Posts from the “Commentary” Category

June, July, August

Posted on June 9, 2014

Summer is here! I’m basking in the glow of few responsibilities and playoff basketball. In the popular vernacular, I “survived” my first year of teaching. If you have friends on Facebook who are similar to the friends I have on Facebook, you might have seen them post THIS specious “news” article about a Chinese miner who supposedly survived 17 years buried underground, surviving on a diet of rice and rats and painstakingly burying 78 of his colleagues, only to be rediscovered and escape his subterranean purgatory. Well, the story is a hoax (check your sources, students), but the experience of reemerging into the daylight of human civilization is similar to how I feel. I have time to read for pleasure? I can pursue hobbies…

Circle the Wagons: Metacognition and Mega-Confusion

Posted on May 19, 2013

The Oregon Trail If you attended grade school in the late 80’s or early to mid 90’s and were fortunate enough to have a computer lab in your school, you probably played The Oregon Trail.  For the uninitiated, The Oregon Trail was (and, in its 5th incarnation, still is) a computerized simulation of the massive westward migration that pioneering families undertook in the mid 19th century.  Like those brave pioneers, the game has you travel with a cohort of family and friends in a covered wagon.  Your ultimate destination is Oregon, but to get there you must purchase supplies (including animals, clothing, and medicine), cross treacherous rivers, and hunt game for survival.  Dysentery, cholera, and broken limbs are ever-present threats.  In one version of…

Speaking Dumb and Other Perks

Posted on May 15, 2013

Too much writing can lead to aphasia, or the inexplicable loss of verbal agility.  When aphasia is absent, words become sentences, and sentences make paragraphed-meanings that march, like battalions in battle, toward victorious communication.  But in the crafting of meaning–through the weaving of words–we spend our capacity for eloquence, which, like most things, is a finite gift.  I have not written (seriously) in a while, so my storehouses are full, my thread spooling, and my desire to be understood palpable. Though I have yet to mention it on this blog, I have a stutter.  My speech impediment expresses itself through oral disfluencies (blocking, saying “Uh” frequently, and repeating the initial vowel/consonant sounds of words).  Stuttering is not something I consider central to my personality,…

On TED, Learning, Legos, and Minecraft

Posted on August 22, 2012

Perhaps you’re familiar with TED.  No, not Ted your next-door neighbor, who, every time he sees you walking your dog, says, with a satisfied look on his face, “He seems to be walking you,” as if he’s offered up for your consideration some fabulously droll insight.  Naturally, Ted’s comment prompts a forced grin of amusement from you even though you’ve heard this observation 72 consecutive times from Ted, and even though it’s apparent your dog is a “she,” as indicated by the purple bandana and hot pink harness she dons wherever she goes.  Not that Ted. The TED I’m referring to is a conference hosted by members of the intelligentsia.  As an acronym, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  A typical TED event…

Teacherless Education?

Posted on July 22, 2012

So I watched this short little documentary about “Future Learning.”  You can find it Here.  I was particularly struck by the following quote: “The absence of the teacher in the presence of the Internet can become a pedagogical tool.” While I’m a HUGE fan of what the Internet can and has done for education, I think this type of thinking is dangerous.  Let’s ignore the fact that the Internet is a vast network of human intelligence (i.e. the product of millions and millions of contributing “teachers”), and concentrate on the other weaknesses of this statement. The Internet is a seething sea of stuff.  It is densely connected (via hyperlinks and embedded content), but the guiding force behind such inter-connectivity is largely arbitrary or idiosyncratic.  The…

The Onion

Posted on July 18, 2012

I attended Boyscout Camp for the first time in sixth grade.  It was a week long affair hosted at Camp Crooked Creek–a scout camp located near Bernheim Forest in Kentucky.  If you’ve had the chance to watch Wes Anderson’s newest film, Moonrise Kingdom, you’ll have a fairly good idea of several experiences Camp Crooked Creek did not offer.  It was not a sunny little enclave full of yellow bandanas and precariously high tree houses.  Rather, it was a fairly standard collection of rustic campsites surrounding a lake.  At meal times, the scouts convened in a mess hall perched atop a hill, eating what can be kindly described as substandard fare and drinking severely diluted Tang.  It was not staffed by avuncular Edward Norton clones…

iPad A Tad Too Rad

Posted on July 16, 2012

In Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, there’s an iconic scene in which a group of apes become alarmed at the sudden appearance of a black monolith in their presence.  Most of the apes anxiously shriek and circle the monolith, but one among them makes furtive attempts to touch it.  Soon, several apes are huddled around the base of the ominous object, curiously exploring its sharp contours with their hands. Oddly enough, this scene approximately parallels the public’s reception of the iPad in 2010.  When it appeared in stores (after first being paraded about on a stage by the turtlenecked prophet) most people thought that it was simply a big iPhone.  Sure, there were the early adopters who saw its potential from the…