Tag: 2017 June Group Writing

Grad School in the Humanities: The Smart Ones Left

 

Note: In general contours, this is a true account, but every name that could be changed has been to protect myself from the vindictive (with the exception of a street name).

Dave was on balance both better dressed and more serious in his demeanor than most of the PhD Students in the Department for German and Related Languages at Gigantic Midwestern Research I University. He usually wore khakis and button down Oxford pinpoints, looking quite professional, where most of the rest of us were in the rotation of jeans t-shirts that were either politically antagonistic (“Bush/Halliburton” or slightly later “End Mad Cowboy Disease”) or pop-culture derivatives (college-themed variations of Calvin and Hobbes or other already aging 1990’s pop culture references). I was the polo shirt guy, which put me closer to Dave on the sartorial scale than to the rest of our cohort. What really set him apart, though, was something he said one night after one of our monthly departmental guest lectures. The lecturer had a been a foreign language pedagogy expert from a well-known and then well-respected east-coast university who had achieved some notice in the AATG and MLA circles by reversing, almost single-handedly, the constant decline of enrollments in German that the field had seen since the end of the Cold War at her institution. German pop culture tie-ins! Student writing and creative arts portfolios in German! Internet chatrooms with StudentInnen in Karlsruhe! Our faculty and some of the older grad students, those a couple of years ahead of us, had eaten her Spiel up like fresh Apfeltaschen. Not Dave.

Member Post

 

First off, it wasn’t intentional, and I didn’t break the registrar himself, just the academic computer system that spits out the results.  And it wasn’t broken exactly, but I exceeded its capabilities.  It’s only designed to handle at most two majors, and when I got my third BA degree, it couldn’t figure out how to […]

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Learning Hebrew

 

At the age of 11, if I remember correctly, I began to attend Hebrew School after public school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and on Saturday mornings. We carpooled with family friends for the 40-minute drive to Temple Beth Emet, a young, conservative synagogue in Anaheim, CA. To amuse ourselves during the drive, I remember arguing with Alan about whether there was such a thing as a purple car; I never won the argument, but neither did he.

The synagogue was in an old home that had been converted to a simple sanctuary and classrooms. The old wood floors creaked, and the rooms were austere: our classroom had just a long table and folding chairs to sit on. Cantor Model usually taught us: he was an elderly man with thinning gray hair and a mustache, a sweet smile, and spoke with a European accent. We all knew that he adored us. Although I was excited about learning Hebrew, his enthusiasm further spurred me on.

I was fascinated by Hebrew; the letters whispered of mystery to me. I loved the fact that it was written from right to left and was (obviously) read the same way! I loved printing the Hebrew words carefully, trying to imitate the graceful and exotic symbols and words, and adding the dots and lines as vowels under the letters that made them readable to a novice like me. I learned the formal letters; I don’t remember if I learned writing in script during that time. Sometimes Rabbi Tofield would stop in to say hello to our class; I remember him as a quiet, gentle man.

On Being a Public School Insurgent

 

For a conservative (particularly a social conservative), working as a teacher in America’s public school system feels an awful lot like being an exile in a strange and hostile land.

Earlier in my career, collaboration between teachers, while encouraged, was not mandatory. A teacher’s classroom was one’s own domain. As long as one could substantiate to their principal and students’ parents that their lessons met the curricular objective established by the district, teachers were under no compulsion to teach the same lessons as their colleagues. Those days are long gone. Starting with No Child Left Behind, and accelerating under Common Core, delivery of classroom instruction and assessment is under the direct control of district and school site administration. The “perfect” lesson is one that is “teacher-proof,” sanitized of any distracting individuality, conveying the authorized and approved content with a predictable, mechanical reliability. Such lessons almost universally reflect the progressive dogma prevalent in society currently.

School Days: Propaganda

 

Something on Ricochet recently reminded me of an event that happened when I was a schoolgirl.

I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade when my class watched a video at school about the inevitable destruction of the world coming soon where we would have no food because all the plants and animals would die due to humanity’s neglect. Then we would die from acid rain, complete with a vivid little enactment of people dying from acid rain. The only way to stop this Certain Death was to start telling grownups to tell people to stop cutting down the rain-forests. I went home bawling to Mom about acid rain death and rainforests. It took her some time to calm me down and I’m fairly certain she got a hold of someone at the school over that.

Member Post

 

It started with music. The band launched into an aggressive rendition of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4,” always seeming to teeter on the edge of losing control of their horns. As they wrapped up, the lights in the upper bleachers dimmed and the flag unfurled from a panel in the ceiling of our gym. […]

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Member Post

 

I know you’re all sick of hearing about how I went to high school with Hillary Rodham. Well, too bad. This is the story of Hillary and the Mock Political Convention. It was 1964, the year of the presidential election between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. Hillary was a senior and I was a freshman. […]

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School Bologna

 

In the beginning was the word, and the word was the law: the law of Rome. And Justinian I commanded that the law be gathered and compiled. And in this compilation of 1,500 volumes, he found many conflicts, so he ordered these conflicts resolved and fifty were published as The Fifty Decisions. And when this was done and apparently liking the number fifty, he commanded that the 1,500 books of law be digested down into fifty volumes, and that this should be the Law of Rome henceforth. And so it was done; and so it was published, and so it was the law of the land. It was called the Digest, and it was good and much simpler than what had gone before.

And as the years passed, it was used in both East and West, but then the West fell to barbarians. And so they lived in the light of a golden age for five hundred years with no professional lawyers to pester them and make wreck of their lives, only having to worry of honest robbers and barbarians.

Member Post

 

Due to the clamoring of hundreds of you, I have written this post on the topic of American Education. Well okay, it wasn’t hundreds of you. Okay it was my mom. Recent news stories and Ricochet discussions about all the little Special Snowflakes falling like a blizzard on every college campus have made me think […]

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Member Post

 

As summer time looms, the countdown has begun to the next season of college football, and I and many Texas Tech alumni across the country look forward to the fall with hopeful anticipation. But I write today not of the gridiron, but of another sport revered by the Red Raider Nation: cheerleading. Here are some […]

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Member Post

 

One of the great issues in education in the last few generations is: how do we get kids to learn? This is generally used in the context of public schools, and how they are being effective, or not, and how that effectiveness can be improved. This usually focuses on teaching methods, which I am going […]

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Watching Movies, Old School

 

Christopher Lee appeared on screen, and 500 girls screamed for all they were worth. Peter Cushing deftly snatched two candlesticks from the table and turned to face him, holding up the candlesticks in the Sign of the Cross. 500 boys roared their approval.

I’ve written before about how my hometown was transformed in the late ’50s from a small, sleepy town into a bustling suburb by several massive housing developments and the arrival of 10,000 new residents, along with what that did to the local school system. The new houses were perfect for young families, and the influx of thousands of new children necessitated the immediate building of four elementary schools and a high school.

That’s not to say there wasn’t already a school in town; just one school that covered K-12, with one classroom for each grade, although in my day it was used as the middle school. A stately, three-story old stone building, originally built in the 1880s, there were several additions made through the years, including a large new wing that was added at the same time those other schools were built. These additions created a school that was a rambling, twisted maze that ranged from the ancient core, with its uneven floors and age rippled windows, to the modern, up-to-the-minute, 1960s style of the newest wing. But it was the first addition, the auditorium, that stood out as truly weird.