This graphic’s been floating around online lately. It makes an important point about the gender crisis in America today.
- List of technology-enhanced activities for secondary English classes.
- Examples of worthwhile technology-enhanced lesson plans.
- Quick thoughts from the Hardings, homeschooling parents of ten who have sent seven kids to college by age 12.
- Recently found this silly video I made for a class I was taking two years ago. Amusing.
- Instapundit nails it: the humanities lost relevance when they decided to preach that nothing has intrinsic value. It’s been my experience that students (yes, even at-risk, underprivileged minorities!) appreciate the classics. Everybody likes the egalitarian ideal of participation in the uniting, universal canon, rather than manufactured niche curricula that only panders to trends.
Language & Literature
- Great WSJ essay on one of my favorite books, A Confederacy of Dunces.
- Cute chart collects insults from famous authors who hated each other’s work.
- Fascinating memoir of writing the script for Star Trek: Insurrection. Included here because it shares so much about that specific writing craft. Also, Insurrection is often over-maligned—it is not great, but not nearly as bad as many say. This long essay shows how it could have been great.
- Long lost introduction by Anthony Burgess to Dubliners.
- Interesting city photos from around the world.
- Beautiful music and images celebrate the wonder of God’s creations.
- Basic training ideas for half marathons, with more resources.
- 101 running tips from Men’s Health
Recently, some pioneering work in neuroscience has begun to suggest what English teachers have long known: that the power of literature is the power of alterity, creating the possibility of encountering the other in a form not easily recuperable, not easily assimilable to the self. “Imaginative sympathy,” we used to call it. To read literature well is to be challenged, and to emerge changed.
Frederic Edwin Church
A classic. I remember Patrick Stewart doing this bit as a guest host once, but I can’t find the clip. Still…
Adjacent to this hospital is a medical office building, thus this sign. Still…Vegas, baby!
As the father of seven children, I’ve had to clean up a lot of gross stuff over the years. I’ve only been peed on twice, and both times were my own dumb fault–I shouldn’t have been so slow with the transition while changing a diaper.
Still, what happened Monday takes the cake.
Our new daughter was one day old, and I was changing her diaper.
She had just gotten some work done at the hospital, and had a bandage on her heel where they drew blood. As I started, it came off and she bled on me. I put a new band-aid on.
I took off the old diaper and she promptly peed on me, and her clothes, and the blanket. I got the old diaper back under there to get as much as I could.
The 2010-2011 school year should have been my best ever: I was teaching at the same campus for the sixth year, teaching all honors classes, and only had classes that I’d taught before.
But by the middle of second semester, I was worn out from constant frustration. A series of cheating incidents had made me paranoid and angry, I had faced a massive outcry after raising expectations for late and missing work, and I had gone through several confrontational parent conferences due to both.
During Spring Break, though, I had resolved to make the best of it and restore my optimism. I was grateful for a lot of things about that job: I worked with great teachers and students, my leaders were generally supportive, and I loved the work I got to do. I decided to focus on the positive from there on out and make the last part of the year the best part.
Then school started again…
I still believe that every student can be a winner. A winner is someone who shows up every day and works hard, caring about achieving results, even if they don’t often succeed. You can get Cs and still be a winner.
But too many of you are comfortable being a loser. Being a loser has nothing to do with talent or even results: it has to do with maturity as evinced by discipline and effort.
Some of you may think it’s rude to label someone as a loser, but I know that honesty can be a higher virtue than immediate kindness. It’s a sign of a greater caring, a devotion to guiding you to success, even when you don’t care enough to improve.
This truth leads to even more important truths: being a loser is a bad thing. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but it does make you a bad student, and being a bad student isn’t good. If you have chosen to be a loser, you should feel bad about that. You should want to change it and be a winner.
I noted these in a biography I read last year:
“The sun shines not on us but in us, as if truly part and parent of us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing…” –journal, 1872.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul.” –journal, (1888?)
“The American forests, however slighted by man, must surely have been a great delight to God; for they were the best he ever planted. The whole continent was a garden, and from the beginning it seemed favored above all the other wild parks and gardens of the globe.” –first line of “The American Forests,” Atlantic Monthly, 1897
Before starting this blog, I used to vent my thoughts by writing letters to newspapers. I’ve probably had about two dozen printed, but haven’t done many in recent years.
I actually wrote several before I had one published. After that, I hit on the formula, and most every letter I sent after that was printed somewhere.
Here’s my formula:
1. Always start by referencing a specific article or previous letter that recently appeared in the publication. Random rants are the stuff of blogs, not op-ed pages.
2. Keep it short. No paragraph should be longer than three simple sentences. You might be burning to pen an intricate analysis, but it’ll never see the light of day.
3. End with a memorable sound bite: a pithy quip, quote, accusation, or call to action.
A local high school has elected a female prom king, and nobody can say why it’s a good idea.
This isn’t about gender or sexuality or any manufactured PC trope. It’s about meaning, and the lack thereof.
Things like this prove what many of us have been saying for years: if society keeps up the shift to basing values on superficial trends, we’ll end up with people who are incapable of defending positions with consistent logic.
This young woman and her fans are celebrating their courage for doing absolutely nothing. Her cause is random, so her victory is empty. She didn’t do this to make anything better, or even to make a point at all. She did it because it gives the
appearance of rebellion, even though this protest has no actual content.
Prophetic words from 1995:
“I think cyberspace means the end of our species….Because it means the end of innovation….This idea that the whole world is wired together is mass death.
“Every biologist knows that small groups in isolation evolve fastest. You put a thousand birds on an ocean island and they’ll evolve very fast. You put ten thousand on a big continent, and their evolution slows down. Now, for our own species, evolution occurs mostly through our behavior. We innovate new behavior to adapt. And everybody on earth knows that innovation only occurs in small groups.
“Put three people on a committee and they may get something done. Ten people, and it gets harder. Thirty people, and nothing happens. Thirty million, it becomes impossible. That’s the effect of mass media—it keeps anything from happening. Mass media swamps diversity. It makes every place the same.
“Bangkok or Tokyo or London: there’s a McDonald’s on one corner, a Benetton on another, a Gap across the street. Regional differences vanish. All differences vanish. In a mass-media world, there’s less of everything except the top ten books, records, movies, ideas. People worry about losing species diversity in the rain forest. But what about intellectual diversity—our most necessary resource? That’s disappearing faster than trees.
“But we haven’t figured that out, so now we’re planning to put five billion people together in cyberspace. And it’ll freeze the entire species. Everything will stop dead in its tracks. Everyone will think the same thing at the same time. Global uniformity.”
–Michael Crichton, The Lost World
The Santa Barbara shooting has me thinking about the seriousness of entitlement mindsets and the danger they pose. America’s been complaining about spoiled, self-centered youth for generations now, but has it reached a tipping point? A point where the children are failed–if not actively reinforced–by parents who essentially share their warped views?
Two examples from the current semester:
A young man and his father arranged a meeting with me to complain about how a low grade on a final exam lowered his semester grade from an A to a B. There was no cogent argument made that this was inaccurate grading, just an expression of dissatisfaction with the result, plus an implication that I was obligated to agree and give them the A they wanted. The fact that this meeting was taking place ten months after the fact–late in the following school year–didn’t faze them, either.