Monday, April 19, 2010

Is that Headohair Helmki on bass?

Chilly morning here at the shore, nice breeze, cozy gas fire (who knew gas could be so nice? But it's a Jotul so I'm not surprised.) Heats the whole place. No wood to chop or carry. Has its place I guess, certainly right now when the very idea of dealing with wood makes me too tired to live. Got my loaf of fresh baked semolina high top bread for toast.. am set for days.

And I am sorry if I left anybody hangin (seems doubtful but you never know). Lots of changes in the air that seem to have moved in with the nice, crisp cold front. But the sky is crystalline blue today, that cleansing, cold front blue, not the infinite spaciousness of a Canadian High blue, but I'll take it. T is in Beantown looking at apartments and I'm trying to get past thinking I can't get to the bottom of whatever has me temporarily frozen in place. Just sit with it usually works, and write something, but the body wants to move! An adventure! I did get a new journal notebook as the old one was plumb full, so that's good. But you know you need serious reassessment and maybe a good swift kick in the pants when you spend a few hours on a nice Sunday afternoon indoors with Wayne Dyer, that baldheaded PBS fundraiser, and his new batch of rules to combat what ails ya. The word pathetic comes to mind. He did have some good things to say, and is not without a certain alopeciaic charm.

So, lacking any particular inspiration, there are a few things I thought I'd pass along that are worth noting on the planet today.

The first with regard to that newly minted batch of crazy americans who feel compelled to cast the appointment of a new US Supreme Court Justice as a Vietnam era hearts and minds battle for the soul of the nation. Who lob the word activist at nominees as though it were one of those heinous sins for which every one must now publicly atone, like adultery or missing church, and for which forgiveness is unlikely to ever be forthcoming from a such righteous congress and Christian nation. And by the way, isn't what these crazies do activism? What's wrong with activism? Would they have us all turn into couch potato (that's potato, no "e", Mr. Quayle) jowl-dragging fatties like them? And what about all these right wing lobbyists? Just activists in pricey wing tips, or Italian loafers.. whatever.

Darling Justice Stevens, who wrote a scathing dissent in Bush v. Gore that every american must actually read, is retiring. So while the right is crankin up the propaganda panic machine like an old tin lizzie and expecting us all to go along for the ride, Prof. Jeffrey Stone deftly and coherently hacks a clear path through the mumbo jumbo jungle of misinformation the paranoid nutjobs will be trying to manufacture. If the idea of another battle over judges makes you want to crawl back under the covers, read this little op ed and feel refreshed!

I love Stevens 'cause his frank yet poetic closing words in Bush v Gore were these:

Time will one day heal the wound to that

confidence that will be inflicted by today’s decision. One

thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know

with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this

year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is

perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge

as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.

Take that, Fox "news"!

On a lighter note, I sure do miss havin pets. It's the only aspect of a more settled life I do miss. What would our lives be without animals to tell us how to have fun and enjoy life? Have you seen this guy? And what about these two- state solution impresarios who are clearly privy to some delightful divine light to which Mr. NuttinYahoo is not? I say send the animules to the middle east to knock some heads together.

There's news that maternal mortality rates have declined noticeably as a result of international efforts and some serious monies aimed at that goal. So, a positive there.

But leave it to some party pooper to spoil the fun with news that, having tested them, we now know that most of our math teachers are just too stupid to be believed. (One wonders if the formerly higher maternal mortality rates were greeted with a similar collective moue from the abstinence only crowd of educators.) And apparently students don't! Believe them, that is. The whole article (do read it, be informed not just opinionated) describes what many of us have known for years. the majority of American math teachers are -- surprise! -- NOT mathematicians! I was to discover this sad fact years ago when, as i sat at the teachers' lunch table -- i was subbing that day -- and asked my daughter's high school math teacher if he'd mind refreshing my mind as to the process, the actually mathematical process, of figuring the square root of a number. I seemed to recall that my learning that process in the seventh or eighth grade had been a quantum leap forward in my mathematical thinking. This guy (who in ensuing years was lauded for his teaching prowess, despite his prodigious flatulence) hemmed and hawed some, giving me excuses like that kids just estimate or use calculators these days (um, when I took the math SATs in 1965 they didn't allow calculators. Can you imagine! Maybe a slide rule, but for sure you didn't bring your friggin adding machine to a math test! ) "Kids today don't need to know that", he said. Ignoring this utterly unbelievable stupidity, I asked if he'd "just refresh my memory on this little piece of paper here, would you? Just show me how you do figure out the square root of a number, huh? I remember it looks kinda like long division." In the end he had to admit it: he didn't know how to figure out the square root of a number. This guy was a math teacher! Certified to teach math.
Say whut?

So this little article is no surprise to me. If you read down the study results you find that teachers seem to be doing a fine job through about fourth grade, two times two equals duh.
But what I've been ranting about for years holds up: Beyond the fourth grade, teachers should have majored in the subject they are teaching. They need to have had the passion for math required to MAJOR in Mathematics, not "Math Education" – in some education college, which may gear you up to teach math but not to love it – but Mathematics. If you don't love a subject enough to major in it (or you aren't tenacious enough), you shouldn't be teaching it! Cause your students will know you don't care enough about the subject matter to have put the time in. So why should they? Simple. Trouble is, on top of these "certified" math teachers you got all these Education degree folks assessing the teachers. Blonde leading blonde, you ask me, ever since the explosion of Education College graduates in the early 70s with their new math (as if!) and pedagogical gobbledygook.

Don't tell me a classroom full of wired kids wouldn't be AWED DEAD SILENT if confronted with the likes of Stephen Hawking's passion for his subject... I'm just sayin...

And speaking of classrooms, check this out when you have an hour to spare. Especially if you're under 30 years of age, do yourself a favor and watch this little gemola I happened on. Our New Digital Nation on Frontline. Don't miss this, or think you already know what it has to tell us. I was blown away, especially by the Army thing in the mall. In fact, while you're watching it, have a paper and pencil handy and write down every bullsheet meme that crosses the screen, or your mind. Quite a few come out of the mouth of the guy making zillions off kids whose lives have now boiled down to an "addiction" to games. Sleazeball – Just a notch below a made guy, ya know? maybe worse.

Remember: The lesson of the 60s, 70s and 80s was what? What's goin on behind the scenes is always, always worse than you think. Who would have thought MIT students could sound (be?) so dumb?

To quote Bill and Ted: Whoa.

I'm gonna go see if I can actually get some work done, after I walk that beach awhile.

Later, Multi-Digitators.

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