Sunday, January 29, 2012

1st Post of the Semester - Pedagogy 00A

First post of the semester in my pedagogy class.  Looks like I have to warm up again with writing school posts.

Teaching Students to Write by Beth Neman

In her first chapter, titled "Teaching the Student," Neman refers to the "craft centered solution" and the "affect centered solution." Please comment on which of these "solutions" you find most relevant for the teaching of writing here at Northridge. Also--in that chapter, Ottinger makes a claim about why his class failed. What do you think of his perspective?

Mortification began to set in as I started reading "Teaching the Student". Neman seemingly sets out on a highly polarized line of rhetoric villainizing one extreme version(craft-centered solution) and praising another (affect-centered solution). It isn't until after the in-depth look at the latter of the two solutions (compared to the one page mention of craft centered) that Neman approaches a third possibility. It is this possibility that would be the most relevant form for teaching here at Northridge. Neman's version of craft centered, an obvious over-dramatization of this 'style', is not productive although I would say that this methodology typically ends in high school and is not as "commonplace in our day" (5) as Neman makes it out to be (at least not in my college experience). Reading about the center of teaching being "correction and criticism", "red pen" oriented, and having "sarcasm and ridicule" as a means or "upholding high standards and pursuing excellence" (5) typically is counterproductive to a viable learning environment. This method creates a sense of fear of being wrong that blocks the capacity of a student to expand beyond a limited scale. Yet on the flip side, affect-centered styles seem equally harmful, although in a completely different way. Neman states that the "problems cause by negative criticism are eliminated" (7) but this doesn't take into mind the extreme faults of the other end of the spectrum which Neman does eventually explore. The sub headings state it all: Possibilities for Abuse (which is true for everything), Insufficient Goal, Absence of Nonnarrative Writing (this point being one of the biggest issues of this 'solution') etc...

A smile crept to my lips as Neman finally approached a solution that contained one of my favorite words: Balanced. Each of the previous solutions were too far away from each other on the spectrum of teaching. Each ignored valuable principles within the other style in favor of being completely lopsided. One of the biggest aspects that I believe is necessary to be a successful teacher, is adaptability. Each set of students is going to be different and subscribing rigidly to one form or another with ostracize a great many students. Being able to blend different techniques as needed is a necessity. Beyond that, students need some form of structure and guidance within the academic environment. This is one of the issues that Ottinger found in his article "In Short, Why Did the Class Fail". He found that the initial happiness that students may have found in ultimate freedom was quickly overshadowed by the slide into "final catastrophe" (24). The necessary components of communication and opportunity broke down into "cliché-ridden topics". Some classes may be able to handle this freedom, but I would speculate that this is not the rule but the exception. Ottinger comes across as exasperated and jadded, which may have been part of the reason for the failure of the class in his eyes since it's a combined effort of both the teacher and the students in order to create a successful atmosphere. Yet Ottinger quoting "'Freedom is Slavery'" rings with a sense of truth: give students freedom but within limitations. This may sound contradictory at first but there are ways to allow students to stretch their limits within reason. They need to know the correct way write (as ambigious as that is). They need to know that the teacher will help if within the freedom they are given, they will be guided and not left to drown in their sea of choices. And despite Ottinger's possible low view of students, they need to be respected and encouraged but within a 'Balanced Solution'.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Well school started and I'm immediately swamped.  I had planned on having the second part to my previous post done but, well... that didn't quite pan out.  Anywho, I'll probably have time tomorrow to put it up.  I think no matter how long you've been in school, the first week is pure chaos.  At least the class I'm teaching this semester seems be made up of a group of students that are somewhat willing to engage in conversation without having it be comparable to teeth pulling (always a plus).  I even had a conversation with a student coming in to the class taught after mine who mistook me for a full time faculty professor, which was a neat experience.  I'm usually the one walking into a class room and seeing another teacher leave and now I'm in that position (well, sort of).  Ether way it drew a smile.  Okay so, post tomorrow and then I'll have steady blogs up from my school postings starting Mondayish.  These may or may not be interesting.  They should be to those interested in The Hernandez Brothers who are most famously known for "Love and Rockets".  That's it for now.  

Don't be jealous of what I get to 'study'.

"Love and Rockets" picture taken from Google search and is not the property of CSH.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Top 5 Fictional Teachers

Since school is about to start I figured I'd do a fun double post to get into the pre-school year spirit.  Today I'm going to post what's probably not going to be to fresh of an idea but I want to use it in juxtaposition to the next post I do.  As the title states I'm going to choose what I think are the top 5 fictional movie teachers based on popularity.  But since I don't typically agree with main stream ideas.  I'll do a counter post choosing the actual top 5 obscure ones.  Should be interesting to see how they compare.   Okay on with the list

#5  Louanne Johnson  
---Michelle Pfeiffer---
Dangerous Minds

I think this fits the bill for a solid stereotypical number 5.  The song that haunted the mid 90's was more memorable than the movie but the empowered role she played was decent enough to have this teacher become memorable enough to those who were old enough to have watched the movie.  Louanne's attitude that "you can do it no matter who you are or what situation your in" is admirable enough.

#4 John Keating       
--Robin Williams--
Dead Poets Society

The only reason this clinches the number four spot is because it's even older then the number 5 spot.  Personally I think John Keating is an amazing character.  More teachers should take a lesson from this movie.  Forget the mainstream, it doesn't work anymore.

#3 Veronica Vaughn

--Bridgette Wilson--
Billy Madison

I'm slowly working my way up to modern movies.   It's just hard when there's so many good roles from the 90's.  Poor Billy wouldn't have become successful without the help of Miss. Vaughns character.

#2  Albus Dumbledore   
--Richard Harris--
Harry Potter

Ask most any kid who their favorite fictional teacher and I'd bet money they'd say Dumbledore.  Besides being currently popular, this character was influential in a mysterious sort of way.  Sometimes guiding from behind the scenes can be a good method of teaching for those that are resistant to education.  And yes he's a book character before he was a movie character

#1 Mr. Miyagi
--Pat Morita--
The Karate Kid

What Dumbledore was to this generation, I think Mr. Miyagi was to my generation.  Wielding his chopsticks and wearing his cool headband, every kid wished he could train under this guy.

[Images pulled from google search.  None of the visuals are the owners property]

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cheat Sheet For MLA Or How to MLA Work Cited in 3 Seconds

Ever wonder how I make my semi-wonderful work cited sections that are always relegated to the obscure side of the ignored zone?  No? Well someone requested that I put up my quick 'how to method' of doing MLA style references.  Because why spend two hours on something you can do in 10 minutes?  You could invest in a handy dandy 7th ed MLA format book that'll probably be updated next year rendering your brand new opened only once copy obsolete due to the one change.... OR you could forget everything, throw out the book and use the only two links you'll ever need:

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (owl):  Link 1 :  Link 2

Of the two I prefer the second (easybib)  just because it does most of the work for you.  Just plug in the book title, ISBN, website etc and it will format a (mostly) correct Bibliography for you.  I say mostly because occasionally it has been known to make mistakes, but these are very few and far between and can be caught usually with a cursory glance.  For the most part this site is easy to understand as it asks for specific information it needs so there's no guess work.

Owl on the other hand is a more of an MLA reference site so it's closer to the book format (no easy plug and play features) but it has an easy search feature and contains all the MLA guidelines that the book has (and it's free).  The other reason I like OWL is because it has tons of other MLA reference material beyond just bibliography and such.

That's it.  No magic.  No complex formulas.  Hope that makes research citations easier :)

[pictures taken from google image search ( and purdue's main page)]

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sir Ken and school system paradigms (shifts)

  Sir Ken likes to to discuss school systems and the way the current paradigms are broken.  Similar to a previous post that had his lecture on creativity in the school system, Sir Ken discusses why our current systems are not functioning the way they need to.  I was watching a report the other day that shows the US at sub 28th internationally in Education with South Korea rising to to number one in education growth.  One of the problems is that education has been politically charged.  We have a system born out of the 19th Century and hasn't been modernized since.  There's been attempts, don't get me wrong, but from a political platform and thus failed.  Pure quantification of education is not feasible.   We've had a paradigm shift in technology in the past 50 years that we have never seen in our history as far as pure increase goes.  This led to a social shift especially within our children.  Yet we keep an outdated model and try to hammer these kids into a peg that doesn't fit them.    We educate the capacity out of children until they are institutionally educated.  And speaking of institutional, this is one of the source problems that stalls out education.  Once we can over come political and consumer institution mentality, I believe we can successfully restructure the education system to where it needs to go.  

I really enjoyed how they animated this concept.  I hope you enjoy :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

More Ted Talks

So in the theme of TED that I've been doing lately (and because I'm still sick) I've decided to post another link that I came across lately that I find very applicable to teachers (especially secondary ed).  Even though he's a high school teacher and a lot of what he has to say is specific to that grade level, it still has application to all levels of teaching including college.  So many people these days seem to think teaching is the next political focus and are demonizing them.  "You make too much and get summers off... Your get too many benefits".  I don't see how someone who works 60+ hours a week (yes teachers put in far more then people see.  What do you think we do when we get home?) as well as the fact that we are the front line of our Countries economy.  Without teachers how do you think people do the jobs they do?  I mean seeing as though this is the only thing political people seem to care about, never mind that teachers do far more then this but only the output is what is focused on.  I do agree that the school systems are broken and there are bad teachers out there... but the majority shouldn't be negated because of external factors.  Anyway enjoy the youtube link :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Just want to wish everyone a happy first of the year.  Hopefully this flu I'm fighting will be the only one I deal with this year ;p  Anyway, hope everyone's hangovers are mild.  Cheers!