Back to School, Belatedly

Well, time for some updates. I’ve still been writing, just not here. For this September past I penned a little essay for AE, appropriately, on education-themed science fiction. Perhaps just as appropriate a topic as the school year draws to a close.

You’ll notice my opening paragraph refers to the proverbial cocktail party. Often, when a person is going to pontificate on their career, and especially public perceptions thereof, they start off with, “When I meet people at cocktail parties . . .” I don’t actually go to a lot of cocktail parties, but in fine speculative as well as Einsteinian tradition: assume a perfectly spherical cocktail party. . . .

No, I’m half-kidding. But really, if I’m at the proverbial cocktail party, or some near analogue (gas-station nacho bar), and introduce myself as a teacher, I really do find it gets people talking. But I’m more interested in the deep thinking of smart writers on the topic than your typical non-educators. Thus, the essay. Please read it here.

Tuesday Links (07/09/13)

A Mathematician Goes to the Beach: Topology and modesty.

Semicolon (Lonely Island): Some inappropriate lyrics and some questionable punctuation advice.

How to Brand a “Useless” College Degree: It’s education puff piece season. Stay tuned for September when we learn how (North American) college students can’t spell and don’t know math.

Tuesday Links (07/02/13)

Why MBA-Bound Johnny Still Can’t Write: Sure, I’m a writer, so I have a bit of a bias here. But I majored in physics. I learnt this stuff in high school, and I wasn’t about to hand in sloppy work during the odd humanities elective of my post-secondary coursework. But graduate program business majors, portrayed here as the quintessential D-students, study everything from business communication to marketing, then complain about being put upon for basic writing skills like grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It’s called branding, friends. Employers want someone smart and hard-working, and this isn’t how you project that image. Way to devalue the degree.

21 Jokes Only Nerds Will Understand: I’m afraid there are two I just don’t get.

What You Wish For: Windows 8 is the worst.

Tuesday Links (11/20/12)

 Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves: “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village … Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and [thie children] figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”

Tardigrades (or “Water Bears”); First Animals to Survive in Space: This is so cool, I’m just going to embed the video below. Some surprising evidence in favour of panspermia? Who’da thunk it?

Tuesday Links (06/26/12)

R is for Ray Bradbury: Another nice little story about the late author.

Life in the Gray: “There will be many, many times when you shouldn’t put your students first. Go home. Go to sleep. Get a massage. Take a day off. Spend time with your family. Play a video. Ask that teacher next door for a worksheet. Often, what’s good for you is good for them. You should do what’s good for you. Sometimes what’s good for you isn’t good for them. Sometimes you should still do it.”

Five Junes

Not counting year zero, my graduation year from the faculty of education, wherein I was able to sub during May and June on a temporary teaching license (which assumed my final grades would all be satisfactory and my teacher status made official in a month or so), this is my fifth June as a teacher.

June the first: Came back early from a stint in China that was supposed to last the whole year. Ended my school year back in Canada as a substitute teacher the last few months of the term.

June the second: Split between two schools, but made it to the bitter end for one of them. Attended grad, mandatory for all staf, though I taught no graduating classes.

June the third: My first full year at a single school. Not a terribly good one, though. My second graduation, this one included a single student of mine actually managing to get enough credits to graduate on time, instead of two or three years later.

June the fourth: My first year where I was unemployed (or rather, subbing) more often than not. Had two terms, though, the last of which saw me at another graduation ceremony.

June the fifth: The year I went to Costa Rica and didn’t plan to teach at all. But somehow after returning I’ve found myself in an elementary school setting, where my students look forward to “graduating” and moving on to middle school. I just can’t get June off.

Am I looking forward to June 30 this year, as always? Evey moreso, in fact, as its a Saturday, which means I’ll be done June 29. Even after taking most of the year off, I’m sufficiently exhausted by this job that a two-month nap sounds appealing.

And my return to certain writing projects has already been too much delayed.

Tuesday Links (05/15/12)

Every Major’s Terrible: Sung to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Modern Major General”: “Why anyone who wants a job would study lit’s a mystery/unless their only other choice were something like art history. . . .”

Who’s In the Epic Fantasy Avengers?: “King Arthur would be perfect in assuming the leadership role that Captain America provides. He knows how to run the show, how to fight, and how to give people ideals to fight for. Instead of a shield, he’s got one badass sword — Excalibur is sort of like having a super power all to itself.”

Tuesday Links (05/01/12)

How Shakespeare Changed Everything: My grade 12 English teacher was right. You don’t have to like Shakespeare, but being culturally literate means being familiar with his major works.

Songs from District 12: Did the Hunger Games produce a movie soundtrack worth buying?

Class dismissed: “Half of new bachelor’s degree grads are either unemployed or underemployed, according to the Associated Press. . . .  In my darker moments, I sometimes wonder if the root of the problem with public higher education in America is that it was designed to create and support a massive middle class. . . . When the goal of a prosperous middle class was tacitly dismissed, dominos started to fall.  “