Category Archives: Education

Wash. Post: Truths about Education

While many such statements are banal, some are worth noticing because in our school practices and policies we tend to ignore the implications that follow from them. It’s both intellectually interesting and practically important to explore such contradictions: If we all agree that a given principle is true, then why in the world do our schools still function as if it weren’t?

By the time a lot of my students reach me, they have missed so much that I have to spend time teaching things they should have learned in high school.

I suppose I should say, “waste time teaching.”

Students have come to me without ever having read a novel. Some of them cannot seem to put together a basic, grammatically sound sentence. I actually have to spend time on the difference between things like “their,” “they’re,” and “there,” and remind them not to use “text speak.”

There are other, less intellectual things many of them do not learn. Some lack work ethic, and do not understand that they are responsible for their work and attendance. They were not taught that due dates are final, work cannot be turned in late for no good reason without consequences, and not attending class means failure. Generally, assignments cannot be made up, or done again.

I’ll avoid a rant on the twinge I feel every time a student rejects Shakespeare off-hand, or refers to his writing as “Old English.”

I have, on more than one occasion, wanted to quit teaching entirely. The pay is inadequate, the work is undervalued, and the hours and effort are incredibly stressful.

But, every semester something happens.

  • A student is gloriously enthusiastic.
  • A class is lively and attentive.
  • My students learn.

And, in the end, I sign up for more of the pain, just for those tiny pieces satisfaction.

As frustrating as all this is to deal with, I don’t blame the students. It is, for the most part, not their fault. The education system is failing them.

I do my best to apply all the things that this article lists. Not because research, an article, or another professor told me to, but because they make sense.

It is logical that a student who writes a paper about something that interests her or him will write better. The student will perform better research, learn faster, and retain more if shown that what she or he is doing is worth more than a class grade; it is knowledge, and the process by which it was achieved is directly relevant to life.

 

Tumblr: 50 Shades of Grey & Abuse as Romance

I don’t claim to be an expert in the sexual, romantic, or social relationships within the realm of BDSM  and its communities.

However, I’ve read on it, studied it, and interviewed members for the purpose of research. As a result, I do know a thing or two.

I somehow brought myself to read 50 Shades of Grey through and through not long after it became a “hit.” It made me cringe from the first page (oh, God, the writing), but I considered it necessary for me to keep up with what was happening in the world of erotic and romantic fiction.

I can’t help but be seriously bothered by this series’ popularity, and the claims that it is making BDSM more acceptable and popular somehow.

Christian Grey is a severely troubled man, and an abusive stalker. His “contract,” amounts to little more than an urban myth; it is not at all a standard in Dom/Sub relationships. I am sure there are exceptions, but the active BDSM community is made of people who value trust above all else; receiving and executing pain as pleasure requires keen understanding of an individual’s desire and, most importantly, their personal boundaries. To force constraint of any kind on a person the way that Grey does would be unacceptable in true BDSM relationships and communities.

I would like to rip the writing apart, but that’s another rant altogether.

I understand popular and “trash” literature. I enjoy it. I’ve even published on literature than may be considered “trash.” I recognize people’s freedom to enjoy this work.

However, I urge you, readers, to consider just how much this is fiction. The Christian Greys of this world need psychological help, not a woman on her knees.

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Memes by the sixth siren of pandora on Tumblr. Permission for use requested and granted.

BuzzFeed: Thoughts Introverts Have At Parties

“So…when can I go back home?”

“Alright, let’s find the most isolated couch here.”

“Time to do the conversation!”

“OK…this is starting to get draining.”

They missed something, though. When we introverts finally make contact and find a way to engage with others, many of us have moment at which we realize that we have been oversharing as a result of intense social anxiety and the exhaustion it causes. Sometimes it’s immediate, and other times it happens much later. 

It never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is for some people to understand introversion. I am constantly encountering people who assume that because I can generally function socially, I must not be very introverted. 

Of course, I also struggle with being a very specific sort of person whom many people find “weird.” I can’t change who and what I am, though, so introversion serves as some protection from awkwardness and straightforward bullying, of which I have experienced more than my fair share. 

I like to see these little “articles.” It’s good to have ways of explaining these things to others that are simple and non-judgmental, as well as humorous. It’s better that we find ways to laugh at ourselves and not feel as though we’re being made fun of; it leads to understanding and acceptance. 

MTV News: Girls and Leggings

High school dress code policies have been making national headlines for a few years now, and the latest bewildering news item gets extra points for weirdness. Devil’s Lake High School in North Dakota has reportedly bannedleggings, jeggings, and tight jeans, citing—and I am not making this up—the 1990 Julia Roberts film Pretty Woman as supposed proof that tight pants are the devil’s playground.

This news is from last Fall, but it’s still relevant.

I do think there are people for whom leggings are not the best choice. But, I also agree that spending time and energy on punishing a young female student for wearing a certain piece of clothing, particularly a piece of clothing which does not actually reveal any flesh, rather than spending that time and energy on teaching her how to think critically, or write an essay, or solve an important problem is just a tiny piece of the massive iceberg that is poor education, patriarchy, and misogyny. 

Even if she had worn something that revealed some flesh, like a tank top, it is not worthy of distracting from the purpose of school to punish her for having a female body and dressing it the way she sees fit. 

It is a type of education; it teaches girls at a young age that others control every aspect of her life, down to her body and the clothing she wears. It teaches her that, in life, she has no autonomy, and no rights. 

And if you’re thinking that ever-frustrating phrase that distracts from the real issue, “But boys, too!”: no. Not, “But boys, too!” Boys can get away with pants that sag below their asses, t-shirts that proclaim offensive, misogynistic bullshit, and, of course, tank tops. Boys can also get away with skinny jeans, which are…wait for it…basically leggings!

I can rant and rave, but it won’t change anything. Just don’t let them get away with it, girls. 

UT: Texas Textbook Dispute and the Humanities

humanities flickr

History is a mainstay of public school curricula in this country. Yet politicians, university regents and op-ed columnists continue to argue that the humanities don’t matter.

If humanities education is a waste of resources, then why all the fuss about history books? Simply put: The humanities matter more than some are willing to admit.

To understand math, science, and related fields is to have intellect. But, to understand the humanities is to have wisdom.

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Photo by Phillip Barron on Flickr. Available under the Attribution and NonCommercial license. No changes were made.

Washington Post: We’re too obsessed with STEM

It is commonly claimed that STEM majors are the “most valuable” — value being defined as immediate job offers and high earnings. Articles promoting STEM have a clear focus: jobs and money. College is increasingly viewed as a form of vocational training, useful only for teaching the quantitative skills that our data-obsessed society demands.

With every semester I see this more and more. Fewer and fewer students are exposed to the Humanities at all; I even have students who have never read a novel. Ever.

Some of this is the result of poor educational systems in general, but this obsession with math and science is a factor.

Balance, people. We need educational balance. We once “cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy.” (I know The Newsroom has its flaws, but that moment is so relevant.)

Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story: Roni Loren

This is incredibly disconcerting. Honestly, I think that chasing down small-time bloggers and suing them for hundreds and thousands of dollars over photos that are plastered all over the internet and easily available for everyone is a sleazy practice born out of greed.

4. Use sites like Pinterest and Tumblr with caution.

I have read way too many terms of service over the last two months. And I’m not a lawyer, so the legalspeak can be confusing and I am NOT giving legal advice. BUT both Pinterest and Tumblr (and most other social sites) say that if you load something into their site (i.e. Pin It or Tumble it) YOU are claiming that YOU have a legal right to that picture. And if the owner of that photo comes after the company, you will be the responsible party. And Pinterest goes so far as to say if you REpin something, you’re saying you have the right to that photo. Yes, if that’s enforced, it would mean that 99% of people on Pinterest are doing something illegal. Will that ever come up? Maybe. Maybe not. But I’m leaning on the paranoid side now. I don’t want to be the test case. And I don’t want to pin something the owner of the photo wouldn’t want pinned. 

So pin your own photos, pin things from sites that have a Pin It button (see discussion in comments about the Pin It button, it’s not always a safe bet either.) I pin book covers and movie posters because I figure that it’s advertisement for said movies or books. But other stuff? All those pretty mancandy photos? I’m going to look but not touch.

*ADDED: Also see discussion in comments about posting and sharing pics on Facebook. Same rules apply.