Tuesday, April 30, 2013

will this be on the test? | a small idea from Raising Adults

[The tidal wave of 1st graders that somehow took US schools by surprise in 1951] was a moment of crisis in education. It became a quandary in child-rearing because the response to this flood of students seems to have been Make More Desks, Build Larger Class Rooms. Just like that, from sea to shining sea, too many students and too few teachers, became the norm.
You already know what happened, but here it is again for the record. For the first time, in a nation committed to universal education, classroom focus shifted from what students learned to what teachers taught.
Teachers who previously gave personal attention to each student throughout the day, now spent a large part of their energy on crowd control.
Students, whose older siblings had time to engage their teachers and fellow students in meaningful discussion, became note-takers. The most successful pupils learned to discern which points in the teachers’ lectures were important.

Today I am announcing a nationwide search for the individual who first voiced that immortal question:

Will this be on the test?
He or she will be enshrined. Or possibly shunned.

Overnight, monologue replaced dialogue. The school day, which, a year before, included personal attention for every student, now consisted of as much lecture as the children could stand, followed by work sheets, list-making, and rote memory, followed by more lecture.

Writing was gradually replaced by multiple choice testing—years later my Earth Science teacher liked to call it multiple guess. Multiple choice tests could be administered smoothly and graded quickly. Eventually, the tests were standardized nationwide.

Class room discussion, such as it was, tended to be dominated by a few students at the front of the room. The unskilled, the uncertain and the shy hid out in the back of the room or, worse, were hidden by the bodies in front of them.

— from Raising Adults

Saturday, April 27, 2013

in the wind | tweets from the week ending 04.27.13

Gun Control Cannot Work...but what if it could? | John Oliver on The Daily Show http://jimhancock.blogspot.com

television | a small idea from Raising Adults http://jimhancock.blogspot.com 

What do you think of Common Sense Media's 150 essential books for children + teens? http://bit.ly/12clytB 

I wonder if these people have locks on their doors + other questions from Jon Stewart http://JimHancock.blogspot.com

So kids, the doctor says if someone dares you to eat a spoonful of cinnamon, it's ok to call them crazyhttp://nbcnews.to/ZNp2Qb

education by chaos | a small idea from Raising Adults http://jimhancock.blogspot.com 

Real Jobs? | Rachel Maddow talks with Jon Stewart about government, economics + the sequesterhttp://jimhancock.blogspot.com 

An app that helps new motorists learn to drive http://usat.ly/17nBmw3 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

education by chaos | a small idea from Raising Adults

Education by Chaos
History books hardly mention it, but, six years after the war ended—1951, the day after Labor Day give or take—a kind of tide swept over America.
That was the day the first wave of Baby Boomers broke on America’s schools. First grade classes that averaged about 15 students in 1950 had more than 30 in 1951. The first day of school was chaos in many places. Imagine thousands of six year-olds standing against the walls of small classrooms at eight o’clock in the morning; their first morning of school ever. There are too few chairs, too few pencils, too few teachers. Maybe you don’t have to imagine. Maybe you were one of them.
The biggest surprise is, no one saw them coming. They were six years old for crying out loud! They were ready for first grade. First grade wasn’t ready for them.
— from Raising Adults

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I wonder if these people have locks on their doors + other questions from Jon Stewart

television | a small idea from Raising Adults


As the 40s ended, young Americans were sucked into a vortex of change that made their heads spin. Geographical and social displacement; a gender crisis almost nobody talked about; babies everywhere; exploding college enrollment; a religious revival on the West Coast; labor disputes in the cities; globalization and a heavy tax burden driven by the Marshall Plan’s massive foreign aid; high-tech innovation; economic growth and work, work, work! 
Good Golly Miss Molly those people could work! They threw themselves into the race, steering the engines of war down an economic fast track unmatched on earth. And they relished the fruit of their labors, forsaking their waste-not-want-not past with giddy pleasure. In the 30s, their parents gathered ’round the radio to hear promises of a chicken in every pot and hope for a better day. But these new parents worked overtime to put two cars in the driveway, four pots on the electric range and a television in the living room.
Television—wonder of wonders! It was the Saturday Matinee—minus the Milk Duds but with all the comforts of home. Even in the beginning, when the square screens displayed test patterns much of the day, television delivered access to sights and sounds most human beings never expected to see in their own homes. Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody for the kiddies. Live comedy on Your Show of Shows. Broadway and Hollywood actors on Playhouse 90. And perhaps most wondrous of all, the news.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

what now? | a small idea from Raising Adults

What now?
For a long time, when hurting, at-risk kids and parents came to me for help, I wanted to know—the judge in me wanted to know—Did she jump or was she pushed? Things like that matter to the judge. How else can he assign blame? But over time, broken and battered myself, compassion posed a new question. Compassion asks: Does it matter? She’s broken. What now?
Here is my hope for all of us—you, me, our children, our children’s children: Acknowledging that things are seldom as they should be, I hope we’ll be able to look at things as they are and ask, What Now?
— from Raising Adults

Monday, April 08, 2013

the header | I'm smarter than this, right?

raccoon makeup enthusiast Jim Hancock

All told, I'm in pretty good shape.

What you can't see in the pictures the last few days is 

-  the sutures inside my lips (making me more grateful than usual for Greek yogurt + Healthy Choice Fudge Bars) 
- the brain concussion, which still has me a little woozy on Monday morning
- the subdural hematoma, which put me in the surgical intensive care unit last Thursday night

You also can't see the Segway my pal David lent me for a couple of days — not the placid airport security variety but the big-wheeled, off-road transport that is more fun than I've had on wheels since I was 11 years old, learning to drive a three-speed pickup in Robert Jones' pasture (Robert, who was ten, taught me to clutch and shift and we spent countless hours chasing cows — one of us driving and the other winging tung nuts at the innocent beasts — which, I'm afraid, was one of the least dangerous thing we did when our parent weren't watching.
A segue is an uninterrupted transition from
one thing to another — thanks to the Italians
for this word. The Segway is an extraordinary
two-wheeled personal transport — thanks to
the inventor Dean Kamen for this!

The Segway is wonderful machine and I can hardly wait to ride again.

What else can't you see… You can't see — nor can I — the blank tape on either side of the crash. The truth is, I don't know how this happened. I had a ball Wednesday afternoon, playing chase with JonMichael on his kick bike, then riding like the wind for an hour on the wide one-way street that runs along the ocean near our home. Around 4:30 Thursday afternoon, I delivered still images from the video I'm working on for my friends at Northrise University in Zambia, then headed out for a ride before dinner. I don't know what happened next. Susan got a call on my phone from a Sheriff's deputy telling her to meet me at the hospital. I saw a clock in the ER at 6:30 p.m. I saw another clock, in the brain trauma unit I think, at 9:30 p.m. From there it was, wake up every hour, stay ahead of the pain with morphine, test muscle function and cognitive processing…you know, the usual.

The other thing you can't see in any of the pictures is the helmet I wasn't wearing when I tipped over. 

I'm embarrassed by the sheer arrogance of this. While I was riding Wednesday afternoon, it occurred to me that I was moving pretty fast and should protect my head. Thursday afternoon, I looked for a helmet before I went out. Not finding one, I went anyway. 

Stupid, stupid, stupid. 

So…this could be much worse. I scared Susan half to death; I'm still a little wobbly today; I can't drive until I'm cleared by a neurologist; I'm taking medication prophylactically; I put work I really care about in jeopardy — not to worry friends; I'm on task to deliver in a timely manner = - ) 

So…yeh, this could be a lot worse; and not because I tumbled but because when I tumbled I wasn't wearing a helmet. Sorry. Going forward, I will seek to do better. 

Thus, I hope, ends the lesson.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

the best they could do | a small idea from Raising Adults

The best they could do

I’ve come to believe we got here more or less by accident. This is not a theological declaration; I just don’t think anybody set out to screw up. I don’t think my parents or grandparents were particularly bad people. Broken, sure. But not bad. My mother grew up in a family of displaced farm people. My grandfather left his job as a traveling sales agent to work the land my grandmother came to own when she was widowed. They lost the farm. Then, when they moved to depression-era Jacksonville, Florida, they simply lost their way. I know my grandfather worked hard but he never found a path back to where he knew which way was up. They were off balance and they never recovered, financially or otherwise.
My grandmother was frustrated to death by the whole thing. Literally. She died too young. Afraid, angry, disappointed; she lost heart.
My father’s parents died before he was two years old and his older sisters and brothers raised him.
They did the best they could. Honestly, in what perfect world of yesterday did my folks learn parenting? Why would my father know the first thing about being a good father? At whose knee could my mother have learned the nurturing arts?
My parents were ordinary folk: broken, needy, imperfect...human. Could they have tried harder? I have no idea. They gave it their best shot. My sister turned out well. The jury is still out in my case.
I can’t find the bad guys in my family. The inept, unskilled, foolish, shattered guys, yes—in abundance. That’s what I am. I suspect it’s what you are, too, (though you’ll have to vote for yourself).
Eugene O’Neill wrote somewhere,* “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.” That the starting point for Raising Adults.
— from Raising Adults

* Eugene O’Neill, The Great God Brown, 1926, Act Four, Scene One

Monday, April 01, 2013

it's a start | a small idea from Raising Adults

It's a start

Depending on who’s numbers you like, starting about 1961 Boomers bore somewhere around 45 million babies. They are followed by a cohort of about 60 million younger siblings—the Millennials as folk like to say when they pigeon hole people.
Included in these numbers is an emergent population of young adults who live a sort of extended adolescence. These young men and women are in many ways more like old boys and girls. They remain semi-dependent on their parents, grandparents, older siblings or on public welfare systems. They may or may not be students; may or may not work. They don’t pay significant taxes because they don’t have significant incomes—at least not on the table.
Men in this extended boyhood are inordinately responsible for teenage pregnancies—legally adult but functionally adolescent males making babies with underage girls. The time-honored American high school custom of senior boys dating freshman girls now extends into the decade of those boys’ 20s. The girls are still likely to be 15. One American president called it child abuse and who can argue with that?
What we can argue is that many of those men are products of parenting in a larger system that raises children. That’s no excuse. But it may help us interpret otherwise baffling behavior. At the risk of being obvious, how surprised should we be when someone raised without a sense of responsibility—without an appreciation for cause and effect—acts irresponsibly and causes regrettable effects?
An awful lot of parents feel sad and guilty for raising children when the assignment was to raise adults; feel embarrassed by the looks they’re pretty sure they get from their parents; feel afraid of the consequences of our cultural (and perhaps personal) failures. No one set out to screw this up. Nearly everyone I know is trying—hoping—to do better.
Fair enough. It’s a start.
— from Raising Adults