Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An author answers my critique

Several posts ago, I expressed my displeasure for an article written by Dr. Calvin Mackie which appeared in an edition of a monthly newsletter that is put out by the Association of American Educators (AAE).

Many of my regular readers commented with their own frustrations about the article, and eventually, the criticism made its way to Dr. Mackie himself. I am pleased that Dr. Mackie took the time to leave a comment of his own, and I wanted to give him the floor by reprinting in this post the comment he left:
My People ... The only point I want to get over to my colleagues in the teaching profession is "Don't allow any one to take your JOY"! Teaching is a tough profession and guess what it isn't the only tough profession. We, teachers, act as if NO ONE can challenge us. There are good and bad in every profession, including teaching and we do ourselves a disservice by protecting and advocating for those who are not up to par. I didn't call anyone's name, school or district. I was taught if you throw a shoe in a pack of dogs, only the one that was hit howls. Corporations pay millions for people to come in and re-ignite the passion in professionals making much more than teachers in better environments. Teachers deserve and need the same type of professional development. So, don't take it personal, I feel your pain, I am with you and not against you. However, I will not allow those not engaged to define the profession I love. All that I am and will become is because of the teachers in my life.I am an educator, taught for 12 years on the college level, also taught pre-algebra for 6 years and I am in middle and high schools across America every week.

I have no reason to hide and my credentials are located at www.calvinmackie.com for anyone to examine. I would love to know the background of many on this blog.
Agree or disagree, I do commend and thank Dr. Mackie for stopping by to address our frustrations with his article.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

For your Christmas reading pleasure

It's that time of year again! Every December, the Media Research Center (see blogroll on left) releases its Notable Quotables, which documents the most laughable and outrageous examples of leftist lamestream media bias for the year.

I have linked to page one, but the final category is the Quote of the Year. I won't tell you what it is, but I have to say that when I read it, I got quite the thrill up my leg!

Merry Christmas and a bountiful 2009 to all of you. You keep on reading, and I will keep on blogging!

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What a tough guy

Believe me, there have been plenty of times I would have liked to have thrown something at our President, but there has been one thing about the shoe throwing incident that has bugged me, and finally, I have found an article that has properly articulated what I have been thinking:
But of course these Arab reporters know full well that they would never dare to throw a shoe or anything else at an Arab dictator, tyrant, emir, or king. If they did, they would be guaranteed a particularly unpleasant punishment, which would no doubt include painful amputations of various body parts. That is why Muntadhar al-Zeidi is a coward, for he knew full well that he can insult a western leader with impunity....
The ultimate irony about this shoe throwing is that beautifully illustrates the difference between the free world and the totalitarian regimes out there. If Saddam had been standing at that podium instead of Bush, do you honestly think that "brave" reporter would have thrown his shoes in the first place?

Good Day to You, Sir

Bush finally gives us his legacy

There is nothing like lame-duck status to bring out a politician's true colors. George W. Bush proved that today when he explained his actions and wishes regarding these lame-brained bailouts. Here is the money quote of the year:

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system."

Our "free-market system" you say? You mean the one in which car manufacturers are told by the government what kind of cars to make and financial institutions are told by the government to whom they will lend money? That "free-market system"?

The tragedy about this is that if you think Bush's strategy is bad, just wait until our Marxist-loving president-elect gets into office next month. The next four years are going to one wild ride.

Good Day to You, Sir

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Next time you feel like giving your opinion... don't

Being an agency fee payer and non-member of the CTA and NEA, I belong to the American Association of Educators (AAE) instead. The AAE sends out a monthly newsletter called Education Matters. I usually enjoy the articles they have to offer, but of course, I'm not always going to agree with everything, because that wouldn't be any fun now would it!

The November 2008 edition had an article entitled Teacher Buried at 70, Died at 25: Rediscovering Your Passion for Teaching, by one Calvin Mackie, Ph.D. Dr. Mackie is a former associate professor of mechanical engineering at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Now, I get what Dr. Mackie was trying to convey in his article, however, he did so in a very sanctimonious and uninformed manner. He began the article with his basic thesis:
Many teachers and other educators are neither motivated, inspired, nor prepared to accept and deal with the daunting challenges facing us today.
Undoubtedly true, says I. Of course, many are the exact opposite of that, but I digress. Moving further down the article, Dr. Mackie says:
Famous boxing promoter Don King (He's using Don King as a source?), when asked what is success, replied, 'Set yourself on fire and people will show up to watch you burn.'
It's funny that Dr. Mackie used that quote, because a long time ago, my mother, who is also a teacher, used that very same imagery when explaining how hard it is to gain her students' attention. She told me, "I swear, in order to compete with their television, video games, and iPods, about the only thing I could do to get my students' attention would be to set myself on fire in the front of the classroom...."

But Dr. Mackie has a different take: we teachers are the problem. He says,
Maybe our students are not on fire because we, the educators, are not on fire. Many of us have become fire fighters, pouring water on the fire of our children's hopes and dreams, rather than being the fire lighter, and igniting them every day to go beyond their limited view. Be honest, which are you: fire fighter, or fire lighter?
Excuse the hell out of me, but I do not go to work with the intention of drowning the hopes and dreams of anyone. I go to work every day, hoping this will be the day when I will be able to get through 30 seconds of my lesson without having to wait 10 seconds for the troublemakers to quiet down, then repeat that process over and over again every period, every day, all school year long. I go to work every day, hoping that this will be the day when I do get to teach, when I do get to light a fire in a student, instead of being a babysitter with a masters degree. Dr. Mackie seems to be putting the cart before the horse. He makes it sound like we teachers have some sort of bitter stick up our asses which then poisons the student body and makes them bitter as well, and uneducable to boot. Hardly. I go to work every day with a positive, I-love-to-teach attitude, and certain students do everything they can - intentional and unintentional - to beat it out of me by the end of the school day. Anything "fun", like a review game, that I have planned, the students quickly ruin it because they can't even stay quiet long enough to listen to the game's directions. About the only thing for which they will stay somewhat quiet is silent reading and note-taking; and note-taking is what we teachers are always told that students hate the most. I would quite often rather do something else as well, however, that is about all my students seem capable of handling.

Dr. Mackie then engages in a very inaccurate analogy:
Many educators, especially those occupying positions in institutions of higher education, are becoming like doctors in hospitals who do not want to treat sick patients. They only desire and admit the healthy, well-prepared and equipped students who they can nurture and graduate. Then, they spend a lifetime bragging about how their great, healthy, and well students never became ill.
Dr. Mackie, when you talk of healthy patients and sick ones, they both have one thing in common: they want to be in the hospital! They want to do what it takes to get better or stay healthy! To expound upon your analogy, I work in a hospital where too many of my sick patients refuse to read the literature I give them that tells them how to get healthy. I give them a prescription that requires they take the medicine home a few times a week and ingest it there, but they refuse to do so. Many times, a parent will want me to let the sick patient make up all those prescriptions that the patient refused to ingest over the last few months. The problem is that you can never swallow that many pills all at once. To make matters worse, the sick patients do everything they can to sabotage the healthy patients and make them sick as well. And when, after all this, the patient is still sick, the patient's parent calls me or emails me and demands to know why the patient is still sick. Sorry parent, but I'm not allowed to follow your little patient home and ensure that he takes his medicine, and I am severely limited in my ability to keep your sick patient out of my hospital so I can stop him from infecting the healthy patients. When doctors encounter patients like this, the patients are not allowed back in the hospital!

I only have the short bio to reference regarding Dr. Mackie's job history, so I don't know all of his teaching experience. However, I would like him to know that teaching a bunch of apathetic general-population students in a public middle school is quite a different experience than teaching highly motivated mechanical engineering students at a private college where the annual tuition is in the neighborhood of $25,000.

Stick to what you know, Dr. Mackie.

Good Day to You, Sir

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thanksgiving in the desert

In a very much appreciated gesture, my mother-in-law rented a condo in Palm Springs, California, and invited her immediate family (my wife and kids, and my wife's sister and her family) to spend Thanksgiving there.

From Sacramento to Palm Springs is about an eight-hour drive, and we wanted to get there as soon as possible and avoid holiday traffic, so my wife and I packed up the night before, woke up at 4am, put our sleeping children in their car seats, and we were on the road by 4:40am. We rolled into Palm Springs just after 1pm. I had never been to Palm Springs; all I really knew about it was its ritzy "Golden Age of Hollywood" reputation. My final analysis of Palm Springs is that I would never want to live there, but it was certainly a beautiful place to visit.

As soon as we rolled into town, My attention was naturally drawn to the mountains that the city is literally jammed up against. They are those steep, rugged, rocky, almost treeless leviathans that make you almost forget that you are in a desert. Observe:





The pinnacle of these mountains is the 10,800 foot San Jacinto Peak. In front of the peak however are many smaller foothills that were accessible enough for my brother-in-law and me to take our children (age span: 2, 4, 4, and 6) on a hike one afternoon. Here are some of the highlights of that trek:

My daughter the mountain goat trying to catch up with the big kids.

Almost there!

My kids and I enjoy the view.

Whoops! The sun is beginning to set; time to head back toward the car.

The sun goes down fast around here.

My son takes one last look at the sprawl below before we start heading back into it.

On one of our days in Palm Springs, my sister-in-law and her family went miniature golfing, my wife took her mother and my daughter shopping, which left me alone with my son. Rather than sitting around the house twiddling our thumbs, I took him to the Palm Springs Air Museum. I took more pictures than I could possibly care to post, but here are some of the highlights:



The highlight of our visit was their fully functioning B-17G Flying Fortress. This World War II bomber has always been one of my favorite airplanes. For a further thrill, my son and I received a personal tour of the interior of the aircraft from one of the docents. I would show you pictures, but it was so dark in there, my camera flash didn't carry very far. I used my son for scale to show how absolutely cramped it was for the gunner who stuffed himself into the ball turret on the belly of the B-17. I can't even imagine how naked I would have felt in that thing as a German ME-109 raked the underside of the aircraft with machine gun fire.

The museum was dedicated to mostly World War II-era aircraft with the building divided into two wings: one for aircraft from the European Theater and another for aircraft used mostly in the Pacific Theater. Here are some of those airplanes in no particular order:

P-51 Mustang

P-47 Thunderbolt

P-40 Tomahawk

Dauntless Dive Bomber

My son loved the model aircraft display!

He was even more intrigued by the display of the many firearms used by the different countries that participated in the War. He's such a boy!

On display outside was a German 88mm anti-tank/anti-aircraft/anti-personnel artillery piece. American soldiers hated this weapon probably more than anything else in the German arsenal.

After a hard day of playing and visiting, we would all go home to the comforts of a rather plush condo. The two most inviting aspects were the master bathroom and the backyard. In the master bathroom was a tub and shower that reminded one more of a Roman bath:

And then in the backyard was something that looked like a mini-swimming pool, but was actually a hot tub. It even had a waterfall!

Even if it was just for a week, it was nice to experience how the other half lives! However, after a total of 16 hours on Interstate 5, we are ready to stay home for Christmas!

Good Day to You, Sir