Thursday, June 28, 2012

Texas Republicans are stupid, and they want to make everyone else stupid too (by anon)

I’m not exaggerating.  I can’t make this shit up.  This is scary.  The Texas GOP wants people to stay stupid, and though that is not their term, they might have just as well said it.  Here are their entire published platforms (2012 Texas GOP Platforms), but I only need to quote three of them.

Under the section titled, “Educating our Children,” consider these three platforms:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

American Identity Patriotism and Loyalty – We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive.  We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups.  Students should pledge allegiance to the American and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.”

Classroom Discipline – We recommend that local school boards and classroom teachers be given more authority to deal with disciplinary problems.  Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas.”

What do I take from this?  Well if i be grownenup in teXass if dat stuff pases, shit mann i’d betaking my guns (all sicks of dem) and getting my own ways doin things.  Who needs all dem fuckin intiliignt peeple who thinkk they no whats goin oon.  get away you muthr fuckin imiggrant hoo dosnet look like me!  ill smak you side the head like my teachrs did!

Ok, my stupid-speak needs work, but what the hell?!  This is what they are saying: “Stop thinking for yourself, do not question the authority of your parents or your church, other cultures do not matter, and if you question this we reserve the right to beat it into you!  We are stupid, and we want to keep you stupid too (at any cost, remember we did say ‘corporal punishment’ lest you forgot).”

In a world where we need clearer and clearer thinking to get ourselves out of big holes we have dug for ourselves (recession, future national financial health, diminishing natural resources, ethnic/religious/gender tensions) and holes not of our own (global warming), the Texas Republicans couldn’t be any more wrong and backward.  We need to think better, we need to be able to interact with a whole collage of different peoples, and hitting never encourages the appropriate kind of learning.

The only way for our children to have brighter futures in their own careers and their country is to teach them to think well.  That is why a liberal education is so damn important.  Employers don’t want dumbasses who can only spit back preprogrammed information that will be obsolete in two years.  They want people who can think, who can adapt to new situations, and solve real, messy problems.  This is what our country needs more than ever.

Texas Republicans are just idiots if they can’t see any of that.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sometimes faculty are just assholes (by anon)

I found the comment below posted on a non-UWW blog I frequent regarding academia and other such matters.  The blog post was about some notably atrocious attempt by a student to have his or her grade raised.  Below was part of one faculty member’s comment in the Comment Section.

Why are students these days less respectful? To some extent, at least, it must be because they've found they can get away with this in the past (perhaps with the assistance of 'helicopter parents').

And that is only possible because previous schoolteachers and higher education instructors wimped out on them. As far as most of these students know, their behavior is normal, and they are just asserting their rights to a grade they deserved.

They have been implicitly taught by a long sequence of wimps, in other words, that 'unfair' is a good adjective for any poor grade they are assigned, regardless of the actual fairness with which the grades were distributed; and that if they don't get the grade they want right away, they just need to bargain/intimidate/plead for something better. At worst, there's nothing to lose.

The solution, therefore, is quite simple, and it's exactly along the lines of what you did. We all need to take a hard line with this sort of thing. Ideally, our reactions should also involve some punishment, so that the students walk away with the clear understanding that there _is_ something to lose by this sort of knavery.

I have made some progress on this by telling all my classes near the start of each course how undignified and abhorrent it is for students to whine about their grades, etc. That seems to create some shame and aversion in the students. I really rub it in about what bags of shit those students are, since I'm not saying it about any of _them_, just some other students with a sense of entitlement (who are never named).

There is reason to quibble with his (and yes, it is a ‘he’ in this case) explanation for why some students “grade grub” as many call it.  But what I find particularly objectionable is his last paragraph.  There is an intentional act to shame students away from that kind of behavior; he really rubs it in that those kinds of students are “bags of shit.”  Notice that he doesn’t say that that kind of action is shitty, but that the personhood of the student is shit (there is a big difference between denouncing the action and denouncing the person!).  Of course, who knows what this faculty person really does at the start of his course, but that is what he says he does.  He even wishes he could inflict some kind of punishment on those students.

That faculty member is an asshole.  He is not at UWW, but his students wherever he teaches have to endure a blowhard professor who (ironically) believes he has reached some level of entitlement such that he can resort to shame and ridicule to force students to behave in certain patterns.  Of course, it is a good behavioral pattern to ask about grades respectfully.  BUT it is incumbent upon the faculty member to model respectful behavior and not shame students and call them “bags of shit,” even if they do do something disrespectful.  When that professor models such disrespect to his students on Day 1, student learning suffers from the start.  It sets up a potentially hostile learning environment.  It shows that he is more committed about his students acting in just the right ways than their actual learning.  It will hurt his students’ motivation to learn.

There are many way for a professor to talk about grades.  Shame is not one of them.  That’s what an asshole uses to try and get what he wants.  Faculty should know better and act respectfully.

On another note, I’m not even sure he condones his students asking about grades at all.  I get the impression that he would consider any such questioning, even done respectfully, as whining.  That’s not right.  If the justification for a grade is not clear or a grade appears to be unfair, the student has every right to ask the instructor about it.  To shame even that kind of asking, the instructor is donning a pretty big God-complex and needs to be slapped a few times to get him back down to earth.  We, professors, are not always the clearest on why we assigned a certain grade, there are times we make grading mistakes, and there are times we did grade something unfairly and need to reassess.  Teaching, learning, and grading are not a one-way street going from professor to students.  It is a back-and-forth movement as we grow in the course together (sorry if that sounds too foo-foo).  If the professor quoted above doesn’t get that, his ego needs to be popped.

So some faculty really are assholes.  Hopefully it is the vast minority.

Friday, June 15, 2012

“I hate gay people” is an often googled phrase (by The Critically Pissed)

The phrase “I hate gay people” is the second most popular search that directs people to this blog from Google.  The most popular search is “critically pissed” for obvious reasons, but it is quite telling that “I hate gay people” is second (it directs them to the past post: 'I admit it...I hate gay people' by Scott Walkeresque). 

If you found this blog because you googled, “I hate gay people,” you are welcome to hang around, but I beg you to answer me one question.  Why do you hate gay people so much?  I’m pretty perplexed because I cannot fathom why someone else’s sex life and object of affection matters so much when it does not affect you.  Homosexuality is not ruining America, it is not breaking down families, it is not spreading some disease, and it does not spread hate.

I keep coming to the conclusion that your hatred of gay people is (among other things) what is hurting America, hurting families, and spreading hate.  Please tell me how I am wrong, because your view just doesn’t make sense to me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Are teachers saints or shit? (by anon)

In the wake of the Wisconsin recall elections, this post was coming. 

I’m very sad.

It is plainly clear that most of the people of Wisconsin think that teachers are pieces of shit.  Scott Walker and his Republican congress made the biggest cuts to education in Wisconsin’s state history.  They made cuts totaling $1.11 billion dollars.  That was billion.  Here’s a Politifact link in case you don’t believe me: click me.  Walker also ended collective bargaining for teachers so that they no longer have the means to negotiate with their employers for fair wages and work expectations.  Walker also decreased teacher salaries by making them pay more for healthcare and contribute to their pensions; you must think of that as a decrease in salary since that directly impacts the teacher’s take-home pay.

All of that is not new news.  It is news that everyone knows (more or less).  But from all I’ve heard from Wisconsin Republicans, they think that teachers are living high on the hog, they have to start living in the real world, they need to stop crying like babies, they need to take their licks like everyone else, they need to stop taking vacations to protest, and they’re not so special so they better shut up and pay up.  In short, they believe that teachers are cry-baby shitheads.  I’m all for fairness of pay and for more equal distributions of resources, but there has been a marked shift in respect for teachers.  When people voted for Walker, they were basically saying that the teacher’s job isn’t that important, that we shouldn’t give so much to education.  And for them, that is “moving us forward!”

Dead wrong.  That moves us backwards.  ONLY backwards.  There is no forward thinking anywhere there.  You see, TEACHERS ARE THE ONES EDUCATING THEIR CHILDREN!!!!!  Yes, all their children who are supposed to grow up as money-making capitalists, scientists, engineers, managers, bankers, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, writers, insurance agents, accountants…(you get the picture)…the only way they can get there and get there successfully is through the teachers (kindergarten through college) who will teach them those skills as well as many other skills that help them live fuller, meaningful lives.  Without quality education and teachers, their children will not be in any of those professions.  They would be dumbasses texting their dumbass friends.  Therefore, TEACHERS ARE VERY VERY IMPORTANT.

The only way for success is for the people of Wisconsin to invest in the education of their children.  The future of our state depends on that investment (actually our whole country depends on bigger investments in education).  But if the state continues to divest itself from education, our educational system will suffer permanent effects (and many are saying that is now happening with all the cuts).  With less aid and resources, we will not attract the best (or even better) teachers.  They will go elsewhere.  If class sizes are increased to accommodate teachers leaving and increased enrollments to generate more revenue, teachers will have less quality interaction with their students.  Those are the trade-offs. 

I, of course, value the role of the teacher.  I think everyone should.  Whether you agree with me or not, my guess is that without your teachers you wouldn’t have been able to read this far in this post.  And that’s my point.  Teachers are indispensable.  Unfortunately, the current climate of Wisconsin and most of its people say very different. 

That’s why I’m sad.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Do you believe in love at first sight? (by anon)

The question of “Love at first sight” has been questioned by many. In fact I have asked this question numerous times. But now that I think about it, can it be possible that an emotion as strong as “love” really exists at first sight? Others may disagree with me saying that the union between them and another person was completely unexpected and early in their relationships, they were in love. EHarmony also says that people on their website see someone and “they just know”. As soon as they met the other person they knew they were going to be married. This is all made up in their minds. True love takes time before it happens. People have said that it’s real because they have experienced it, but maybe it’s something different than “love”. You can be sparked quickly by physical attraction and be fooled into thinking love, when it’s really just lust. You can’t love a person just based upon sight alone. There could be a strong hunch that you could get along great with them, but not an immediate love. To me, you meet someone and you get to know the person spiritually, physically, and emotionally before you can really love them. You wouldn’t marry someone from just one look. Think of it that way. If you really believed in love at first sight, you would marry the first person that caught your eye. You said it was love at first sight.

I, personally, really would like to believe in the magic of “love at first sight”, but I don’t think it is likely to happen. It’d be nice to think that while meeting someone for the first time, they can release enough emotional triggers that you immediately just know that they were the one. I feel that the whole “love at first sight” idea was invented so that fairy tales would end happily. The prince meets his princess and they live happily ever after. People today just claim that they love someone at first sight so they can have that fairytale ending.