Tag Archives: education

A Perfect Circle

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Of course, in 30 years, they’ll teach it in  completely different way than you learned, but at least you’ll be able to empathize with your child’s frustration.

There have seriously been moments in my marriage when the greatest stressor we faced as a couple was the elementary math curriculum. I never mastered anything beyond algebra myself, and of course mathematics education just looked a lot different in the ’80s. The Man is pretty good at math—he can do calculus—but he doesn’t know how to teach little kids like I do. So sometimes the only way for the Girl to get her homework done is for The Man to explain it to me so I can explain it to her. I wasn’t sure how funny this joke was, but I told it to one of the volunteer moms and the librarian at my library and they both laughed.

Presumably, knowing algebra is something of an achievement, because I still scored in the 66th percentile on the math section of the GRE despite being, of course, a liberal arts major. That means I’m better at math than 66% of all people who have, or are about to have, completed a bachelor’s degree and hope to attend graduate school. This tells me that most people must not know any math at all.

There’s also a little joke here about the kind of helicopter parents who would call the school to challenge the basic curriculum because their kid didn’t like it, because these people exist. They are not uncommon today, but that’s another thing you didn’t see too much of in the ’80s.

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Facts

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I only believe ideas that conform to my previously held beliefs, and those are sufficient facts for me.

Nuances of style, voice, and tone in writing can be difficult to understand even for students interested in writing, which is a very small subset among college students taking freshman composition. Almost everyone who likes writing tests out of this course, so you don’t expect much more than average ability from your students to start. But some people defy your expectations, like this kid. I swear, this is a true story. He told me he was writing like a stereo manual on purpose, because that was the only good way to write, and he wouldn’t alter his written voice, even though revisions accounted for a huge percentage of the semester grade.

That’s the nature of reality. One person can spend a five years studying the structure, detail, and and elements of language that place Lolita among the pantheon of the most wonderfully written novels ever written and still feel that they have much to learn on the subject of verbal expression, and this freshman can proclaim with equal or greater certainty the stereo manuals are objectively the best, most effective use of English. This guy gave up an easy A because considering my perspective would mean compromising his own powerful belief.

And that is how we get to a place where people can proclaim that anything that isn’t personally a problem for them, isn’t a problem for anyone, anywhere, period. When you’ve already decided the truth about the world, you can’t hear further information on any subject.

So I repeat. It’s pointless to argue after you realize that the person you’re arguing with is choosing not to evaluate information that contradicts their predetermine notions. All the facts in the world won’t persuade someone who’s already made up their mind.

Superlative Abuse

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You’ve never seen torture like we’re going to torture your academic sensibilities. 

For 8 enlightened years, our president was a man of letters, an academic, a reader and a writer who engaged with books because he wanted to read and write them. He possessed a deft and detailed grasp of the English language, allowing him to communicate nuanced information at an advanced level. And yes, this alienated him from people who found education suspicious, and thinking heretical. But for those who admire intelligence, and especially after 8 years of Dubya, having a smart guy run the show was pretty reassuring. And maybe it made us forget that being eloquent and logical are not requirements for the office.

Critics keep saying that ridiculing the current administration isn’t the answer, that positive engagement is the only way to effect change, but how else are you supposed to respond to something like Thursday’s “press conference”? Like, at what point within the rambling, lies, evasion, lies, aggrandization, lies, self-congratulatory fantasy, and more lies do you interject a ray of enlightenment without touching on the inanity? It seems to me that it has to go the other way. When the majority of people finally understand they’ve been duped by word salad and ostentatious noise, then America will get off its butt and demand sanity. But obviously, I don’t know much about human beings because I couldn’t imagine that the reincarnation of P.T. Barnum could ever win a presidential election, and because I wrote this incredibly nerdy and somewhat esoteric comic that’s probably only funny to the sesquipedalian among us.

Words are important to me.

So, in between all of the rambling, lies, &c, it was the inappropriate use of superlatives that stood out for me in the text, this pattern of seeing everything not just in black and white, but also in extremity. It can’t be “good.” It has to be “the greatest.” And it can’t be “bad.” It has to be “the worst.” Unless you were actually born and raised in a neo-Nazi stronghold somewhere in the mountains of Montana and never left the compound, I guarantee you that the president is not the least anti-semitic person you’ll ever meet, not just because it’s crazy to claim the superlative on anything that hasn’t been measured by the Guiness Book, or someone with higher standards of accuracy, but also because I’ve heard audio clips of him making anti-semitic statements in the past. But he can’t say, “I don’t believe I harbor harmful stereotypes about Jewish people.” He has to claim to be the least anti-semitic person you’ll ever meet.

Man, I was raised in a traditionally Jewish family and I wouldn’t say that I’m the least anti-semitic person you’ll ever meet. I mean, I was on J-Date.

I rarely watch press conferences, and I didn’t watch this one. Even when Obama was president, I didn’t watch the State of the Union: I prefer to get my information textually. It allows for a more personal and thoughtful analysis of words. Also, I’m a terrible listener. So I always read transcripts. I read this one twice. I bet the guy who spewed those words out of his face hole didn’t read them once.

 

The Right Two Bear Arms

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You think Sarah Palin had to put up with this sort of thing as governor of Alaska?

Education is at the heart of this; when fully funded schools are considered luxuries reserved for certain classes, education becomes devalued. When education is no longer a priority, the most vulnerable populations suffer. And when people are miserable, they are easily led by liars and demagogues and charlatans with the agenda of using people’s own lack of understanding against them.

I cannot get past this woman and her refusal to answer basic yes/no questions, her utter lack of understanding of what students of all socioeconomic classes need to succeed. Or perhaps she does understand, and she’s deliberately advocating to leave huge swaths of American children behind, because that is the result of her love affair with charter and religious schools, which are not required to retain students who lower the curve. She wants to set up a tiered system wherein kids who aren’t at the top of their game receive fewer resources, where public schools become corrals for children marked for failure.

If bears are a huge threat to America’s schools, I hope the Department of Natural Resources will involve themselves in the crisis. Public schools already have enough on their hands without requiring faculty and staff to prepare themselves for bear hunts on campus. Think of how many pencils you could buy for the cost of a single bear-shooting weapon. Of course, I’m not a fan of shooting bears to begin with.

Bears are fun to draw, though.

Betsy DeVos should not be confirmed for anything except a plane ticket home.

Comic Book Villains

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And allow me to add that, if my demands are not met in 3 days, I will release this paralyzing neurotoxin into Gotham City’s water supply. Bwoo-ha-ha-ha.

Adequate funding and educational success rates correlate pretty strongly in any type of school, but this genius, Betsy DeVos, parochial school cheerleader, believes the solution to failing schools is to cut funding. To punish them, you know, until they behave. Like strangling your child when they melt down in the grocery story until they learn their lesson. Or stop breathing. Whichever happens first. But really, she just wants to abolish the public school system and force all children to receive Christian “education.” Like if the First Amendment didn’t exist and we lived in country where separation of church and state wasn’t specifically guaranteed.

I had another insomnia night last night, totaling 0 minutes of sleep over the last 36 hours, but I couldn’t think of an Insomnia Comic. All I could think about was this woman’s terrifying smile, which, to me, says, “I know I’m a fraud but I really think I’m getting away with it.” It’s the smile of a missionary promising eternal happiness in the next life, in exchange for your embrace of physical and mental servitude in this one. The longer I’m awake, the more the incoming administration remind me of Batman villains. Their plots are so insane as to strain credulity. I don’t think I’m the first to make the Dolores Umbridge connection, either. Betsy DeVos creeps me out. I wouldn’t want her around my kids. I believe children should receive straight answers. Especially where it concerns education.

Maybe tomorrow I should do Trump as the Penguin.

Sorry I’m not terribly funny right now.

Bwoo-ha-ha-ha, indeed.

Washing Machines

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But tell me again about how all kids have equal opportunity to achieve the American dream.

American public schools are structural inequality in motion. Rich kids go to well-funded institutions, and they attend prepared to learn. Many poor children don’t have that option. Here’s the source: One Answer to School Attendance: Washing Machines. We live in a world where little kids miss out on whatever advantages might be available to them because they’re afraid other kids will make fun of their clothes. And some people are OK with this. The solution is so simple, but society doesn’t consider clean clothes the right of poor children, apparently.

But some people do care.

Anyway, I felt like that story needed a little boost.

Morning in America, 2017 (part 1, maybe)

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Also, music offends me. You’ll have to replace it with the sound of a two-stroke engine.

I’m worried about public education in Arizona. I mean, it’s worrisome all over America, but I live in Arizona, which typically ranks about 49th out of 50 in educational funding. It just doesn’t seem to be a priority for a lot of the population, which includes many aging retirees who just don’t care about other people’s children. But public school funding is important, if only so you don’t end up in a state full of ignorance. You wouldn’t believe how important education is to an outcome of competent adults.

There are 2 schools of thought concerning the nature of education. For me, education is a process of teaching people how to think, so that can adapt to new conditions and make intelligent choices as situations arise. For some people, education is about teaching people what to think, so they parrot your opinions and don’t believe in the validity of any others. Facts are facts, and if your facts cannot stand up to independent analytic scrutiny, your facts are actually opinions, and if your opinions are so frail they fall apart upon examination, why would you expend so much effort to protect them?

That’s what education is for, to keep humanity moving forward, to improve our odds as a species to achieve the best possible outcome. To prevent us from making the same mistake over and over.