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A study by the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs reveals that Millie, the Bush family dog, was mentioned in more television stories than Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos during the President's first year in office. It may be small consolation, but Cavazos wasn't alone in taking a back seat to the canine; Millie also received more TV coverage than the Secretaries of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs.

Quaking In Their Seats

College education courses may seem a far cry from real life. But, at least sometimes, it's not so.

Take Karen Reynolds's science-teaching methods course at San Jose State University. During a recent class session, Reynolds booted up a computer program that plots earthquakes. In an article in Science Scope last January, she explained what happened next:

"I pressed a key and the earthquake locations began to appear on the map. Then a chorus of car alarms in the nearby parking garage sounded and the room began to shutter and sway. We were having a real earthquake.''

The power went out but then returned. And when it did, the computer automatically rebooted the program, ready to plot earthquakes. Only then, it was a little out-of-date.

The Teacher At The Super Bowl

Although Mike Holmgren made headlines guiding the San Francisco 49ers' record-setting offense to the Super Bowl, he says he is still a high school teacher at heart.

Before becoming the 49ers' offensive coach in 1986, Holmgren was a high school coach. But, he recently told The New York Times, "I was primarily a history teacher.'' And while sportswriters say he would make an excellent head coach in the National Football League, he says: "I still look at myself as a high school history teacher. It's like I caught a big wave and I can't get off the surfboard.''

Midmorning Porn Break

If you've ever considered dialing a 900 number from the phone in the teachers' lounge, consider this: An investigation of two New York City school districts found that their employees spent more than $17,000 of school money during 1988 and 1989 on calls to specialty phone services. Newsday, a Long Island newspaper, published a list of the services called, including the following:

Prithee, Watch Your Language

Prince Charles, who made headlines with his unflattering comments about modern architecture, has picked a new topic to scorn. The heir to the British throne says the English language has degenerated into "a dismal wasteland of banality, clich, and casual obscenity.'' He blames teachers for failing to emphasize the rules of proper English.

In today's English, says Prince Charles, Hamlet's famous "To be, or not to be: that is the question'' soliloquy would go something like this:

"Well, frankly, the problem as I see it at this moment in time is whether I should just lie down under all this hassle and let them walk all over me, or, whether I should just say: 'O.K., I get the message,' and do myself in....''

Billy Joel, Historian

Billy Joel's number-one pop single, "We Didn't Start the Fire,'' a sort of history-of-the-modern-world-in-threeminutes, has been dismissed by one critic as "Cliff Notes for the MTV generation.'' But Joel says the song has actually proved to be quite popular among teachers. "Most of my mail I get about that song,'' Joel told Rolling Stone magazine, "comes from teachers who have said this is the greatest teaching tool to come down the pike since Sesame Street, which means a lot to me, since I once wanted to be a history teacher.''

Joel's record label apparently knows a good opportunity when it sees one. Columbia Records, in conjunction with Scholastic magazine, has distributed 40,000 special cassette copies of the song, which includes a 10-minute conversation with the singer, to junior and senior high schools across the country. The cassette comes with a poster of the song's lyrics and a lesson plan for teachers who want to use the song in their history classes.

"When I was in school, I could have used something like that,'' Joel told The Washington Post. "The way they teach history is very boring.''

Picture Power

Better watch out, Pat Oliphant and Herblock: You've got some Young Turks fast on your heels. They're student editorial cartoonists, and their work has just been published in a book called Editorial Cartoons By Kids. The result of a 1989 contest sponsored by NewsCurrents, a weekly current events publication for students, the book features entries from grades 3 through 12. And some of them are very good.

Philadelphia 12th grader Tom McCarthy, for example, drew Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a circus performer, spinning plates (one says perestroika, the other says glasnost) while precariously balancing on a ball that says "CCCP.'' For his effort, McCarthy won first prize in the high school category.

"These cartoons are a part of the good news about kids and education,'' says NewsCurrents Publisher Judith Laitman. "We hear so much today about a lack of civic literacy among young people. But the thousands of students who entered our contest had to do more than just know a few facts about current events....They had to do the hard critical thinking about complex issues that is the essence of good citizenship.''

The deadline for this year's contest is March 31. For more information, call (800) 356-2303.

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