Maybe I can finally get this thing off the ground. I want to enter at least one item a day, skipping around a bit. I say a bit b/c I want to hit Lesson Plan at least once a week and to put in items from various books into categories like the History of Teaching FL, Teaching & Learning, Teaching, etc.
As time permits and events dictate, I’d like to drop in on the History of English, Spanish Grammar, the African Diaspora, etc.
Unfortunately, it’ll be very hard to stay away from Politics. But while the Giffords assassination attempt in my state looms large just now, my first item will be into FL teaching & learning, a response to an article in FL Annals, the organ of ACTFL.
Continued Jan 24.
Still having difficulty with the semester but it’s getting better and I’m feeling better in general. Events keep crowding in, like Keith Olberman’s departure from MSNBC, that it’s hard to stay focused in this blog on items of teaching. After all, it’s the political climate that impinges on our teaching. The onslaught of measurement and testing has only increased under Obama. As his campaign unfolded, my wife and I kept telling people he’s conservative, but because he’s Black, they assumed he was a liberal. Now he certainly is not the retrograde sort of conservative that has purged every other sort of conservative from the GOP, but he is, nonetheless, conservative. Look at who raised him: Nebraska farmers. Yes, he had the influence from his mother, someone who consorted with foreigners, and he even lived among foreigners and even in the U.S. he lived in a foreign state, Hawaii. The Tea Partiers probably think of Hawaii as a foreign country because so many non-White people run things there. But he’s still conservative.
So we are in for a long row of jabs at teachers, teacher unions, schools of education and their professors, in short, all the people and institutions who call citizens to look at the complexities of educating our youth. And that leads directly into what interests me now, my Basics and Pat’s World View categories. How can it not when we hear and read so much drivel about child-rearing, education, China, foreign languages, politics, economics, male/female roles, and on and on?
What are some basics that we have to deal with? The first is that human society has not changed in any fundamental way just because we have big malls, Information Technology, birth control, and recognition of gay rights. These things affect people but not how people are. They give people ways to express their basic needs but do not change those needs. What are some things that are being ignored or distorted?
Let’s start with the impetus for this blog: kids in school.
(I’m going to continue this but will go ahead and put it on the blog for now to be edited later – today is Jan. 24)
(Jan. 28)Several incidents today tie into the many threads I want to unravel once I’ve written this blog entry. One is the sudden and highly unexpected events in the Middle East. Where is our intelligence services that the administration was obviously taken by surprise.
One move that is paramount is to keep communications open in Egypt. If they are suppressed, the only counter-government groups able to communicate will be those with systems already in place and those will most likely be radical groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. To strengthen what democratic tendencies there may be in Egypt, we need to use every means at our disposal to allow free voice to everyone.
When I think of these mass movements, ones like those in the Phillippines that put Corey Aquino in power after kicking out Marcos, in Iran when they kicked out the Shah, in Russian when they saved the new government from a counter coup, Lavalasse in Haiti, the colored revolutions in Eastern Europe, the overthrow of Ceausesu in Romania, the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, the Hungarian Uprising, the Prague Spring, Burma, Tibet, on and on, I think of how frightening those must be to people charged with keeping order. These movements are unpredicatble, and that’s the last thing people in power want.
I try to understand the Henry Kissingers of the world, those charged with keeping order and possessing the power to do so. How often this turns to abuse. How much more often it is simply incompetent. Yet we have to appreciate the dangers they see and want to forestall. They make lots of mistakes but in a democracy we have the voice to bring it to their attention and even to help them.
That’s where civic organizations come in. Just voting is great but working for candidates helps or just working in a non-partisan way in politics or working as a social service volunteer makes you part of the solution. Get involved in a community garden or child care or volunteer at your kids’ school. You get the idea.
And as teachers, we have professional organizations to belong to. We need to be part of those, to help out, mentor fellow teachers, pitch in to help the administration put on good in-services, and so on. So often I hear teachers grumbling about some in-service they had to go to, the “what a waste of time” sort of comment. What did they do to help?