Saturday, January 21, 2006

Is it too late to learn manners?

Okay, if I can go back to school to take class, exams, write papers, and even become someone else's graduate assistant, can't other people in the grocery store check-out line learn to behave and be polite?

I had to help the check-out gal bag my items because the people behind me were so rude and impolite (oh, yeah, and because Kroger will not employ enough people to help her!). My son went to grab one more thing while I was bagging and the check-out gal was doing her thing, and they would not let him through--he's only 8--poor guy. So, I'm trying to figure out, does Kroger attract rude people or does grocery shopping just put people in a bad mood?

And people wonder why I hate grocery shopping...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

School name is superficial concern...

An editorial in the Chapel Hill Herald today (it is not online, but here is a link to the paper) reports that the parents in Southern Village, where we used to live, are campaigning for the new high school to have Chapel Hill in its name so that the school name will look better on their kids college applicatons.

This superficial attitude is precisely why we moved our children out of the neighborhood school, Scroggs, which is in Southern Village, to a private School, Durham Academy. We could immediately see that appearances were more important than the substance of the education the children were receiving at Scroggs. We wondered why no other parents could see the problems we saw at that school, and now we know that they were only concerned with the fact that their children were going to a Chapel Hill school, and not what they were learning.

Our daughter was in a 4th grade class of 29, despite the school website proclaiming that class sizes never exceeded 22. Her teacher was a second year teacher, struggling to take care of that many children, often without an assistant, because the school wanted to put their money elsewhere. My daughter said that she often helped the other children with their work, because after all, she was repeating everything she had already learned in third grade the year before.

My son was in a 1st grade class of 22, which seemed fine, but many of the children did not have english as their first language (and I don't mean spanish). My son was saddened by the behavior problems of many of the children, which resulted in the teacher having to spend more time on behavior than teaching, which is probably why he treated them like preschoolers than 1st graders. My son realized that he had done harder work in kindergarten the year before and ultimately refused to get out of bed and go to school, which is why we pulled him out of Scroggs and sent him to Durham Academy.

Instead of worrying about the names of their schools, I think the parents should be more concerned about what is actually going on in them.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Older women have "Curves"...

In my never-ending fitness quest, I joined a local Curves to ring in the new year. No morning classes this semester, so no more excuses. I must admit that I do like what they are selling: women only, 30 minutes in and out. Oh yeah, it doesn't hurt that it is in the same plaza as Starbucks(!).

This morning, I expected the place to be packed since it was a holiday, but when I arrived at 9:45, there were only a handful of women, and I was the youngest, by far. Usually there are women of all ages there, which is also a good sign. Today, however, I was definitely feeling my younger age, as all of the other women there were retirement age. I hope I'm still working out like that when I'm their age.

It just goes to show that it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I just knew caffeine is good for me...

I will admit to a weekly (okay, almost daily) Starbucks habit. I'm hooked! My kids asked when I started drinking the dreadful stuff, and I think it was when I started working for GM right after college. Everyone drank coffee in the office, it was just what you learned to do.

I didn't really like coffee then, but I love my grande decaf skim no-whip mocha, now! I have been feeling a little bit guilty about it, but now there is no need--Time magazine tells me that it is all right. This article reports that caffeine actually prevents some health problems (I'll let you read the article for specifics) and improves "brain function." Two more reasons to drink coffee: better health and better brain function. Not that I really needed an excuse, but this definitely makes me feel better.

My brain hasn't peaked, yet!

Another article in Time reports that our brain power does not peak at 40, as previously thought--yeah! I suppose I should have investigated this before returning to grad school, but I'm relieved to know that my old brain cells are capable of learning new things, yet.

I should refer this article to my professors so they can understand why my short-term memory is not what it used to be, hence my not-as-great performance on tests. But, the good news is that in my somewhat advanced age, I am better able to handle ambiguity, "manage information and parse meanings" that I could not at a younger age, which explains my much better performance on papers and presentations!

Multi-tasking is bad...

According to the 1/16/06 issue of Time, multi-tasking is bad--we don't get things done as well, we are inefficient and the quality of our work is not as good. Okay, so I used to be a proud multi-tasker, but I must admit that I've become less so in my old age. For instance, my children do not approve of my doing school work with them in the room, so instead, I focus on them when they get home from school, and then get back school work when they go to bed. Everyone seems happier that way, and I do actually get more work done, as well.

Friday, January 13, 2006

My son is a photographer...

Jack took this photo of me over the Christmas break. Usually I am the one behind the camera, but somehow he managed to sneak up on me and get a shot.

Women don't create online content like men do...

In my digitalenterprise class at NC State, there is a mountain of information to read and I have only skimmed the required section so far for this week, with lots left to review before the next assignment. One finding this week I was most surprised to read in a Pew Study is that only 16% of online women develop their own content vs. 25% of online men. I'm assuming that developing online content includes blogging.

Why is this? Are we too busy emailing each other? I know we have a lot to say. If you read the NY Times editorial page, there are more men there "talking" and creating content than women, so maybe it is just our nature. I'm not sure about the reason why, but I think it is interesting to think about.

Between my blogging class and this one, I have learned that I will be creating more class content online in the future--it is a great way to eliminate the need for textbooks that lag behind what is actually occuring in the real world, as well as a way to move beyond powerpoint into something a bit more interesting.

I am learning new things every day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Learning how to teach, too...

A new semester has begun--my last semester of taking classes--probably ever! In my first two classes (of the four I'll take) of the semester, I found myself not only listening to the content of what my professors will be teaching us, but also to their delivery. It dawned on me (again) that teaching and learning is also about engaging students in the material in an exciting way. I've been privileged to have many professors here at UNC that have their own unique way of delivering the content they are passionate about in a way that kept my attention and left me wanting to know more.

I'm taking notes...I want to be a teacher who can deliver both content and enthusiasm.