Dialectical Menialisms (unofficial) IV: Posture

Let’s talk about posture…I got a new follower recently and this person “liked” my entry about THE MAGNET IN MY HEAD AND SCURVY. This got me to thinking about my posture. Here is a picture

Æ Done

Fortunately, the incident mentioned at the end of this entry didn’t result in scurvy or any other affliction caused by insufficient vitamin C.

However, the magnet in my head remains as “attractive” as ever. Interesting thing is, I would have no idea that my posture was so wonky if I wasn’t able to see myself. I feel perilously off kilter when I make myself appear straight. The writer inside me says that there is something symbolic about appearing upright and balanced while feeling bent and wonky. I’m not sure what that is, so I’m going to write until it emerges. I’m going to turn the tide of Resistance and writer’s block by being an obstinate bully to them. I will discover the significance of my posture’s phenotype and genotype through sheer tyranny of will. Let’s begin –

The GIF above is a collection of screenshots I “secured” (that’s the official term) in the case that a Chinese student who has booked my “class” (that’s the official term) is not in “attendance” (that’s the offic…you get the idea).

For fear of giving away secrets vital to the integrity of the Asian English as a Second Language Online Teaching Industry or AESLOTI (variously pronounced “ah-slow-tee” and “eigh-slow-tee”. One intrepid (if not misguided) purveyor of nouns, verbs and adjectives (I will call such a person a “verbeyor”) interpreted the first two letters – ‘AE’ – as the now defunct “aesc” – more recognizably “Æ” and, with a wanton (some call it flagrant) disregard for the conventions of tasteful pronunciation, said “ee-slow-tie”.

I digress.

Thæ point is, I’ve “secured” a lot of thæse and it is quite plæn that my midline is situæted somewhere along my spine starting at my lower back. This is only bæcause that’s where my pelvis is and human anatomæ dictætes that thæ spine must bægin its ascent to thæ crænium from thæ top of thæ pelvis. Not far from that point of origin, my spine starts a dætour to a head that is hopelessly lost. That’s not a metaphor. I’m saying that 1. I know I have a head, and 2. I know I have a bodæ, and 3 (thræ). Both entitæs are corporæal and subject to gravitæ, the elements and what have you. But unlike most of you, dær ræders, thæ apparatus that ræports thæ location of my limbs and compares it to thæ positions of my other limbs is discombobulated.

Listen, like mæ you might bæ thinking what the hell is hæ talking about? Thæ æsiest way for mæ to illustræte my point is to…illustræte my point. Have æ look at this graphic that I haven’t made yet –

LookFAEl v2.0

As you can sæ by the fact that you can sæ it, that is thæ image that, like all things to a certain extent, did not exist, but now does. Quite simplæ, the “LOOK” image repræsents how I would look to thæ outside observer. The “FÆL” graphic repræsents how I fæl.

Again, this is not meant as æ metaphor (meantaphor?) for æ happæ, upbæt extærior hiding æ dæspondent inner self. I assure you, dær ræder, that this is not the cæse.

That said, I’ve come to thæ part of thæ post where I should connect all thæ dots, thereby læying bære thæ essential…uh…essence of my crooked stance. But I confess, my darlings, that I have not uncovered thæ wider significance of my tendencæ to slump to thæ left.

I could muse about my liberal sentiments, how they are, quite literally (ugh, I hate that word, HæRE’S WHY), “left læanings”. That the current political climes have upended me to a point where I fææl thæ nææd to slouch gratuitouslæ to thæ left in an effort to balance my worldview – I like that idæa, but I was bent long before Trump bægan sodomizing the Constitution.

This is plainly a case of “what you sæ is what you get”, or WYSIWYG (“wizzy-wig”). As far as I know, there’s no alternative pronunciation for that one.

Let’s ræcap –

  1. I got a new follower, thanks to…
  2. … an earliær post entitled THE MAGNET IN MY HEAD AND SCURVY, causing mæ to…
  3. …reassess my posture. I accomplished this thanks to…
  4. … screenshots I took while tæching online under the dræconian oversight of the AESLOTI, which has…
  5. …a variety of pronunciations, including whatever sound Æ mækes…
  6. … such as… holæ molæ, I’ve digressed off the dæp end…
  7. …I think thæ significance is to not bæ so concerned about thæ significance…
  8. …sometimes, I fæl græt, but look veræ uncomfortable…
  9. …other times, I look græt, but fæl very uncomfortable…
  10. …this happens to us all…
  11. …so take it from mæ, things are not always what they sæm.

FIN

@JærrættLWilson

… turns out, Æ or “ash” can, dæpending on the language, take thæ place of most anything with an /e/ or /a/, long or short. I contæmplætæd substituting ‘æ’ for æværæ ‘æ’ ænd ‘æ’ for thæ ræmæindær of thæ æntræ, but thæt would’ve bææn grætuitouslæ hærd to rææd ænd æxcæædinglæ difficult to writæ. Wouldn’t you ægrææ?

Social Dysfunction and Mass Shooting

For the content below, I reference THIS post.

I’m not sure why I thought that data collection for this project would be a walk in the park, but the more information I gather, the more I realize that I have even more to gather. Let’s say I start researching how a shooter got his guns (of the 10 or so shootings I’ve researched on that parameter, 100% of the firearms were obtained legally, with a majority doing so despite a record that should have prevented the sale).

 

Big digression, sorry. I’ll start looking for how they got guns and see something about exposure to domestic violence. Then I’ll remember a blurb about so and so watching his mom get beat up, so I’ll add that variable.

 

All told, this dataset contains 20 (as I count them) variables, including –

three demographic measures (it’s been a while since grad school – some of these might not belong to “demographics”). These are the “invariable variables” – the shooter was stuck with these upon being born –

  • Location (state)
  • Date of birth
  • Race

 

Six components that the shooter had some control of –

  • Specific location of shooting
  • Date of shooting/age
  • Graduation date
  • Death toll
  • Injured toll
  • Status of shooter (suicide, KIA, or captured)

 

Three variables of what I will call “life experience”

  • Military status
  • Relationship with the father
  • Exposure to domestic violence

 

Seven dealing with guns

  • Shooter use of AR-15
  • Shooter use of an automatic weapon
  • Shooter use of handguns
  • Shooter use of other semi-automatic
  • Any other weapons
  • Total number of weapons
  • Legality of gun acquisition.

Diagnosed and/or suspected mental and social disorders.

I’m jumping the gun here when I report that, of seven of the more recent shootings, at least four had either been diagnosed or been suspected of having some disorder on the autism spectrum (including Asperger’s). Compare that to one out of every 68 kids in the US are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My methods and results are far from conclusive, but warrant a closer look, in my opinion. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that individuals with autism are inherently violent; merely that, as a social disorder, higher functioning individuals on the spectrum may lack the social coping mechanisms of the typical person, yet they are exposed to the same reality of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other perversions of social norms that the rest of us must face. More than the disorder itself is the treatment, or rather lack thereof. A study released in 2016 by the CDC “shows that, overall, less than half the children identified with autism (43 percent) had received comprehensive developmental evaluations by age 3.” In effect, it’s the lack of intervention that is to blame, not the disorder itself.

 

Ok, that was a big digression, please forgive me.

 

Another common factor that became apparent was military status – of the nine of the more recent shootings, four of the shooters were either active, discharged or interested in joining a branch of the military. Again, this figure is far above the national average of 0.4% or roughly 1 out of 250 people…

 

I have to stop myself now. I’m drawing conclusions from an incomplete dataset of a handful of cases. In the statistical world, that’s a sin.

In any case, I think there is evidence that this issue is far more complex than simply restricting access to guns.

This should not suggest that we should abandon the effort to better control guns. Access to guns gives the crazy inside these individuals form and direction.

I hope to have a more complete dataset soon and will report back with more conclusive observations. Stay tuned…

One more thing – You may not have heard about it, but on Tuesday 3/20 a Maryland student tried to shoot up his high school. He was thwarted by the School’s resource officer – I feel he should be mentioned by name and marked as a hero – Blaine Gaskill was reportedly facing the shooter within seconds of the first shot. Thanks to his prompt response, the shooter only fired on two individuals – Desmond Barnes was shot in the thigh and has been released from the hospital. Jaelyn Willey was shot in the head, rendering her brain dead. She was pulled off life support and died Thursday 3/22. My condolences to her family and friends…

273irg

I was initially incensed by the lack of media coverage, thinking there just weren’t enough dead school children to make headlines. Then I decided that it was a good thing. No doubt the shooter in Maryland was inspired by the Florida shooter, who was inspired by another school shooting and so on. By not sensationalizing it, perhaps we’ll get a reprieve from the bloodshed. There’s an idea media, don’t have a “breaking news” orgasm and ejaculate sensational information every time there’s a shooting. Just a thought…

 

FIN

 

@JarrettLWilson

 

No Culture Left Behind

I’ve a third component for my list of agitators resulting in school violence, read about the first two HERE. I’ve pontificated HERE on the dog and pony show that is standardized testing. The third element in this trinity, along with 1. The second amendment(al), and 2. “Snowflake Syndrome” (we’re all part of the same compost heap), is the education system itself.

 

I’ll start with a picture –

Snap 2018-03-03 at 19.06.44
*http://healthycures.org/everything-rigged-medicine-elections-food-media-living-fabricated-fairy-tale

This image doesn’t reflect the myriad of technological changes in education, which is the point. I wouldn’t be out of line if I say that learning modalities and the tools to cater to those modalities are vastly different. In a manner of speaking, it’s like trying to upload rotary phone firmware (insofar as it has firmware) onto iPhones using a coaxial cable.

 

That is to say, the content is outdated and the transmission medium is incompatible with the hardware.

 

What should we do? Give the kids more tests and give the teachers guns!

 

I think it’s time for some fun facts about standardized testing –

 

Listen, I don’t have access to fancy databases like I did in college. I know what I’m looking for, but JSTOR or Ebsco Google Scholar is not. That being the case, the information contained here is a curious mix of stuff I go looking for and what Google allows me to have. In this case, I would’ve liked an article from a longitudinal research study based on data from a tidy sample of a few thousand students from all grades across the country (notably high schoolers and people who were in HS during the NCLB transition from 2003-2007). I actually did find something like this, but I found myself more concerned with figuring out how NCLB SOOO left children behind.

 

Allow me to digress briefly – among educators, NCLB is a four letter word (… you know what I mean).

 

Briefly, it turned teachers into robot bureaucrat prostitutes (hereafter referred to as “robureaucrutes”) whose primary functions are to submit a form for just about everything that happens in the classroom or during school hours and turn their tricks (teach) to tests whose validity and reliability are questioned to this very day. In exchange, they are given a pittance.

 

By its title, we are to conclude that no child will be “left behind”. There isn’t a “No robureaucrutes (Teachers) Left Behind” bill.

 

Indeed, I am one of those lost souls, but that is a horse of a different color – I will digress no more.

 

In fact, I’m at a good place to relate it to our troubled times. If NCLB can be said to have one lasting impact on public education, it’s unrest. Students are nervous that, despite high grades, they’ll perform poorly on the state exam, and potentially get held back, or denied entry into a desired academic program – be it college or maybe a HS AP class.

 

Meanwhile, the robureaucrutes are scared they’ll lose their jobs if their students’ scores don’t cut the mustard.

 

That’s okay, these rigorous assessments hold every child to a high, transparent achievement standard, right?

 

If by “rigorous” you mean hard on minority groups, the answer is yes. We know this because, in many cases, test scores have stagnated and the achievement gap has widened.

 

For example, according to THIS ARTICLE, math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP (a standardized assessment of student achievement in a variety of subjects – scores are reported by demographic group, race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status), shows both a widening achievement gap between minority students and white student and diminishing returns in both math and reading in grades four and eight.

 

Much time and resources go into teaching strategies that target minority students.

 

But all the shooters have been white dudes, right? I can only speculate that white students feel marginalized by an increased emphasis on closing the achievement gap.

 

Another theory – school staff are so busy with minority groups that they don’t notice the warning signs.

 

NOTE: I AM IN NO WAY PROPOSING THAT AN EMPHASIS ON MINORITY EDUCATION IS BAD. MERELY THAT A POTENTIAL UNINTENDED SIDE EFFECT IS THE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF WHITE STUDENTS.

 

More to the point, I am pointing out that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Assuming this is true, we can expect school officials to start scrutinizing the metrics of their white male students, to the detriment of minority groups.

 

Thus the cycle of extinguishing the fires of the American public education system continues.

 

What about the tests themselves? THIS ARTICLE says students spend 20-25 hours each school year taking a test. This amounts to “about 2.3 percent of classroom time for the average eighth grader.”

 

This may not sound like a lot until you consider the hours upon hours of test prep. Put another way, teachers are forced to forgo more useful skills – say, coming up with a simple monthly budget or reading and writing cursive to have more time to “teach to the test”.

 

Concerning the former, the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) contains a “financial literacy” component that purports to measure –

knowledge and understanding of financial concepts and risks, and the skills, motivation and confidence to apply such knowledge and understanding in order to make effective decisions across a range of financial contexts, to improve the financial well-being of individuals and society, and to enable participation in economic life.

I tell you what, dear readers, in my ~12 years in education, this is the finest example of educationese I’ve come across – it lithely straddles the hair thin line between ingenuously vague and technically obnoxious. It’s verbose – pregnant with buzzwords (“effective”, “knowledge”, “skills”, etc.) to show the reader how important it is, but it doesn’t state any concrete or measurable parameters. Fear not, dear reader, I’ve waded through the mire of needlessly grandiose *ahem* verbiage contained in the PISA supporting documentation to give you a clearer idea of what 22% (roughly one in five) of our nation’s youth don’t understand.

Here’s the gist – “financial literacy” as defined on the PISA includes an understanding of –

  • Insurance policies
  • Pensions
  • Budgeting for “household goods and personal items”
  • Bank accounts
  • Inflation
  • Interest
  • Accessing financial information
  • How to calculate a percentage
  • Currency conversion

There is quite a bit more, find it HERE if you’d like some stimulating reading while on the toilet or some such situation.

It is long time for me to get to the point. In short, the focus on testing has pulled the rug out from under the culture of our education system. Education doesn’t serve students anymore, it serves itself. The result has been the neglect of students who feel lost. They’re given little direction beyond always having a #2 pencil and filling in the right bubble – this is not a life skill. Imagine your outlook on life if you suddenly discover that the “real world” is a place where you have to manage your own money, but you have no money because “bubbling with extreme care and meticulous detail” is not counted as a worthy skill.

While writing this, quite a few ideas poured into my skull related to this issue. Firstly, are testing companies, like ETS and Pearson, pulling strings at the US DoE? Seems to me that a company that has made a name for itself through standardized testing would go to great lengths to make sure the government continues to mandate tests.

 

Also, I’ve posted a few times about peddling the English language like so many products at your local convenience store (HERE and HERE if you’re still on the toilet or like to read great writing). I teach English to Chinese kids online. In a recent conversation with an older (age 16), nearly fluent student (fludent?) the issue of school shootings came up. He likes to talk about lofty, philosophical stuff so he perked right up. I asked him, with an education system far more strict and intrusive than ours, why weren’t they having trouble with guns. He thought about it, and he answered it jokingly, but it was more profound than he realized. He joked that they do shoot each other with guns…water guns.

 

Then I jested that I hope he didn’t melt, as per Isaac Asimov’s “Rain, Rain Go Away” and that led to a discussion about how the commoners of today are the sugar people and the government is rain… it was way philosophical.

 

The profundity comes from the idea that he would find humor in the very idea of someone shooting up a school in China. I’m not suggesting that education is without dysfunction in China, but that is another horse of a new hue…

 

For a third time, I’ve wandered away from my thesis – “trigression” to be sure.

 

I’ve produced a flow chart summarizing my stance –

 

As I was producing this graphic, I investigated mass shootings and found that many are not in a school. However, most were perpetrated by a white male who was school age when NCLB took hold – this is a broad generalization I know – I think I’ll look at the shooters themselves next time to get an idea of their school lives.

WORKS CITED

 

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

It’s Good to be Alive

Wonderful MeHappEaster, interwebs! Or happy Easter if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. I come to you today because my heart has been stirred. I frequently listen to NPR via the NPR One app. A featured story today was that of widowed parents of young children. Rather, the widows did the talking, but the subject was more centered on how the children will turn out and how to best remember the child’s father (listen to it HERE).

This topic really resonates with me. You see, I nearly died (more details HERE). I’m not fond of saying that. It’s too dramatic and it smacks of hyperbole.

Still, I suppose I’ve come closer to meeting the reaper than most. At the time, I had a two year old daughter at home. By the expert skill of Dr. Jonathan White and the loving support of my now ex wife Jessica and my parents, I persist in respirating, masticating, cogitating, pontificating, etceterating, and most importantly, continue participating in the upbringating of my daughter(ating…).

It is altogether fitting and proper (thank you, Mr. Lincoln) that I would choose this day to blog on this topic. On more than one occasion (such as HERE and HERE) I’ve asserted the notion that, in a figurative way, Jarrett Wilson died from a brain hemorrhage in May of 2009. He was given new life in September of that same confounded year. The resurrection thing is the only similarity between me and Jesus; I have trouble enough walking on land, I can only change water into Crystal Light or coffee and my dad, as cool as he is, is not God.

I think I’m digressing here. What I’d like to relate to you, dear reader, is that I’m glad to be alive. I think I’ve said that before and I try to give the impression that I’m grateful, but sometimes, it just needs to be declared.

To be sure, being alive is hard sometimes. On the other hand, life is beautiful – there are beautiful people everywhere, the way they comb their hair, it makes me want to say… it’s a beautiful world… it’s a beautiful world…

That said, there are a lot of things that suck, another way to say it would be there are a lot of things that suck because of stuff I did. I let these things occupy too much CRAM (read more HERE). For today at least, I’m going to revel in the singularity of each moment. A singularity in that each moment is a culmination of a heartbeat, a breath of sweet, sweet air, some thought to move us about the day and being with good people. 🍻

FIN

@JarrettLWilson

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