I do not usually get this personal on my blog, but somethings tells me that now is the time to share this story and struggle with you. What I am about to share with you is a story about calling, and I share it because I believe that stories, purpose, meaning, and calling are all…
I finally did it! I am now accepting submissions for the Fall 2017 premiere edition of TEACH. WRITE. Click on the link above to see the submission guidelines and Happy Writing, Teachers!
I’m very excited to be working on a stage adaptation of Frankenstein that is as faithful to Mary Shelley’s novel as I can get it. It is a tremendous amount of work, but is a joy. I don’t think I’ve ever said anything like that before except when I was writing “A Carolina Story.”
Anyway, working hard on the play has kept me from posting on my blog, so when I read a great editorial about the failures of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s educational reform efforts, I had to post. Many state governments have drastically changed polices and programs, poured resources, especially administrative and faculty resources, into initiatives promoted, and only partially paid for, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Now that many of these initiatives are failing, the foundation is beginning to pull out, often leaving the educational systems to fix the mess. Many educators, like me and some of my colleagues, have tried to warn administrators about the potential problems with these plans, but to no avail. Why listen to the people who are in the classroom day after day and work most closely with students? What do they know about education? Let’s allow people who know little about education but have lots and lots of money and political power dictate to dedicated educators with years and years of experience how best to spend money on reforms. Yeah, that makes sense.
Of course it doesn’t, but this article, printed from the Jacksonville Daily News does:
Had a fabulous day! I had bought croissants at the Tesco’s across the street yesterday. They tasted great with my morning coffee. The hotel coffee service is a bit different than in America because the main bevrage of choice is tea rather than coffee, so all the hotels have a little electric kettle and a tin (can) of teabags and instant coffee. I had been drinking tea, but today I decided to have coffee and, boy, that was the best instant coffee I ever had. I ate a few of the cocoa almonds I packed to give me some protein for my long hike ahead.
It was raining when I woke up, but by the time I did a little work and got dressed, I could see a few patches of blue. Then I checked google maps and planned my day. Since the rain had let up, I decided to go to Hyde Park as planned. I thought I might take the Underground, but I discovered that the line I needed was closed, so I decided to walk. The directions on Google maps were very good and I saw so much along the way.
I stopped briefly at the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts to take a look at the interesting sculptured trees by Chinese artis Ai Weiwei. The trees, made of various pieces of driftwood bolted together, represent the ethnic diversity of China according to the academy’s website. I was also interested to see that the astronomical society and geograpical society are also housed around the same courtyard.
I continued my walk and found myself eventually on Oxford Street, the longest stretch of my walk. I was stopped by a young woman collecting money for a group called Oxfam that helps communities in developing countries have access to clean water. Here is the website adress: http://www.oxfam.org.uk. We talked quite a while, and as she did I was reminded forceably of the tradition of reform and charitable spirit that weaves its way throughout British history and literature. After I said goodbye to Georgia and continued walking along, the sun kept peeking out from the clouds and by the time I got to Hyde Park, the sun came out. To get to the park I passed through the impressive Marble Arch. Then into the park!
I love Hyde Park, and I just saw a little of it. I took many pictures and walked to the lake. There is a little restaurant right by the lake and it was warm enough to sit at an outside table. I have been so good and exercised so much that I treated myself to fish and chips and a half pint of beer. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I walked it off by walking through Picadilly Circus where the famous statue of Wellington is, along with other war memorials. I kept walking to Leicester Square where I’ve been before.
I decided to watch another movie. This time I watched Spectre, the new James Bond flick, on the big, big screen at the Odeon Theatre that is famous for its premiers. In fact, Spectre had premiered there on Sunday when my friend and I saw The Suffaragette. It was a totally outrageous movie but I do love a good action flick. When I came out there was another premiere going on at another theater, but I couldn’t get close enough to see much, but I think I saw the top of Bradley Cooper’s head!
I took the Underground back and now I am once again safe in my room, watching, what else, Harry Potter! Tomorrow I plan to go to the British Museum and maybe a little museum called the Soane, which is close to the Thames. Then, I have tickets to see Imelda Staunton in Gypsy, my last big show! Many of you will recognize Staunton as Dolores Umbrage in Harry Potter. I’m very excited to see her as Rose in Gypsy. Looking forward to my last day in LONDON.
I’m a day late posting because it was such a big day yesterday. We started off having a traditional English breakfast, just a bit modernized to be healthier. I had bacon, more like smoked ham, with veggie sausage, a poached egg, cooked tomatoes, mushrooms and a pastry. Yum!
Next was a solo trip to Trafalger Square and the fabulous National Gallery of Art where I saw artwork by Titian, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, DaVinci–the British masters, like Turner, Gainsbourgh, Stubbs–and my favorites–the Impressionists–Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas and Van Gogh. One of my favorites was Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. I also liked Geoge Stubbs famous horse paintings. One of my favorite paintings was by an artist I did’t know of a tall, thin knight who had a wounded foot and knee, so he couldn’t fight anymore. Just the look on his face and all the details. It was magnificent.
I saw too much to write it all here, but the eras that the gallery spans makes this a great place to visit for just about any book in the English canon that my students might want to make the subject of their travel project. And entrance is free! After I wandered the halls with my trusty audio guide (very helpful and easy to use–only a few pounds), I went down to the gallery cafe and had a pastry pie, a traditional favorite. Then bought a few gifts in the gallery store.Then I wandered around the square a little while, taking in all the sights. I especially enjoyed the musicians playing in the squares and the character actors–Yoda, the wicked witch and tin man.
After I made my way back on the Underground, we rested a while, and it was off for the big night! We took a cab to the Barbican, which is a modern entertainment complex, away from the main theater district. Our seats were fantastic, about five rows back.
When the curtain came up, there was Benedict Cumberbatch, right in front of us, and he was strong the whole way through. The whole cast was good, but my favorites,other than Cumberbatch, were Horatio, Ophelia, and Polonius. The gravedigger always brings some needed comic relief.
The staging was also fantastic. Everything was stylistic, ranging from Victorian Era through the 60’s. The main set was like an Old Victorian Mansion that continued to decline during the first act. At the end of the third act when Hamlet is banished and Cladius is alone on stage, all this sooty material blows through the doors. When the second act begins, there are just piles of rubble allover. It was impressive–one of the best night’s at the theater. I’ve ever had.
Source: England Trip–Day Two
I am busy with school work and writing, so I reblog Erica Speaks and her terrific blog “Teaching Speaks Volumes.” This time she writes about the NC Budget. Sad.
As soon as I’m out from under this load, I want to write about what the new film “The Martian” means to me as an educator. Great film.
So, a budget finally passed.
The North Carolina General Assembly voted to pull funds away from the already bled-dry public schools. Charter schools got instructional per pupil funding, but now also get a portion of everything: A portion of transportation funding even if they don’t provide busing. A portion of child nutritional services funding even if they don’t have a cafeteria. How is this not a misappropriation of funds? HOW is this now LEGAL? My guess is more tax payers’ funds will be used to fight this in court.
Meanwhile, the Wallet Hub’s annual study of 13 key metrics for the best and worst states for teachers now ranks NC #50, up from #51 previously. Cue The Jefferson’s Theme here.
It’s worth noting that not all legislators agree with the approved budget. For her part, Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County said the funding for public education was barely adequate…
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I haven’t had time to write on my blog, so I’m going to post this one–so good and so true: Is This a Grade? is almost as bad as “Did we do anything important in class yesterday? Yuck!
They say there is no such this as a bad question, but, “Is this a grade?” makes me think otherwise. This is one of my least favorite questions of all time, and teachers are asked this by students often.
It reveals a student’s thought process on if a learning experience is important and worth their time or not.
I have tried several approaches to this question. I have tried to ban the question from the classroom without success. I have tried consistently using the vague response, “All things in life are assessed.” They have been undeterred. My students have even gotten savvy enough to know to ask, “Is this formative or summative”?
I decided I do not want to answer this question again. To that end, I have created a flow chart to post on my wall:
PS: I love you Piktochart.
If you would like it for your classroom…
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Busy with catching up after the Ice Storm of 2015, so I’m going to pass on this satire from “The Onion” as my blog post for today. Although it refers to K-12, it relates to higher education too. One thing I’ve noticed is that fewer and fewer of my students are planning to be teachers. They tell me it’s less the low pay and more the lack of respect and the increasing amount of bull that teachers have to put up with that is keeping them away from the profession, especially in North Carolina.
Here’s a great article by Bernard Bull about Obama’s suggestion of no or low-cost community college for all Americans: