good grief! What do we have to do to get these kids interested in world issues? (Not that I should complain: I was stunningly distracted by girls, pop music, and my necktie collection when I was their age.)

I was talking with Doyle and Deb Karpen yesterday. They spoke of the need for more civics education. I doubt we can add another course to the schedule. Can we do any mre to integrate civics into the curriculum, gear more history and English units toward civics and current events? Of course, with your CNN reading, it sounds like you're already doing that and still running up against the wall of ignorance. What to do?