Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The stray dog was hiding out in the bathtub because every living soul in a three mile radius was lighting bottle rockets and firecrackers. If you are wondering, I think she made it out alright; last I saw of her, she was lounging in the garage, gnawing on a salchicha.
Friday, November 26, 2010
We know this: specificity is good in writing. "Bob looked at the tree," is not nearly as potent an image as "Bob looked at the oak." With the substitution of a single word the image goes from vague (and thus unlikely to excite the interest of the reader) to much more concrete.
The next time I find myself stuck for specificity, I'm heading to Wordnet. But what is Wordnet? Wordnet is really cool.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
RSA stands for the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce; they are a British organization who, according to their website, "has been a cradle for enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress." Whomever they are, they have taken the audio from several lectures by leading British thinkers and used cartooning to diagram the ideas presented in the lectures. The resulting videos are very cool. Here's a lecture on education in the 21st century by philosopher Ken Robinson. I am interested in the following two questions:
What idea did you find particularly interesting, or particularly controversial, from the lecture?
If you were to design a school for the 21st century, what features or values would you want it to include?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
This video comes to us from thismustbetheplace, a web video series about how different people define what a home is. Clearly Chong Gon Byun here, a Korean living in Brooklyn, at least partially defines home as a work of art. But what I like about this video, the reason I think it is interesting, is the way in which it focuses only on details. Byun doesn't ever say, "My opinion of home is . . ." Rather, the camera overwhems the viewer with details and allows them to draw their own conclusions. I think this method really invites the viewer in.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
My name is Joshua and I’m a senior. I have 2 English classes this year (American Lit and Senior Seminar) so I’m getting a lot of writing experience. I’ve already written my college essay (which may be interesting to read. I’ll ask Mr P.) Hopefully the topics I write about will be interesting. It always feels good to just write in a quiet place and get all of your thoughts on a sheet of paper (or a document!) My hobbies include a love of all things video games, watching anime when I have time, and eating lots of pizza! I also spend a whole lot of time on the internet so I know many MANY things that others may or may not know about. I may decide to write about it one day.
Clarifying What an Introvert Is
On all the personality tests that I’ve taken in my lifetime I’ve always been declared as an introvert instead of an extrovert. If you don’t know what either of these words mean an introvert is someone who prefers to spend time alone and do activities in a quiet place while an extrovert is someone who wants to be with others and do loud activities. However I don’t feel that that definition of an introvert is really correct. It’s way too general and broad. I want to clarify what I believe an introvert is and how I reflect that definition.
Just because someone is an introvert doesn’t mean that they don’t want to go out and spend time with others. An example would be lunch time. Most of the time I’ll spend my lunch time working on school work in a quiet part of the school, but if given an opportunity (say advisory lunch for example) I’ll join in and laugh and joke with others. Some of you have firsthand experience of this while bonding on the senior essay writing trip. While I enjoyed thinking in a quiet place about what my thoughts are on a certain subject, my favorite moments include that 1 dinner when the girls were talking about certain “subjects” that can’t be repeated in public while the guys were sticking eating utensils in my afro that desperately needed a haircut while taking pictures. I still need those pictures by the way.
The best definition of being an introvert that I’ve heard of comes from the book Into the Wild of all places. Believe me I was not expecting this either. I hated that book. Anyway it was describing the main character’s personality and said that “Introverts aren’t shy, they just need to be away from people from time to time.” Another way of saying this is that Introverts have their energy drained by being around people while extroverts gain energy. This statement just resonated with me. This is what an introvert is. I have no problem with being around people and speaking my mind. I’m not really that shy either. I just needed a break from people. To recharge my energy so to say. If I’m constantly around people for a long period of time I get exhausted rather quickly. I need some me time to just chill and relax while doing whatever I want.
It may be that I’m too thoughtful and considerate of others. No I’m not bragging or anything. Listen to my reasoning before jumping to conclusions. I’m always thinking before speaking my thoughts. Rarely do I randomly spout whatever comes to mind (although whenever I do it tends to be extremely funny and inappropriate, but that’s for another time) unless I’m overtired or am extremely comfortable with the situation I’m in. Anyway I always think about others before speaking. I think about what a person says, what I feel about what they say, and if I say what I’m thinking how the person will respond. Doing all these steps over and over in social situations can really tucker a fellow out. This may also be a reason leading to my introverted personality.
All in all I like being an introvert. I feel that some people don’t understand the pleasure of being alone with your thoughts for awhile or having their “me time”. So just because I (or other introverts) don’t hang out with you or join in on discussions don’t think that I don’t like you. I was probably just tired from being around people for an extended period of time. And I believe that that’s perfectly fine.
Friday, November 5, 2010
- that their audience wants more
- that their product is so good that others try to imitate them
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
While writing his definition essay on the word “game,” Inkwang asked me for my opinion of the word. I said that the thing I like about games is that games are simply groups of rules, so basically anything can be a game when properly defined. Of course, it is possible to center an educational course (in this post, I’ll be directing these thoughts towards my ESL course) around the model that many video games provide. Mr. Pereira first presented this idea, and it’s been germinating in my head ever since. Mr. P suggested that many teenagers are very motivated to play video games, and perhaps if a teacher could distill some of the aspects of video games that drive that motivation, they could apply them to anything. Because a video game is a system, and systems can arguably be used to learn algebra just as easily as they can be used to kill fictional zombies.
So how might I create a video game-like system to help teach my ESL course? Well, first, I must look at what I want. Many video games think about this; the creators of “Call of Duty” want to recreate military experiences realistically. They want other things too, but that’s surely one of their goals. I want to teach English, but more specifically, I want each student to demonstrate mastery over eight areas important for success in an English language classroom: Reading/Main Idea, Short Answer, Research, Outline, Essay Writing, Oral Presentation, and Listening. What seems really cool to me, is that this system seems to have a lot in common with a video game. Each area, or level, has its own set of obstacles that must be dealt overcome. And until those obstacles are mastered, the player can not move on to the next level. Thinking about my ESL course like a video game makes me realize that I can allow each student to move at their own pace, and I can be sure that students will really understand the levels they have passed. Of course, at this time, I don’t have a team of 3D game designers make my class look like “Bioshock,” but for now I am going to try to work with what I can.Here’s where you come in. Many of you play lots more video games than I do. What am I not thinking about? What are your favorite aspects of video game systems? What can I do to make this project as cool as possible?
Today I am at the Barcelo Hotel in Guatemala City, attending an the National Conference for Teachers of English, hosted by Instituto Guatemalteco Americano, and I had a notion. Why not live-blog the event? This is something I’ve never done before. Live-blogging is a form which demands brevity, and for me that is sometimes difficult. But I think it is a cool way for me to reflect on my day here, and I’m trying to expand my brain a little bit, and think about all the different ways we can use this blog. So, I’ll be checking in periodically with my thoughts about the different sessions I attend.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,The nearly invisible stitches along the collarTurned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians
Gossiping over tea and noodles on their breakOr talking money or politics while one fittedThis armpiece with its overseam to the band
Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze
At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.One hundred and forty-six died in the flamesOn the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—
The witness in a building across the streetWho watched how a young man helped a girl to stepUp to the windowsill, then held her out
Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.And then another. As if he were helping them upTo enter a streetcar, and not eternity.
A third before he dropped her put her armsAround his neck and kissed him. Then he heldHer into space, and dropped her. Almost at once
He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flaredAnd fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—
Like Hart Crane’s Bedlamite, “shrill shirt ballooning.”Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectlyAcross the placket and over the twin bar-tacked
Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhymeOr a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans
Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,To control their savage Scottish workers, tamedBy a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,
Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workersTo wear among the dusty clattering looms.Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,
The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorterSweating at her machine in a litter of cottonAs slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:
George Herbert, your descendant is a BlackLady in South Carolina, her name is IrmaAnd she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit
And feel and its clean smell have satisfiedBoth her and me. We have culled its cost and qualityDown to the buttons of simulated bone,
The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the charactersPrinted in black on neckband and tail. The shape,The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.
In his piece, Gopnik writes, “To illustrate his central thesis about ‘the division of labor,’ and to illuminate the play between large and small in economics, Smith began his book with one of the great virtuoso pieces of mock-epic writing of the period. He took a single worker in England and meditated on the number of different occupations and laborers involved in dressing him.”
The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production…To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore, the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brick-maker, the brick-layer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the mill-wright, the forger, the smith… without the assistance and co-operation of many thousands, the very meanest person in a civilized country could not be provided, even according to what we very falsely imagine, the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
- I am a teacher. I am a citizen of the world. I am an eager soul. I am a best friend. I am an awesome uncle. I am FOR sandwiches. I am interested in individuals, not systems (Beware the BUREAUCRATS!! BEWARE THE POWER HUNGRY STOOGES AT THE TOP!!!! IN FACT, BEWARE POWER IN ALL OF ITS FORMS!! IT IS NOTHING BUT TROUBLE!). I am full of gratitude (sometimes I am loudly full of gratitude). I am aware of the good I am capable of. I am carefully tinkering with how I might facilitate that good. I am sour sometimes. I am ready. I am great.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
So the first thing is that if you're reading this blog, you may very well know us as "Mr. P" and "Mr. AB," or "Mr. Pereira," and "Mr. Andrews-Bashan," if you're not into the whole brevity thing. That's because we're teachers.
But this isn't about us, it's about me. I am a teacher. I teach English at the The GW Community School. I've taught there for nine years, and it's the only post-college job I've ever held. One summer I worked as a counselor at a preschool camp, and in high school I was a page at the local library. In my whole life, those are the only jobs I've ever held, and now that I write that down, it's pretty incredible. The other half of this blog was in a TRAVELING HOOTENANNY so, basically, jobwise I am the boring half. I do really enjoy teaching, however, and in a couple of years ago I was honored to receive the Washington Post Agnes Meyer Private School Teacher of the Year award. The picture accompanying the award is the dorkiest picture ever taken of me.
I have a degree in English and one in Cognitive Science from Vassar College. That's a pretty good description of my intellectual interests right there. I like reading and writing and psychology and neuroscience and philosophy. My English thesis was about the relationship between language, physical space, and history, and how ghost stories work to warp or disrupt the relationship between these elements by undermining and reconstructing written language as a signifier. I am much dumber now than when I wrote it and can't understand a word of it. My Cognitive Science thesis was on the role that rhyme may play in making difficult poetry more understandable. I got to mess around with eye-tracking software and spend hours running statistical analyses in a 6x6 windowless room while listening to oldies on a transistor radio. It was awesome.
I'm married, I have two cats, and sometime in the next month I'm going to become a father for the first time. That blows my mind, but I can't wait. I keep imagining pacing back and forth with this little girl in my arms while I read the Odyssey or Paradise Lost and she falls asleep to the most beautiful, ennobling, human music ever created.
In my spare time, I like writing and making music. As far as writing goes, my first love was poetry and maybe if I work up the nerve I will post some really terrible things I wrote when I was 17. As far as making music, electronic music is my thing, and although I can now brutally murder some chords on the guitar and occasionally remember how to play them on the piano, I do a lot of my music-making using samples and synthesizers and such. Every once in a while I do some work on my long-term novel project, which is a satirical philosophical bildungsroman about pirates. Nothing I make is very good, but I sure do like making it.
And now, in an attempt to differentiate myself from Michael, here are some things you should know about us:
Michael is a little bit Beatles.
Daniel is a little bit Rolling Stones.
Michael is a little bit Harper's.
Daniel is a little bit New Yorker.
Michael is a little bit Catcher in the Rye.
Daniel is a little bit Moby Dick.
Michael is a little bit Radiolab.
Daniel is a little bit This American Life.
Michael is a little bit Li Bai.
Daniel is a little bit Du Fu.
Both of us are a little bit Han Shan.