Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Depressing Awesome-ness!

A quick suggestion:  Listen to France's Deathspell Omega and check out this thread on Slashdot.  It will be awesome.  Maybe a little depressing, but mostly awesome.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the last 45 minutes of my life.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Readicide by Kelly Gallagher

Books written about research in education tend to follow the pattern of describing a major issue that everyone is already talking about, presenting some statistics that make the problem seem worse, and then describing ways that teachers can, in the classroom, deal with said problem.  Gallagher does not stray from this pattern in even the slightest way.

I like that he presents clear classroom practices that promise to increase students' frequency and quality of independent reading.  I also like that these methods are all things that used to be more common in public schools and that he explains why we have gotten away from them and why we need to go back to them.  I've been talking to teachers in my school about the research Gallagher presents, and will be trying many of his suggestions in the coming school year.

Unfortunately the world needs more than that.

I do not like that this book is written for an audience of only teachers.  If we believe that there are problems in education in America that we can effectively address, we have to also recognize that teachers are no longer the decision makers in education.  We failed to hold on to that power decades ago.  Gallagher briefly describes some ways of talking administrators into supporting more pro-reading policies on a classroom level, but no place does he adress those administrators directly.  We do not need more books written to help teachers manage the shitty reality of our profession.  We need books written to empower teachers to improve the state of education outside of the confines of our classrooms and help policy makers (who are not teachers and do not read education research) and politicians understand what they are doing that is hurting the learning of our children in this country.  Your governor, your local legislature, and probably even your school board does not understand why the policies that they mandate do nothing to improve anything, and this book will not help them in any way.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cheatin' on y'all

So I play in this band called Wormrider, and this band called Wormrider has a blog.  I just posted to it earlier today.  The post is about a fan re-edit of the Dune movie.  I curse a lot in it.  Also I say mean things about George Lucas.  It's funny.  You should read it.  Then you should start listening to my band.  That's all the advice that I have for today.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Preach it, cousin!

My awesome wife just found a blog called Adulting that gets at what I'm trying to get at, only better.  I am now a fan of the words that this person types!

In particular, I recommend this post, which sums up everything of substance that I have ever uttered in front of any student of mine. It is also the lesson that I may never fully learn myself, no matter how hard I try.  I'm getting there, though.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

I spent the entirety of this book waffling back and forth between hating it for being a clumsy wad of misogyny and loving it for being a well-crafted picture of a misogynist society.  The jerks who wrote it lured me through the whole thing.  Damn them!

I love the hell out of some classic sci-fi, but I am fully tired of books where every male character is a bro who struts around flexing and winning at big-dick competitions and every female character swoons, cries, and makes silly woman-decisions.  For frig's sake, the book was written in the mid-seventies.  That crap was well-out of style by that point.

I'll give Niven and Pounelle some credit for neat aliens, though.  I liked the aliens.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mmmmm . . . Tasty death metal

For some reason this makes lesson planning go so much more smoothly.  I think it's the blast beats.  I'm a sucker for fast drums.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

I remember this PBS series from when I was a kid. The shots of space and interviews with well spoken scientists stuck with me as I grew up and had a continued casual interest in physics and astronomy. While neither of these academic disciplines were ever my strong suit I still like to read up on the Hubble Space Telescope and whatever NASA is up to these days.

Sagan's companion to the TV series goes much further than what I remember. I did not expect the spiritual direction in which he takes the big ideas in science that he presents. The book presents the love of science that has driven humanity to continue to ask questions of the universe around us. I found this book to be as informative in its exploration of learning and inquiry as it is about the actual findings concerning the universe. It presents a truly awesome view of the universe that even delves into the way that we can use our knowledge of the physical world to live better social and spiritual lives. Good freakin' stuff!

I'm strongly considering pulling some excerpts from Cosmos to teach next year as part of a non-fiction unit.