Posts Tagged ‘language barriers

15
Sep
11

9.15.2011 … still waiting for fall …

college life, expectations, privacy, Harvard:  I’m impressed … things that were once assumed are now expressed.  To some extent we have come full circle … with the added concept of freedom of expression  and privacy rights.  Still I think for many students having this “understood” as an expectation is appropriate.

When the members of the class of 2015 arrived at Harvard College this fall, they encountered a novel bit of moral education. Their dorm proctors — the grad students who live with freshmen to provide guidance and enforce discipline — invited each student to sign a pledge developed by the Freshman Dean’s Office. It reads, in full:

“At Commencement, the Dean of Harvard College announces to the President, Fellows, and Overseers that ‘each degree candidate stands ready to advance knowledge, to promote understanding, and to serve society.’ That message serves as a kind of moral compass for the education Harvard College imparts. In the classroom, in extracurricular endeavors, and in the Yard and Houses, students are expected to act with integrity, respect, and industry, and to sustain a community characterized by inclusiveness and civility.

“As we begin at Harvard, we commit to upholding the values of the College and to making the entryway and Yard a place where all can thrive and where the exercise of kindness holds a place on par with intellectual attainment.”

The original plan was to post the pledge in each dorm entryway, along with the names and signatures of the students living there. Although signing was supposed to be voluntary, any dissent would have been obvious.

The posting constituted “an act of public shaming,” Harry R. Lewis, a computer science professor and former dean of Harvard College, wrote in a blog post condemning the pledge. Some students signed because they felt they had to — a completely predictable, yet somehow unforeseen, result that Tom Dingman, the dean of freshmen, says is “against the spirit of the pledge.” The signatures will no longer be posted.

Yet what the Harvard Crimson dubs the “freshman kindness pledge” remains in place. The vast majority of freshmen, and the college itself, have formally declared that “the exercise of kindness” is “on par with intellectual attainment.” Both parts of that equation are odd, and they are odd in ways that suggest something has gone awry at Harvard.

via Harvard Pledge Values ‘Kindness’ Over Learning: Virginia Postrel – Bloomberg.

women in literature, “bitches”: “Margaret Mitchell did for bitchery what Edgar Allan Poe did for murder — she made it respectable.”

In Shakespeare’s comedy, a shrew is known by her “impatient humour,” a “chattering tongue,” “scolding” and “waspish,” bandying “word for word and frown for frown.” She is “froward, peevish, sullen, sour,” and “not obedient to [her husband’s] honest will.” In the end, of course, the shrew is tamed. She places her hand below her husband’s foot.

On the literary level it would be a long time before women, in Gershon Legman’s phrase, carried the war into the camp of the enemy. In his foul-mouthed study of censorship Love and Death, Legman frankly calls the shrew, the “spirited” woman, by a different name:

The bitch has been here before. She was never gone. But, for our generation, first in Gone With the Wind in 1936 was she made a heroine. Margaret Mitchell did for bitchery what Edgar Allan Poe did for murder — she made it respectable.

David Plante suggested a less inflammatory term. His 1983 memoir of Jean Rhys, Germaine Greer, and Sonia Brownell Orwell was called Difficult Women. Whether a woman or man is doing the calling makes a difference. But given her literary pedigree, the not-so-nice woman (whatever she ends up being called) ought to be fair game for male authors as well as female.

via Wicked (or, at Least, Difficult) Women in Literature « Commentary Magazine.

professions, pastoral care:  Ministers are professionals … goes back to the original definition of the word.

The truth is that I couldn’t tell her where I’d been doing Monday without possibly breaking a confidence.  I had been in court with someone about a very sensitive issue and it was too small a congregation and too small a town to say much about that.  Anybody could have easily guessed who was in court and why.  No, I couldn’t check my messages.  I was a character witness and needed to stay in the courtroom all day.  And no I didn’t go by the church building to check messages after court because I was exhausted and went straight home to bed.

These kinds of things – private pastoral things – happen all the time if you are a good pastor.  But the problem is that most people do not see us in courtrooms or offices or jail cells.  And if they don’t see us working, they may not believe we are working.

I once knew a church volunteer who expected me to be in the church building when she was in the church building.  Otherwise, I must not be working.  Many good pastors actually work the most hours out in the world – in hospitals and coffee shops and homes.  Nobody follows us around and watches what we do.  We only work with an audience on Sunday mornings or when we teach classes and lead meetings.

Sometimes we can’t even tell people what we did on a given day.  And – just like a new parent whose day flies by without much obvious accomplishment after a mountain of small tasks were achieved – there are some days in a clergyperson’s life when administrivia wins.  No sermon was written.  No visits were made.  But, by golly, 30 e-mails were answered and two monthly reports were written and the mail was sorted.

In my current job, I hear parishioners who share that their pastors “don’t do anything.“  That’s possible.  But it’s also possible that their pastor could be sitting with a mentally ill person in the hospital or driving a homeless family to the shelter in the next town.  Sometimes pastors do things that most parishioners can’t even know about.

And this is why it’s lovely to send your pastor a token of your appreciation when he or she retires or moves on.  (See yesterday’s post.)

via What Exactly Do You Do All Day? | achurchforstarvingartists.

Casey Anthony, criminal acts, consequences:  I never have understood exactly how this works.

Casey Anthony must pay almost $100,000 in law enforcement costs for investigating the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony, a Florida judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Belvin Perry’s ruling on Thursday was less than the $500,000 that prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in Orlando were seeking, reports CBS affiliate WKMG.

Perry said the costs should only cover the period when detectives were investigating a missing person and not the homicide investigation, which is a sum of $97, 676.

Anthony was acquitted in July of murdering Caylee, but she was convicted of four misdemeanor counts of lying to authorities. She told officers a baby sitter had kidnapped the toddler. Although, later authorities learned the baby sitter never existed.

Anthony, 25, must pay the Florida Department of Law Enforcement $61,505. 12; the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation $10,283.90; and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office $25,837.96. She also has to pay $50 to the state of Florida for the cost of prosecuting the misdemeanor convictions.

According to the order, Anthony may have to pay more money to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Perry asked to receive more detailed expense reports from the agency by 4 p.m. Monday.

Anthony is currently serving probation at an undisclosed location in Florida for unrelated check fraud charges. She is being hidden for her safety since she received death threats after her acquittal.

via Casey Anthony ordered to pay $97k to state of Florida – Crimesider – CBS News.

politics, democrats v. republicans, American Jobs Act, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R), uncivil acts, President Obama:  Jerk …

Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert is no fan of President Obama’s “American Jobs Act,” but he does, apparently, think the name is pretty catchy.

The Texas lawmaker introduced his own jobs bill on Wednesday, and he gave it the exact same name as the president’s bill. Gohmert says his bill will create jobs simply by taking the corporate tax rate to zero.

“After waiting to see what the president would actually put into legislative language, and then waiting to see if anybody would actually introduce the president’s bill in the House, today I took the initiative and introduced the ‘American Jobs Act of 2011,'” Gohmert said in a statement. “It is a very simple bill, which will eliminate the corporate tax which serves as a tariff that our American companies pay on goods they produce here in America.”

Mr. Obama’s bill was introduced in the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a day earlier.

While Gohmert’s bill may steal a bit of the spotlight from Mr. Obama’s “American Jobs Act,” it can’t steal the actual name — there are no House rules prohibiting two different bills from sharing a name. Bills typically have a long, formal name and a short, informal name — two different pieces of legislation may share either. It would just be confusing.

Gohmert argues his version of the “American Jobs Act” is better, for one thing, because it’s simpler — it clocks in at two pages, versus 155 pages for Mr. Obama’s bill. On top of that, he says it will be more effective, instantly making America “a safe haven for businesses resulting in an explosion in revenue increases.”

via Two “American Jobs Act” bills — GOP lawmaker swipes Obama’s bill name – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.

education, international living, extreme schooling, cultural barriers, language barriers, parenting:  I loved this article … the agony of the parents and the determination to finish what was started.  And success in the end!

My three children once were among the coddled offspring of Park Slope, Brooklyn. But when I became a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, my wife and I decided that we wanted to immerse them in life abroad. No international schools where the instruction is in English. Ours would go to a local one, with real Russians. When we told friends in Brooklyn of our plans, they tended to say things like, Wow, you’re so brave. But we knew what they were really thinking: What are you, crazy? It was bad enough that we were abandoning beloved Park Slope, with its brownstones and organic coffee bars, for a country still often seen in the American imagination as callous and forbidding. To throw our kids into a Russian school — that seemed like child abuse.

Most foreign correspondents, like expatriates in general, place their children in international schools. Yet it seemed to us like an inspiring idea. After all, children supposedly pick up language quickly. So what if mine did not speak a word of Russian and could not find Russia on a map. They were clever and resilient. They would adapt, become fluent and penetrate Russia — land of Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky, the Bolshoi Ballet and the Hermitage Museum — in ways all but impossible for foreigners.

But the fantasy of creating bilingual prodigies immediately collided with reality. My children — Danya (fifth grade), Arden (third grade) and Emmett (kindergarten) — were among the first foreigners to attend Novaya Gumanitarnaya Shkola, the New Humanitarian School. All instruction was in Russian. No translators, no hand-holding. And so on that morning, as on so many days that autumn of 2007, I feared that I was subjecting them to a cross-cultural experiment that would scar them forever.

And then, after five years in Russia, it was time to return to Brooklyn.

Danya, now nearly 14, was ambivalent about leaving, drawn toward being a teenager in New York City. But Arden and Emmett would have gladly stayed. “I feel like I’m tugged in two ways, and I have no idea what to do,” Arden told me last spring. “That’s the one problem with living abroad. You end up getting those weird feelings like, Oh, I can’t leave; I can’t stay.”

On the kids’ final day, Bogin called an assembly to wish them goodbye. He started praising them for all they had overcome but then stopped. This, too, would not be just a lecture.

“What would we not have had if these three had not been here?” he asked. “How did they enrich our school?”

“Theater!” someone shouted back.

“The school newspaper!”

“Great friendships!”

A chant began. “Spa-si-bo! Spa-si-bo!” (“Thank you!”)

Some teachers and children had tears in their eyes.

I went onstage to express my deep appreciation but was too choked up to speak. Suddenly, Arden strode forward and took the microphone. In confident and flawless Russian, she thanked the school for all of us.

via My Family’s Experiment in Extreme Schooling – NYTimes.com.

Goddard College, unconventional learning, alternate learning:  Another success story …

Someone like Rod Crossman, at his stage in life and with his professional success, doesn’t often seek a way to reinvent himself. Yet Mr. Crossman—a painter, an assistant professor, and an artist in residence at Indiana Wesleyan University—felt that he was merely churning out pretty work to hang on gallery walls, increasingly feeling a schism between where his career had taken him and where his passion was telling him to go.

“My art practice had become marooned in the place where it was not connected to the world,” he says. “There were issues that my students were facing, and I didn’t think I had the tools to help them navigate those problems. Some of the issues they were facing were just the challenges of the world that we live in.” He wanted an interdisciplinary M.F.A. to reinvigorate his work at Indiana Wesleyan, where he has taught for 30 years.

He found a tiny college in rural Vermont that has blown itself up and emerged anew time and again: Goddard College. The birthplace of some important academic innovations, it has long bucked traditional notions of higher education and, like many experimental colleges, flirted with financial ruin. Its latest transformation may be its most remarkable: Reaching a nadir in its financial health in the early 2000s, it did what many colleges would consider unthinkable. The college shut down its storied, core residential program and adopted its low-residency adult program as its sole campus offering. It has since re-emerged with 10-year accreditation, the highest number of students in decades, money to spend on refurbishing its campus, a new campus in Port Townsend, Wash., and plans to expand its programs to other cities across the country. One administrator put the college’s turnaround in perspective: Today, Goddard is getting a $2-million loan to build a biomass plant, but 10 years ago the college couldn’t have gotten a car loan.

Innovation is the buzzword of higher education these days. People talk about leveraging technology and scaling up, about treating faculty members like hired guns, and about adopting industrial models to bring down costs and ramp up “production.” All of it in a bid to offer more college degrees—more cheaply, more quickly, and some worry, of a lower quality.

None of that is happening here. Goddard faculty members, who do not have tenure but are unionized, seem fiercely devoted to the college. Students say their open-ended studies are among the most rigorous they have ever experienced. And Goddard’s president, Barbara Vacarr, is downright heretical when asked how higher education can scale up and give more Americans college degrees.

via Goddard College’s Unconventional Path to Survival – Administration – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Marine Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor, President Obama, White House, Beer with the President, media distortions, journalism:  “It would be nice to be able to post a photo of the president having a beer with a Marine without being beseiged with snark. #GrowUp,” … Media went too far on this one.  Kudos to Dakota Meyer.

 

When White House staff contacted him to arrange the ceremony, Meyer asked if he could have a beer with Obama, and the president invited him to the White House on Wednesday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Carney posted a picture on his Twitter account of Obama and Meyer, both in shirtsleeves and ties, sitting at a metal patio table, each with a clear glass mug of ale. Several members of the White House press corps then “re-tweeted” the picture, which was taken by official White House photographer Pete Souza. Among them were Jake Tapper of ABC News, who has more than 138,000 Twitter followers, and Ed Henry of Fox News, who has more than 35,000.

Many of the followers chimed in, with most offering praise for the photo and the president’s hospitality. But some others apparently offered more cynical comments about the event being a staged photo-op for Obama.

It didn’t take long for the usually combative White House reporters to stick up for the embattled president on this one.

“It would be nice to be able to post a photo of the president having a beer with a Marine without being beseiged with snark. #GrowUp,” Tapper later wrote on his account.

Henry wrote: “Come on folks, just because WH released a photo of President’s beer w/Dakota Meyer doesn’t mean its ‘just a photo-op’”

Then he added: “Surely you can disagree with President on issues, if that’s how you feel, but still appreciate him recognizing uncommon valor by a Marine”

via Obama has beer with Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer, sparking debate between critics, reporters – 44 – The Washington Post.





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