Oct 10, 2008
That’s Cooperstown, not Compton, but we’ve still got gang sines.
[ Comic courtesy of Toothpaste for Dinner.]
Sep 22, 2008
For those who haven’t come across Bierce, he was a biting critic of literature and culture in 19th- and early 20th-century America. Bierce’s short stories are singularly engaging and, in my opinion, few in American literature have demonstrated such a command of language. Bierce was introduced to me by a well-traveled writer who said, “On his worst day, maybe coming off a week-long bender, Bierce was sharper than you or I will ever be.” He was probably right.
Bierce occupies some real estate on the shelf to the right of my desk. I decided to pull a sample of the education-related definitions in his Devil’s Dictionary.
ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
ACADEMY, n. [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.
BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
GRAMMAR, n. A system of pitfalls thoughtfully prepared for the feet for the self-made man, along the path by which he advances to distinction.
HISTORIAN, n. A broad-gauge gossip.
HISTORY, n. An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
LEARNING, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
LECTURER, n. One with his hand in your pocket, his tongue in your ear and his faith in your patience.
ORATORY, n. A conspiracy between speech and action to cheat the understanding. A tyranny tempered by stenography.
PHILOSOPHY, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
PLAGIARISM, n. A literary coincidence compounded of a discreditable priority and an honorable subsequence.
PLAGIARIZE, v. To take the thought or style of another writer whom one has never, never read.
I reference and sample Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary with regularity – it’s too witty to ignore. Though I use a hard copy, you can get a .txt file of the Dictionary via Project Gutenberg.
And, if you’re so inclined, peep The Ambrose Bierce Project and The Ambrose Bierce Appreciation Society.
Sep 15, 2008
Working on other projects. I still read, though.
“Democrats are Standing up to the Teachers Unions: Can this be True?” asks little Ed over at Ed is Watching. Maybe he’ll get some answers on September 19th [if the event doesn't run past his bedtime]. Yet another thumbs up for the DFER folks.
From RightWingProf, who came across this dandy fop opining out of San Diego: “Sarah Palin often uses lots of notes when she speaks, even going so far as to use tabs and different colors of notecards. This is just so unbelievably tacky and small town I am considering killing myself.” Yipes. I know that frustration, though. I see it every time I obliterate, shame, or otherwise invalidate an argument made by someone who has contempt for ignorant, small town rubes [like me].
Brown University reformed its curricula in the late 1960s. I wouldn’t have done it, and not the way they did, but no one asked me then. They’re reforming things now – and ACTA says that it’s not perfect, but that it’s a step in the right direction.
Mike S. Adams has founded F.A.S.H.I.S.T. at UNC-Wilmington – Faculty Against Sexual Harassment Initiatives and Sensitivity Training. He asks whether “mandate” is sexist, and then says, “Five years ago the administration chipped in $60,000 to help bring Ludacris to campus. He sang a lot about hos. Shouldn’t we be forcing the administration to attend mandatory sexual harassment training not the other way around?”
An interesting video about Senator Obama and edu-huckster extraordinaire, Bill Ayers.
The Onion: The Word “Presumptive” Prepares for Another 4-year Hibernation.
BIG NEWS: Detroit Superintendent hung up the phone on someone. My school board members barked at me like junkyard dogs, used school facilities/organizations to campaign against me, and school employees used in-house computers to suggest that I was a drug dealer. I don’t hang up on anyone [nor do I take or sell drugs].
Today is Battle of Britain Day in the United Kingdom. British resilience is a trait I love, and one that we in Upstate New York share. Let us hope that steely resolve makes a comeback in the wake of Sharia law.
Sep 8, 2008
Apparently this was on Deadspin, but I read the education sites each day before I hit sports, so I’ll tip the hat to Mr. Russo.
The Bengals wide receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson legally changed his name recently to Chad Ocho Cinco to reflect his jersey number of 85 – and now “Ocho Cinco” will appear on the back of his jersey in place of the old “Johnson.” Cue the outrage!
Rubes like me don’t know much about Spanish. We just know that Teddy Roosevelt whooped the Spanish single-handedly and that a lot of people in California [like Spain, another foreign country] speak their language. I’ll do my best to sum up the gripes detailed by these scholars of the language – consider this testimony fair warning.
Here’s the meat:
“Why is Carlson, and many other Spanish teachers so upset? “Ocho cinco” actually means “eight-five”, while “ochenta cinco” or “ochenta y cinco” would be the correct formations of 85 in Spanish.”
Yes. Yes, I follow. The question I’m having trouble with is…
… so what? Another scholar explains:
“Aaron Carlson, Spanish teacher from Kearney, Nebraska explains: “Chad’s little prank is making it difficult for us to effectively teach numbers. Students think that we are teaching them wrong because this clown can’t use a dictionary.”"
I wouldn’t call a legal name change a “little prank,” but Kearney is entitled to his mouth-frothing.
Take a step back, Mr. Carlson. Is Chad Ocho Cinco’s football jersey the highest hurdle you face as an educator? If so, don’t let the education world know – your school will get about 40,000 applications for its next job opening.
Perhaps Kearney and others could use this as what the proper ed-school graduates and certified teachers – not me – call a “teachable moment.”
Really, how often does grammar in any language come up in pop culture? It’s a fairly interesting bit – taking 3 minutes to describe how “ocho cinco” reflects the “8″ and “5″ on his jersey and not the cardinal number “85.”
This might be one of the few times when I’d argue that the discussion would facilitate engagement among students, and that the engagement would be a valuable thing.
Chad Ocho Cinco seems to grasp the gravity of the issue:
““I really don’t care, you cant stop me either way,” related Ocho Cinco. “Maybe next year I’ll go with Acht Fünf. That’s some German right there.”"
As soon as these teachers pound out a solution to this intellectual rift, they might want to tackle two other problems in high school education.
1. High school teachers don’t know basic English, as evidenced by the mean GRE Verbal score of 484.
2. High school teachers don’t know basic math – algebra and geometry – as evidenced by their mean GRE Quantitative score of 576.
Both of these scores are well below the mean. Verify it here [PDF] at your leisure. I recommend you take solace in knowing that your bosses aren’t any better off.
Good job, guys. The grammar myth of The Ocho Cinco Jersey? Consider it busted.
Hell, the Spanish teacher article is probably a fake, but since I read 20 real education articles a day this ridiculous, I’ll treat it as true.