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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Back To The Classroom

(Please scroll down for politics: a discussion of DACA)


The homeschool classes that I teach resume today. This 2017-2018 school term may well be my last year to offer courses to groups of homeschoolers. We shall see.

This term I am scheduled to teach the following high-school courses: British Literature, Advanced Composition (both expository and creative writing), Public Speaking, History through Film, and Latin 2.  I will not have a great deal of after-hours grading this 2017-2018 school term.

I haven't had such a light teaching load since 1999.  Two reasons for this light load: (1) my health concerns, including my approaching retirement age, and (2) lower-than-usual enrollment in the classes I offer.  The reasons for the lower-than-usual enrollment....

Today's trend in education, including homeschool education: most parents of Chinese heritage  seek and appreciate academic rigor, but most parents of American heritage seek the easy road and mediocrity: Evidence thereof: "[Insert child's name] passed the English entry test to the local community college, so we see no need for [insert subjective case pronoun] to take your Composition or Grammar courses.  

Moreover, before registering for my History through Film course, parents whined, "[Insert child's name] won't have to do much writing, will [insert subjective case pronoun]?  We don't want [insert child's name] to do much writing during [insert possessive case pronoun] senior year."

I note that not a single Asian registered for this easy-social-studies-credit course.

To improve my income stream, I also give piano lessons and conduct private-tutoring sessions.  My piano students include young children (elementary level) and one senior adult (intermediate-advanced.  My private-tutoring students includes high school students (English, Latin, and American History 12) and one third grader (Language Arts).  All but one of my private-tutoring students are Chinese-Americans.

47 comments:

  1. I'm not around to help Mrs. CI teach the princesses much of this school year, so the bulk of my tutelage in Geography and History, will come next spring. Plus, they're getting elective credit in Marksmanship. Like I need an excuse to shoot...it's still a good one.

    - CI

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  2. Those who do not value education won't have any of it. The problem is that most parents today are living with the mistaken impression that they are well-educated. They are not. If anything, they are worse than illiterate; they are under-educated. This is a self-inflicted wound, though ... so I have no sympathy for their future circumstances. My advice to is retire ... but keep your hand in.

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    Replies
    1. Mustang,
      My advice to is retire ... but keep your hand in.

      That is likely the route that I will take.

      Frankly, I'm tired of arguing with parents in a desperate attempt to "save" their children. My arguments are almost always overridden by "an expert."

      I hasten to add that author David McCullough recently spoke at the National Book Festival and affirmed every word of a recent discussion I had with an exited homeschooled student. The student isn't re-enrolled, however.

      Delete
    2. "My arguments are almost always overridden by "an expert."

      "Expert"(?); I can only imagine!

      Delete
  3. Good luck! I hope this new academic year shapes up better than you think it will.

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  4. I'd be curious to know which films you selected for the course.

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    Replies
    1. Alfred McGuffin said

      Why? So you can snipe, sneer, lampoon, lament and lecture in your usual dull denigratory fashion?

      What a treat THAT is sure to be! We are all waiting with 'bated breath ro behold the drops of distilled venom sure to flow from the tip of your poison pen.

      Delete
    2. Duck,
      I've selected a few, but will first have to evaluate the students' previous viewing and knowledge of history.

      I'm already certain, however, that we will be watching these: "The Agony and the Ecstasy," "Patton" (to prepare students for our upcoming guest speaker), and "A Face in the Crowd."

      Delete
    3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (a pre-Trumpian allegory for America) or Triumph of the Will have any chance of making your list? Or Kubanskie Kazaki or the Fall of the Reichstag? ;)

      Delete
    4. I'd go heavy on Birth of a Nation and anything by Leni Riefenstahl, if i were you.

      Delete
    5. Kracauer overreaches on Caligari. It looks back rather than forward.

      If you want a Weimar allegory for Trumpian America, Fritz Lang's films are a good fit.

      Delete
    6. Alfred,
      Actually, Duck sometimes offers good comments about films.

      Delete
    7. Alfred McGuffin said

      It's all pretentious, supercilious twaddle, AOW. They learn how to APPEAR erudite in those elite northeastern "Academies of Higher Learning," but most of the thoughts they entertain and bounce off each other are self-serving, self-aggrandizing high falutin fabrications with no sound moral, spirtual or intellectual substance behind them.

      The common expression for it is BULLSH-T!

      Delete
    8. Alfred,
      I don't see all of Duck's comments as pretentious, supercilious twaddle.

      My blog, my property, my rules.

      End of discussion.

      Delete
    9. You bring up an interesting point, FreeThinke.
      Seen today, both films are recognized as both propaganda and brilliant technical efforts.

      Will the opening of Patton (brilliant) ever be thought propaganda. How would that be determined?

      Delete
    10. Duck,
      Will the opening of Patton (brilliant) ever be thought propaganda. How would that be determined?

      Two of the questions my class will be considering.

      We begin the viewing of Patton next week. I've heard via the grapevine that about 1/2 of the class has already seen Patton. I will be interesting to observe what they observed in the film.

      Delete
    11. AOW,

      Please, no Godard. Lord what incomprehensible crap. I invited my wife to watch Weekend with me, and it took a lot of work for her to trust any of my future selections.

      Even when treated a total absurdist farce, it is almost impossible to watch. Too bad we don't smoke dope. It probably would be OK to watch stoned, with the sound down, while cranking some Stone Temple Pilots.

      If I recall, I thought I e-mailed you and FreeThinke a more detailed account of the experience.

      Delete
    12. Should have eased her into it, Silverfiddle.
      Maybe Breathless or Band of Outsiders .

      I give you credit for taking in a film about capitalism eating its tail.

      Delete
    13. SF,
      If I recall, I thought I e-mailed you and FreeThinke a more detailed account of the experience.

      I don't recall. But, hey, that's nothing -- especially with regard to those terrible months that I was writhing in pain. Lots of "stuff" got erased from my mind.

      Delete
    14. SF,
      I highly doubt that we'll cover Godard. Based on what I saw today, these students have too many gaps to understand Godard.

      Hell's bells! These students had little coherent to say about the Renaissance. Sheesh.

      "I must have patience!" -- so I keep telling myself.

      Delete
    15. Ducky,

      I did enjoy your suggestion about the two Italian guys in the sports car on a long vacation weekend. Not Godard, if I recall correctly.

      We did watch Breathless, the original, and enjoyed it, although we didn't see what all the fuss was about. Same with The Bicycle Thief.

      So, just as with classic books, we try to seek out classic films.

      Delete
    16. Alfred McGuffin said

      Sic semper tyrannis.

      Delete
  5. I'm not around to help Mrs. CI teach the princesses much of this school year, so the bulk of my tutelage in Geography and History, will come next spring. Plus, they're getting elective credit in Marksmanship. Like I need an excuse to shoot...it's still a good one.

    - CI

    ReplyDelete
  6. How you can teach piano is beyond me...I enjoyed the actual teaching but somehow got a lot of Persian families and, while I hate to generalize, I was literally asked to lie to the students by the parents "If he doesn't practice this week you'll drop him, RIGHT?"
    I couldn't lie. I admire your patience...you have more than I do, I know that.

    I WISH the Chinese students I meet were all as bright as you describe; they're not.

    I wish you a very good year....but I'm so sorry for all those students who'll miss having had your rigorous academic input....what a loss for them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Z,
      I've never taught piano to a Persian.

      BTW, I have only one piano student -- a very spoiled only son, but he has learned some discipline from me. I like working with him because he has musical talent and appreciation. I hasten to add that he does test my patience.

      I WISH the Chinese students I meet were all as bright as you describe; they're not.

      Interesting! Are the Chinese students whom you meet second and third generation here in America? All of my Chinese students are natural born Americans, but all their parents are legal immigrants.

      Delete
  7. The Chinese kids I meet are fresh off the plane from China...we were promised 8th grade English levels, they come 1st grade, having used "bait and switch" in their Skype interviews in the summer ... Our admissions expert says now "That isn't the kid I spoke to"...
    I'm hearing they pay big bucks in college for others to take their tests and write papers, too.
    In NO WAY am I suggesting Chinese kids aren't real smart, many of them, but the way some lionize their intelligence is, in my humble opinion, often not merited.

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    Replies
    1. Also, AOW, I found their ability to be untruthful and feel absolutely no compunction to tell the truth astonishing....meanwhile, I like the Chinese kids very much in spite of this stuff. It's hard at the prep school where I'm acquainted with them to handle cheating, truth telling, etc. Still, there's a basic kindness I found, at least in my homestay student last year.
      My question to you is that I'll bet the kids of second or third generations ARE honest ...is that the case? Or is cheating fine with them in that they simply don't understand the difference, the 'big whoop'?

      Delete
    2. Z,
      I found their ability to be untruthful and feel absolutely no compunction to tell the truth astonishing.

      I don't find that. All the Chinese with whom I work are strong Christians.

      I'll bet the kids of second or third generations ARE honest ...is that the case?

      I haven't found that to be the case. Often the opposite in fact! They have become "Americanized" in the worst possible sense.

      Perhaps some of what we're discussing is a difference between the Chinese on the West Coast and the Chinese on the East Coast.

      BTW, the biggest classroom cheaters I ever encountered were Pakistanis. Every last one -- and we had many in the private school where I worked for 18 years.

      Delete
    3. Z,
      The Chinese kids I meet are fresh off the plane from China.

      I don't work with that particular demographic. All of the Chinese with whom I work were born here of first-generation immigrant parents.

      Delete
    4. The lying and cheating is probably a result of pressure to save face and preserve honor.

      My military tech school was very tough, the equivalent of the first two years of college electrical engineering, with some applied upper level material.

      The Saudis and Moroccans in the class cheated their asses off, barely hiding their notes in their Arabic-English dictionaries (we were not allowed any notes or reference material other than TTL Logic books you could get from the instructor)

      Also, when tests were handed back, we would go over any question missed by anyone. When we got to a question that a Moroccan or Saudi got wrong, they would stand up, shout profanities and pound their desks, protesting the unfairness of the question until the instructor relented and disqualified the question.

      I was a very poor student, always on the bubble, so I can't complain. Those guys got some of my wrong questions thrown out, saving me from getting bounced from the program.

      Delete
    5. SF,
      Interesting comment!

      I've had only a few Saudis as students (all adult ESOL). The only one who didn't cheat was the woman who was divorced from a high-ranking member of the House of Saud. She really wanted to improve her English skills so that she could get a job in the United States. She never said so, but I suspect that she was here on asylum status.

      when tests were handed back, we would go over any question missed by anyone. When we got to a question that a Moroccan or Saudi got wrong, they would stand up, shout profanities and pound their desks, protesting the unfairness of the question until the instructor relented and disqualified the question.

      LOL!

      I can believe that.

      From 1982-1996, I had several students who hailed from Pakistan. All but one ranted and raved about how unfair the Language Arts tests were. I'm speaking of 6th graders. And all but one cheated, too; for whatever reason, almost all these Pakistani students were girls.

      The one Pakistani girl who didn't cheat was a secret Christian and dared not take home the school-provided Bible. I've often wondered what happened to her.

      Delete
    6. RE: Chinese, Persians, and Pakis ... I do agree that one takes with them to a new country their culture and traditions, but I would urge some caution here. It is true that culture affects character and ethics, but isn’t this always (and at best) a subjective assessment? The lying or cheating Paki may offend us, but only because our values are far different from his own. In Pakistan, lying and cheating may be perfectly acceptable or, indeed, expected. Why should anyone place a cultural liar or cheater on the “honor system” —at least without first explaining the concept of honor within the context of western society?

      Ignoring the main lie among Chinese, which is "I love you no shit," we should possibly recall that China is a very large country; there are 5-separate dialect groups, and more than 200 dialects spoken in the Chinese language. Does it make sense, then, that there are also as many cultural influences or ethical standards? My caution would be not to wrap the entire nation up in a single ribbon.

      Delete
    7. SilverFiddle, I saw EXACTLY the SAME behavior among the young Negroes when I taught for the UNCF more than half a century ago.

      Cheating was rife –-and startlingly open –– they acted as though it were perfectly NORMAL –– no shame whatsoever.

      I hasten to add that my black students were all very pleasant and easy to get along with, but few-if-any had ever LEARNED much of anything. The majority were functionally ILLITERATE.

      I found myself teaching on a grade school level –– in what-were-supposed-to-be COLLEGE courses!

      I could never blame the STUDENTS for this. They'd all been victims of a corrupt educational system where fellow blacks drew decent salaries for blithely perpeuating a terrible tradition of incompetence and hopeless Ignorance.

      It was almost literally like The Blind Leading the Blind.

      The WORST culprits in my opinion were Columbia University Teachers College and New York University's Department of Education.

      BOTH these schools granted "Automatic-A's" and awarded MASTERS DEGREES to Negro Students who were woefully unqualified to teach.

      It was hardly a KINDNESS to the NEGRO COMMUNITY. Another grievous sin for which we may hold "PROGRESSIVISM" responsible.

      Delete
    8. Mustang,
      In Pakistan, lying and cheating may be perfectly acceptable or, indeed, expected. Why should anyone place a cultural liar or cheater on the “honor system” —at least without first explaining the concept of honor within the context of western society?

      We did explain upon registration. But I have no idea how much was understood.

      What made the cheating and lying situation of my Pakistani students was the fact that they were enrolled in a Christian school. They had signed the honor code -- for whatever their signatures were worth.

      I often wonder why that Pakistani family enrolled in the school.

      Perhaps because their daughters wearing of opaque tights and long-sleeved blouses would not be as noticeable? We didn't allow the wearing of any head covering in the building, so no hijabs. Interestingly enough, the children's mother never wore a hijab -- at least not on our school grounds.

      These Pakistani students had to memorize Bible verses as such memorization was an inherent part of the school curriculum. The only balking I encountered at the 6th grade level: the one son who wanted to memorize from the Quran. That was a non-starter, so he never did the required memorization (F for the Bible Course).

      BTW, all of the older girls in the family graduated from the school. The school was closed down before the two younger children (one a girl, the other a boy) graduated.

      Delete
    9. FT,
      I can't say that I'm surprised. I encountered much the same thing along the way -- but, typically, not with homeschooled students.

      BOTH these schools granted "Automatic-A's" and awarded MASTERS DEGREES to Negro Students who were woefully unqualified to teach.

      A disaster for those students who enrolled in their courses.

      Related: John McWhorter's "Losing the Race: Self-sabotage in Black America"(2000). The book was recommended to me by one of my black clients (private tutoring).

      Delete
  8. Thank the merciful Lord that you don't have a Harold to put up with! (Inside joke.)

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  9. Replies
    1. Ed,
      Thank you.

      The first day of classes went well.

      Of course, there were a few glitches with the technology I wanted to use. I finally got the rack to work, but time ran out before the class could listen to the selected portion of Watership Down, the summer read which all the students seem to have enjoyed.

      Delete
  10. Oh my word. I just read your post and all the comments. What a sad state we are in and there's no change in sight.

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    Replies
    1. Cube,
      The problems with education have finally reached critical mass -- across the board. **sigh**

      Delete
  11. Have a good year! I hope someone writes a Gilbert and Sullivan parody around "I never taught piano to a Persian"...

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    Replies
    1. Jez,
      Ha! I think that parody would be fun.

      But wouldn't such a parody be politically incorrect?

      Delete
    2. yes, we wouldn't want it to turn out anything like this, that would be disastrous! ;)

      Delete
  12. Have a great year in and out of the classroom. Wish I had learned to play the piano, but the two-fingered qwerty style probably doesn't translate. My daughter-in-law loves her new job teaching English to Chinese students IN CHINA via some kind of Skype program. And she doesn't even speak Mandarin (full immersion) , but manages to get them laughing while learning. If only little [insert child's name] were as enthusiastic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DaBlade,
      Wish I had learned to play the piano, but the two-fingered qwerty style probably doesn't translate.

      Ha!

      I learned to play the piano years before I learned to touch type.

      Interesting bit of information about your daughter-in-law's teaching job. I've heard that there are several such programs out there. I wonder how well they work?

      Delete

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