Ramblings: a precursor to many entries

So many thoughts run through my head, every time I read a paragraph, new ones pop into it. Today was highly emotional but the prognosis is good. There may be some chemotherapy but not a lot, and reconstructive surgery can start in a few months. Maybe later I’ll speak more openly about this but for now it’s enough to say this past month, starting Jan. 28, has been the roughest of our almost 49 years of marriage. And it’s so wonderful that my daughter has stepped up and taken such good care of my wife.
That leads me to the first thought and one that belongs in Basics: family. It is too bad that conservatives …… OK, let me write Conservatives for the people who in this country have been calling themselves conservatives for the past 30 years or so, the Moral Majority, the Evangelicals (which is a misnomer many evangelicals do not fall into this camp), the Reagan Democrats, the Southern backlash, the anti-immigrant crowd, the Neocons, and so forth. They are really different in many ways from conservatives, i.e. people who follow the traditional conservativism; even Buckley falls into the latter category more than he does the Conservative category. Family is the foundation not only of society but of one’s persona; the way American movies glorify the loner, the disconnected and deracinated person can be classified only as a distortion and even pathology. In today’s politicized environment, one cannot speak of family without being assailed by anti-gay remarks and Christian propaganda. Sad.
Another thought was triggered by an e-mail from the Latin teacher at school. She excluded my independent study student from the National Latin Exam on the basis of his being a third year student but having only just finished Book III of the textbook series. This series generally allocates books I and II to first year and book III to second year. I reminded her that not many American teachers get through the third book by the end of the second year. Of course, she wouldn’t know this b/c she does not follow the profession; she’s involved in JCL but mainly for purposes of competition, whether it’s games or tests. The lack of professionalism in our profession is a disgrace. I e-mailed her a response pointing this out and reminding her that she had selected another textbook for next year; she selected it on the basis that its users score higher on the NLE.
Which brings me to another point. It would be entirely pointless to tell this person that teaching only the grammar portions of the textbook and ignoring the stories, which are the heart of the book, is non-productive. She isn’t interesting in producing people who can read Latin, just those who score high on tests, tests of grammatical knowledge. I’m sure she has complete contempt for my approach to language learning, which is to learn the language. If you can’t identify the principle parts of verbs, what good are you?
Which leads me to the book I’m reading. This surely belongs under What I’m Reading Now. It is Vivian Cook’s Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition (Vivian is a man, BTW typical of the English; I knew an Englishman named Wanda when I was a kid and later one named Carol). It is maddening. The chapter I’m on now is all about Krashen and he contrasts Krashen’s 5 Hypotheses with another applied linguist, Gardner, who developed a model that can be mathematically verifiable. One catch: in over 25 years of reading applied linguistics and 55 years of reading in linguistics, I’ve never heard of Gardner, but most fl teachers have heard of Krashen. Why? Because Krashen designed his hypotheses to teach people a second language; he needed to get it out of the gate. If he had spent 30 years doing experiments so he could clearly define what goes on in the brain, as Cook asks, and be able to present mathematical modeling of acquisition, we’d all still be sending our students to the board to conjugate verbs. Krashen put it out there, marshaled all the research he could, designed some research projects of his own, and let it fly. He got out and barnstormed. I truly wonder how much money he makes; there are not a few comments that he is just out to make money. During the California mess over Prop.227, the bilingual education issue, he was ridiculed for having followers, teachers who fawned over him, etc. Well, I would certainly count as one of those. Given the fact that the other four teachers in my school are still sending students to the board to conjugate verbs, I wouldn’t say Krashen’s influence has been as great as I would like it to be.
Addendum 3/10/13: adding to this Krashen discussion: compare

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