Friday, July 22, 2005

is "deferred success" failure?

The Professional Association of Teachers, in England, is voting this week to replace F (fail) with the designation Deferred Success. The rationale behind the proposal is that repeated instances of failure set students up for … well… failure. It is true that the letter F has gained significant power in our society as a mark of ones ability. However, to shy away from the reality that everyone is not going succeed in academic achievements is unrealistic, and takes our attention away from the real problem which is that we do not have a good system for providing both the academic minded and the non-academic minded student with the education they need to succeed in life.

As an adult I know there are people who are significantly more intelligent with a higher aptitude to higher education then I. At the same time, there is also a group which is less inclined to succeed in academic pursuits. The fact that for the most part we are all educated together in the same classes sets up the scenario for students to fail at an early age. While I can’t advocate a system whereby students are separated out early based on their test scores, I do feel we need to expand the definition of education to provide opportunities for success rather then deferring it indefinitely. Certainly one area in which we could accomplish this is by ensuring that our schools receive enough funding to offer so called “electives” in addition to the basics. If we want to keep our students motivated and wanting to learn we have to provide them with opportunities to be passionate about learning. For many students, this passion may not come from math, science or literature. These students may find this passion in music, art, shop or language. Imagine a scenario in which a student discovers that he or she is a brilliant carpenter while in the school system. This student would have the opportunity to truly explore this area of study in a supported environment (much like the science student) while at the same time also being exposed to the “basic” skills he/she will need to be successful in life.

It sounds simple and clichĂ© but it all comes down to MONEY. That our elementary and secondary teachers are paid less than a manager at a fast food restaurant is atrocious. That there are charity events held to collect school supplies similar to food drives, is a ridiculous. Our economy is build on commerce. Commerce is dependent upon buying power. Buying power is dependent upon earnings. Earnings are dependent upon skills – are you getting the picture. I am not here to preach “no child left behind” blah blah blah, but if we do not fix the ills of our education system we are going to end up in a society which will not have the financial diversification to support the level of domestic commerce necessary to keep all of us corporate types employed.

Unfortunately, we cannot wait for deferred success, we are already failing.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

1000 places to see before you die - #2

If you find yourself in Mexico City with a free afternoon, it is worth taking a trip out to the Pyramids. You can usually find a guide who will be happy to share the history of the area with you.

50 non-essential pieces of information

The following is a list of 50 things you probably don't need to know about me. I did not create the list, but I did steal it (which is actually now 51 things you don't need to know)!

1. Your name spelled backwards: assilem
2. Where were your parents born? California
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? iTunes
4. What's your favorite restaurant? Depends on the mood – El Gaucho or a burger at Red Door, tapas at Tango, Thai food in Freemont, La Valantine in Mexico City... I could go on...
5. Last time you swam in a pool? Last weekend
6. Have you ever been in a school play? Yes – Sound of Music
7. How many kids do you want? Not sure, I guess I will know when they come.
8. Type of music you dislike most? Rap
9. Are you registered to vote? yes
10. Do you have cable? yes
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? No
12. Ever prank call anybody? Yes before caller ID
13. Ever get a parking ticket? yes
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? Maybe, more likely to bungee jump.
15. Furthest place you ever traveled? Southern Argentina
16. Do you have a garden? No, I can’t even maintain house plants.
17. What's your favorite comic strip? The defunct Calvin and Hobbes.
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Yes
19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Morning shower… at night I prefer a soothing bubble bath.
20. Best movie you've seen in the past month? Not sure
21. Favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni
22. Chips or popcorn? chips
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? Fosil by Aveda
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? No
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? No
26. Orange Juice or apple? Cranberry
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? Not the last place, but recently went to La Rustica in West Seattle – YUMMM
28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Snickers
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? 2004
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Last Summer
31. Have you ever won a trophy? Yes
32. Are you a good cook? When I have to, which is rarely, I am a decent cook.
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Yes
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? No
35. Sprite or 7-up? Diet 7-up but, only when I am sick
36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Yes, railroad overalls
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? FUSE softdrink.
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? Love
40. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes, but only after the fact
41. Ever call a 1-900 number? No
42. Can ex's be friends? Yes
43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? My grandfather
44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? No
45. What message is on your answering machine? “If you are leaving a message for Eduardo, he has moved on .” (I never actually met Eduardo, he had moved on before I got his old phone number)
46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? Church Lady
47. What was the name of your first pet? dog named Bowser, cat named Sam
48. What is in your purse? wallet, lipstick, pressed powder, cell phone, pen, Ipod, two sets of keys, my security badge, passport, and shades.
49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? Read
50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? Everything

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

capisco l'italiano

I have been studying Spanish off and on for most of my adult life. Unfortunately, my commitment level has never been very high and as a result while my comprehension is good, my ability to speak freely is limited (unless there is tequila involved.)

I think the reason for this is that Spanish has never been a choice for me. In high school and college it was a requirement for graduation and throughout my working career it has been a necessity in order to conduct business. So, while I understood the need to learn the language it has not been a passion.

Enter Italian. Now this is a language I can get behind. The only reason for me to learn this language is to be able to speak with people in Italy. And, while I have learned the correct translation for Game Boy “Il Game Boy”, there is no chance that I will be doing anything even remotely related to work with this language.

In my first lesson I have learned how to say – I speak a little Italian – which is true. I can say that one sentence. The good news is that being Latin based, the root of the word in Italian is very similar to Spanish so all of those years studying Spanish are not lost in this new endeavor.

My goal is to be able to comprehend simple conversations and be able to speak enough to understand directions, order at a restaurant and of course… buy shoes. I envision a scene in which I am sitting in a small cafĂ© ordering a cappuccino and admiring my new Giuseppe Zanotti heels. Ahh yes! Italian is the language for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

home sweet home

Growing up I never understood why my parents would choose to live in such a remote location as Scott Valley . After all, it is not as though the area offered great shopping opportunities or easy access to an international airport ( a 6 hour drive is not easy access). And while, I agree that the views of the surrounding mountains are beautiful, it was impossible to understand how truly spectacular they are as a child waking up to them every morning.

This weekend I started to understand.

This small valley in Northern California is a hidden oasis in a world that seems to have lost control of time. None of the aspects of life that make me cringe exist in this small town. There are no traffic delays, unless of course you get stuck behind a cattle drive, there are not even any traffic lights. There are no lines to wait in, no hunting for parking and you don’t have to lock your car or even take out the keys when you are just running into the store for a carton of milk. And the view, the view is spectacular. The streets are lined with trees and dotted with majestic old homes, most in need of repair but still grand. The mountains surround the valley as if mother nature herself were wrapping her protective arms around the small community. The air has a constant smell of freshly cut hay, and the water that comes out of the tap is as cool and crisp as it would be if you hiked up the hill to the stream from which it originates. Everyone smiles and says hello on the street or waves at you as they pass in their pickup trucks. Church is cancelled on Sunday if there is a community event planned. Pancake breakfast is served in the park and bake sale treats include homemade (not from mix) brownies, cookies and blackberry pies. It takes five years to finish painting a house and when you are done, you start over again. The softball field has thick grass growing in right field and hand painted signs of local businesses along the fence. And, even though you moved away over a decade ago, people still greet you by name and ask about life in the city.

The life that I have chosen for myself is nearly 180 degrees from that in which I was raised. But, it is nice to know that when I am ready I can return home and be welcomed back like an adventurer returning from the new world.

give me that old time country music

The ad in the newspaper read:
Friday Night Block Party
All musicians welcome
Centrally located near restaurant and watering hole.
Bring your own lawn chairs.