Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cable Salad

Okay, so it's  Language warning.  But I love reading about cliches, proverbs and vocabulary from other languages . . . just skip the first and last.

31 phrases English needs to steal

Saturday, June 27, 2015

musings prompted by bearing

Here, Bearing makes connections between Pope Benedict's encyclical  and a Japanese book on decluttering.  It's much less far fetched than you might think.  But I was particularly struck by these two paragraphs.

Some of what St. Francis was getting at, when he preached to birds and addressed "brother sun, sister moon,"  is gratitude.  Because that is what a Catholic vision of "respect for the natural world" must, in the end, be reduced to.  Respect is actually something owed to persons, and all "respect" for objects, natural or man-made, is really a respect for persons; the object is merely a means of transmission.  Example:  we show respect for, say, an American flag, not for its own sake, but because it's a way to visibly respect people who also share that flag, sometimes (as at a military funeral) very specific people.  
And we "respect" the natural world, not for its own sake, but (practically speaking) to steward it and share it for the sake of other people's livelihood, and (more fundamentally speaking) out of gratitude to God for making a gift of it to all of us.  Wastefulness and an attitude of total control risk us taking for granted this world of objects for which we should give thanks every day.

This in turn doubles back to much of what Ann Voskamp has written on gratitude.

Given my fractious feelings with regards to patriotism and the American flag the last number of years, I like the handle that this gives.

I also think that it's interesting that *what* we respect is an indicator of what we are *grateful* for . . . somehow this all doubles back and relates to idolatry and desire . . . we are grateful for that which we deem to hold worth.  What we *worship* . . .

Is the divide between the right and the left in large part a choice of different idols?  That what we value as worthy of opposed?

Bearing's original post

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Or, as I thought of it when I was seven . . . Uker.

I love getting a probable etymology of both "Euchre" and "Bower."

5 second rule

Yeah . . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Yorker article on euthanasia

A disturbing, fascinating look at the euthanasian movement in Belgium and Flanders.  Andy's comment: "  I was struck by the nihilism on display - death as the solution to problems, ranging from terminal illness to depression to mere unhappiness. People often complain that human suffering somehow implicates God in evil. I would reply that without God, suffering is meaningless and hopeless."   Cross this with increasingly socialized health care and the inevitability of bureacrats deciding who it financially viable to treat or not and you have a horrible soup.  And dad's assertion that delaying death is not actually the same thing as prolonging life . . . when our medical technology has advanced to the point when we can extend existence and suffering a very long time without actually curing anything, what is the righteous way forward?  I don't know . . .

HT:  Andy Scott, via FB

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Some random thougts on teacher evaluations and effectiveness

In response to this article on our new state superintendent.

One of the complaints is that under the old system, some 99% of teachers are labeled as effective.  How can that be?! the cynics question.  There have to be more ineffective ones!  And on with the witch hunt and the standardized testing to find the supposedly ineffective teachers.

I'll believe 99% effectiveness and I'll tell you why--

1.  Our colleges actually do a good job training teachers--as they're intended to.
2.  People who are going into teaching are doing it because they want to see it done well--they're motivated because they *want* to be effective . . . for the kids.  It's too hard of a job for someone who doesn't feel like they're managing or making a difference.  The ineffective ones in many cases, wash themselves out.
3.  Teaching jobs are hard enough to come by that our principals have lots of good choices when they're hiring.  Our principals are good at what they do and hire the effective teachers in the first place.
4.  They're aided in this by the fact that many (or most) teachers have been screened pretty well by the time they're hired.  Teachers often work as subs, Title 1 aides, etc., before being hired on for a classroom.  The principals already know who these people are before they hire them.
5.  "Effective" is actually a pretty low standard.  To say it's "effective" is to say, in essence, "Eh--it works . . . well enough."  Most teachers are actually better than that.  But the "good enough" standard is not actually that hard to reach for people who have been well taught, who are experienced, who are teaching because they want to, and have been hand-picked from a large pool.  In fact--most teachers are better than that.

My mom is a teacher.  I have friends who are teachers.  And we have three kids in school.  And not only have none of my kids ever had a teacher I would label as ineffective--none of the parents I know have either.  (Check that--we did have a bad preschool experience once, but even Obama isn't trying to regulate the preschools yet).  Mostly, our teacher experiences have been phenomenal.  We had one time when we just didn't have a good personality fit between our daughter and her teacher--but that didn't mean the teacher was bad. She wasn't.  There was also one time when a teacher was just having a really rough year.  But again, didn't mean she was a bad teacher.

So let's back off on the regulations and the witch hunts.  Let's let the school districts do their already hard enough job without federal mandates are committee created evaluations.  Let's unschackle our creative, effective, motivated, hand-picked teachers to just do the one thing that they really want to do--help our kids.  Because they truly are the 99%.