I swear my brain no longer thinks in complex sentences. I read stuff and I think, hey, I’ll write about that, but then I sit down to write and I think , “Eh. I got nothing.” I spent yesterday playing Civilization and doing laundry. I am actually packed for my trip, which I don’t leave for until Friday. I also did some mindless work, going through the hundreds of emails that have piled up throughout the summer. I’ve been in triage mode. All this last week, I’d spend some time clearing out a couple hundred messages only to return from a couple of hours of meetings to find myself right back where I started. I think I need to get more organized about that, do some more filtering. A lot of what I get are announcements that don’t apply to me or stuff from email lists (some of which I already filter).
Basically, I think I’ve been in this weird mode all summer of not feeling quite on top of things, and not really caring that much. I’m calling it pre-vacation mode. Whatever it is, it feels kind of weird.
So many people, Andrew Keen, the mainstream media, etc., want to focus on the idea that the Internet is a scary place. Well, the Internet’s no scarier than the “real world.”
Today, I read at least twoposts from two bloggers who regularly make me remember how wonderful the Internet can be. I feel lucky to know people like them. Their commenters, too, show how much compassion there really is in the world.
Of course, these two are just two examples of the kind of thing I run into every day out there in the “scary” Internet.
I wanted to write something thoughtful about Joe Sestak’s response to a letter I sent him asking him and his House colleagues to begin impeachment hearings. I find myself disheartened and so I can’t respond. It was basically a “Yeah, but” kind of response. Yeah, we know they’ve done illegal things, but they’re not as bad as Watergate. Gah. But they’re worse than Monicagate, no? Sad. Just sad.
I’m pretty much in full vacation mode, now that the dissertation is done. Which means I do basically nothing on the weekends. Yesterday, I hung out at the pool. Today, it’s raining. I might muster the energy for some laundry or grocery shopping.
I find myself wondering if I’d read a newspaper if I subscribed to one. Probably not. I get all my news from teh internets.
In exactly 5 days, we go on vacation, and it’s a real vacation–no defense hanging over my head.
I find myself wanting to clear out the clutter that’s collected in the last two years while I was writing, but I also find myself not caring that much. Because clutter is not particularly intellectually stimulating.
I had a dream last night about writing a paper or a book or something. Hmm. Wonder where that came from.
I have a followup to my impeachment post of yesterday, but before I post that, I wanted to announce the first episode of The Chronicle’s Tech Therapy podcast. I still find the whole idea of tech therapy problematic. I just hate the idea of treating technology as something one needs therapy for.
I’m disturbed by the very notion that dealing with technology is paramount to dealing with depression or other serious mental issues. As long as anxiety surrounding the use of technology is seen as a medical condition, it will always be deemed problematic, something that requires intervention and is potentially evil. I’m reminded, in fact, of when evil spirits were to blame for many diseases.
The actual content of this episode focused on the issue of security and, in fact, suggested that CIOs and others need to have a good understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes with technology and not treat it like magic. Maybe it’s because I’m at a small institution, but I bristled at the idea of centralized control over IT. I think there are some areas of IT that need centralized control and some that don’t. I do think it’s important for faculty to at least talk to their IT staff when they’re considering a new technology project. But I also think IT staff shouldn’t respond to such projects with a definitive no just because they won’t have full control over it. I’m not sure I like the general philosophy of the expert running the show, Warren Arbogast, so I may find myself disagreeing more than agreeing simply for that reason. We’ll see.
I hate it when I don’t have time to pay attention to the news. This explains, of course, the state of many Americans. Someone from my regular reads pointed me to Bill Moyers show of two weeks ago on impeachment. We usually record the show, but had somehow missed this episode. You can watch it online, and if you haven’t, you should. What’s most striking about the show is that the conservative, Bruce Fein, is perhaps more strident about the necessity to impeach Bush and Cheney than the liberal is. Both of them say that if we don’t impeach them, we risk undermining our democracy is irreparable ways. The things that Bush has done have sought to shift power to the executive branch and to make the presidency look more like a monoarchy–the very thing the revolutionaries and our founding fathers fought against. Bush treats us like children, John Nichols said.
Our leaders treat us as children. They think that we cannot handle a serious dialogue about the future of our republic, about what it will be and how it will operate. And so, you know, to an extent, we begin to act like children. We, you know, follow other interests. We decide to be entertained rather than to be citizens.
Well, you know, and Bruce makes frequent references to the fall of the Roman Empire. You know, that’s the point at where the fall comes. It doesn’t come because of a bad leader. It doesn’t come because of a dysfunctional Congress. It comes when the people accept that– role of the child or of the subject and are no longer citizens.
Let’s be citizens, shall we? And start making a lot more noise about our spineless Congress and get some accountably. They work for us, remember.
Last night, I transported myself back to 1983 by attending The Police concert. I dragged along a recent grad, who wasn’t even born in 1983. I didn’t feel *too* old while there. It was a fun concert. They played much of what one would expect: “Roxanne,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Don’t Stand So Close,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Da Do Do Do.” I haven’t been listening to The Police very much in the years between attending the Synchronicity concert and this one, so I’d forgotten some of the songs like “All I Want is To be Next to You.” We had, as you can see, pretty good seats–high up but centered. We had a great view of the city, too (which you can’t see in this picture).
I have to say, I was impressed that they didn’t sound like has beens. Sting was, quite frankly, pretty buff. And his voice was good too. Andy Summers did some nice guitar work and Stewart Copeland showed off some excellent drumming. I have vague memories of the 1983 concert. My recollection is that is was in Knoxville and that I had to take the SATs the next day, but I can’t remember. I also think my view was blocked. I rank this concert higher than that one. I could drink beer legally. I could see. I sang really loud. All I gotta say is LLA, you’re gonna love it. And, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a couple of grainy videos.
I’ve seen a lot of posts lately and have had some real-life encounters that relate to the idea of educators being afraid of change/technology/learning. I really don’t quite understand it. I get the arguments that people don’t have time or even don’t really want to do something new with their teaching (the curmudgeon argument), but afraid? Will Richardson has a post that really got me thinking. He says he’s been trying to get the teachers he talks to to think about their own learning, but they are resistant to doing so. A ways down in the comments, Terry Elliot says:
Is this assumption true: all teachers are learners. Yes, but for different reasons. Some learn from fear. They are the ones who are afraid of being left behind or not getting tenure or of looking bad. This is very shallow learning at best. Of course they will not entangle themselves in the tools. They fear them. Just like students don’t really learn for the long term when fear is the motivator.
That is precisely what I was thinking. I made the assumption that since I stuck in the education field because I loved learning that that’s why everyone else was in this business, especially those who teach. But I’m beginning to think that there are a whole host of other reasons that people become educators. And I’m beginning to think that there are quite a few people who aren’t in this field because they believe in learning at some kind of fundamental level. Which is depressing. One can find ways to provide time for teacher learning and work around curmudgeons, but it’s much harder to change basic attitudes.
Perhaps the teachers simply reflect the student attitudes. You know, the ones that just want the grade and don’t want to actually learn anything. Trillwing writes about this problem, asking for suggestions for how to get students over it. I have to say that I’ve only had one teaching experience at one institution where the students as a whole were overly focused on the grade. Sure, nearly every class has one or two students who constantly ask, “Will this be on the test?” or “How do I get an A?” I think they’re all afraid, too. As Barbara Ganley would say, they’re afraid to take a risk and fall on their face. Our educational system isn’t built for such risk-taking. It’s a one-shot deal.
What I don’t understand, I guess, especially for teachers is what, exactly, they’re afraid of. Embarrassment? Looking stupid? I don’t understand.