September 3, 2011

Ed Tech

From the NYT:
In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores
By MATT RICHTEL 
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Amy Furman, a seventh-grade English teacher here, roams among 31 students sitting at their desks or in clumps on the floor. They’re studying Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” — but not in any traditional way. 
In this technology-centric classroom, students are bent over laptops, some blogging or building Facebook pages from the perspective of Shakespeare’s characters. One student compiles a song list from the Internet, picking a tune by the rapper Kanye West to express the emotions of Shakespeare’s lovelorn Silvius. 
The class, and the Kyrene School District as a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of education’s future. Classrooms are decked out with laptops, big interactive screens and software that drills students on every basic subject. Under a ballot initiative approved in 2005, the district has invested roughly $33 million in such technologies. 
The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on Internet-connected devices. 
“This is such a dynamic class,” Ms. Furman says of her 21st-century classroom. “I really hope it works.” 
Hope and enthusiasm are soaring here. But not test scores. 
Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen. ...

First of all, 7th-graders shouldn't be reading Shakespeare. He's too hard for them. Maybe 9th graders should read Julius Caesar, a play with a much simpler style. But Shakespeare's comedies are hard. Also, they aren't very funny. King Lear is still really, really sad, but As You Like It is not really funny anymore.
Larry Cuban, an education professor emeritus at Stanford University, said the research did not justify big investments by districts. 
“There is insufficient evidence to spend that kind of money. Period, period, period,” he said. “There is no body of evidence that shows a trend line.” 
Some advocates for technology disagree. 
Karen Cator, director of the office of educational technology in the United States Department of Education, said standardized test scores were an inadequate measure of the value of technology in schools. Ms. Cator, a former executive at Apple Computer, said that better measurement tools were needed but, in the meantime, schools knew what students needed.

Okay, but why is Ms. Cator a former executive at Apple Computer? If the K-12 market is as promising as she thinks, wouldn't her former boss Steve Jobs have made sure to keep at Apple? After all, he has a pretty good nose for the next big thing. Moreover, a quarter of a century ago, Apple was, to a large extent, the chief K-12 technology company. That was its strong suit in 1985. Since his return to Apple in the mid 1990s, Jobs has largely abandoned K-12 for the well-educated grown-up market, with vast success. 

On the other hand, I think there are opportunities to help kids learn better in K-12 with technology. Intelligent drilling is what computers can do well. And the iPad looks like a particularly good form factor. But most of the software currently for K-12 is lousy, and most of the people buying K-12 software aren't very good either.

89 comments:

Anonymous said...

Libs still put down "drilling," Steve, because there are always some kids who, no matter now much they are "drilled," haven't the brain connections for memorizing and so fall behind and have no self-esteem after that.

And, we can't have that.

Anonymous said...

Even in college, computers are more of a distraction from learning than an aid to it.

How are they supposed to help a bunch of dumb, easily distracted high school and middle school kids?

In most subjects, a library terminal (or a card catalogue) and a typewriter would provide 95% of the benefit with 0% of the distractions.

Anonymous said...

What an incredibly lame gimmick.

These things used to bother me in school. Hey, teach - can you, you know, TEACH? Or at least get out of the way so I can learn the material on my own? Thanks.

I wonder how many people who might have enjoyed Shakespeare were turned off by this lamesauce gimmick.

Anonymous said...

Many of Shakespeare's comedies aren't funny, but "Twelfth Night" and "A Midsummernight's Dream" are among the funniest things ever written in the English language, maybe in any language. Take it from a professional comedy writer, who's written for some of your favorite shows (as written about on this blog).

I agree that seventh-graders have no business reading "As You Like It" (which generally can only be made funny with a lot of effort). It still seems to me that the standard 9th grade intro to "Julius Caesar," is indeed the best way to start.

Also, it would help if kids were told WHY they were being forced to read Shakespeare. There's a sort of ladder answer: a) you should know a bit of this stuff just to seem literate, b) it's your linguistic heritage so you should at least be aware of it, c) a few of you will probably actually LIKE it.

Anonymous said...

The homeschooling movement has unleashed a torrent of excellent home study materials in all grade school subjects, but especially in math and reading.

Computers are inferior to nightly parental tutoring.

Podsnap said...

One student compiles a song list from the Internet, picking a tune by the rapper Kanye West to express the emotions of Shakespeare’s lovelorn Silvius.

The class, and the Kyrene School District as a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of education’s future.


Really. I'm not sure if I'm seeing that utopian vision. Couldn't make this shit up.

Jeff Burton said...

An emphatic "yes" to all this. The ROI on tech in education is extremely low, probably even negative. Almost all should all go away. The benefits are a fantasy.

Kids like it because the shininess engages their rodent-like attention span. Parents like it because they ignorantly assume it is connected to their children's future success. Educators like because they can appear forward thinking, while at the same time doing a whole lot less real teaching.

The horrible part is that the truth about tech in ed is buried under an industrial strength concrete of universal consensus.

I speak as someone with a pretty long career in instructional technology. Turns out the only computer based training that really help are two kinds - drills to aid memorization, and simulations that reinforce understanding and facility with procedures. These are exactly the kind of things teachers don't use computers for. Instead of this, you get screwing around with powerpoint, building wiki's, and word processing.

Chicago said...

The education establishment is really good at wasting money. Tax money gets blown on building palatial facilities even before the first potential little geniuses set foot in there. It's to provide a fancy place for the teachers to work in and a bonanza for the contractors and vendors who sell all these bells and whistles.
Whether the kids actually get anything tangible out of most of it is questionable.
The education business is hugely corrupt and extremely politicized. The kids are there as pawns, serving as a front.
When you write the check for your property tax bill, keep in mind it's mainly to fund a good lifestyle for a whole host of people making their living off of all this.

rightsaidfred said...

B.F. Skinner had good success actually teaching people with programmed instruction. His ideas were resisted by the educational establishment, and he got a bunch of invalidating rhetoric from the usual leftists, hyFriends of Chomsky et al.

Education in this country is largely a jobs program.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Shakespeare, I've always said bringing in a eve of Kenneth Brahagh's "Henry V" and using the pause button before each major scene to explain to kids what's going to happen next, in a contemporary way, would be an excellent way to introduce the kids to Shakespeare.

That play has it all for today's kids. It's all about a turf war, for godssakes! Gangs having it out for each other. Betrayal within the gang. Gang leaders dealing with day-to-day shenanigans, and Branagh does an excellent job bringing Henry to life. I'd bet dimes to donuts the kids would love it,

Kylie said...

"First of all, 7th-graders shouldn't be reading Shakespeare. He's too hard for them."

They aren't studying Shakespeare; they're building Facebook pages and thinking about rap.

From the NYT article:

"In this technology-centric classroom, students are bent over laptops, some blogging or building Facebook pages from the perspective of Shakespeare’s characters. One student compiles a song list from the Internet, picking a tune by the rapper Kanye West to express the emotions of Shakespeare’s lovelorn Silvius."

Three guesses as to which is getting the bulk of their attention and interest: "As You Like It" or Facebook and Kanye West.


Again from the NYT article"'This is such a dynamic class,' Ms. Furman says of her 21st-century classroom. 'I really hope it works.'"

An English teacher who doesn't understand the definition of "dynamic"? It doesn't mean your classroom is all tricked out with the latest gadgets in a desperate bid to get your students to pay attention. It's the working (learning) process students engage in that makes a classroom dynamic, not the inanimate stuff that students play with in only the most tenuous relationship to the material supposedly being studied.

She's really too stupid to live.

Anonymous said...

However, it is important to distribute public moneys to Apple so they can keep on making a profit.

Gc said...

A great way to taught kids to never a read another book again. Well at least the plaster heads are happy. In Finland school kids would only play this kind of stuff, but happily you were never forced to read our equivalents of Shakespeare. There were always many books to choose in the Finnish class. The teacher would cautiously recommend more artsy books to the more intelligent kids.

Neanderthal Liberation Front said...

Technology can only go so far. Japan is hightech when it comes to athletics, but where are its great basketball players? Yet, look at Samoans with their low-tech football program. But they sure crank out the big beefy mothas.
And compare high-spending suburban schools and low-spending city schools. White and Asian kids may have better gym facilities and etc, but it's the black kids in the hoods who become better ballplayers.

Same goes with mental stuff. There is a law of diminishing returns. No technology--paper, pencils, lack of proper nutrition, etc--weighs down on proper education. So, more technology leads to better education. But after a certain point, kids are not gonna do better simply because they have computerized pencils, digital blackboards, holographic erasers, and etc. If anything, such will turn them into worse students cuz the emphasis would be on easy slick gadgetry than actually thinking and learning(which isn't always supposed to be easy, cool, and fun. I mean whatever happened to 'no pain, no gain'. Does anyone become a good wrestler or boxer without struggle and pain?)
All this technology-stuff will be great for geeks making new technology, but it won't serve the intellectual curiosity of most children.

Consider that movies and music are more technology-packed than ever before. Every big movie is loaded with CGI and every recording on a major label is packed with all sorts of gizmo effects. Now, for people involved in the technology of movies, this is challenging stuff(and some of the stuff is amazing). But for most movie viewers, such stuff offer even less to think about. Their senses are pounded by 'cool stuff' which becomes the center of the story. AVATAR may be a technological feat but what does it teach kids about imagination, creative originality, good writing, etc? Zilch. It's cliches repackaged via amazing but childish use of technology. And though today's music recordings are more tech-heavy, are they better than the music of Beatles, Dylan, Young, Byrds, Beach Boys, and etc? Hell no. I'd rather listen to Pet Sounds than Shakeasskura.

I mean the idea of reducing Shakespeare into a Kanye West shtick... That is not elevating a child to culture but lowering culture to please a child. Some degree of popularization is okay and does some middle-brow-ish good. But Shakespeare to shakes-ass is just pathetic. Why not turn Tale of Two Cities into tale of two hoods? Why not turn Moby Dick into Moby Godzilla(where captain Ahaboto goes hunting for the big lizard?)
Also, education is about teaching kids about the larger world: the sense that there are other people, different times, different values, different POVS. It's supposed to break the kid out of his narrow shell. By turning Shakespeare into a Kanye West show, teachers are sending the message that kids are the center of the universe. In other words, it's not up to them to imagine or learn about different people and different times but to turn everything into something that refers to their narrow experience of pop culture and self-esteem.
From Triumph of the West to Kanye West. Now we know how the west was lost.

Anonymous said...


I speak as someone with a pretty long career in instructional technology. Turns out the only computer based training that really help are two kinds - drills to aid memorization, and simulations that reinforce understanding and facility with procedures. These are exactly the kind of things teachers don't use computers for. Instead of this, you get screwing around with powerpoint, building wiki's, and word processing.


While that sounds reasonable, do you have any references to papers or other evidence to back it up?

NLF said...

"Libs still put down "drilling"

Cuz they figure kids would rather be chillin and thrillin than drillin(unless it involves lower half of their bodies).

This high-tech messianism might as well be the called THE BETTER HUM OF THE TIGER GEEKETTE.

But I know one technological solution which may well work. Build a whole bunch of Terminator Teachers who will make sure kids in class don't get too wild and disrespectful.
and if a kids gets out of line... 'hasta la vista, baby'.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean teachers will be called techers?

Gc said...

Blackadder punches Shakespeare

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3 said,
"Also, it would help if kids were told WHY they were being forced to read Shakespeare. There's a sort of ladder answer: a) you should know a bit of this stuff just to seem literate, b) it's your linguistic heritage so you should at least be aware of it, c) a few of you will probably actually LIKE it."

While I have great respect for your professional achievements, I have to tell you, and I mean no disrespect, sir or madam, your comment identifies as you as one who knows only about students who attend schools in affluent communities or as one who assumes that the best and the brightest kids in schools (no matter how few of them there are) are separated from the middling to low IQ kids or as one who thinks pedagogical strategies are the missing, magical ingredient to student achievement.

In short, you haven't a clue.

Anonymous said...

An English teacher who doesn't understand the definition of "dynamic"? It doesn't mean your classroom is all tricked out with the latest gadgets in a desperate bid to get your students to pay attention.

Exactly so. Any good teacher knows that pandering never works -- students just sense the desperation and conclude that the material really is as boring and irrelevant as they were expecting it to be. If you can't teach without apology, you shouldn't be teaching.

elvisd said...

When I started teaching in the mid 90's, the tech in the classroom thing had just taken off, with loads of Microsoft stuff, program disk materials, etc. It was shit, of course, with themes built on the flimsiest of conceits that were neither appealing nor useful to any IQ range. It was a waste of money, mostly paid with federal dollars, and it was collecting dust in closets in two years.
****

"An English teacher who doesn't understand the definition of "dynamic"?"

Anyone who uses the word "dynamic" automatically triggers my bullshit meter.
***
Teachers who put on the pretense that 7th graders are getting anything out of "As You Like It" don't really believe it. It just makes them look like their class has "rigor", which is a one of those cornerstone terms in teacher evaluation criteria. They could be more effective if they used a more age-appropriate text and worked on developing a breadth of thinking strategies for it, but throwing up a tough classic and doing the laptop dance is easier. I see that kind of crap all the time.

Anonymous said...

I believe this was the longest study on pedagogy and achievement. The "winner" should come as no surprise - yet the results are willfully ignored.

http://pages.uoregon.edu/adiep/ft/adams.htm

Anonymous said...

Taming of the Shrew is definitely funny...if you are a man.

jody said...

no students should be required to read anything by shakespeare. that stuff is all totally irrelevant to our modern technological society and does not help anybody get better at reading or writing. people who want to get into it as an elective course should be allowed. but it's long past time to strike all these ancient, hopelessly outdated texts from the "standard" curriculum.

their technology is bumped up to 2010 but their source material is stuck in 1610. almost nothing could be less relevant than 400 year old english, which is now getting close to unrecognizable to modern english, written in the form of plays. might as well have the students study the works and techniques of major script writers of movies and television over the last 100 years instead.

how shakespeare is supposed to help the literacy problem in LA or washington DC, i am not sure. but get the students reading a couple books on a few particular movie and television writers, and you might have something. want to learn how the guy who made the wire, made the wire? read this book on how he wrote that stuff. you will now create 3 of your own characters and write 5 pages of dialog.

christopher nolan more your style? here's a book on the script constructing techniques used by one of the greatest writing directors of all-time. read the two chapters on inception. he spent 10 years writing it! now read this batman script, then write your own 10 page draft.

plays are what people did before cameras were developed. those wiped out plays. modernize the curriculum, and you might end up with people actually trying to write their own material, instead of wishing this shakespeare shit was over so they could take the test, get their minimum effort D, and forget that shit as fast as possible. if they even bother, and don't just go directly for the zero effort F.

jody said...

lol @ the avatar bashing. neanderthal liberation front, u mad?

Anonymous said...

The proper way to do it :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCVc5TaPpe8

Really nothing new here said...

To the Anonymous commenter who would encourage children to watch the Kenneth Branagh version of Henry V: I suggest you Netflix the Laurence Olivier version. Olivier did not use music to drown out the words, and no one needs to hit the "pause" button to understand what is happening on screen because the language is clear and understandable.

As far as the overall thesis of the NYT article is concerned, it has become abundantly clear that spending time and money on computers in elementary schools is a waste if they are not used to drill children in arithmetic and spelling.

Of course, as in every other field of "policy research," no one will change his behavior based on what has been learned from this expensive experiment in Arizona.

Our educational system has been undermined by two factors: teachers lost their status as respected professionals when they became union workers; and the feminist movement encouraged the most talented women to flee from teaching and enter other professions, mainly law. The denigration of teaching as a career option has hurt this nation immensely, and I fear that it hasn't helped women much either, as probably many of them would have been happier and more productive as teachers than as lawyers.

By the way, using a computer efficiently is a skill. It is best taught as a separate subject, not integrated into the rest of the curriculum - in the same way that typing was in days gone by.

DanJ said...

Gc, thanks for the Blackadder link. And mr. Darcy as Shakespeare, no less!

guest007 said...

Every discussion of teaching literature in high school would always refer back to the Washington Post Article on the topic:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/22/AR2008082202398.html

Mr. Anon said...

Substituting computers and PDAs for books is a good idea.......for the computer, PDA, and software industries. When I was a kid, we had school books that were 10 years old. Books can last for 20 years or more. Computers and software become obsolete every year. It's a great way to force tax-payers to subsidize the computer biz.

Of course, the pedagogical value of computers is just about zero.

By the way, Brannaugh's movies are a good introduction to Shakespeare - especially his "Hamlet", where he used gestures, staging, and editing to help make clear the meaning of the often archaic language - all-in-all, a brilliant production.

But Shakespeare is always going to be lost on someone who thinks that Kanye West has any value at all.

Anonymous said...

First of all, 7th-graders shouldn't be reading Shakespeare. He's too hard for them. Maybe 9th graders should read Julius Caesar, a play with a much simpler style.

Steve, I think you need an IQ out around 140 to begin to "grok" the double/triple/quadruple/n-fold entendres, the homonyms, the allusions, the historical contexts [both of Shakespeare's era, and of the previous eras, about which he was writing], the literary contexts [both immediate, and referenced], and the everything-damned-else-thing-plus-the-kitchen-sink baggage which comes with Shakespeare.

Which is to say: Trying to "teach" [whatever that means] Shakespeare to children of IQ-80 is such a silly idea that frankly it transcends the tragicomical and lands squarely in the realm of the surrealistic.


“There is insufficient evidence to spend that kind of money. Period, period, period,” he said. “There is no body of evidence that shows a trend line.”

Thank God for a voice of Reason here.


I wonder how many people who might have enjoyed Shakespeare were turned off by this lamesauce gimmick.

If one assumes the "standard" [or mainstream] interpretation of Shakespeare's work, with its layers upon layers upon layers of structural nihilism [not to mention the obious, overt, explicit, textual nihilism], I don't know how ANYONE could possibly "enjoy" reading him.

Having said that, however, Hank Whittemore's approach to Prince Tudor Theory is so breathtakingly compelling that it offers some hope of finally attaching a sense of purposefulness to the "Shakespeare" corpus.

Freddy Rumson said...

"Teachers as tour guides" simply means the Public Union employee gets to craft her blog on "climate change" and their thesis on "Inclusion,diversity and the transgender dilemma: Queering the curriculum" while the kiddies engage in busy work- all paid for by you.

Anonymous said...

"The homeschooling movement has unleashed a torrent of excellent home study materials in all grade school subjects, but especially in math and reading.

"Computers are inferior to nightly parental tutoring."


Okay, I am a home school mom and I like teaching math and science but not Language Arts. When I had a baby, I had my older son in 3rd grade do some grammar and usage tutorials etc on the computer. I liked it because he could do 3 or 4 lessons and question sets and then the program would generate a report that would list his percentage correct on specific skills. It saved us both time because I could help him with just those few areas that he wasn't getting. Overall it accelerated his learning. Now he is older and uses computer tutorials to do advanced math and check his work. His dad and I help with stuff he can't get on his own, which is not much.

As for parents tutoring at night, I think that is kind of admitting that the school isn't teaching. My son is 8th grade and is way ahead of his peers and only spends about 20 hrs a week on school work. His friends in regular school are there for 35 hrs a week plus homework. Even if they only had an average of one hour a night of homework, that is still 40 hrs a week to learn less than a homeschool kid who only spends 20 hrs a week. School is a scam/babysitting/indoctrination. I used to teach foreign languages in high school and quit to be with my own kids. Best decision ever. My kids are much nicer, smarter and just plain more fun. I did have many great students that I enjoyed very much when I was teaching in the public schools. They didn't exactly have the highest opinion of the public ed process either.

dearieme said...

What in God's name can the bright children make of all this nonsense? Do they just learn to despise everything about their schooling?

stari_momak said...

Taming of the Shrew can still be pretty funny.

But...what's the point of *reading* Shakespeare.

Whiskey said...

The key issue is boredom. People read the Bible, and classics, particularly in rural areas away from cities because there was nothing else to relieve tedium. If you lived in the backwoods, like say Lincoln, you'd read the Bible constantly because it was a source of entertainment. Hence the Biblical allusions that pop up in his speeches and everyone understood, because there was nothing else to relieve the tedium of hard-bitten rural life.

The hyper-entertainment of today's life means that boredom never comes. Hence the sense of amusing themselves to death which is particularly seen in teen agers.

Anonymous said...

Also, the technology they're learning to manipulate today (powerpoint, wikis, websites) will be utterly obsolete by the time they're in the real world. If we had been doing the equivalent when I was in grade school, they'd have been teaching us how to make filmstrips, do kodachrome slideshows, work a linotype machine, and seek parallels between characters in Beowulf and songs by Bill Haley and the Comets.

hyperhystorian said...

..."In short, you haven't a clue."

What? Let me respond, even though it wasn’t my original post. I'm not sure if you are joking, here, but grouping (tracking is the old, dirty word) is strictly verboten in public schools, although a few kids get around it by taking AP and advanced classes. The entire stress on VAT (value added testing) or VAM (value added metrics) is predicated on kids being assigned randomly to classrooms. Otherwise, teachers can’t be compared. So the future, even more than the present, looks to be strictly “mixed ability classrooms.” In other words, teaching will get worse. The best kids will be pulled down – the mediocre will stay mediocre – the slow will be lost. They’ll be no separation of the brightest from the mediocre or dumb. Can’t happen. Not PC.

Regarding pedagogical strategies, I agree … there’s mostly stupid. A good teacher doesn’t need a strategy for teaching as much as she/he needs a strategy for controlling the classroom. I’ve taught college classes for years, and I’ve never even thought about a strategy. I worry about content, and how to best present the content – powerpoint has been helpful in this regard – but not pedagogy. We all know that ed schools are the bottom of the barrel

Camlost said...

Also, it would help if kids were told WHY they were being forced to read Shakespeare.

YES !!

the key to closing the achievement gap for blacks and Mestizos is explaining why they have to read the work of a white dude who died in 1616.

Anonymous said...

Fire the teachers, hire Kanye to teach Shakespeare via youtube videos played on the kids' iphones. As long as they're safely caged during daylight hours society is winning.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

OT Steve-o, but apparently The Atlantic no longer believes in the mind-brain dichotomy either.

Anonymous said...

"I agree that seventh-graders have no business reading "As You Like It"

They might mistake it for Ass, You Like It.

Anonymous said...

So, does this mean 3D video games will be used for sex ed?

RGH said...

A few years ago the elementary school in Adair, a small town in eastern Oklahoma, won some kind of award for their test scores. When a reporter asked the principal what the secret was, he said that they didn't have any money for technology or special programs, so they just taught the kids to read, write, and do arithmetic.

Anonymous said...

hyperhystorian,

I am the anon who told anon 3 (should have been anon 4) that he "hadn't a clue."

I said this because his comment ("Also, it would help if kids were told WHY they were being forced to read Shakespeare) suggests 1) that he believes that teachers don't tell kids why they are "forced to read Shakespeare," which isn't the case, and 2)that he suffers from the fantasy that kids in general can, do, and will benefit from being "forced to read Shakespeare."

From you, I get a lecture about tracking, or rather the lack of it.

Yes, yes I know about tracking and the lack of it. I taught English at the high school level for 34 years and am recently retired.

If I sound prickly, it's because I am. Here in CA, many kids are barely literate, many are illiterate and innumerate, and we have fewer and fewer kids of average to above average IQ. Discussions about which Shakespearean play are grade-appropriate are worthwhile discussions for a smaller and smaller group of kids, and his words reminded me of just how much in the dark most people are about the state of education outside their own social realm.

When I first began teaching in a blue collar factory town, ninth graders read "Merchant of Venice" while tenth graders read "Julius Caesar" and seniors read "MacBeth" and "Hamlet." This was before the advent of AP or honors classes.

With good teaching, the experience was, I believe, enjoyable and profitable for our top kids who were college prep, still fairly enjoyable and valuable for our middle level students, and a struggle for kids of the lowest level, but even they made it through at least three of Willie's plays in their four years in high school. We took the kids to see theatrical performances of the plays whenever that was possible.

Things change, as you seem to know. Now, only the very top kids can enjoy and benefit from reading Shakespeare. The rest of the kids read so poorly and are so incapable of concentrating on anything, especially anything that requires the slightest struggle, that a discussion of what Shakespearean plays ought to be read by most kids is just plain silly.

Years ago, when things had just begun turning bad, hoping against hope, we took some of these kids to the ACT in SF to see a production. God, it's a wonder they didn't throw us out of the theatre and then under the cable cars.

Most of us fought long and hard against the doing away with tracking. We saw it for what it was, an offering to the pc gods.

Sorry for my foul mood. It's just that the powers that be don't give a damn about what's good for kids or for society. Many well-behaved kids of only average achievement and ability sign up for honors courses in order to escape the chaos in classes overrun by thugs, and the principal allows them in. The same thing occurs in AP classes, with teachers just as guilty as the principal. They know many of these kids will never be able to score a 2 or a 3 on an AP exam, but they take the kids because they wish to increase the number of sections of AP that they teach. The more AP sections they have, the fewer low classes with thugs they have. As long as the kids they take are well-behaved, they don't care that the students don't have the requisite skills.

The whole thing is a sorry mess and the abolition of tracking is the major cause of the sinking into the abyss. What's more, everyone has been corrupted by it as it has caused such dysfunction that most of the people in education have gone into self-serving survival mode.

Send your kids to private school.

Anonymous said...

"As You Like It"?!

When I was in seventh grade, the officially assigned lit was short easy stuff like O. Henry stories; but what really happened on the side was this --- the nerdy boys read Tolkien, Vonnegut and "Dune," the non-nerdy boys read sports biographies and the sports pages of the daily papers, ALL the girls (nerdy or not) read Judy Blume and whisper-giggled about it in secret, and EVERYBODY read "Go Ask Alice" by Anonymous.

Us boys (nerd and non-nerd alike) also spent a lot of time arguing about the meaning of rock albums like "Brain Salad Surgery" and "Physical Graffiti." I can remember at least one fistfight over duelling personalized insult-parodies of "Bohemian Rhapsody." This was all in a mediocre working-class Catholic school in the late 70s, all white. Goodness knows what the kids put up with now.

Anonymous said...

"First of all, 7th-graders shouldn't be reading Shakespeare. He's too hard for them. Maybe 9th graders should read Julius Caesar, a play with a much simpler style."


Shakeaspeare is taught because that's what teachers were forced to read and their teachers were forced to read, etc.

It's fun for the old fogeys to make fun of the cultural illiteracy of the young-uns'. As it has always been.

It has no practical value except to show a certain status.

Shakespeare was a popular artist in his time. If the system was interested in getting people interested in literacy, they'd use popular authors that speak to the current students. They don't, cause they aren't.

Anonymous said...

Call for revisions to Aristotle's saying, "The roots of education are ______, but the fruit is ______." (in place of "bitter" and "sweet")

Anonymous said...

Goodness knows what the kids put up with now.

Not to sound like a pervert or anything, but I'd guess that for a very substantial portion of students [to include even the very best white and asian and jewish students], the girls are all amateur pr0n actresses and the boys are all amateur pr0n screenwriters/cameramen/directors/producers.

All filmed with shaky/realistic* 30fps 1080i cellphone cameras...



*Although - speaking of Avatar and its obsession with technology - apparently they've got software/hardware packages in the phones now which correct for the shakiness.

Anonymous said...

"If one assumes the "standard" [or mainstream] interpretation of Shakespeare's work, with its layers upon layers upon layers of structural nihilism [not to mention the obious, overt, explicit, textual nihilism], I don't know how ANYONE could possibly "enjoy" reading him."

well, some people aren't hipsters who disagree just to disagree.

but, ok, go gnaw yourself.

Anonymous said...

They're teaching "As You Like It" as a way to sneak indoctrination about GLBT issues into a 7th grade classroom. This is probably the least useful of Shakespeare's more popular plays for imparting cultural knowledge: R & J for the girls and J C for the boys are much more central for shared knowledge and the ability to recognize allusions to works most students read while in school.

It's just a trick, a fragmented pastiche of a curriculum really designed to emphasize the preference for Eastern and primitive cultures and love styles other than those between the man and woman making up the traditional marriage unit.

Symptomatic of the intentions of psycholiberal educators is a move away from any kind of Great Books curriculum. Anything that has been a standard for generations will likely be put under the PC microscope. Using technology in the classroom to waste time and distract from true pedagogical intentions is just a bonus.

Anonymous said...

"It's fun for the old fogeys to make fun of the cultural illiteracy of the young-uns'. As it has always been.

It has no practical value except to show a certain status."

Wrong. Cultural literacy allows us to share a value system and meaning. People don't put quotes from Shakespeare in their speeches just to sound erudite. It's a shorthand for evoking a parallel between a current situation and a past one that includes imparting the same interpretation and impact.

Julius Caesar, for instance, is one of those political plays rife with situations that occur repeatedly from ancient times to the present. We are very much like the people who lived 400 years or more ago except wrt superficial, transitory technological development.

The subject of outmoded language being useless for modern students is also controversial. Language is constantly evolving so that word frequencies change as do the meanings of certain words. Why should we be trapped in the rather brief period of history that we as individuals occupy by treating works from an earlier period as if they are written in a foreign language? This is also a good way to learn about linguistics in a world in which there is great emphasis on learning languages that are, indeed, foreign to us.

elvisd said...

"I’ve taught college classes for years, and I’ve never even thought about a strategy. I worry about content, and how to best present the content – powerpoint has been helpful in this regard – but not pedagogy. We all know that ed schools are the bottom of the barrel".

Just curious. Have you taught at a public, non-magnet, diverse high school? No doubt that ed schools suck, and are full of shuck and jive, but I've never met an inner city secondary teacher who walked in to focus on "content", and survived more than a year. I'm going to guess you haven't.

Anonymous said...

When English teachers are concerned, Shakespeare is not literature, but religion.

How else do you explain the all pervasive educratic cult of Shakespeare? I'm not saying he's a bad writer, or irrelevant - just hyped up beyond utility.

Why not (gasp) Tolkien or Heinlein instead of Shakespeare? Or even Huxley, Orwell, Vonnegut?

Anonymous said...

No matter how much tech is added to public school, it still remains its bad old 19th century Prussian factory training self.

The only thing that would save public schooling (besides its abolition) would be take a giant step backwards to the Renaissance with its tutors and mentors. No sardine-can schools. No pseudo socialization. No jock farms. No ghettos for children, particularly those from certain ethnic groups.

Anonymous said...

As long as the schools are merely adequate, as nearly all of them (including the inner city ones) are now, there is very little reason to expect improved cognitive performance as a result of extra spending. An adequate environment is virtually equal to a souped-up enhanced environment in terms of the educational results. This is because, given an adequate environment, people tend to rise to the level of their natural potential by adulthood. So why does an enhanced (i.e. more costly) environment have little to no payoff? The reason is that people are active builders of their own environments. Smart people tend to create enriched, cognitively challenging environments for themselves, no matter what environment they find themselves placed in--as long as that given environment rises to the level of "adequate". Duller people create a less stimulating environment for themselves because they tend to ignore any "enriched" elements that progressive educators have placed in it. Our schools, despite all the complaining, have reached the adequate level. The marginal returns on increased investment, whether in technology or teacher quality, will be very small from this point on. Sorry to say.

hyperhystorian said...

To the Anon above who responded to me, Hyperhystorian:

I apologize for my comment. You are a kindred soul.

Yes, my kids have gone to private schools, and, at times, I've home schooled. Now, they’re in community college.

For those of you with middle or high school kids, particularly those who can’t afford private school or have the time to home school, there’s an easy solution – community college. As soon as your child turns 13 or 14, put her in CC. You will have the sort of control over her curriculum and instruction that used to be the norm when public schools represented “community values.” If you don’t like an instructor, pull your child out in the first week. No financial penalty. Ditto with the curriculum or bias.

Interestingly, the kids in CC have few behavioral issues, except boredom. You won’t have to monitor or worry about them as you would if they were in public/charter/private school. Peer pressure essentially evaporates when the ages and backgrounds of students are mixed. A huge burden, then, will be lifted from your shoulders. Also, you can let your child hang out in the library – for a few hours, if need be – or in the student union.

There’s an added bonus of having credits earned cheaply for college, which you can take or leave.

The dirty wee
secret is that no diploma is needed to get into the better colleges. Interestingly, state colleges may require GEDs, but the top-ranked colleges don’t bother looking at such paper credentials. My older son, when applying to Cal Tech, was shocked to find that five to seven percent of the incoming class was home-schooled, and many more never graduated from high school. It’s the new normal. Most colleges have special admissions policies for home-schooled kids without diplomas. My youngest son, 16, is looking at Princeton because of its math program. Their homeschooling process is a bit onerous, but it exists, at least. The east coast is behind the Midwest, Southwest and mountain states, in this regard. U Texas Austin also has an alternative admission policy for kids who aren’t in school. My daughter went to Pepperdine which had some sort of alternative policy, which she didn’t need because she attended public school for her final years.

Anyway, cc is relatively cheap. In most places a credit is less than 100 dollars, which, at about 14 credit hours per semester, is a helluva lot cheaper than private school. Again, it pays off down the line if you use those credits in college.

Just take them out of public school and never look back. Pillar of salt, and all that …

Anonymous said...

Anyone who will spiritually and intellectual benefit from Shakespeare will find their way to him on their own and the better for not having some dogmatic interpretation loaded onto it.

Jim Bowery said...

Its pretty funny that no one looks at the history of what worked and what didn't work with the PLATO project. But the PLATO project is sort of like the Ron Paul of computer networks -- if you admit it actually existed, you'd have a serious problem explaining it away. It did it all in 1972, 512*512 graphics, touch panels and 1/4sec latency for each key to be processed intelligently -- meaning the teacher could monitor everything in real time remotely (like on another continent), way to early and in a god damn land grant college build for farmers.

Anyway, the PLATO Corrections Project managed to get prison inmates their GEDs at a rate far higher than ordinary classes.

Of course, prison inmates have no similarity at all to inner city students.

Well, not for a few years any way...

Anonymous said...

Why not (gasp) Tolkien or Heinlein instead of Shakespeare? Or even Huxley, Orwell, Vonnegut?

Because none of them were wordsmiths.

Shakespeare was the greatest English language wordsmith [that we know of] and we just have to suck it up and swallow his endless [tedious, boundless, hopeless] nihilism in order to study his wordsmithery*.

Again, though, having said that, Hank Whittemore's Prince Tudor Theory does FINALLY offer some hope of attaching a sense of purposefulness to the corpus; by contrast, if you want to get a taste of the massive black hole of despair which is the mainstream Stratfordian point of view, then spend six months or a year** with Katherine Duncan-Jones's Arden Shakespeare - my God, what a depressing work...





*Although, there again, the root of the Stratfordian Shakespeare's structural nihilism lies in his [essentially infinite] over-mastery of the English language - really of language itself - the Stratfordian Shakespeare is such a towering genius of a wordsmith that he treats mere words [and their meanings] with utter disdain [compare Spengler on Mozart].

**Like I did, before I settled on the Oxfordian explanation.

JSM said...

"Anyway, cc is relatively cheap. In most places a credit is less than 100 dollars, which, at about 14 credit hours per semester, is a helluva lot cheaper than private school. Again, it pays off down the line if you use those credits in college."

Thanks, Hyper --
I ditto the above, with one caveat.

The Feds passed a stupid, utterly unnecessary and anti-parent law called Family Educational Right to Privacy Act that makes it *illegal* for the college to communicate with anyone but the student himself.

The CC will not tell you, the parent, what classes your kid is enrolled in, his attendance record, nor his grades. You will be, however, handed the tuition bill with a smile.
Note: This is true even with minors aged 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Once enrolled in "higher ed," the parents lose all rights to direct a child's education.

If you've got a 14 y o who's such a good kid that you can trust him to do his homework and get good grades without supervision, you're okay with the straight-to-CC plan. Or if your kid will honestly tell you what he's up to, okay.

But if your kid isn't exceptionally mature and your reason for putting him in community college is to get him away from the bad influences in middle school and stop him slacking, homeschooling with adequate supervision is still probably the only option.

FredR said...

I'm a huge fan of the Branagh Hamlet, despite all the dull patches. Check out this scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uJBOAkMsSc

elvisd said...

"The only thing that would save public schooling (besides its abolition) would be take a giant step backwards to the Renaissance with its tutors and mentors. No sardine-can schools. No pseudo socialization. No jock farms. No ghettos for children, particularly those from certain ethnic groups."

And who's going to pay for these "tutors"? You get what you pay for, and the tolerance level for taxing for public schools allows for classrooms of 25-30 people. You can trim the fat, dump stupid initiatives, reform the textbook scams, but in the end, individualized education in a public school will not happen. No reform can pay to put three, much less half a dozen teachers in every filled classroom. It's as simple as that. Don't like it, do private school. The left can bitch about the "regimented", "impersonal" classroom, and the right can disdain that the room is full of NAMs (as do the SWPL's, though covertly), but tax dollars can only pay for so much teacher attention per student.

James Kabala said...

Anonymous 11:27:

Of the five authors you mention, all except Heinlein were part of of the curriculum at my junior high and/or high school back in the 1990s. You actually have high school English teachers backwards -most of them love to appear hip and trendy. (Of course, their idea of hip and trendy is often The Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird - I actually enjoyed both those books, but neither is anywhere near the cutting edge anymore.)

not a hacker said...

I've never met an inner city secondary teacher who walked in to focus on "content", and survived more than a year. I'm going to guess you haven't.

I've told this story before, but a few years ago I was waiting on a BART platform in Berkeley when I heard this wailing, aggrieved voice coming from one of the pay phones. As I listened, it turned out to be a young, hip-looking teacher telling someone about the "little monsters" he had to babysit. When he got on the train I chatted him up, and he told me he'd been he'd been at Berkeley High 3 months and didn't know how long he could go on.

Anonymous said...

"No matter how much tech is added to public school, it still remains its bad old 19th century Prussian factory training self."

Oh no, the smartest nation in history~

Anonymous said...

To "nothing new here" suggesting Olivier's Henry V over Branagh's... what are you, from the planet Ghey? Branagh's Henry absolutely demolishes Olivier's foppish take on the character. Just give it up.
Again, any junior high kid would get a big kick out of that play as interpreted by Branaugh. Just these two scenes, and many others, would fascinate the little monsters:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgaZ85nZuRA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRj01LShXN8&feature=related

Olivier's over-stylized version would put them to sleep. I hope to god you aren't a teacher.

David said...

>She's really too stupid to live.<

Her mentality is typical in the field of education. You remember a good teacher because such is a virtually miraculous exception.

Nothing new here said...

To the passionate Anonymous commenter who hopes that I am not a teacher:

I am currently not a teacher (except when taking care of my grandchildren) but I was a teacher at an international school in Tehran, in pre-revolution days, that aimed to prepare students for the British O-level examinations. The students were bilingual and very capable. In the 7th grade the main literature textbook was Pride and Prejudice, which was probably easier for Tehrani students to follow than it would have been for New Yorkers, as the manners in Jane Austen's day nicely fit with those of Persian society in the 1970s. In classes on Western civilization (Iranian history was taught in Persian by another teacher) I read bits and pieces from Shakespeare's historical plays whenever appropriate, which they enjoyed and made them feel very grown up indeed (not a bad attitude to instill in a youngster). The way Shakespeare portrayed Joan of Arc as a witch, for example, fascinated them, as it is very rare for students in elementary school to hear differing points of view of historical characters and nowadays Joan of Arc is always shown from the French, not the British, perspective.

The revolutionary government closed all international schools before the school reached its planned 8th grade curriculum, when we were scheduled to read Julius Caesar, so I don't know how that would have fared - but I do remember that I loved that play when I read it in school.

In my previous post I did not suggest that the Olivier version of Henry V be shown to school children; I suggested that the COMMENTER view the film.

I would much rather hear dialogue than be subjected to the overwrought "action" and loud music that is the current norm in film direction.

By the way - completely off topic - a columnist in the NYT this week reported that some vulgar language was being expunged from Broadway shows to please current audiences and that one musical featuring a gay theme was offering refunds on tickets to people who found that the show was not suitable for their families. Could the tide be beginning to turn?

Anonymous said...

I can't stand Branagh the baby boy man.

Anonymous said...

Did people really talk like that in Shakes's day or is it supposed to be stylized?

I think the problem for us today is we like our drama dialogue to be realistic than pontificationalistic or overly poeticalish.

It's not just a problem with Shakes but Homer. In the Iliad, people talk and talk and talk, most ludicrously amidst a fiery battle. There will be men dying all over, with warriors urgently needed to take the field, but some guy, in the middle of battlefield, will go on and on about his ancestry, how many horses his father owns, what the horses ate for lunch the other day, and etc. No wonder the damn war took 10 yrs. They were doing more talking than walking.

Kylie said...

I said, "She's really too stupid to live."

To which David replied, "Her mentality is typical in the field of education."

I know! Believe me, I didn't mean to imply otherwise.

Nowadays teachers have a coddling attitude toward their students that would only be appropriate if they were caring for infants. I know one gal who decided to pull her kid out of school when the teacher told her, "My job is to see to it that my students are happy."

Anonymous said...

Nowadays teachers have a coddling attitude toward their students that would only be appropriate if they were caring for infants.

The one exception is smart white males.

Kylie said...

In reply to my comment, "Nowadays teachers have a coddling attitude toward their students that would only be appropriate if they were caring for infants" Anonymous said, "The one exception is smart white males."

Definitely. You're right and I was wrong not to note that exception. Thanks for the correction.

Anonymous said...

It's not just a problem with Shakes but Homer. In the Iliad, people talk and talk and talk, most ludicrously amidst a fiery battle.... No wonder the damn war took 10 yrs. They were doing more talking than walking.

I can say the same thing about Jack Kirby's various immortals (Thor, New Gods, Eternals). But being immortal, they can fight wars that last centuries, and talk like it too.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, get your head out of your diamond-studded jock strap and look it up on Wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

Nothing new... your prose is dry and intellectual. That's what kills Shakespeare. If you look about on YouTube, you'll notice many uploads of Branaugh's performance, and relatively few of Oliviers, and the comments on Branaugh's performance are generally much more passionate than Olivier's.
Think about why that might be. Consider the notion that you may be out of touch with what resonates with people in general, as opposed with what resonates with dry intellectuals complaining about the music being too loud.
Most important for you to consider is, when critiquing a performance of Shakespeare, it's not always all about you.

Anonymous said...

"The CC will not tell you, the parent, what classes your kid is enrolled in, his attendance record, nor his grades. You will be, however, handed the tuition bill with a smile.
Note: This is true even with minors aged 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Once enrolled in "higher ed," the parents lose all rights to direct a child's education."

this is BS. The kid is enrolled for dual credit with the HS. As a homeschool, the parent is the HS.

Nothing new here said...

Thank you, latest Anonymous, my prose has never been called "intellectual" before. (I'm trying hard to overlook the "dry" part, but it's hard.)

It is interesting that because I don't happen to agree with you I am not supposed to consider my own opinions to have any validity. After all, none of us know how many other people tend to avoid YouTube (and if they do watch something there generally do not send comments). Such people's opinions - by definition - do not appear in your database.

I agree wholeheartedly that the powers-that-be in Hollywood do not pay any attention to people like myself. Such is life. I thank Mr. Sailer for publishing my points of view.

Anonymous said...

Original:
Why not (gasp) Tolkien or Heinlein instead of Shakespeare? Or even Huxley, Orwell, Vonnegut?

Anon:
Because none of them were wordsmiths.

First of all, how do you define "wordsmith?" They were all great writers; maybe not as great as Shakespeare, but there is no qualitative difference.

Or how about the 19th century champions Dickens, Twain, or Thackeray? Were they "wordsmiths" or not? Or how about some of Shakey's contemporaries; Ben Jonson or Alexander Pope?

James Kabala:
Of the five authors you mention, all except Heinlein were part of of the curriculum at my junior high and/or high school back in the 1990s.

But none of them replace the monopoly (and monotony) of Shakespeare.

You actually have high school English teachers backwards -most of them love to appear hip and trendy. (Of course, their idea of hip and trendy is often The Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mockingbird - I actually enjoyed both those books, but neither is anywhere near the cutting edge anymore.)

I see your point.

The two points I should have made clearer re. Tolkien, Heinlein, Huxley, Orwell, Vonnegut:

With the possible exception of Vonnegut, they are considered by English teachers to be extremely right-wing. Even worse, they are associated with the "crazy alternative right", making them unattractive to the mainstream right as much as the left.

These are also fantasy / science-fiction authors (some more than others). I honestly believe that the academic literary community is stuck in the 1930s in their view of science fiction. Crude, cartoonish, crypto-fascist, lacking in serious talent, always writing about "rockets & robots" ... the lit-crits fail to see that SF has evolved with time and produced masterpieces of its own. Stuck in 1930, the critics even use the term "science fiction" and "sci-fi" as a kiss of death.

Much of what is now hallowed as "serious literature" was the equivalent of romance novels and soap operas in its own time.

I will also point out that SF giants Asimov and Clarke, despite being lib-left in politics, are hardly favorites of English teachers either. Maybe unlike Vonnegut, they're not hip enough?

James Kabala said...

You are right about Tolkien and Heinlein, but I would say Orwell has long been as school-canonized as any twentieth-century author can get. Smart teachers know he was really a socialist and less smart teachers portray 1984 as generically anti-dictatorship rather than specifically anti-communist (and few modern-day liberals identify with Stalin anyway).

James Kabala said...

P.S. Shakespeare is hardly monontonous in my opinion. Even the no-longer-funny comedies still have interesting characters and a narrative drive.

Anonymous said...

First of all, how do you define "wordsmith?" They were all great writers; maybe not as great as Shakespeare, but there is no qualitative difference.

How do you define "composer"?

George Gershwin, Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, and Jimmy Webb all wrote eminently hummable song tunes, but I wouldn't call any one of them a "composer" - certainly not in the mold of a real "composer", like a Bach, a Beethoven, or a Bruckner.

Not to be a jerk, but if you don't understand what I mean by "Shakespeare's wordsmithery", then either you've never read him, or else you didn't understand what it was that you were reading - to the extent that the Stratfordian Shakespeare is even potentially understandable in the first place [which is to say - you may have thought that you understood what you were reading, but all the double/triple/quadruple/n-fold entendres went soaring right over your head, and you didn't realize that what you were reading was actually inherently un-understandable].

Reading Shakespeare and then switching to, say, Yeats, is like taking a sip of Dom Perignon and then trying to wash it down with a swig of Thunderbird.

Anonymous said...

James Kabala:

Shakespeare is hardly monontonous in my opinion. Even the no-longer-funny comedies still have interesting characters and a narrative drive.

I never said that Shakespeare is monotonous; rather the devotion paid to him by educators is monotonous.

Anonymous said...

George Gershwin, Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, and Jimmy Webb all wrote eminently hummable song tunes, but I wouldn't call any one of them a "composer" - certainly not in the mold of a real "composer", like a Bach, a Beethoven, or a Bruckner.

Genre must be so important to you, that a nobody like Khrenikov (look him up) is in the same league as Bach, Beethoven, and Bruckner. But Paul McCartney is forever doomed to be a humble pop artist.

Anonymous said...

Genre must be so important to you

Sigh.

I guess this is the point where somebody declares, de Gustibus non est disputandum, and then we all agree to call it quits and go home for the night.

David said...

>Did people really talk like that in Shakes's day or is it supposed to be stylized? [...] we like our drama dialogue to be realistic than pontificationalistic or overly poeticalish.<

"pontificationalistic or overly poeticalish"? Dude, you really talk like that or is it supposed to be stylized? Weird and boring, dude.

To be serious though... I have read forums arguing that "Kick-Ass" and "Iron Man" are better than anything by Shakespeare who was talentless by comparison. This makes me ask what happened to the following rational attitude: "I acknowledge that x is a great art work, but I just don't like it"? These days many kids of all ages tend, instead, to take this attitude: "I don't like it, therefore it's shit and everyone who likes it should be dead." A return of the military draft would justly redirect many of these arrogant airheads into a more traditional and useful channel, methinks; or, as an alternative to military danger, more meatworld sports teams.

Anonymous said...

"comedies' doesn't necessarily mean ha ha funny.. think romantic comedy - Also As you like it has one of my fav. shakespeare speeche
Duke S. Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet 4
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons’ difference; as, the icy fang 8
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
‘This is no flattery: these are counsellors 12
That feelingly persuade me what I am.’
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; 16
And this our life exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
I would not change it.

Anonymous said...

reminder, just a century and half a go, you could find three penny (eg working class) productions of shakespeare in most major cities. People went... for fun... not to pass tests... people without advance degrees... THAT is how much we have dumbed down.

Anonymous said...

a little off topic, but once i saw an extended educ-commercial (a modern version of schoolhouse rock sorta but live action)... about Beethoven.. set to ... wrap.... the whole time i was thinking... what's the point??