Entries Tagged as 'family & parenting'

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

The new SAT: No more mandatory writing

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Part 8 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.

The redesigned SAT, debuting in 2015, will feature new approaches to language skills, and the writing test will be optional. We’ll return to the old 1600-point scale that we all knew so well. With the College Board admitting/recognizing that the writing test, which was introduced in 2005, is flawed, some are wondering if this presents an opportunity to reassess all mechanized writing tests, to now see them all for the education-draining entities that they are. [Read more →]

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

A new, redesigned SAT is on the way

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Part 7 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.

The SAT is going through a redesign. For those of you who mentally autofilled the start of the previous statement with “The SAT is going … away,” I’m sorry to disappoint you. It’s not going away. It’s going through changes that will do/attempt to do a variety of things. But the SAT will still be around. There’s been an active dialogue, as you might expect, about this redesign.

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virtual children by Scott Warnock

Lego laggards

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You can do what you want for therapeutic relaxation. I’ll sort Legos. This is fortunate for me, because I have about 20,000 loose Legos in my house. I should say had, because I’m down to about 2,000, as I have, yet again, methodically gone through my boys’ gigantic plastic bin and sorted their Legos by color into gallon-sized Ziploc bags. Those guys are going, yet again, to rebuild their 70+ Lego sets – whether they like it or not. [Read more →]

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Secret sports parent tip: The Intensity Incantation

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O my child, in your bright tiny uniform, I use this spell to transfer my aggression, my radiant energy through the ether to you. [Read more →]

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Why encourage football corruption earlier than we have to?

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I walk the line of liking (and, I guess believing) in youth sports while feeling that big-time sports structures in our culture are broken. What can we do? Well, stop watching. I never watch college football or basketball, on principle, for instance. Feeble gesture, indeed, and I don’t chastise friends (too much) for their viewing preferences, especially in light of my addiction to the violent, shameless NFL. But when I read a recent piece by Philadelphia Inquirer high schools spots writer Phil Anastasia about out-of-state high school football games, I was dismayed. [Read more →]

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Late bloomer or not — mum’s the word

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My daughter, light of my life, just missed the honor roll once. One half-grade better, and she was in the Promised Land. When I found out, I didn’t chew her out, though our conversation did get crunchy. Tired of it after a while, she hit me with this: “Like you never got a bad grade in high school?”

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moviesvirtual children by Scott Warnock

The desolation of dumb Smaug

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It’s just a movie. It’s just a movie. It’s just a movie. I repeated the mantra, but if I adhered to it, and not just in this case but in general, if I got all Zen-like and hey-let-it-ride, what would I write about this year? [Read more →]

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Santa Claus coming to town no more

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Caution: The Santa-belief unblemished may find spoilers below.

The other night, while we were at dinner with a bunch of friends, my nine-year-old reportedly muttered to his 14-year-old sister, “Do you believe in Santa?” She, sharp and on her toes, said, “I do.” The little guy replied, “Well I don’t. But don’t tell mom and dad.”

So the Santa era ends for the Warnock family. [Read more →]

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

“Psst – this will help you with the Common Core”

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A couple weeks ago I was in Boston at the conference of the National Council of Teachers of English. I was there to talk about MOOCs and to serve in my new role as a member of the NCTE editorial board. Among these thousands of mostly high school and grammar school English teachers, I found lots of great conversations. The Common Core hung, like smoke, over much of them. [Read more →]

gamesvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Your kid should play D&D

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I’m sure you know this already, but Dungeons & Dragons is coming out soon in its 5th edition, or 5.0 or D&D Next. And you probably already know that your kid should play D&D. I just wanted to take a moment to remind you why. [Read more →]

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Lessons from an Olympian: Moderation, managing expectations

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Last Saturday I went to an all-day wrestling coaching clinic. (How about that for a lead-off?) The instructors included Olympians, national champs, and college coaches. I learned some new technique, and, as you will in any kind of immersive conference-like environment, my mind was able to focus on this one thing. But the clinic was about more than push-ups and stand-ups. What I was struck by, particularly through one clinician, was how these people who’ve competed and coached at the highest levels in one of the toughest sports voiced consistent philosophies of coaching moderation. [Read more →]

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

The Homework Club

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I’m surprised by how many kids, sometimes little kids, have told me some version of this: “My school is great. They give us lots of homework. It’s really challenging.” I’ve been amazed by how darn enthusiastic they appear that their teachers assign them a large volume of homework. [Read more →]

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Are youth sports to blame for slide in U.S. education?

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My favorite magazine, The Atlantic, ran a piece this month connecting the U.S. school sports obsession with our lagging academic performance compared to other countries. While the causality in Amanda Ripley’s “The Case Against High-School Sports” isn’t airtight, her argument raises provocative points about our education priorities. [Read more →]

technologyvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Adults, put your devices away!

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Dang kids and their confounded digital whatchamacallits! I mean, it’s exgasperating when they’re out there all the time Chirping, Twitching, Facenoting on the old InterWeb. It’s even dangerous, as this kids-go-bump-in-the day story about cellphone-using Penn zombies shows.

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animalsfamily & parenting

Fist Fights

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For Karen the Small Press Librarian, I recently exchanged interviews and e-mails with Dave Newman, author of Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children. It’s an academic novel about life off the tenure track for a working family with children in Pittsburgh, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the lives of college teachers, parents, and writers. In passing, Dave mentioned that when he was growing up in western Pennsylvania, it was common for boys to fist-fight at carnivals and county fairs, and then he wondered if he wasn’t the only person he knew who used the expression “fist fight.” So that led to my own ruminations on the subject, whether or not to add a hyphen or make it one word, and I also remembered that long before I became a hulking literary menace, able to beat down an entire capitalist higher-educational economy with a work of fiction, I was just another scrawny white boy, geeky and shy, terrified that I’d have to fight in public or fight at all. [Read more →]

educationfamily & parenting

Book socks and building character

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When I was a kid, we had to cover our textbooks the school provided in order to keep them from being damaged. I don’t know if book covers were sold in stores back then, but if they were, we didn’t use them. We used brown paper grocery bags. My father would cut the bag to size and create a dust jacket for each book with some tape. Then I would write the subject on the front of the cover and the rest of the cover served as class-time doodling space. At some point, I started making the covers myself at the beginning of each school year. It was an intergenerational family skill.

I don’t know if people anywhere still use paper grocery bags to cover textbooks. I was sent to Staples last night to buy a book sock, which is a cover that slips on a textbook. [Read more →]

family & parenting

Should kids read books? Yes. Should they like it? Well…

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So all you hear about is how important it is for children to read books. But should they also love to read? And if they don’t?… [Read more →]

art & entertainmentvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Let’s not do this: Stupid movie quotes

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What do the Lone Ranger and a cartoon snail have in common? Well, the answer, other than they might be able to share some foundational Joseph Campbellesque hero archetype role, should be this:  “Not much.” But in contemporary cinema, they have a more specific kinship. Both of them, in recent movies (The Lone Ranger and Turbo), when faced with a/the challenge, say the exact same thing: “Let’s do this.” That’s where we are in the world of modern cinema, boring cookie-cutter characters saying stupid, clichéd phrases. Thus, we now have this equation: The Lone Ranger = A cartoon snail. [Read more →]

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Games for the long car ride

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Having been a lifeguard, I learned many strategies to ward off boredom during those rainy shore weekdays when all the swimmers were at the boardwalk or playing Monopoly at the beach house. Ah, but no experience in life need be wasted: Those anti-ennui lifeguard strategies are transferable to that iconic American family experience: The long automobile trip. [Read more →]

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Dumb dad

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Dads are dumb. I’m a dad, so therefore I’m dumb. If you’re a dad, logic dictates that you too are dumb. Dads are blithering, detached, bumblers. They’re oblivious. Easy to fool. That’s what the world is telling our kids. [Read more →]

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