Friday, April 07, 2006

oh man

Things have been crazy busy here on the home front. (I suppose I shouldn't say that, since we are actually in a war. ) We just finished the Civil War unit in my student teaching class (oh, and one of the kids stole the test from my shelf ahead of time...yeah he's in HUGE trouble), I've had a couple papers due for ed school (completed in just over 1 hour, thank you very much--you know, I USED to be a good student!), and I've had 1 interview in Washington and now have 4 in Boston, so I've been traveling all over the place. And all this while trying to pay my bills, eat, maintain proper hygiene, etc. So it's been pretty hectic.

Yesterday my student teaching seminar was really depressing, because people started getting on that whole "these kids...(fill in the blank with excuses about why they can't do school)." I know (I KNOW) that urban teaching is really difficult, but I think what they don't know is that the school structure and attitude can change everything! These are smart, well-meaning people, but they're coming out of ed school with this horrible defeatist attitude about urban kids, and they're all applying to teach in Westchester and Long Island instead. The other ones, who do want to teach urban kids, say things like "why do we have to shove kids through this system when they don't like it? Kids are so curious, but we don't let them explore their own interests. Why don't we go back to a Dewey type model of school?" My instructor said, "That's a very good point." Nobody said anything about how Dewey was actually a FAILED teacher when he wrote his philosophical musings. Then there was this whole discussion about how some kids just "aren't good at school" and we should have more options for them, like technical training programs. Now I agree with that--some people just don't like the school structure or book learning or whatever--there were kids like that at my high school who I am sure went on to be successful pilots or plumbers or whatever. However, you know they are not talking about just any kids going to technical school--they are saying that poor, minority children should go to technical schools. Which perpetuates the class structure they are always bemoaning anyway. Unless you are willing to accept a Booker T. Washington-esque gradualism in solving economic and social inequalities. It's just so frustrating that there are these schools that are so wonderful, and are getting their city kids up to and beyond standard, and yet no one knows about them!!

But let me turn from the bad news to teh good news. There is a movie coming up this summer that is going to be AWESOME. Here is a short piece about the movie in Newsweek (April 10, 2006):

The script is pure Hollywood schlock. A witness under FBI protection is flying from Hawaii to Los Angeles. A mobster wants him dead before he can testify. But how can the bad guy get to him? A selection from the script: "Hundreds of oxygen masks DEPLOY, dangling over the seats—but it's not just oxygen masks. IT'S SNAKES."

Forget Cruise. Forget Hanks. The summer's most buzzed-about movie is a grade-C thriller about passengers besieged by a plane full of snakes, and it's called ... wait for it ... "Snakes on a Plane."

Just when you thought the world had no innocent joy left in it, someone goes and makes a movie whose very title makes you love all of mankind. Snakes on a Plane. Thank you, God. And you too, Samuel L. Jackson.


At April 09, 2006 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a linnk to the trailer for this movie. Looks to be very entertaining.

At April 10, 2006 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a bit concerned with your comments about John Dewey. You seem to portray him as some head-in-the-clouds academic engaging in mere "philosophical musings." On the contrary, Dewey was extraordinarily active and involved in the practical matters of schooling. After all, he did start and direct the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago. His "musings" were the result of much empirical research and experience with the educating of children.

That's not to say that there weren't blindspots in his work. He did, after all, use the term "savages" unironically. But this and other shortcomings in his philosophy of education were not, for the most part, the result of a failure to be concretely, practically engaged in the doing of education.

At April 22, 2006 4:16 AM, Anonymous Barry Garelick said...

Dewey's an odd duck who reminds me of the adage of Karl Marx;you know, the one about Marx would not recognize any of his theories if he saw how Communism was practiced? I have to wonder about Dewey, though, who turned out a protege in the name of William Heard Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick felt that algebra, trig and geometry were in the province of the elite, and shouldn't be taught in schools, preferring instead "practical math". And women, least of all, needed algebra etc. And he had a degree in math!

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