One hazard of beginning a two-parter in a weekly paper is that events occasionally supervene – forcing your humble columnist to choose between a timely response to events, or finishing what he has started.
The other day, an old friend posted – or rather, re-posted – one of those modern-day, chain-letter-like items which have done so much to turn the social media into a kind of Purgatory. This particular item asserted, in fighting words, the determination not to let anyone take away his right to wish others a “Merry Christmas.”
Last week, in this space, I suggested that a first step toward meaningfully reducing the plague of campus rape might come by recognizing that, in dealing with serious crimes, colleges and universities are ill-equipped – and insufficiently motivated – to assume the functions of official investigative, prosecutorial and judicial institutions.
Many years ago, an acquaintance asked me why I spoke of Charlottesville with such affection. Without thinking, I replied, “I was born there.” I quickly corrected myself. In literal truth, I was born at John Randolph Hospital, in Hopewell.
The great majority of my friends – both in real life and on social media – vote Democratic. In the wake of the midterm elections – which went so badly for Democratic candidates – most of these folks are looking for someone to blame.
The other day, I was out running errands with a friend, who wanted to stop by the AT&T store to ask about a voicemail issue. This gave me a few minutes to stroll around, looking at displays of shiny, brightly-lit devices.
I don’t own a television. I do listen to public radio – and, during baseball season, some sports radio – but, since neither normally carries political advertising, I’m largely spared the annual flood of nonsense through which American political campaigns are conducted.
This week, while America’s media obsess over Roger Goodell’s increasingly shaky tenure as NFL Commissioner, President Obama is preparing to involve this country in yet another, far-from-promising adventure in the Middle East.
Last Saturday, after a particularly daunting workout at the Y, I treated myself to a hearty breakfast at Cracker Barrel. While waiting for my order, I overheard a fellow at a neighboring table lecturing his waitress on the folly of fast-food workers who had recently staged a one-day strike in favor of a living wage.
Last year, my best friend and I wandered into an Oregon book store, where she picked up a novel by Portland journalist Brian Doyle. After she’d had sighed, chuckled, and laughed aloud a half-dozen times – and read me some passages – I downloaded it to my Kindle.
Last week, in this space, I suggested that History will likely judge President Obama a failure, largely because of his failure to lead Americans in discovering a new sense of national identity – rooted in our past, but relevant to the circumstances of the present.
The President and Congress are heading for a collision over how to handle the “crisis” caused by a flood of underage immigrants – children and adolescents – across the Mexican border from failing, gang-ridden states in Central America.
Recently, one of my students from Midlothian High School began posting photos, including old yearbook candids, from her high school days. Since I was very active with student organizations, I showed up in quite a few.
For the past two weeks, the good folks who run the Village News have kindly run “classic” columns in this space. There were reasons for my absence – technological, weather-related, family, etc. – but the best and simplest explanation is that I went through a phase where I couldn’t face “the blank page.”
Apparently, this year, a lot of people on Facebook are participating in a “Thirty Days of Thanksgiving” movement. This strikes me as a fine idea. It sure beats starting Christmas immediately after Halloween, as the stores would have us do.
I was a little kid during the Eisenhower administration, when men were men and Republicans were rational. Like most little kids, I spent a few years trying to get my way about everything – employing age-old tactics in the process.
For years, I’ve been a proponent of using eight pivotal days of the year as optimum times to make life changes. Major or minor, changes seem easier if made in accordance with these eight days, which have been celebrated by agriculturally-based societies since ancient times.
I don’t know nearly enough about Iran, but I’m working on it. I have picked up a little bit over the years, though, and that little bit tells me that the handful of experts calling for a rapprochement with Iran are onto something.
Though he now seems likely to be distracted by the mess in Syria – the consequence of several years of principled procrastination – President Obama has spent much of August on a strategically-timed campaign aimed at the problem of soaring college education costs.
On the day after Christmas – Boxing Day for Canadians and Anglophiles – I will have been a professional, freelance journalist for ten years. (If the crick don’t rise, that is. At 62, I assume nothing).
One of the great fallacies in modern educational thought is the baseless assumption that the present generation – with its limited knowledge of the past and understanding of the present – can accurately forecast what skills and knowledge will be useful to a younger generation moving toward an inscrutable future.
By now, most Americans who don’t live in a cave have heard something - however vague – about MOOCs. MOOC is short for “massive open online course”. Several consortia offer these courses – Coursera being perhaps the best known.
The Obama administration is engaged in the sort of mental gymnastics it usually adopts before making a big decision. The administration is “discovering” the shocking fact that Syria’s ruthless autocrat, Bashar al-Assad, has been using chemical weapons against his own people.
In the past, I have argued that our educational establishment – and the public at large – have lost sight of why we have schools. It seems strange to ask the question, but only because we all take the answer for granted.
Five weeks ago, America passed the centennial of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration as America’s 28th President. Remarkably, no one made much of a fuss.
Understand, I’m not going to get on my high horse about this. I’d be ashamed to.
Earlier in this series, I urged that Chesterfield invite neighboring jurisdictions to join in creating a regional governor’s school for highly-gifted students in mathematics, science, technology, and engineering.
Last week, on my blog, Gray’s Gazette, I posted twice concerning Hollingsworth v. Perry – taking what is, for me, a difficult position. For constitutional reasons, as well as considerations of practical politics, I believe progressives and liberals should hope for a Supreme Court decision striking down California’s Proposition 8 - but not creating a nationwide right to same-sex marriage.
Today, let’s resume our discussion of ideas for improving Chesterfield’s public schools. Thus far, we’ve focused on ways of improving STEM education, with discursions into education for the extremely gifted and preparing disadvantaged children to start school.
Last Wednesday, I was subbing at Stuart Hall - a private school two blocks from my house in Staunton. During sixth period, a trusted student had been using a laptop to show Chemistry podcasts on a screen.
Having devoted two weeks to the education of the highly-gifted, let’s turn our attention to improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for children who are not part of the intellectual 1 percent.
Before moving on to the next topic, I should stop to offer a few thoughts about the consequences of acceleration as a model for educating gifted youngsters. I do this largely in response to a thoughtful e-mail from a Village News reader who – while he liked the idea of a STEM governor’s school...
In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for further Federal efforts to help states and localities “to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy... and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math...”