Truth

Crispin Sartwell’s half tongue-in-check defense of texting and Twitter (Sept. 22) as a “golden age of the written word” ignores all evidence of the opposite (“Texting and Twitter Make This a Golden Age for the Written Word,” op-ed, Sept. 23). Those of us who ban laptops in the classroom he labels “schoolmarms,” and he cites the old charge of they-hated-comic-books-too for the millionth time, and to equally empty effect.

He skips the fact that the SAT added a writing component in 2006, and scores have dropped every year save two when they were flat. A recent Hart Research Associates poll of employers found barely one quarter (27%) think that recent college grads are well-prepared in writing. The ACT’s college readiness scores in English have actually dropped six percentage points in the last five years.

All of this has happened while youths have texted away the hours. Mr. Sartwell calls it writing, but he doesn’t realize that tweeting and texting don’t make them better writers. They make them better tweeters and texters. To say, “Perk up, young people, and keep on texting,” as he concludes, isn’t whimsical or cute or provocative. It’s irresponsible.

~ Mark Bauerlein,  Texting Isn’t the Same as Writing, or Even Thinking  (In a Letter to the Editor, wsj.com Sept 27, 2017)


Photo: “Texting” by Noa agravante

 

You Go Judge! Debate: Cut the Cr*p. Save our Children. All of them. 

hc-moukawsher-lawsuit-profile-20160930

“Connecticut State Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher threw out the state’s school financing system as unconstitutional, his unsparing 90-page ruling read and resonated like a cry from the heart on the failings of American public education.”

Some excerpts from NYTimes: An F-Minus for America’s Schools From a Fed-Up Judge:

  •  “Uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” that found “virtually every teacher in the state” proficient or exemplary, while a third of students in many of the poorest communities cannot read even at basic levels.
  • He attacked a task force charged with setting meaningful high school graduation requirements for how its “biggest thought on how to fix the problem turned out to be another task force,” and called it “a kind of a spoof.”
  • Too many American high school graduates are “let down by patronizing and illusory degrees”
  • Too many decisions and too much debate about schools seem, as he wrote, “completely disconnected to the teaching of children.”
  • Nearly all high school students in affluent communities like Darien and Westport scored on state tests as “advanced” in math and approached the same level in reading. But one out of three students in nearby Bridgeport and other poor cities did not reach the most basic level in math, and did only slightly better in reading.
  • It was a strikingly blunt way of saying what many people feel: The system is broken.
  • He added, “Just doing more of the same is unlikely to lead to a different result.”
  • The judge called for a radical reimagining that starts with the question of what schools should do: What are the goals for elementary students, or high school graduates? Then, he said, the state should decide how much money schools require so that all students, rich and poor, reach those goals.
  • 46 percent of white fourth graders across the country read at or above “proficient,” compared with just 18 percent of their black peers.
  • He criticized “uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” as part of a rating system “that is little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm.” He described the state’s efforts to define high school proficiency as “like a sugar cube boat,” adding, “It dissolves before it’s half-launched.”

Read entire article: NYTimes: An F-Minus for America’s Schools From a Fed-Up Judge


Photo: Hartford Courant

Reading. Writing.

reading, poor,education

“A girl writes in a notebook she collected from a garbage dump in Lahore, Pakistan. Thousands of children pick recyclable items from waste dumping points to earn a living for their families.”


K.M. Chaudary, Associated Press. Photos of the Day, April 1, 2015 wsj.com

 

The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of teaching were…

joseph_epstein

…The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of university teaching were those I encountered when I first began, in the early 1970s, who almost all turned out to have been put through Catholic schools, during a time when priests and nuns still taught and Catholic education hadn’t become indistinguishable from secular education. Many of these kids resented what they felt was the excessive constraint, with an element of fear added, of their education. Most failed to realize that it was this very constraint—and maybe a touch of the fear, too—that forced them to learn Latin, to acquire and understand grammar, to pick up the rudiments of arguing well, that had made them as smart as they were…

..So often in my literature classes students told me what they “felt” about a novel, or a particular character in a novel. I tried, ever so gently, to tell them that no one cared what they felt; the trick was to discover not one’s feelings but what the author had put into the book, its moral weight and its resultant power. In essay courses, many of these same students turned in papers upon which I wished to—but did not—write: “D-, Too much love in the home.” I knew where they came by their sense of their own deep significance and that this sense was utterly false to any conceivable reality. Despite what their parents had been telling them from the very outset of their lives, they were not significant. Significance has to be earned, and it is earned only through achievement. Besides, one of the first things that people who really are significant seem to know is that, in the grander scheme, they are themselves really quite insignificant.

~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays


Thank you Michael Wade for your recommendation of Epstein’s new book: A Literary Education and Other Essays. I’m half way through and loving it.  Joseph Epstein, 77, was born in Chicago. He is an essayist, short story writer, and editor. In 2003, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Lit Boy

John-VandeZande

I’ve reached the half-way mark of Updike, a biography on John Updike written by Adam Begley.  I pause to reflect on how I arrived here.  “Here” being how did I come to be reading John Updike’s biography.  Yes, it was Amazon’s Best Book of the Month for April, 2014. That helped, but that wasn’t it.  It was that man in the photograph that is responsible.  John VandeZande.

It was an undergraduate elective class titled “Good Books.” It was highly recommended by my senior jock buddies: “Just show up, read a few books and you’re done.”  I signed up for the class. I sat in the back of the room.  And hoped never to get called on.

He would assign Hemingway, Faulkner, Joyce, Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Updike, in his biography, would describe them as “textual titans.” At the time, I would describe them as literary unknowns – – DK, a lover of Hardy Boys who then graduated to the genres of Jeffrey Archer (Kane & Abel), James Clavell (Shogun & Tai Pan) and Stephen King – – was being heaved up into the major leagues.  I slumped further down in my chair at the back of the room.

He would break the awkwardness of the early classes by reading long passages from the assigned readings. He would sit on the edge of his desk.  The book in his right hand.  And then immerse himself in the passage. There were no pencils tapping. There was no shifting in chairs.  We were gently transported with him on the journey.

He struck the match. And stoked the fire. And I went on a tear.  First Hemingway with The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom The Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea. Then Faulkner with The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August and Absalom, Absalom!. Followed by John Steinbeck with The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row and East of Eden.  And then John Updike with Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux and Rabbit Is Rich.  And to this day, my serial runs on “Textual Titans” continues. (In Begley’s biography of Updike, Updike explained that: “A real reader,” he explained, “reading to escape his own life thoroughly, tends to have runs on authors.” That had my head spinning.)

[Read more…]

Norway owns Gold. How?

Norway-Olympic-team-Sochi

Excerpts from wsj.com: How Norway Scores So Much Olympic Gold?

…Norway itself is a Winter Olympics marvel: With only five million people, it has won 303 Winter Olympic medals, far more than any other country on the planet. To find a country smaller than world-leading Norway on the all-time Winter Olympics medal table, you have to travel down to Croatia, which ranks 24th with 11 medals.  And this month, Norway is fielding one of its strongest teams in almost two generations, with some experts considering it the favorite to win both the highest gold and total medal count, a feat that it last achieved in 1968.

Other countries long ago took to shrugging off Norway’s Winter Olympics medal haul as the unsurprising inheritance of a people whose young are born with skis on their feet, as an old Nordic adage goes. But skiing is also fundamental to the culture of other Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, which has about twice the population but, with 132 total, not even half the medals.

Instead, many experts think the answer lies in the culture and lifestyle of the country, where an extraordinary egalitarianism runs through youth sports. Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports, and before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize.

Still, most experts say the biggest reason behind Norway’s success is the culture that propelled it atop the medal table from the outset. Norway’s cities are relatively close to the wilderness, and children are encouraged to play outdoors even on the coldest days.

In those disciplines, attaining world-class status typically takes years of training. This is one reason that the Meråker school accepts students whose passion for sport may outshine their performances. In the long run, desire and perseverance will play the greatest roles in shaping future Olympians. The school’s coaches say the main lesson they teach is the importance of training relentlessly for years beyond high school.

In addition to physical work on the farm in the afternoons, weekends and holidays, he was regularly charged with what his father refers to as “incredibly boring stuff,” like picking stones from a field, just to improve his psyche. Every time he hurt himself, his father would tease him until he stopped crying. Eventually, he came to believe pain is cool. “My father taught me at an early age to tackle pain—I think that’s my strength. I can go for hours in pain without giving up,” he said. His childhood mentor, a star skier turned coach named John Thomas Rena, agrees. “I think a big part of Jenssen’s talent comes from the way he grew up,” he said.


Image Credit: Best and Worst Dressed Olympic Nations in Sochi

What Drives Success?

success
Not sure I buy into #1. I’m a fervent believer in #2 and #3.
I’ve mastered #2. There’s considerable work required on #3.

“The strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control….

It’s odd to think of people feeling simultaneously superior and insecure. Yet it’s precisely this unstable combination that generates drive: a chip on the shoulder, a goading need to prove oneself. Add impulse control — the ability to resist temptation — and the result is people who systematically sacrifice present gratification in pursuit of future attainment.

But this success comes at a price. Each of the three traits has its own pathologies. Impulse control can undercut the ability to experience beauty, tranquillity and spontaneous joy. Insecure people feel like they’re never good enough…A superiority complex can be even more invidious. Group supremacy claims have been a source of oppression, war and genocide throughout history.”

~ Amy Chua & Jed Rubenfeld, What Drives Success?


Read entire article in NY Times: What Drives Success?  Worthy…


You must go at it with monastic obsession…

John E. Smith @ strategiclearner is a frequent inspiration stop for me.  Here’s another one of John’s great shares.  Henry Rollins speaks to college students in this clip however I believe his remarks are inspirational to all of us.  He shares an important message that needs to be heard, shared and passed along. It’s worth 5 minutes of your time.  You’ll find the transcript below.

Transcript of Henry Rollins’ remarks:

Young person, you’ll find in your life that sometimes your great ambitions will be momentarily stymied, thwarted, marginalized by those who were perhaps luckier, come from money, where more doors opened, where college was a given–it was not a student loan; it was something that Dad paid for–to where an ease and confidence in life was almost a birthright, where for you it was a very hard climb.

You cannot let these people make you feel that you have in any way been dwarfed or out-classed. You must really go for your own and realize how short life is. You got what you got, so you have to make the most of it. You really can’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about his. You really have to go for your own. If you have an idea of what you want to do in your future, you must go at it with almost monastic obsession, be it music, the ballet or just a basic degree. You have to go at it single-mindedly and let nothing get in your way. You’re young. That’s why you can survive on no sleep, Top Ramen noodles and dental floss and still look good.

All the people you admire, from Mohamed Ali to any politician, they work and work and work. Your president right now is a man who got where he is through very hard work and scholarships, mainly hard work and application and discipline. If these people can do it, why not you? [Read more…]

You’ve hit “PUBLISH” and THEN you spot a typo…


Source: i-o-u-a-fall via creatingaquietmind

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silently correctly my grammar

 


Adapted from teachingliteracy

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