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Category: other rants (Page 2 of 204)

Game Over?

National Pinball Museum - Game Over

Government is not a game. But for as long as I can remember, the news media has framed it that way. As result, we’ve elected far too many game-playing politicians.

Good government requires many smart people committed to building a better society. But this administration dismissed as many who fit that description as they could find, replacing them with unqualified hacks working only for themselves. Continue reading

Preventing The Next Panic

Sars cov 19

This post is far off from the usual ranting in this space, on a topic for which I have little expertise. So, it is probably more incoherent than usual. You have been warned.

In watching all the news about the Corona virus, it strikes me that there is much wrong with the health care system in US. Things that have much less to do with the cost than about how we spend the money in the first place.

Continue reading

The Strange Holiday Mix – 2019

DSCF3207

As is usual by this time of the year, I’m pretty sick of the holiday soundtrack playing in most public spaces. So I dig into the archives looking for a mix of seasonal music that I can stand to hear for the next three weeks. It always helps if the tracks are new, or a least new to me.

I hope this list might help you find something unique to put in your ear during the season as well. Everything is available on Apple Music so I assume you can find them in your favorite streaming service or store. Enjoy, and be nice to the people in your life.

Continue reading

Normal Is A Pretty Crappy Idea

I don’t watch TV news. Not the talking heads channels, or the seemingly endless blocks of “infotainment” in the morning, or the nightly half hour from the major broadcast networks, and especially not local news.

Not because they produce “fake” news.1 Much of what they present is useless. A continuous stream of opinion and speculation, with little bits of information that get in there almost accidentally. It’s largely a waste of time.

Once in a while, however, I get stuck in a space where the television is running and some exposure to this stuff is unavoidable.

This week was one of those times. While trying to read in an auto repair waiting room, the TV was on a little too loud and I overheard a supporter of one of the many Democratic candidates2 say that his person, as president, would “work hard to return the country to normal”.

Normal.

That idea got stuck in my head. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how completely wrong that goal really is. We don’t need the country to “return to normal”.

Normal is how we got into the current mess in the first place.

Normal is ignoring or tolerating discrimination. The idea that determining the basic status of people should be a matter of “states rights”.

Normal is allowing state and local governments to actively deny voting rights to large groups of people, as a means for the status quo to hang onto power.

Normal is supporting a system that allows rich corporations and individuals to get richer at the expense of everyone else, and dictate the necessary policies to continue that process.

Normal is talking a lot about climate change but ultimately doing nothing meaningful to address the problem. Again, as a means to maintain the status quo and make rich people richer.

Normal is… well, I think you get the idea.

Forget getting back to “normal. I want candidates whose goal for the country, and our people, is to be better than normal.


About the best kind of normal I can think of would be the public library of Normal, Illinois. I’ve actually passed through there at one point in my life. The town, not the library.

1. Excluding Fox “news”, which is a very real propaganda channel, even during the so-called “hard news” programs.

2. I wasn’t paying attention to the introductions so I don’t know which candidate, other than the spokes guy referred to “him”. So it’s one of the men running. I know… not very helpful.

No, They Are Not Skills?

Fruit Splash 3

In a recent column, EdSurge asked a small panel of people who might be considered “creative” the rather interesting question, “Is creativity a skill?”. They went on to also ask whether creativity can be taught or learned.

Almost everyone answered yes in one way or another, but this, from a journalism teacher, came closest to the way I would respond.

Creativity is a mindset. It is a way of looking at life. If you look at life the standard way, then there is no creativity involved. It is copying.

Creativity means thinking outside the box; thinking in ways that requires you believe in yourself enough to take a risk. It is not a skill; it is a mindset.

Anyone remember “21st century skills”? Although the use of that phrase has thankfully died down in the past few years,1 creativity was generally considered one of four skills to be included. What was called the “4-Cs” in the overly-large school district that used to employ me: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.2

So, we could expand the question to ask if any or all of those items are really skills? Or are they also mindsets.

If you look at very young children and how they process the world, it’s clear that most already come equipped with those abilities. From the earliest age, kids use a lot of critical thinking and creativity to cope the world. They experiment with just about everything to make sense of everything that is new to them.

However, parents, teachers, and other adults, work very hard to reign in that inclination and provide some structure that fits the societal norms. Certainly much of that really is for their own good, but those restrictions also begin the process of stunting the 4-C skills kids were born with.

That process expands greatly when children get to school, a place where creative experimentation is usually discouraged and channeled into those approved topics contained in the curriculum. Likewise, collaboration and communication, something young children are actually very good at (even if we don’t always understand it), is now restricted to only adult-approved formats.

All of which is why I don’t think any of those 4-Cs are skills. And they can’t be “taught”. At least not in the way we normally use that verb.

Teaching these so-called skills almost always involves imposing on kids our interpretation of what it means to be creative, or the correct way to communicate, or how to think critically, or what “real” collaboration looks like.

So, what happens if instead we used classrooms to help kids explore and develop their own creative abilities, in their own way?

It probably would look much different from the current structure we call “school”.


The picture is one of my attempts at creativity by playing with shutter speed on my camera. I’ll leave it to the viewer to judge the results.

1. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve stopped following people who continue to use silly cliches like that.

2. Sometimes that list was awkwardly expanded to include curiosity, which is even less of a skill than the other four.

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