Imagine the Outcry

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BREAKING: A series of larger-than-life statues of Hilary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry will soon be on display throughout significant places in this great United States. Even though each of these three lost an election, the statues are meant to honor our past and heritage. Therefore, no one should ever, and I mean ever, challenge the fact that they were created and placed in a location where future generations can see it. There’s no political agenda here. Their legacy shall be honored and maintained forever. Anyone who believes they should be taken down is unpatriotic, disrespectful, and un-American.

Who’s the Parent, Here?

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I just read a student’s essay where she recalls being 8 years old, with her younger siblings, and stuck outside her locked house for over an hour in the middle of winter. All because her parents were at work. Oh, and the girl’s mother also told her she could “skip lunch” since she was a little chubby at the time. The essay is about a neighborhood woman who took it upon herself to help this young girl and her siblings by providing warmth and food. To me, the neighborhood woman is by far a better parent than either of her actual parents.

it takes a village

Teachers: Discourage White Letters!

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Teachers: I was just reminded of something I recently learned from one of my college freshmen: Students have been (and will continue to do so) writing X amount of nonsense words at the end of an essay, then change the font color to white. This means the word count you see (grade?) will be larger than what they actually constructed.

Of course this is ridiculous, but then again, so is assigning a word-count minimum (in my opinion).

We need to stop the “easy-to-grade/penalize” mentality of counting words, correcting spelling, and writing in missing commas. Instead, work with young people to develop their thoughts in a clear and organized manner.

If you are reading this and you plan to use this in a future paper or assignment, please re-consider.  Your teacher may dock you for not meeting some arbitrary number he/she established, but you can continue in life knowing that not every one of your readers will concern himself/herself with how many words you can write.

When it comes to your words, quality will always outweigh quantity.

Concerning the Outcome of the Election (2016)

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The following is a list of my prepared reactions to the result scenarios of the US Presidential Election of 2016.

  1.  Trump Wins:  “America has spoken.  Let’s join together as a nation and do what we can to progress as a civilization.”***
  2. Clinton Wins:  “America has spoken.  Let’s join together as a nation and do what we can to progress as a civilization.”
  3. Johnson Wins:  “What?”
  4. Stein Wins:  “Seriously…what?”

All jokes aside, here’s my unsolicited piece:

If “my” candidate loses, I will not say/believe that the election was rigged.  I will not unfriend people who supported any other candidate.  I will not share images of violence or ideas that inspire hatred that may be occurring (this is my rule all the time) as a knee-jerk reaction to the the results.  I will continue to love my family, friends, and students (though not in a creepy way).  I (probably) will not move to Canada or any other country.  I will not once express any disenchantment with democracy.

I will, however, remind myself (and perhaps others) that no one should think our system is perfect.  It’s flawed because we’re flawed.

***That is, unless his ideas/executive orders are batshit fucking crazy and are a clear pledge to destroy the fabric of our country…

 

The Side-armer (Another Baseball Analogy)

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sidearm-pitcher

Do you throw this way?  Should anyone, in your opinion?  Imagine being a coach of young players and taking on the challenging task of introducing pitching form to them:  Would you have even considered the notion of showing them this technique (which you know not only exists, but also works with many pitchers) in the early (crucial!) stages of their baseball education?

These are rhetorical questions to which I’m assuming you are saying “No”, “If it works for them”, and “Probably not” respectively.

So, here’s the connection to what I do for a living.  Successful writers understand general sentence structure, paragraphing, and building arguments.  They know about characterization, the impact of dialogue, the necessity of conflict, and even the usefulness of fragments.  Fragments good sometimes.  Not always.

However, for the same reason elementary school teachers do not begin the academic year by exploring the nuances of the subjunctive case or the proper uses of the semicolon, I do not think it wise to discuss various advanced writing methods (in all genres) with 100-level students at the college level.

I believe it’s more beneficial to the student to comprehend and apply a “groundwork” notion of writing before exploring more experimental and non-traditional techniques.  I never truly wish to quash any student’s aspiration to be creative and funky with their writing, but I also subscribe to the notion that creativity is neither natural or taught.  It is, instead, developed.  Over time.

So, frankly, I sincerely hope that my students eventually become successful side-armed pitchers with their writing.  They will have found their voice, the techniques that work for them as individuals, and are satisfactorily communicating their thoughts to a receptive world who appreciates their contributions.

To get to that point, though, I have to instill that my current students first become strong, confident, over-armed pitchers.

 

Would you hire me?

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My name is Steve Lively, and I’ve been in education for over 17 years, most of which was at a small-town public school.  I teach English, if that happens to matter.

So.  I hear you’re selling your house?  Will you hire me to be your realtor?  How about just the home estimate?  I spend much of my time at home.

I understand you need an engine replaced in your 1957 Bel-Air convertible.  Beautiful vehicle.  Just gorgeous.  Will you hire me to put it in?  I’ve ridden in many cars.

It’s come to my attention that your roof is leaking?  Wish to pay me to do that for you?  Water is bad when it comes to stuff like that.

I noticed your neighborhood is lacking in security.  Might you consider me to be your night watchman/security council?  Lots of bad-looking dudes lurking around neighborhoods these days, boy.  I’ve seen them.  They’re a disaster.

That wound looks fresh.  Let me get my, er, uh, stitching tools and I’ll clean you right up.  I’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy AND ER.  Don’t worry about the bill.  For now.  Believe me.

Some credit card companies are hounding you about a bill you paid?  Hire me, and I’ll defend you in court.   I know about money and stuff.  Lawyers.  That Judge Judy, though, is a nasty woman.  Private server.

Your next-door neighbor just informed me that she’s seen you inviting multiple women into your home while your wife is away at work.  You old dog!  Women are beautiful little creatures, aren’t they?  I know!  No one can make a better sandwich, boy.  I know.  I can’t really help myself either.  Anyway, need help with that?  I’m very respectful of women.  At least, the young, skinny, attractive white ones.

I hear the city is considering a multi-million dollar road renovation that will turn your quaint little two-lane street into a four-lane causeway.  Well, that’s just business.  I’ve actually got a lot of land.  No, not here.  Well, wait.  Maybe here.  So much land, ya know. My companies typically come through early and under budget.  I’ve got some new buildings going up in…wait, what were we talking about?

That toothache?  I can fix it.  Let me tell you something.  And I’m being totally serious here.  I got a corn kernel stuck in my teeth once when I was a kid.  These rigged movie theaters are in bed with the dentists.  And if you don’t believe me, you should.

Just hire me.  Trust me.  I know stuff.  I can do it.  Emails.

Forget the fact that I’ve spent my entire life not actually doing any of the above things.

Forget that my resume would hit the the bottom of everyone else’s trash can for these jobs and responsibilities.

You just have to trust me.

Trust that I can do it for you. The best job.  Because I have balls and I say what I mean.

I mean, let’s look at this.  ISIS, right?  Terrorism.  Jobs are going to other countries.  Disaster.  Stamina.  Wrong.  China knows what we don’t.  Those thugs in the Middle East?  They figured it all out before anyone.  Technology?  It’s just a disaster.  So very sad.  Putin.  There’s a leader.  33,000 emails.  He and the north Vietnamese.  They were at a Miss  America pageant at one of my casinos one time…

ahem…

Forget that.  They’re just all trying to destroy my brand and my name.

Remember this:  The other guys who want to work for you are crooks.  They’re crooked.  They’re rigging the system against me.  You could be next.  Choose me.

The vote is next week.

Remember When? (Oct. 10, 2016)

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Remember junior high school?

Remember when kids in the school identified candidates for student council?

Remember when those nominees were all recognizable, as in you either knew them from class, from the hall, from elementary school, or they happened to be a close friend?

Remember when those candidates would post campaign signs in the hallways and bathrooms?  Remember how sometimes those signs had an innocent rhyme or pun in order to garner the vote of the undecided.

Remember when it was the day to vote?  Perhaps you were all brought to the gym or auditorium and hands were raised.  Perhaps everyone filled out a paper ballot during first period.

Now…

Remember when you voted for the school bully just so he wouldn’t punch you while you quaked and stood at your locker?  Remember when you voted for that big dude in school because he was so proud of how many girls he fondled without their permission in the hallway?  Remember when he was kicked out of class for making sexually suggestive remarks toward the young substitute?  Remember when his dad came to the school and got him out of severe trouble?  Remember when he joked with you in the locker room after gym about some alleged private sexual engagement between him and a female classmate?

Remember how you wish you had been that guy, and that you idolized him and thought, YEAH…this guy needs to be in charge?

Remember thinking that this is who represents all of the students’ moral goodness and intelligence?

Remember thinking that this is the guy at my school who, even though his past is a bit unsavory, will no doubt change any of his inappropriate behaviors and vocabulary once he’s elected?