If you’re of/in a certain stage/mindset/class, you’re thinking about where your kids are going to go to college. More likely, you’re lying awake at night wondering how you’re going to pay for it, perhaps tinged with a nagging feeling that maybe you shouldn’t bother. [Read more →]
I was warned that this title would discourage almost all readers. So be it. The fact remains, that if you are ever lucky enough to play a character, say a dwarf fighter or a halfing rogue, in a good ol’ Dungeons & Dragons game, you definitely want Peter Jackson to be your DM.
Christmas 2014, forever to be remembered by me as the year of complete dissolution of internal ideological opposition. A bunch of presents were purchased and exchanged in my house that I did not approve. Yet, it will be the year not that I gave in, but the year I realized I had been giving in for a long time. [Read more →]
So, to me, these two dudes – and I wanna stress that they are dudes — in my house seem to be at the video games a lot. I thought this would never happen to me. I thought I would steer them to loftier pursuits. But there they, at FIFA and Minecraft. I have this awful feeling their brains are leaking intellect because of video games. I particularly worry about the brightness of their literacy lights. [Read more →]
Part 10 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.
The Denver Post reported recently that thousands of high school students in Colorado refused to take standardized state tests. Activism? Test fatigue? Obstinancy? Whatever the case, I like that we’re hearing the student voice, which is often absent in the many conversations about testing. [Read more →]
You probably are out there writing like a maniac every day of your life. A good friend of mine, on the Website 11trees, recently posted a smart blog entry describing how much he wrote in one day, what he viewed as just an average day for a “knowledge worker.” In this one-day writing diary, he calculates that he comes in at 2,500 words, a number he uses to make this point: “We write more words every day than many college or high school students write in an entire term.” [Read more →]
Maggie Simpson has the baby with one eyebrow. Humbert Humbert has Clare Quilty. Randall Patrick McMurphy has Nurse Ratched. Seinfeld has Newman. Randy “Macho Man” Savage has Hulk Hogan. Perhaps you think about, on those dark nights, who you might hate the most in the world. For me, it’s easy: My pre-kid self. [Read more →]
So we got rid of cable about a year ago. The kids are not alright. Of course, they’re bitter about it, and maybe rightfully so, because I’m not convinced any of us are better off. You know, you get rid of cable to live a more intellectual life, to get more in touch with yourself, with your family. But is any of that happening? [Read more →]
Part 9 (of 874) in an occasional series about how standardized tests are destroying education.
Perhaps it’s surprising considering the U.S.’s supposed death spiral in mathematics, but we like numbers. We like the idea of pinning exactitude on things, on, you know, the right answer. And numbers lend themselves to lists and rankings. We like lists and rankings, particularly school rankings. From magazine stories about colleges to Websites about grammar schools, school lists abound. But what those lists and numbers don’t tell you at all is what kind of experience your individual kid will have at a school. Along the way, they may be committing serious, mean-spirited damage to lots of communities where real kids are trying to learn. [Read more →]
You’ve likely heard a lot about the Adrian Peterson debacle (including a good piece on this site), but I’m not weighing in here on abuse, or whether he’s justifiably doing what was done to him, or even on the various dummies who’ve gotten some press time because of this. I’m not writing about all that. [Read more →]
On NPR the other day I heard Graham Hill talking about the project LifeEdited. That prompted me to watch his TED talk about his idea, “Edit Your Life.” Hill talks about his own efforts to edit his living space, and proposes how much simpler, and, surprisingly, better, our lives might be if we made do with a lot less. [Read more →]
Once us humans reach a certain age, a gene activates that triggers an unwavering belief that our generation is vastly superior to the one currently coming to bloom. With unflinching righteousness, we believe that back in our day, things were more character-forming. All schools were farther away from all homes. There were weird places that were always uphill. Roads were bumpier. Things weighed more. Life was tougher. [Read more →]
With extensive apologies to my many Ayn Rand-loving, small government-promoting friends, it’s pretty clear to me that the textual communications associated with cell phones have to come under the government eye. Something must be done. We need, quite simply, age-based and perhaps behavior-based texting control: A Texting License. [Read more →]
Summer has arrived, and many households have begun an annual, time-worn struggle: Parents trying to get kids to read. Despite (and perhaps because of) the vast numbers of lists available nowadays, summer is a time of often fierce reading wars, featuring lots of passive-aggressive behavior by both sides. The proliferation of screens hasn’t made things easier. [Read more →]
We’re coming out of that fast-paced, manic season of high competition, painful watching-and-waiting, brightly-colored sweatshirts, and intense travel. No, I’m not marking the end of youth sports spring seasons — I’m talking about college admission season (well, really, this is just the end of high admissions season. Like youth sports, college admissions is a year-round and even life-round activity nowadays). Most students know now where they’re going to college. Parents have written placeholder checks. Car adornments have been purchased. Parties are planned. It’s exciting. [Read more →]
On May 12, at the Camden City Board of Education meeting, school board members announced that 272 Camden City School District employees will lose their jobs at the end of this school year. Of that number, 206 are teachers. District administrators made the cuts, according to this Philadelphia Inquirer article, as “as part of a plan to bridge a $75 million revenue gap heading into the 2014-15 school year.” Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the fired teachers. Not surprisingly, she voiced frustration with the process and outcome, but she also provided some surprising views about the charter school environment in Camden and its role in the firing decisions. She asked to remain anonymous, as she is of course now seeking a new job, maybe even at one of these charters. [Read more →]
Like any good parent in 2014, I have encouraged my kids to make up their own games. I want them to devise their own stories. I want them to escape the prescriptive screen narratives that increasingly make up the bulk of their play reality. However, I ruined it all when I unfortunately disclosed some of the games my friends and I once played. Let’s just say times may not have changed, but something’s certainly different about how my kids are proceeding along. [Read more →]
Last weekend I completed the NJ Marathon. People want to know how it was, and I feel like I gotta tell it straight: It was awful. It was a grueling, physically brutal experience, and the physical part was nothing compared with the mental torment which itself paled in comparison with the emotional torture. It was bad. When I got home, stunned and wounded, my youngest, the little guy, asked me, “Were you happy when you crossed the finish line?” My answer?: “No.” I wasn’t. But now, after a recalibrating week, I’m finding some peace and a few lessons. [Read more →]