Why School Should Be Cool

Cool School Blue

I was a school teacher for thirty-one years, and in spite of the immense amount of brain damage that builds up over time, especially as a middle-school teacher, I think I know what we’ve been doing wrong.

We need to take a look at an education system where things are working better than they are here.

Now, I know you probably didn’t click on the boring video about school.  Heck, you probably aren’t even reading this sentence.  But I can summarize it and put it in easy-to-understand words.  Finland does not have to educate as many poor and disadvantaged kids as this country does.  The video gives five ways that Finland does it better, but all of them boil down to the basic notion that the country is more homogeneous and uniformly middle-class than ours is.  Still, we can learn things from them.

The first of the five ways that Finland does it better is a difference in government.  While U.S. governmental safety-net programs blame people who need food stamps for being lazy (even though some of them work 40-hour work weeks in minimum-wage jobs), Finland gives a huge package to parents of everything they might need as soon as their child is born.  As long as the child is in school, the government does many things to support the family’s efforts to educate them.  Imagine what we could accomplish here if we invested some of the vast fortune we give to corporations in subsidies into educating poor black and Hispanic children instead.  Children have a hard time learning in school when they come to school hungry.  If we could only feed them better, the way the Fins do, we would revolutionize our classrooms.

The second point the video makes is the biggest suds-maker every time I get on my teacher’s soap box.  They don’t give kids homework and they only give them one standardized test when they leave high school.  I have recently covered this topic more thoroughly in a post in which I was able to ridicule Florida governor Rick “Skeletor” Scott.  (Boy, did I enjoy doing that.)  But I won’t go into all of that again here.

The third thing is respecting teachers.  In Finland they treat teachers with the kind of respect that they give to doctors and lawyers.  How cool is that?  In Texas, calling someone a teacher is an epithet.  If a teacher is liked or even loved by their students, administrators are encouraged to keep a closer eye on them to figure out what’s wrong.  Students are supposed to hate their teachers and sit all day filling out mind-numbing test-preparation worksheets.  Imagine what it could be like if teachers weren’t the scum of the earth.  They might actually have students convinced that learning goes on in their classrooms.

The fourth point is that Finland does not try to cram more and more memorized details into young brains so they can spit it all back out on a test.  They take students thoroughly into the subject of study, and at a slower, easier pace.  They dive deep into the river of learning instead of wade through the wide and shallow parts.  All questions get answered.  And by that, I mean, student questions, not teacher questions.  The learning is student-centered.

Finally, the video states that Finland simply has fewer social ills in their country to get in the way of good quality education.  But even though the work is harder in this country, the potential is really there to go far beyond what Finland is capable of.  We have a natural resource that is totally untapped in this nation.  We don’t develop the minds of a majority of our children in any meaningful way.  And I can tell you from having done it, you can teach a poor or disadvantaged child to think.  You can give them the tools for academic, economic, and personal success.  You can make them into valuable human beings.  But you should never forget, they are already precious beyond measure.  We just ignore and trash that inherent value.  So, the information is out there about how to do a better job of educating our children.  We need to follow through.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

 

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Filed under angry rant, commentary, education, humor, insight, teaching

Like Herding the Wind (A Book Review)

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This is a review I did on Goodreads of a book by an Indie author I met through PDMI Publishing.  It is the first book of hers that I have read, but I couldn’t help but try to promote it.  So here is what I wrote on Goodreads (hoping that I don’t make her beautiful story into an instant worst-seller);

Good science fiction is usually based on an engaging premise that makes you think about it long after the story is finished. Cindy Koepp’s book is like that. The Eshuvani race of aliens crash land their generation ship on the planet Earth in 1612, in the region of Saxony in the Holy Roman Empire. They encounter the human race with weapons drawn. But a brave and dedicated human cleric defuses the situation and convinces two peoples to learn about each other peacefully. The Eshuvani are converted to Christianity and with their superior technology, choose to try to peacefully share a planet rather than go to war as an alien invader.

But an even more fascinating thing about this book is that it doesn’t choose to be about that first-contact event. It is a hard-boiled police procedural novel set in 1965. Two police forces, one Eshuvani, and the other human, are faced with the problem of alien terrorists attacking the human police for reasons unknown. It leads to a story filled with suspense, murder, kidnapping, and racial tensions blooming into violence between two different races.

So this book is a murder mystery and a story of anti-terrorist police procedure at the same time as it is a form of science fiction known as alternate history. It leads you to want more stories set in the same alternate reality. And it is filled with engaging characters about whom you want to know more.

Amaya, the kiand or captain of the Eshuvani law enforcers, is an instantly likable character whom you can’t help but root for as she struggles with loss of her family and her former partner, the inexplicable difficulties and road-blocks put in her way by her own government, and the need to form a new functioning department out of young and untried Eshuvani officers… all while being hunted and attacked occasionally by the terrorists.

Ed Osborn is her human counterpart, and also her “urushalon”, her inter-species adopted child. He has the difficult task of trying to fight off the Eshuvani terrorists who seem to have his men in the center of the cross-hairs of their weapon-sights, while at the same time trying to teach his men about an alien race and culture that they are trying to work beside and integrate with.

This novel is definitely worth the read for science fiction lovers, and people who like to think deep thoughts about how we would react to an entire race of beings forcing us to share our planet, just as their journey was also interrupted with difficult choices forced upon them.

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Sculpture Anatomy

Here is a collage that represents one of my hoarding-disorder collecting diseases enabled by the internet.  The rules for this collection are basically;

  1. Only photographs.
  2. Only human bodies, or people parts.
  3. Only artistically created people parts made of non-people stuff.
  4. Naked is not only allowed, but preferred.

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    1. This is a porcelain doll, not a real girl… just so you know I didn’t break any rules.
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    The point is, art is a depiction of us.  No matter how you create it, what it visually portrays is a reflection, like the one in the bathroom mirror every morning.  Beautiful, grotesque, sexy, repulsive, adorable, or disturbing… it is who we are.  The point is also, it allows me to point, click, and save and create a collection that I don’t have to hide from my wife.  Because, well, you know… it’s art.

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Filed under artists I admire, artwork, collage, humor, nudes, old art

Paffoonies Still Working

This is actually a writer’s literary site meant to promote novels, and one day possibly earn money from writing instead of simply filling my closets with prose and old manuscripts (along with the wife’s many, many shoes).  But since I am also an amateur artist of the irradiated subspecies known as “cartoonist”, I also have many visuals to share.  I think in pictures as often as I think in words.  So one of the features of this blog is that I tag artwork with a made-up word I coined myself.  It allows the curious (or those immune to nightmares) to get an almost instant idea of how afflicted I am with cartoon-ism.

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Yes, I tested it out.  If you do a picture search on Google using the words “Beyer Paffooney” you get a free gallery of my artwork, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You might even find my picture of Clint Eastwood… but beware, he shoots first if you try to “make his day”.  If you are brave… or foolish enough to try it, it should come up something like this;

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So, there you have it.  A cheap and easy 200-word post from a bad idea that’s still out there working.

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The Dog is in the Doghouse

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My name is Jade Beyer, and I’m the loyal, lovable family dog (at least, I hope I still am).  I am writing today’s post because Dad is mad at me.  And I should point out that it takes a lot of effort for me write Dad’s post for him.  I can’t really type with my paws because I hit lots of letters all at once when I do that.  I found a way, however, to roll up my tongue and punch a single letter at a time.  And the dog slobber  only makes the computer spark and fritz a little bit more than usual.  So he should really appreciate me for going to all that effort.

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You see, yesterday, after lunch was over, I got up on the table to look for left-over people food.   Eating enough people food turns you into a people, as I’m sure you already knew.  Really, it’s true!  Otherwise, how could a family dog like me learn to read and write so good?  Anyway, while looking for people food, I found a clear plastic thing in the shape of Henry’s teeth next to his empty plate.  It smelled like Henry.  And I love Henry.  So, I chewed on the thing that smelled just like Henry because I love him.  How was I supposed to know that a new retainer costs $350?  People pay ridiculous amounts of money for stuff that Henry just puts in his own mouth anyway.  It doesn’t justify my family re-telling that awful story about when Uncle Maligaya was a boy in the Philippines and he let his friends talk him into cooking and eating the family dog.  I really don’t like that story.

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A portrait of me as the people I’m meant to be

And this morning, Dad got back from driving the Princess to her new school all grumpy because of traffic and stupid Texas drivers who don’t know how to signal for a lane change but definitely know how to cut you off in the drop-off lane.  I offered to drive for him.  But he’s still mad at me.  And he reminded me that the last time I drove the car, I accidentally ran over three cats.  (I told him the reason for that is because I have no thumbs and can’t hold the steering wheel properly.  But that might not be entirely true.  Mr. Tinkles is evil and deserved to die.)  So, we settled on me writing his post for today so he could have time to call the orthodontist and make an appointment to get a new retainer made.  And if it doesn’t turn out to be any good as a piece of literature, well, it’s because I am dog, and apparently not a very good  dog.  (I’m really not clear on what “I’m going to make dog burgers out of that @#$%&! dog!” actually means.)

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Filed under family, family dog, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Many People That Are Me

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Yes, I am a wizard.  That is a complicated thing to say.  It is complicated because a wizard has to be a wise man, and wisdom has to begin with the idea that you know practically nothing about anything… but you can find out.  So one version of me has to be my wizard D&D character, the wizard Eli Tragedy.  This is because I know practically nothing about anything… but I am willing to not be stupid and look stuff up before I tell you anything and pretend it is a wise thing to say.

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I have been thinking about who I am because I want to re-do my About the Author page.   And that leads to the difficulty of explaining who Mickey actually is.  You see, I am actually lots of different people in my head.  Mickey is the cartoonist, the humorist, the clown.  He is not the every-day me.  He is the goofy and foofy and lovey-to-drawie part of me.  And yes, I know some of those are not real words.  Mickey is like that.  He speaks Mickian Goof Speak.  I have no control over that part of him.  I am not certain where this Mickey-part of my soul originated, but it may be the result of too much TV when I was a kid.

And of course there is the Teacher-Me, Reluctant Rabbit, the person who stood in front of groups of twelve-thirteen-and-fourteen-year-olds for three decades and tap-danced, told stories, stood on my head, and begged them to internalize at least a lesson or two of what I tried to teach them.

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Teacher

And the wizard part of me was just barely wise enough to realize that a teacher can open doors, but you can’t shove a kid through.  They have to take the critical learning step themselves.  They have to want to learn something.  But even though they actually do the learning themselves, they will come back to me in later years saying, “Oh, thank you, you taught me so much!” when really all I did was be a guide on the side and stayed out of their way.

And, of course, there is the Cowboy Me.  I live in Texas.  I was a Belmond Bronco in high school, but I became a Cotulla Cowboy for 24 years of my teaching career.  I ended up as a Naaman Forest Ranger.  I have worn the hat a lot in my life, being as much of a straight shooter as the Shakiest Gun In The West can be, always trying to shoot the six-guns out of the bad guy’s hands rather than shoot people.

So how do I explain a thing like that?  Probably the way I just did it (ironically).  I should use Paffoonies I have created over time and waffle about stupid stuff that might make people laugh when they realize how self-contradictory it is.  And I should say it like I mean it… because I probably do.

 

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life, Uncategorized

Stardusters… Canto 9

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Canto Nine – Aboard Wing One Under the Cloud Cover

“What do we know about the place below us?” asked Biznap.

“The continent is called as a whole Pincara Bolo,” said Starbright, reading from her monitor.  “In Galactic English that means the deadly wastelands.  According to the Pathfinder’s Geophysical Guidebook it is one of the most densely populated places on this high-population world.  The city directly below us is the regional capitol known as Kabiss Pincaralay, the Ruined Palaces.”

“Why do they call it an awful name like that?” asked Farbick.

“If they are like us, they call it that because they were too stupid to call it by a better name,” answered Starbright.  “The Guidebook says they are a very warlike people and their mega-structures in this city have had to be rebuilt and repaired more times than anyone could keep track of.”

A break in the orange-brown cloud-cover revealed the city beneath them.  It was an endless maze of gutted structures, craters, and smoldering ruins.  There really didn’t seem to be a habitable structure anywhere.

“Life signs?” questioned Biznap.

“Scanners indicate there are only a scarce few small life-forms.  None seem to be any larger than a Skoog Monkey,” said one of the two crewman whose names Biznap had not bothered to learn.    Skoog Monkeys were small furry primates from the planet Misko Skoogalia, a part of the Telleron Empire that had been easily colonized because it had no intelligent creatures on it.  Skoog Monkeys were green-furred and just smart enough to make pleasant pet animals.  They also came in handy as a quick snack on long journeys.

“Odd,” said Biznap.  “One would expect a capitol city with so many buildings to be better inhabited than that.  Surely they are masking their presence from our scanners, somehow.”

“Really, I doubt that,” said the stupid cadet.  “This planet is listed as Tech Level Nine just like the planet Earth.  It is a society just beginning to discover the capability of space travel.  We are Tech Level Fourteen, and should be invisible to their primitive detection devices.  They can’t have developed much beyond primitive sonar and radar capability.”

“What?”

“Sound waves and radio waves bounced off objects for the purposes of detection,” supplied Starbright to the Commander.

“There!  Straight ahead!” said Farbick.  “I see a big, intact, domed structure with what appear to be electric lights.  That has to mean some kind of people.”

Biznap looked and saw it too.  It was an impressively large structure, larger than things like football stadiums back on Earth.  Usually Tellerons tried to avoid such things as population centers, but if they had any hope of finding a population at all, it would probably be there.

“Okay,” said Biznap, “Land near there.  We have to risk contact sooner or later.  It might as well be here and now.”

*****

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