Opinion | Face It; We Don’t Teach Out of Convenience!

June 18, 2013

Written by Guest Blogger Rachel Davis

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It’s summer break and coupled with the fact that I have been on medical leave for 3 additional weeks, I have been cruising the web, and reading too many Facebook posts.  The trend right now seems to be teachers bashing teaching.  The I Quit letter that recently made the rounds and today a 12 minute video of an elementary school teacher complaining about her job is what has put me to mind to speak from the other end of the spectrum.

I will start my 13th year of teaching, 12 of which were at a Title One magnet high school in North Carolina. Let me preface this by saying that I have thought about leaving teaching many times, but not because of the government cutbacks or their impositions on evaluation and curriculum; that’s another entry for another time. The point I want to make is that I don’t see everything about teaching as some dream job with easy hours and all sunshine and butterflies.

Teaching is not easy and if for a minute you think you are going to walk into a utopian ideal of what a classroom should be, then you’re in for a rotten reality check. But it can be as long as you are ready to hear “no” and enjoy hitting brick walls, but always rising to the challenge of getting what you want, or at least a compromise of what you would like.   Teaching can be rewarding, can be entertaining and can be very enjoyable.  I would teach for free if what I actually got to do was teach.  But I don’t get to just teach, I have to do all the other crap that goes along with it, so I take the meager salary that goes along with “teaching”.

Teaching is for the crafty folks out there (and I don’t mean paste and crayons crafty).  It’s about using your brain to make things work to the best of your ability, and remembering every day that you are not doing this for the money, but for altruistic purpose of helping others.  The End.

It’s crap when people say things like “the government dictates how I teach” or “what I teach”.  In the aforementioned 12 minute video, she claims that government doesn’t allow her to hatch chicks in her class because they have taken the money away for that.

Really?  You think that is a line in the state budget?

Bill 800.12: Cut funding for eggs that hatch chickens in the 1st grade classrooms.

Um, no.  It’s about the way your school is being run and the local importance of things like that.  Maybe it is more important to the school to have calculators than it is have chicks hatching in the classroom.

So, what do you do about it?  Make a 12 minute video crying about your job, bashing teaching?

How about getting off your ass and making a change within your school? Or leave your school and find one that is more to your liking.  There is probably a charter school out there who will let you hatch chicks in your classroom.  Ohhhh?! Did I say the C word? Yup!

After 12 years, I have left public schools for a charter school.  We’ll see how it goes.  I am optimistic. Hired by folks who have put their trust in me to teach what I know.  Folks who hired other folks who will do their job on a regular basis.  I didn’t like the way my school was run and it was time for a change.  And I found a place with the same basic teaching philosophy as myself.  That’s why we need charter schools.  It’s called competition.  Now get off of your ass, quit your whining, and make a change if you don’t like what you’re doing or where you’re doing it!

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Are You For Real, or Just Another Alice?

October 8, 2010

Referenced below is THREE’s second guest post on Prattle.  If you are interested in appearing as a guest blogger, then please review the Guidelines and contact me offline with details as to your topic.

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.):  The branch of engineering and science devoted to constructing machines that “think”. Or so Alice told me.

Who is this Alice, you ask? Not the hot, young, smart brunette (you thought) you were talking to. She’s none other than the Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity, three-time Loebner Prize First Place winner… yeah, a(nother) chatbot. (FYI: Next contest is on October 23rd this year. In Cal State U. $3K for First Place. $25K if the bot fools the judges into thinking they were human.)

Despite the many articles on chatbot popularity especially in dating sites, where users have claimed to have been fooled by bots posing as real girls, or the 55 erotic A.I. teens promising to provide diverse gratifying cyber-, um, ‘-flirting’ services to those lonely adults, take note that NO A.I. has ever won the $25K Silver award (Loebner Prize contest) – the one where they could actually fool you into thinking they were human. No, our machines are still machines for now, mechanical, repetitive, programmable and often predictable, and our humans are still looking for their own artificial replacements. One of the not-so-hidden agenda academic objectives of the cognitive neurosciences.

But I’m not here to criticize on current claims and failures. Today I’m taking on a somewhat futurist (yet paranoid) approach: Will they replace our significant others one day? Will they replace us?

What if the person you were ‘talking’ to all along was nothing but a simulacrum, a mere replica, born from a vast and continuously growing database that ‘learned’ by collecting information from millions of interacting individuals on the Net? What if an A.I. one day actually passed the Immortality Test (variation of Turing’s) – whereby they’ve successfully replicated your conversational style/response-pattern, and in some ways, the way you think (since one’s cognition, intelligence, and persona are often reflected in the manner one expresses oneself, i.e. speech/writing) – in other words, replicated you, rendering themselves indistinguishable from the human being (you think) you are? What if they already are dreaming of electric sheep and we just haven’t found a way to prove it yet…

©2010 THREE Infinity Narcissus Victorious

Or look at this another way: What if human intelligence had dwindled down to that lowest low – thanks to ‘globalization’ of the mind (information exchange, influences of pointless yet powerful entertainment forms, global media, social networking, resulting in a common and very predictable shared consciousness) – that one couldn’t even differentiate automated artificial responses from dumb unintelligible ones made by supposedly sentient beings anymore?

How would you know my Wall posts are really me, and not some pre-programmed periodic spam?

Heck, maybe it’s too much Syfy. Or another one of my neuroleptic deficiency delusions (a.k.a. periodic psychotic mood swings, pun intended). But the fact remains that chatbots exist. In social nets. In dating sites. In customer service hotlines. And those are just the tip of the ever-growing iceberg.

And they are learning machines.

Maybe it’s just one person’s bizarre idea. And I am only one in six billion other replicas. Thriving on information exchange.

About the Author

S.F. a.k.a. THREE is a 27-year-old multiracial, multicultural, closet pansexual (and possibly bipolar) grad TA in some South-East Asian university’s Psych(o) department, whose hormonal-imbalance-inspired random ramblings aim to bring no major changes to the planet, despite her out-of-place bad-timing revolutionist thinking. Currently learning a 7th language for the sake of showing off self-testing the limits of the human brain’s neurolinguistic capacity, THREE secretly wishes to take over the world by international diplomacy (read: social networking) and totalitarian pacifism, and hence bring atrocious fashion criminals to justice and rehabilitation, lest they be victims of righteous genocide. Does that compute?


Rotten Apples and Sour Grapes

June 3, 2010

(The following is a guest post by Three)

In light of recent global events, as well as various local and personal experiences, I guess it seems that one rotten apple stinks up the entire basket. At least that’s how the world seems to look at things. The stereotyping effect.

And who do we have to thank for this highly simplified categorization system? The media? Kind of unfair if they get all the credit. After all, it’s kind of unfair to blame the first domino for the fall of the rest. Nobody asked the other dominoes to lean too much on the first, or the ones that followed. They could always chose to build their own separate independent formations, no?

People are not dominoes. (At least, that’s what I still would like to believe.)

People can choose.

It’s one of the many reasons why God gave people brains, for those of you who believe in God. For those who don’t, at least you believe in brains, I hope.

But people ARE rather lazy beings too. Even using 2-4% of the brain can be a laborious task to some. And that’s where facilities that ease our daily thinking tasks come into play. (Philip K. Dick, God bless his soul, often highlighted this in his brilliant works.)

Is it really easier to think that all uneducated people are “stupid”, or all “stupid” people are uneducated; that all Asians are communists, or all communists are Asian; that all Muslims are terrorists, or all terrorists are Muslims; that all females are for Twilight, or Twilight is for all females; that all those who practice abstinence are religious, or all religious people practice abstinence; that all Manchester United fans are gay, or all gays are Manchester United fans; that all Harvard-bred entrepreneurs are billionaires, or all billionaires are Harvard-bred entrepreneurs; that all Star Wars fans are nerds with no sex life, or all nerds with no sex life are Star Wars fans; that all female Star Wars fans are lesbians?!

But let’s look at it another way:

On the other hand, one can’t totally place the blame on the rotten apples mentality, or the responsibility of spreading such ideas on the media entirely. Because the way the world sees it (from the common sources one sees the world with), it’s not just ONE rotten apple. Apparently, it’s quite a big bunch; sad to say, a lot of (bad) examples as hard evidence for the final verdict: the same crimes by the same “bunch” of people; the same genre preference by the same “target group”; the same predictable behaviour by the same “species”… and so on.

It’s just disappointing when it starts to affect the lives of those ‘atypical’ ones who happen to fall into the prescribed category by matter of no choice. Not their own, at least.

So yeah, a lot of uneducated people behave like morons, a lot of Asians are Chinese, a lot of people called Muslims blow up stuff, a lot of females are crazy Twilight fangirls, a lot of Star Wars fans are nerds who hardly/never get laid… STILL it would be *nice* to bear in mind that not ALL who fall into the category may possess those popularized stereotyped properties. (As it should be quite obvious by now, I myself happen to be a victim of such unfair stereotyping – in fact I fall into more than one of these categories – and hence the ranting.)

But guess it’s just easier to follow the label, save oneself the time and trouble of getting to know the other personally, regardless of how the label might affect or offend the other. After all, there’s quite a chance those grapes might just be sour like the rest of them, right?

About the author

Sitie F. or preferably known by the Internet nickname THREE, is a 27-year-old difficult-to-classify-under-one-particular-ethnicity Malaysian prospective grad student awaiting approval of her Masters degree application (otherwise unemployed at the time of this posting), whose random ramblings and rantings are mostly physiologically ‘inspired’ (as in mood swings and PMS). A fan of anything science-fiction/fantasy and gothic/industrial rock music, with a keen academic interest in psychology and the cognitive neurosciences, THREE aims to bring no major changes to the world with her writings despite her often-misplaced revolutionist thinking, and stubborn fashion sense. Her favourite book is “Simulacra” by Philip K. Dick, whom she sometimes believes might be haunting and even possessing her. But that is probably a delusion.

Personal blog:  (contains non-English material)


Dealing with Rejection

May 27, 2010

My guest post is over at The Colors Magazine found here.


When A Small Town Has Nothing Better To Do

April 20, 2010

Written by guest blogger Polly Farquhar

If you search on “Rindge, NH,” the very first hit you’ll get is town info from a URL entitled ePodunk. And if you contact the Rindge police department because there is a deranged woman pounding on your door during the wee hours of a Sunday morning, you’ll hear a message that the law enforcement officer on duty is “on call” and will get back to you. (True story based on personal experience.)

Hopefully, by then, you won’t have an ax lodged in your skull or any other body part, but let’s move on.

What is it about a small, rural community in New England whose town council is evidently so bored and devoid of common sense that it actually took the time to conduct a meeting to decide that idling vehicles for even a mere 5 minutes creates entirely too much air pollution?

Following are the “anti-idling guidelines” as issued by the Rindge Energy Commission:

When the temperature is above 32 degrees, an engine will not idle for over five consecutive minutes.

When the temperature is between 32 degrees, and -10 degrees, an engine shall not idle for more than 15 minutes.

When the temperature is below -10 degrees, and there is no nuisance created, an engine will not be subject to idling restrictions.

Let’s get some perspective, shall we – The State of California -with about 40 million vehicles on its freeways- forces drivers by law to have their cars smog checked every other year to cut down on carbon emissions. The largest State in the Union doesn’t think that the idling of 40 million vehicles will affect their air quality, but tiny, little, by its own admission, “podunk” town council of Rindge figures that its piddly 2500 vehicles or so is negatively impacting air quality so they should create a policy accordingly.

Seriously, I wasn’t even aware that the town (population apx. 5k) even HAD an Energy Commission to speak of since it apparently doesn’t even have the funds to pay a full-time cop. But yet there was the Anti-Idling Policy reproduced on page 8 of the April 2010 edition of the The Rindge Connection.

Bob Cleland, who is a self-identified member of the Commission wrote that Rindge wants to reduce emissions within the town limits, therefore, it wants you to shut off your engine, say, for example, while sitting at a drive-thru, because, you know, it increases engine longevity, saves fuel, and money. Furthermore, Bob proclaims quite confidently that there is no longer a need for an “extended” warm up because everyone is driving a fuel-injected or throttle body injection vehicle, dont’cha know?

Really, Bob? That’s news to me because I see mostly older model vehicles on the road during these days of seasonally adjusted 7% state unemployment.

Bob mentions nothing, however, about the wear-and-tear your alternator will experience by shutting off your engine for fear of “idling” and then re-starting the ignition.  Nor does Bob speak of the money it will cost for the parts and labor to replace it.

Are you independently wealthy, Bob, or do you own a body parts shop and get your automotive work for free?  I, personally, don’t have the money to replace my alternator every other month because you and your Commission of mental midgets decided that 5 minutes of vehicle idling time equals lung cancer and L.A. smog.

Seems to me that if you truly wanted to preserve the air quality here in the Granite State, then you would jolt the legislature off its ass into adopting the same CARB policy the west coast and sixteen other states currently have in place. If you and the town council actually did that, then I could at least respect what it seems like you are trying to accomplish.  But as it stands now, all you have succeeded in doing is generating scorn and ridicule for your fief-like new policy.

So let me see if I’m following correctly – The town wants to preserve air quality so a meeting was held to vote on it during which time all of the following were, no doubt, true:

Town council members had to drive on-site in order to attend the meeting;

The drive to the meeting place probably took longer than 5 minutes;

The meeting required using electricity in the room where the vote was held;

Minutes were transcribed during this meeting which further used precious resources such as ink, paper, electricity to fire up a laptop, as well as toner  to print the new guidelines.

I’m sorry, Bob, but I just don’t see where the savings come in with this new policy when you wasted a lot of resources just to have the meeting in the first place.  This is also to say nothing of the air quality that was adversely affected by the hot air spewing from the mouths of the merry band of assclowns known as the town council.

Lastly, I’m wondering how this new policy will be enforced?

Will the on-call cop now be stopping and citing motorists randomly if they are, or appear to be, idling?

If the town of Rindge can’t even afford to pay a police department for the full-time enforcement of the existing laws, then how and when exactly will it be expected to enforce the new anti-idling policy?

Rindge Town Council not only has too much time on its hands, but it is also apparently in need of a reality check if this is the kind of governance it believes will benefit residents.

The anti-idling policy is basically a solution in search of a problem and is as equally daffy as having the town’s only on-call cop check residents’ undies to make sure they’re skid mark free.  Oh wait–Was that the topic of the next town council Energy Commission meeting?

©2010 Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar™ and Prattle On, Boyo™ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


My Take on Point Blank

February 10, 2010

You can read my gust post attestation as to the Twelve Reasons Why Lee Marvin Kicks Ass in Point Blank on Brent Allard’s Criminal Movies blog found here.

Feel free to return to this thread to comment.


For Love Or Money

February 8, 2010

Written by guest blogger Christine Cuntois

I am the owner of Gentle Paws Pet Care and Vice-President of a soon to be nonprofit organization called Against Cruelty. In my years of experience with animal care and rescue work, I have dealt with many veterinarians both good and bad alike, but I always asked the age old question…Are they in it for the money or because they love what they do?

Imagine for an instant that you have a newborn kitten and a toddler playing together. Within a moment, a mere blink of the eye, a tragic accident happens when your toddler tips over a heavy object right onto the head of the unsuspecting kitten. You find yourself rushing the kitten to an emergency center. Upon arrival at this center the vet and technicians work swiftly to stabilize your tiny baby. As you watch the small figure tremble from a seizure the technician comforts you and your crying toddler.

After some time passes they tell you that they need to keep the kitten overnight to observe and stabilize his condition. With assurance that he is in good hands you leave with the knowledge they will call with any changes in his condition. Over the next few days this wonderful group of people watch over him calling you three times a day with updates. Finally you get to bring him home with specific instructions on how to care for your fragile bundle.

By the end of his first week home you start to notice signs of distress, immediately you call your local vet and make an appointment. While the vet examines him you tell the vet everything that has occurred including his emergency visit. During this time the vet does not acknowledge any of your information but proceeds to tell you your kitten has ear mites. When he finishes the examination he informs you that the cause of seizure is the ear mites causing an imbalance and then leaves the room. As you pay for the visit you feel shocked and at a loss.

These two vets proved to be completely different, both in care of the animal and treatment of the family. So when you are looking for a good vet and find you are asking “Is this vet in it for the money or will they love treating my pet?”

Here are some guidelines to help you find the answer to that question:

  1. Price does not determine how good or how bad the service may be
  2. Neither does local
  3. Do NOT be afraid to ask for a meeting before you bring in your pet
  4. Do NOT be afraid to ask to observe them with another patient
  5. All states have an Official Website with a tab and/or number you can check and verify information on a vet
  6. Ask questions, and lots of them:

Do you offer emergency care?

Do you accept pet insurance?

What food brands and guidelines do you offer for animals with health problems?

How do you handle a frightened animal that may turn aggressive?

Why did you choose this field?

How long have you practiced?

What are your thoughts and feelings on all of the vaccinations on today’s market?

Every family deserves to have the best care for their family member and armed with the right kind of information we can all find the vet that loves what they do.

©2010 Christine Comtois All Rights Reserved


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