Happy Blog Birthday to The Science Goddess!

Better late than never, here’s wishing Happy 5th Blog Birthday to The Science Goddess of the provocative edublog What It’s Like On the Inside.

The Science Goddess once was a classroom teacher whose adventures in eduland made for humorous stories about the foibles of our stereotypical edutyrants and eduposeurs. Nowadays, with a doctorate about to be conferred, she often forces us to think of our grading and assessment practices that impact, sometimes with terrible irony, the success of our students in middle and high school.

The Science Goddess now works at the state level, but still finds time to share with us the fruits of her explorations into the frontiers of education as it may, and probably should be, in the next century.

Read The Science Goddess. Subscribe to her RSS feed. Your brain will thank you.

To Be Me Or Not To Be Me? Is That A Question?

This post started out as a comment on some musings by The Science Goddess about male vs. female tendencies to use pseudonyms on blogs.

Here’s my coming out speech from the Blogger platform…

Choosing between a pseudonym and a real nym involves some complex thinking, but I’m not sure it’s anything but an emotional decision.

Writing as Repairman, although I still exercised enough restraint to remain “professional,” allowed me the belief that if I came on a little strong, there would be no consequences outside of civil, or at worst, flaming disagreement on the net. Then I spotted a local stalker who stumbled on my blog and put two and two together with local events and news. I realized that, even for a restrained anonymous blogger, anonymity is largely an illusion, and the only person being fooled is the blogger.

The next thoughts are reflective, and you think, “Is what I have to say worth saying if I attach my name and reputation to it?” That’s where the rubber meets the road, because the answer is, if you’re going to blog under your own name, you need to follow the same rules of civility that apply in face-to-face interactions with both people you know and people you don’t know.

So I’m thinking that the pen name versus real name question can be answered by deciding the purpose of your blog. If you’re into satire and criticism, or humor at the expense of your doughball local educators, there’s no doubt that you need a pseudonym. If your purpose is to discuss education issues and comment on life in general, and you’re not afraid of people pointing at you and laughing at your thoughts, your real name bespeaks belief in your own words and vouches for your integrity.

I get the urge now and then to rip someone a new one (I was born and raised a Brooklyn boy, after all), but for that I would need to be someone else, immune to the hurt and injury I may do to the victim. But that’s not my blogging purpose, even though I sometimes feel the pull to stray into that minefield. (But all bets are off if someone engages me on my own turf, and abuses truth and logic.)

Lest some of my blogging friends feel I am disapproving of anonymity, let me say that I dearly love to read the satires and the reports of unnamed education clowns. That’s entertainment for me and catharsis for the writer. Go for it. But protect yourself.

If you find yourself leaning mostly toward “non-fiction,” however, a real name makes you think twice about what you say, and that makes what you have to say better.

I do know of bloggers who have multiple blogs that serve their various personas. Maybe that’s the ticket. But real name or not, remember that nothing is ever truly anonymous on the web, and it never goes away. (The Science Goddess is the first blogger who made me aware of that fact.) l

Now, let me ask one more question here…does the predominance of female use of pseudonyms (according to The Science Goddess) mean that women are more snarky – in general – than men? 😀 (Oooh, I can already feel the flames!)

From MW Webster’s Collegiate…

Main Entry:snarky
Etymology:dialect snark to annoy, perhaps alteration of nark to irritate

2 : sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner *snarky lyrics*
-snark£i£ly \-k*-l*\ adverb

PS: You’ll enjoy this post by Miss A on Blogging Professional Development…

Stepping Back to Assess

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, yeah, the dragon’s in a cage, but the dragon’s still breathing fire. Good for the dragon. I think I need to follow the dragon’s example.

Since I went live with my real identity, I feel like I’ve been caged and my fire has most certainly been reduced.

A number of bloggers I’ve read recently have talked about struggling with going “live” or remaining covert. Tough decision. I’ve seen how it affects my writing and I’m not real happy.

Anonymity is not a free pass to be rude or sloppy with the facts. But being out there as yourself can inhibit expression.

Lately I’ve been reviewing the internet literature on standard-based grading and marvelling about my loss of literary passion. I’ve never stooped to ad hominem attacks on adversaries, but I’ve never backed off from calling plays as I see them.

Lately, I’ve been somewhat mute. I’m not afraid of lawsuits, but don’t want to embarrass folks I associate with and care about. The fact is, though, if they’re worth caring about, they won’t be embarrassed by me. That goes for my fellow board members and my excellent superintendent.

So the first thing I’m going to tackle is the irresponsibility of print and internet publications that wear the mantle of “official and valid teacher information.” The Teacher Magazine blog board is one of those gratuitous fonts of drivel and cool stuff that enjoys the halo effect of education establishment legitimation. See if you can find some problems I have with this particular edition…

PS: Tomorrow I’m gonna wish myself Happy Independence Day for a number of different reasons. 😉

Luann — Unintended Irony?

Mrs. Chili said… (In response to this post by DrPezz…)

Dear God/dess, I hope you’re right about standardized testing. I feel as though the pendulum of idiocy has swung SO far that, really, the only way to GO is back.

I was listening to NPR the other day – they were talking about standardized testing – and one teacher (or maybe it was a vice principal) said, and I’m pretty much quoting here, that “we teach them how to pass the tests and hope that somewhere along the way a little real learning gets in.” [Italics mine — Hugh]

Tell me exactly HOW that serves our kids – and our future???

November 5, 2007 4:50 AM

We’ve gotta fix this mess.

The Rocky Road

This little story, which I found on the net, is dedicated to all those first, second, and third year teachers out there who are struggling to perfect their craft and assure immortality…of sorts.

Once there was a man named Nathan. He wanted very much to be a teacher. So he went to seek the advice of the wisest, most highly respected counselor in the land.

“Wise counselor,” Nathan began, “it has always been my dream to be a teacher. I want to stimulate the minds of the young people of our land. I want to lead them down the road of knowledge. Please tell me the secret of becoming a teacher.”

“Your goal is a commendable one, Nathan. However, it is also a very difficult one to achieve. First you must overcome three major obstacles.”

“I am ready to meet the challenge,” answered Nathan bravely.

“First you must swim the Sea of Children,” directed the knowing counselor.

Nathan started off to swim the Sea of Children. First he had to learn their 38 names. He had to send the line cutters to the end of the line. He made the paper throwers stay after school to clean the room.

He commanded the name callers, pushers, and punchers to apologize to their victims. He gave M&M’s to those who finished assignments and stars to those who were sitting in their seats quietly. Nathan checked passes to see how many children were in the bathroom. And he tracked down students who were gone longer than was necessary. He arranged the desks in alphabetical order, then boy-girl, boy-girl, and finally into small groups of four. He lined his children up for physical education and music and library and lunch. Then he stifled a cry when the secretary came into the room with number 39. Tired and shaken but still undefeated, Nathan returned to the counselor for his second task.

“You are a very determined lad,” said the advisor. “However, now you must climb the Mountain of Paperwork.”

Nathan set out at once. He wrote objectives and drew up lesson plans.

He made out report cards and graded papers. He filled out accident reports, attendance reports and withdrawal reports. He completed inventories, evaluations, surveys, and request forms. Finally, he made copies and more copies. He pushed buttons until his finger tips swelled. But the courageous boy’s resolve never dwindled. He went to the wise counselor for his third task.

“You are indeed very strong, Nathan. But this third task will take all the courage you can muster. You must now cross the country of Duties and Committees.”

At first Nathan was hesitant. But his convictions remained steadfast. He began his long journey across the country of Duties and Committees.

Nathan took lunch duty, bus duty, and recess duty. He was on the social committee, patrol committee, and the faculty advisory committee. He was the adult supervisor of the student government and ran the United Fund and Easter Seal drives. He went to PTA meetings, NEA meetings, SST meetings, School Site Council meetings, and in-service workshops. He organized bicentennial programs, talent shows, and book drives. Finally, he was elected the building representative of the union. At last Nathan reached the outskirts of Duties and Committees.

Exhausted but happy, he returned to the knowledgeable counselor.

“I swam the Sea of Children. I climbed the Mountain of Paperwork. I crossed the country of Duties and Committees,” Nathan proclaimed. “Am I not worthy of the title of Teacher?”

“Why, Nathan,” began the counselor, “you have been a teacher all along.”

Nathan protested, “But I have not stimulated any minds. I have not guided anyone down the road to knowledge, I have not had any time to teach”

“Oh, you say you want to TEACH! I thought you said that you wanted to be a teacher! That is a completely different story!”