Blue Serials & News (June 2017)
Oh, darlings – how quickly things get away from us and tumble into perdition as we scramble to hold our own up the rockslide. I apologize if I’ve left you in despair while I’ve been regrouping and refocusing and preparing to physically relocate. It’s been a journey, hasn’t it?
Let's look at some recent education news.
Oh My Pod, Are You Somnolent?
I guess if I’m that tired, I could enroll as a student in Las Cruces High School (NM). They’ve installed “sleeping pods” for students who don’t get in their 8-10 hours at home. They’re wrapped in darkness and soft music for 20 minutes at a time, and it’s apparently considered quite a success by the locals. I get it, but you know how this looks, right?
Life must be good in Las Cruces. They were recently ranked in the top 25 cities anywhere in the U.S. for teachers, and have the single highest pay scale when compared to the community around them of any city on the list – 237% of local average. No other city broke 200%.
Can I Bring Batteries For Extra Credit?
As long as students are hooked up to a $14,000 high-tech pod, why not add a little tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation)? A couple of, um… neurotransmitters targeting the part of the brain you wish to stimulate, and ZAP – learning ability enhanced! You can even buy inexpensive home-made versions online.
What could go wrong?
Stop Teaching Them To Protest Stuff!
A New Jersey high school senior, Tori DiPaolo, slipped in a final statement about her school’s dress code and what I presume she would consider a shame’n’blame approach by administration. I'd tell you what she wrote for her "senior quote" in the school yearbook but I can't seem to focus on it long enough to remember. In any case, the photo speaks for itself:
Meanwhile, across the waters, a group of British schoolboys confronted by a particularly brutal stretch of uncomfortably hot weather were told they must follow school dress code and wear full-length trousers – no shorts! Apparently one school official did crack wise that they could wear a skirt, if they preferred, so… they did.
While it doesn’t seem to have been intended as a blow for sexual equality or anything, it’s still a rather bold move. And several of them are pulling off the look particularly well, so that could lead anywhere. To the school’s credit, there was only one report of disciplinary action resulting from the protest; one young man’s skirt was too short.
An online Romanian dictionary noticed that certain word searches were spiking during the two-hour window in which state exams were given. Suspecting that students were cheating, they changed the definitions of several of the high-traffic words until the window had closed.
There’s no word on how many students were thwarted as a result.
Much closer to home, unfortunately, a Wisconsin college student was caught trying to sneak three flat-screen televisions out of Wal-Mart – which already leaves you wondering what she thought the best-case scenario for that might play out. Turns out she had tons of other stolen crap in her dorm room, but it was OK – or so she insisted – because she was just doing research for a paper on kleptomania.
She might want to pick a better topic, like how to fib more convincingly. Turns out the semester had only started that day and the only class she was enrolled in was introduction to biology.
History Post of the Week (Victorians Dug Gingers)
There are a number of fascinating history blogs out there, and most don’t get the attention they deserve. Mimi Matthews is one of the best. Her research is impeccable and her style everything you could ask in a legit blog not aimed at academics or weirdos.
“A Passion for Auburn Hair: Victorian Views On Reddish-Brown Tresses” briefly examines the allure of red hair across the 19th century. Lots of pictures, a few primary source excerpts, and just enough creepy to keep even you non-history types engaged. Enjoy it, then forward it to your favorite redhead or botched dye job.
Serious Grown-Up Education Talk
There are several posts you should probably not overlook this week, despite many of us trying to maintain mirth and utter denial as best we can over the summer break. Grab a cold non-alcoholic drink and put on your big-teacher panties for a bit.
Supremes Break Down Church State Wall – Peter Greene, Curmudgucation
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, and it looks like its quickly becoming OK for public tax dollars to be used to support private religious activities – including, presumably, vouchers of the most unrestrained sorts.
With this decision, the wall between church and state is pretty well shot, and there is nothing to stand in the way of, say, a federally-financed multi-billion dollar program that would funnel money to private religious schools. Trump and DeVos could not have a brighter green light for their voucher program.
I'll argue, as always, that churches will rue the day the wall is taken down. The separation of church and state doesn't just protect the state-- it protects the church, too. When you mix religion and politics, you get politics. And where federal money goes, federal strings follow.
Some Unpopular Thoughts On Teacher Evaluation – Mitchell Robinson, MitchellRobinson.net
Here’s the truth–it’s a colossal waste of time to keep pouring good money after bad in this attempt. Why?
Not because there are zero weak teachers–there are some, though as most will acknowledge, a surprisingly small number.
Because bad teachers self-select, and weed themselves out of the classroom well before any evaluation system “catches” them. Why?
Because the job is too hard to do it without finding any level of satisfaction or fulfillment–and the money isn’t good enough to keep them in the classroom, unlike other jobs where people report low satisfaction, but remain in the job for the financial rewards.
It’s all that good, and more importantly, it’s all that true. An ongoing mic drop of stuff that should be obvious but no one seems to understand outside of those doing the teaching.
Whatever Is Worse – Doug Robertson, He’s The Weird Teacher
The most dangerous phrase in education, in anything, is, "Whatever." I can work with someone who says, "This is the way we've always done it." There's a root there that's easy to see.
But a shrug? Shrugs are harder to work with. There's a lot of root causes of "whatever," and they get gnarled and deep. Apathy is a killer. Does it come from being beat down by bad teammate, bad admin, bad state leadership, frustration with an incompetent Education Secretary, one of those classes?
Apathy takes a long time to get to. An apathetic response means not only does the person not burn with desire, their pilot light has gone out.
Read Robertson’s blog, and buy his books – seriously. They’re literally the best things I’ve ever read with his name on the cover.
I know that’s a lot to ponder in one post, but I’ve been away for a while and things build up. I don’t expect it will be quite that long until next time. You are amazing, my #11FF – don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
I leave you with this, a new favorite of mine from some local boys done good: