Archive for August, 2009

The Facebook

I spend so much time kickin about The Facebook these days, and I want to describe what I know are the causes for this excessive use and why I think The Facebook has enjoyed such great success. 

Basically, I need social interaction more than ever to distract me and I have never been this isolated from people in my entire life. I’m kind of screwed.

Anyway, I’ve found that cruising around The Facebook distracts me by helping me think about my friends and what they’re up to, while also participating in some sickly form of social interaction. In any real interaction between two friends or even two strangers, attention is being given and received. (this of course is not the essence of a good interaction, but it is certainly present.) Well, when I’m sitting there Facebooking (That’s right, I’ve made it a verb.) I get to give and receive attention from people I care about. When you write on someone’s wall or comment on his picture, or change something on your profile, you get to think to yourself “I’m interacting with my friends and people who I care about.” It’s some weird form of personal affirmation, I guess. But anyway, without a community of people or friends near by to spend time with, the next best thing is the phone or The Facebook. I’ve attacked isolation on both fronts. I also think I’m going to join a church and the gym in the hopes that somewhere in this city there exists a group of people my age, but I’m not holding my breath. In any event, not living in a community sucks and while The Facebook may trick me into thinking I’m being social, it doesn’t really make me happy.

I also think that I use The Facebook to prepare for future social interactions. While I don’t write on girls’ walls things like “Hey gurl, let me git ur digitz” I do plan weekends like this past one, and I’ll be working out plans to go to Harrisonburg this weekend. In that sense The Facebook represents a healthier hope and expectation of social interaction.

Aside from that dour perspective of The Facebook’s success, I do think it gets used for ordinary purposes like recording past events (of course, everyone wants to record then share photos and stories of past events.) or just keeping up with close friends over the week until you get to see them on THE WEEKEND.

Now, I think God made the weekend because he knew that The Facebook, in reality, sucks and that spending time with friends after a week of work and isolation is extremely relaxing and enjoyable. A post about this past weekend is of course forthcoming

 

Until then feast your minds on the insight of Jake Crabbs. – When we say that we’re groggy in the morning it is a state that has been induced by drinking too much grogg, that is, we have a hangover. Brilliant.

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It’s Friday!

It’s Friday!  I’ve made it through my first week of teaching without any major blunders or any unfortunate confrontations with parents or the boss.  And the day will just get better because I FINALLY get to move into my new place, and won’t have to live out of my suitcase for the first time in 3 months.  I’ve been living with Mehigans in Northern Virginia, and the commute has been about an hour and twenty-minutes.  That means I’ve been losing almost three hours a day just to driving, and on top of that I’ve had to stay at work late waiting for Tom to finish up because he’s my ride back.  For instance, yesterday we left Tom’s house at 6:00 in the morning, I DIDN’T GET HOME UNTIL 9:00 o’clock at night.  None of that is Tom’s fault, it’s just the nature of the game for him, I’m fortunate enough that he’s taken me in for a week.  Regardless, it still sucks the life out of you.  I have no idea how he manages or will manage living like that.  I would get so depressed!  6:00a-9:00p is too much time.  All that is about to change though because I’ll be living just a few minutes from the school! It’s going to be awesome.

I have a fair sized room in an amazing house.  There is a big kitchen and lots of comfortable furniture to sit in and read.  I will be living with two adults that are business people and are gone most of the day, and haven’t really expressed any concerns about a youngster living there.  The only thing they ask I do is to not bring the after party to my house once the bars close (this has apparently happened to them before…) So I think my lifestyle will work just fine and I should be happy as a clam.

On top of all of that wonderfulness it happens to be a reunion weekend up at Paul’s apartment.  From what I can tell, Clint, Robbo, Matt graduated Butler, Paul, Jake and I will be hanging out. (I don’t know if the girls will be there.  Can you answer that dragonball paul?  Also, you better watch out for dragonballBOB, he’s trying to steal your shit) Some of us will hang out tonight, then we will be heading to Annapolis to get some sailing in.  I can’t imagine something I would enjoy more right now than sitting on a sailboat, drinking a beer.  After this insane week, I relax just thinking about floating along on the bay, away from any work that I’ve done or have yet to do.

Thank you all for reading my blog over this past week, I look forward to picking it up again on Monday.  Until then, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Sincerely,

            Cole Simmons

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Seltzer Water

I have started drinking seltzer water, which is gross.

si_UEw80h80_07812703      (Gross)

Unless it is Lime flavored seltzer water.  Then it is delicious. MEDIUM_8a78c6e02140d931012145c19d046676(Delicious)

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A Strict Adherence to The Rules

And to end today’s posting on a Teaching Topic:  The headmaster reamed out a kid for the first time today.  I’m not sure what happened, but I was sitting here in the office typing up this post and in he comes with Michael (who admittedly can be a handful) and asks for some privacy.  I go outside and I hear him telling Michael the reasons he should be at school for and to get his priorities straight.  Tom, the headmaster, truly has his heart in the right place and wants the best for these kids, but he just goes about it in a way that worries me.  It worries me, not because it’s going to screw the kids up, he’s not that overbearing, but as a small school we need to allow these kids to let loose here and again during their freetime.  As of now, they can talk but only “like adults,” which I always found to be bullshit because adults can laugh and carry on just as much as children can.  The adults just carry on and laugh at more mature things.  Also, they don’t need to really “act like adults” because they’re not adults, they’re fourteen year olds.  

I really do understand the need for the formation of the individual.  I’m all about raising ‘em right!  I just really question the forced adherence to strict rules as a good method of formation in today’s culture, where rules are held in disdain (and maybe rightfully so!) I think, as Americans, we cannot abide by what does make sense to us.  The best way to form a child is to get him or her to understand why they must act a certain way, to show them the benefits of said behavior.  In class, you listen so that you may learn this material, which is important for these reasons.  I’ve had to make one such appeal.  Earlier this morning two of the boys started to go ADD on me during history class; I thought, “but were thinking and talking about the “emergence of civilization and culture!” I know that I got them to listen and I’m not sure I remember exactly what I did to accomplish that task.  It had something to do with a pained look in their direction and the ardent desire to continue the discussion.

Being overbearing and strict may only serve to make these kids miserable!  And let us be honest, we only have five kids (four after December, I just found out that the bright girl is moving to Omaha in December) and we can’t really afford to lose any more due to them hating their time here.  We stress this school as a place where kids get the chance to get a good education in the liberal arts, but if we couple that message with “to get this education you must be miserable,” I worry that they’ll take away the impression that to learn you must be miserable.

On the flip side of things, the kid who Tom reamed out was acting up in the music teacher’s class.  She’s a little mousy lady, with no real command or presence in voice or stature.  So would she just lose hold of her class if there weren’t Tom the bear watching out for her? Probably.  So really, I guess I can’t say Tom’s completely in the wrong, I just know I couldn’t work that way myself.  I’ve never been good at following rules, which makes me pretty sure I’d never be good at enforcing them either.  But I have become an able reader and learner, which is really what I’ve got to offer to the kids.

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Relationships in Julie & Julia

So last night I went with the Mehigans to see Julie & Julia.  Actors Amy Adams and Meryl Streep play two married women who find activity and purpose in food and cooking.  Now, I know the premise of the movie is pretty faggy but please bear these two facts in mind: I went for free with the Mehigans and I will one day marry Amy Adams, so it behooves me to watch all of her movies.  The movie inspired me to start a blog where I spend a year acting out scenes from different Amy Adams’ movies and blogging about me experiences in the hope of becoming famous and then sweeping her off her feet.  We would then use the vast amounts of money she’s acquired and travel awesome places for our honeymoon.  I know.  I’m brilliant.

Aside from daydreaming about Amy Adams the movie did inspire in me some honest reflection about relationships.  The movie reaffirmed for me what I see as the good things about a relationship and helped me to think about these values again.

I realized again that a good relationship allows the couple could throw off many of their cares and worries of the world, things like possessions, status, and any insecurities they carried with them.  They could unburden themselves through caring for this other person. 

In the movie, Julia is the wife of an ambassador and she wants something to do with herself and her initial search for activity turns into a passion for French food and cooking.  The relationship with her husband comes to based on their support for each other in their own pursuits.  They were able to balance ambition with love extremely well.  This spectacle helped to confirm a thought I had over the summer while reading a biography about Benjamin Disraeli, who also balanced his political career with a wonderful relationship with his wife.  The thought the movie and the biography confirmed is a wonderful relationship in which neither person neglects their humanity, that is, the need to assert themselves or give their lives meaning through passion filled work.  Rather than asking us to sacrifice that aspect of ourselves, a loved one ought to lend us support in our endeavors, to help us when we fall and rejoice with us in our successes. 

Personally, I’ve experienced this type of relationship but I’ve never sat and really articulated the substance of such a relationship; one which provides mutual love and support for the activity of passionate work, of becoming human.

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Go French Class!

So I taught my first math classes today.  Well, yesterday I ‘taught’ a class, but it only consisted of giving them a placement test.  After further consideration of the tests I realized that two of the kids took approaches to different problems in ways that were similar to the correct methods but possessing a misunderstanding here or there.  So, I went ahead and made them Algebra II students and the other three Algebra I students.  I could tell that the lower three were annoyed during this morning’s class.  It was super simple math, and it was the beginning of the textbook.  I had to reassure them that I knew this was easy for them and that we were gong to speed through until we began hitting the walls they hit on the placement exam.  But it was definitely stressful seeing their dissatisfaction.  I’m waiting for some parent to call up me or Tom and tell us off for putting their little angel in the dumb class.  Algebra I or any ‘lower’ class would be much easier to teach if you weren’t the teacher who put them there.  That way, if they think they’re above the material they curse some impersonal source of classification rather than you the teacher.  But, this system is better for the child in the end.  This system is better because I, the teacher, feel the responsibility of getting them through the extremely simple math to what will challenge them, whereas in the other system I would simply follow the plan because that’s all I’m responsible for.  If little Johnny was put in the wrong level of math, well, that’s someone else’s fault.  But if little Johnny is in the wrong class here, it’s my fault.  Naturally, I’m eager to move them onto the more difficult math in the book so they feel like they’re learning something and I’m vindicated for placing them where I did.

History has been fun, but it is absolutely amazing what level of reading comprehension the dumbest St. John’s student is in comparison to the brightest of kids this age.  I met with the same astonishment in Texas.  They just don’t know how to form opinions about any text the read.  It’s absolutely foreign to them, which is terrifying.  Without the ability to form any opinion, positive or negative, about the text they read those teenagers are completely at the mercy of the written word.  Whatever text the come across they’re bound to either lack comprehension and the material will fly over their head.  OR, and this may be even worse, they can sort of grasp the information that the author is giving them but have no capability of discerning the strength of the author’s claim.  They can’t think about why the authors say what they say, they can only take away information from the text.  They don’t see possible thought trains behind the author’s claims or beliefs.  This blindness can only be because they haven’t examined their own thoughts or they simply lack any real substantial contemplation or questioning concerning the world around them.  It’s an insane phenomenon.  One girl does break the mold, but the rest offer me only blank stares or uninspired answers.

Whoa! Just finished my first Gym Class.  We ran ½ mile to a public field to play soccer.  I’ve got abunch of little fatties on hands. Well, not really.  None of them are fat per-se (well, except for one.), they’re just slow and in no way athletic.  You would’ve thought I was killing them on the run there! 

In other news, Tom asked them what their favorite classes were today at lunch and they all said French! I was so relieved that they didn’t all talk about how my classes suck AND I was excited to hear that they even enjoyed it a bit.  Tomorrow is the Fantasy football draft (one of the boys is really wants to play and is going to run it.)  does anyone have some good suggestions?  I want to win, or at least not reveal how little I actually know about pro football players.

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Well… They’re Good Kids and Horrible Mathematicians

I taught my first normal classes today! How exciting.  The kids were basically attentive, especially considering the silliness of learning how to say, “what’s your name?” in French.  Basically, my strategy is to keep the activity/instruction constant throughout the class period.  During “break,” when some students went to mass and the rest stayed back with me, I just talked to the kids about what they’re reading and would randomly ask them what their name was in French.  Tonight I’m having them read the first couple of pages of Herodotus, and then we’re going to talk about the subject of history and what it means to be an historian.  I’m looking forward to that.  Furthermore, I feel much more optimistic now that things are moving into full gear.  Having taught them class work dispels the doubt that I won’t be able to hold their attention for 45 minutes.

 

It’s also becoming clear to me that Mr. Mehigan and I certainly have different styles of “classroom management.”  He seems much more strict than I could be.  For instance the kids were in a break period of like ten minutes and they were chattering and laughing, etc.  I honestly didn’t even think about it, but Tom told them they had to quiet down.  Now, if I had been trying to get or hold their attention, I wouldn’t allow for extraneous conversation.  But honestly, other than when I need their attention or if they’re supposed to be reading, I could care less if they’re talking to each other.  Even now, they’re sitting around chattering and laughing similarly to the way they were laughing earlier, but Tom doesn’t seem to care about it now, which is fine by me. 

 

I am actually overjoyed to hear them chatter away.  One of my biggest fears was being apart of a school that made its children miserable.  I thought that with only five children they could possibly just sit around and hate their social life.  But they’re laughing and talking away, which is a relief. 

 

The odd thing that happened today is that I learned that diocesan schools have notoriously bad math programs in this area.  This truth was attested to the fact that I gave the kids a placement test to see if they knew Algebra I so that I could then teach Algebra II.  Every kid said they had taken Algebra I and I don’t think any kids scored more than a 15-20% on that test!  How ridiculous is that!  So all that work I did on Algebra II this summer may be put off until next year… Oh well. It’ll probably be easier for me in the long run.  And at least I don’t think I’ll be teaching both and Algebra I and Algebra II this year!

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