Thanks to genetic research, we may soon see people with the money to do so making sure their kids are born-to-succeed – parents paying to guarantee their kids have the right stuff. I’m not talking about a straightened spine or a functional optic nerve. I’m talking about designer kids: those made with healthy bodies, intelligent minds, and perhaps a certain specific ability to boot. Read the rest of this entry
So I heard on the news the other day about the poor little kids whose school backpacks are so full of books they’re developing debilitating back pain… Oh please.
If they’d worked on their homework during the time allotted for just that purpose, instead of text messaging the person next to them, one painstaking letter at a time, to send the monumentally important query ‘hey brittiny ow r u’, they wouldn’t have so much left over to take home.
If they’d paid attention during class, engaged their minds in the mental effort required to learn something, they might have even finished it during that allotted time.
If they wore their backpacks properly with both straps over their shoulders and high up, instead of oh-so-fashionably slung low over one shoulder, they wouldn’t develop such back pain.
If mandatory physical education hadn’t’ve been cancelled, or if they actually played outside after school instead of watching tv, or walked the five blocks to and from school instead of getting chauffeured by mom or dad, they might have enough strength in their little backs – wait a minute – are these the same kids for whom pens with rubberized grips are designed because the user’s thumbs and forefingers are just too weak to hold onto them firmly otherwise?
I recently read a lament about work attitudes, about how more and more people seem to think that just being there is enough, that their paycheque is for putting in time rather than for actually doing anything, let alone for doing a good anything, that people feel no guilt about the mistakes they make, nor do they feel any desire to do better.
I’d like to offer some comments in defense, or at least in explanation, of that position. Read the rest of this entry
So – this was quite a while ago – a colleague at work, another part-timer, who was also going to grad school, got a government grant. She’d be getting $675/month to cover her living expenses. I’d spent five years saving $10,000 to cover my living expenses (hopefully it wouldn’t take more than ten months to get my degree).
She’s ‘native’. Well, she was born in Canada same as me, actually in the same year even, but her parents’ parents’ parents’ parents’ parents’ parents were living here before the Europeans moved in.
So, the argument goes, Read the rest of this entry
Boy books. You’re thinking The Boys’ Book of Trains and The Hardy Boys, right? I’m thinking most of the books I took in high school English.
Consider Knowles’ A Separate Peace. Separate indeed. It’s set at a boys’ boarding school. The boys are obsessed with jumping out of a tree. This involves considerable risk of crippling injury. And yet they do it, for no other reason than ‘to prove themselves’. Now my question is ‘What are they proving themselves to be – other than complete idiots?’ We don’t get it. Read the rest of this entry
That a humanities degree is useless for the workforce says more about our workforce than the degree. It says that we value, that we’ll pay for, someone to provide cars, electric toothbrushes, and running shoes. But not beauty and insight.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Read the rest of this entry
At first, I noticed incomplete sentences in their conversation and in their writing. But I thought hey, it’s a fragmented world: videos with their bits and pieces of images, radio and tv with their sound bites, even entire degree programs at university present their courses as if they’re unrelated.
But then I wondered, is it because they don’t have complete thoughts? Read the rest of this entry
I filled in for a high school English teacher one day who had left the following instructions: “Have the students rewrite one of the two scenes from Romeo and Juliet – either the balcony scene or the fight scene – into contemporary English.”
“Okay,” I said to the class, “this can be lots of fun, let’s take a look. Open your books to the fight scene, please, and imagine it: you have these guys raging at each other, and they’ve been doing it for years; they’re going to fight now, and they’re going to fight so hard a couple of them end up stabbed to death. Now instead of shouting ‘A plague o’ both your houses!’, Mercutio would say, if it were today, he’d say maybe ‘Fuck you!’, right? Okay, go ahead, see if you can translate the whole scene.”
The students did indeed have lots of fun. And the principal had hysterics. Read the rest of this entry
This was written, of course, in January 2000.
I don’t do New Years’. I especially didn’t do this New Years. Though the chance to join in worldwide celebration of an error in addition (our calendar is such that there wasn’t a year zero – 1 A.D. came right after 1 B.C., so actually we’ve just begun, not finished, the 2000th year A.D.) (and A.D., well that’s a whole mess of mistakes, not the least of which is marking time across the entire planet according to a religious myth) – what was I saying, oh yeah, while joining with humanity worldwide to celebrate, indeed to proclaim in song and dance, our F in arithmetic had its attraction, I declined – because even if they’d gotten it right, the arbitrariness of it all is pretty insulting. I mean, I’ll celebrate and reflect when I have good reason to – but our fascination with base ten is a mere evolutionary happenstance, and to rejoice at the occurrence of multiples of ten serves merely to reassure us that we do indeed have ten fingers and toes.
Nevertheless, I ended up watching several hours of the “2000″ telecast. Not the midnight champagne and crowds part, but the performance parts throughout the day: I realized early on that it would probably be another thousand years before so much art was given so much air time. Certainly I’d never see Jean-Michel Jarre on tv again.
But pretty soon the irony (and the heritage schlock stuff) spoiled it, and I stopped watching. I’m referring, of course, to the fact that Read the rest of this entry
Who among us has not heard the student in distress, claiming not to know ‘what the professor wants’? As if getting good grades is dependent on finding out each professor’s hidden idiosyncrasies – on figuring out how to please. This attitude has become very prevalent, and I’ve seen students paralysed by it. A professor will assign an essay, and students who are uncertain about how to proceed believe it’s because they don’t know what the professor wants; they truly believe they’re missing some crucial bit of information. Of course, the real reason for their uncertainty is usually their poor academic skills – they don’t know enough about the topic to generate some ideas or opinions with which they can then play around and organize into a paper. But instead of heading to the library, they wander the halls and poll other students, trying to discover ‘what the professor wants’.
My answer to this question, which is Read the rest of this entry