Sunday, April 24, 2011

112 update

You may have noticed that my posts are fewer and further between, and there are lots of good reasons for that, not the least of which is teaching 20 hours, furloughs, busy schedule at home, etc. Just not enough time in the day, not enough time on the computer that has my work on it.

But this doesn't mean I've been slouching with my classes. We have been studying intelligence, so I gave groups of students (in two classes) topics that they could choose from and was grateful when they chose topics I liked: a group in each class chose multiliteracies (21st century skills), and another group chose gifted education. Two groups also did educational toys and videos; and one did men vs. women (in IQ).

If you open the links that lie beneath these group titles, you will find students' reading reaction journals which, unfortunately, are sometimes put in the wrong weblogs. Each weblog should ultimately be a collection of articles and links pertaining to that subject, though unfortunately things don't always work out as I'd planned. It has however allowed me to read a bit on the topics.

I was interested in multiliteracies partly because a friend has written extensively on it yet I still wasn't clear exactly what other literacies there were besides the traditional two (reading and writing). Even now, and after reading a number of articles including his (Vance Stevens'), I'm not clear on how to define the different literacies one would surely need as we go into the 21st century. My students went out and actually asked young SIUC students what kind of computer skills we should be teaching our young people; if getting information from the computer and using it involve so much more than just reading and writing, exactly what else is valuable? It seems that evaluating web content is extremely important, and involves a different set of skills than, say, knowing where in a library to find a book; but, those skills, as far as I can tell, are mostly centered around reading itself. Multitasking is an interesting skill, as it's taken a hit in the mainstream media; but, is it really more necessary now than it used to be? Only because we make it so. The young are proud to say they can text and drive, no problem; they can facebook and write a paper, too, all in an hour. We on the other end are pretty sure that both their driving and their paper-writing are not as 100% as they were, say, pre-texting. But they still value multitasking at the driver's license center and studies show it to be one of the (possibly fluid-analytic?) skills that decline with if there is something elemental, and important, involved.

In the area of gifted education I've had a bug under my ear ever since I found out that much of the original research done on it was flawed; in other words, we should not sit around and wait for education schools to tell us what labeling our children in the public schools would do, either to their education, or to them. I suspect that nobody every really thought it out thoroughly, and somehow I'm not surprised. The articles my students turned up showed it was a hot topic in both the USA and Canada; the very first, in Canada, had something like 550 comments on it, mostly negative, though parents freely admit they would always accept a gifted education program for their child (as I have, several times), if offered.

The writing on both topics is interesting, and still coming in; I don't mean to neglect the other two groups either, as they have interesting topics too. Each weblog ultimately will house the story of how they went out, spoke to SIUC students about the topic, and got data about how people felt....should be interesting.

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another fotopic disaster

Time to admit defeat...another photography disaster. This time all my pop art, lost in an unexplainable shutdown of a small British hosting site; it closed down, and gave no explanation, and offered no recompense for people, even if they were paying for premium services. The amateur photography world gets lost in a cloud of "I-told-you-so" backup stories, but my entire backup is pretty much the fact that most of my photography is in some form or another still on my own computers. Ah, well, rebuilding time again.

Monday, April 04, 2011

us out of libya

I realize this is a language blog and not necessarily the best place for this, but I don't hear anyone saying anything about this "war" and I don't hear any of the things I'm about to say, so somebody needs to say it.

The fact that the US is together with European powers and Canada makes everyone feel confident or complacent but still doesn't help me. Do we have a reason for siding with one tribe or another? Our reason is that Ghaddafi kills people for no reason? We don't like him? We like the other tribe better? Do we even know the name of that other tribe?

I realize that probably someone is studying the situation, and figuring out the name of that tribe, as I write. But it's too late. We've committed millions of dollars, billions, and human lives, to a situation where lots of people have lots at stake totally unrelated to us and we don't know a thing about it, even now. So we want the oil. We should make it a state and just steal the oil, but I guess that wouldn't be polite, would it? So we play these tribes against each other, hoping to side with whichever one can help us with the oil, and, wait, we don't even know the tribes' names?

We moveth too fast. Let's at least figure out if we have any friends in the area.