Friday, February 24, 2017

Celebrate the small things: full attendance

Full attendance is my elusive dream: at the beginning of each new term, at the beginning of each new week, at the beginning of each new day, I hope that all of my students will show up to class. Sadly, I have had to abandon my other dream that they would all arrive on time and stay until the end. I now that will not happen - but full attendance is possible, and this week I came tantalizingly close.

Due to the rarity of full attendance, I had cause to celebrate 'almost' full attendance twice this week. On Thursday and Friday, only one student was missing.

I am happy to teach whoever shows up. I start the class on time for those who can be bothered to be punctual, and late comers, miss out or have to catch up. Half of the class normally leaves after the second break, but I keep teaching in the last session for the benefit of those who aren't full of excuses about why they can't stay for another forty minutes.

It is annoying and disruptive to have students roll in like browns cows, and/or not attend whole days at all with no good reason, but the students themselves are the ones most affected.

They have to do five assessments every week. Students who are absent have to do those catch up exams when they show up, which means that while they are doing catch up exams which test their knowledge of skills they were not in class to learn or practice, I am teaching new content to those who did show up and who did do the tests. It's a vicious circle for students with poor attendance. Not only do they not learn new content, but they are continually tested on content they don't know, because they don't come to class. or when they do, they are busy doing catch up tests.

Nearly achieving full attendance this week means that all students are now up to date with their assessments, and I was able to teach new content to all but one for two days in a row.

I actually care about how my students perform. I may even care more than some of them do. Full attendance is a little thing, but it makes me happy, so today I'm celebrating 'almost' full attendance and the renewed hope that one day soon, I may get 100%.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I've got a penis and I like women

I'm a Christian, and I'm pretty conservative when it comes to sexuality. (NB; I did not use so I'm pretty conservative, I used and.) I'm a fan of monogamous marriage - one woman and one man. I'm a supporter of abstinence, and I think the practice of heterosexuality is natural, whereas the practice of homosexuality is not.

I don't support bullying, discrimination, intolerance or exclusion. I consider myself to be a rational person with moderate and balanced views. I don't believe I think of myself more highly than I should, nor more lowly. I'm respectful and I have an open mind, but...

Some things just make sense to me that don't make sense to others, and vice-verca. For example, I cannot understand why some Christians make such a fuss about homosexuality when my Bible clearly says that homosexuality, fornication, adultery and dishonesty (among other things) are all one and the same: sin. Excluding practicing homosexuals from the church because they are sinners should logically mean that we exclude everyone from church because we are all sinners. Who decided that homosexual fornication was worse than heterosexual fornication? Who decided that promiscuity was worse than fornication? Who decided that adultery was worse than lying? (Those two always go hand in hand by the way -always.)

Having said that, I don't think two men having sex is natural, nor two women. I may feel attracted to other men, or women, appreciating their appearance or their personality, but that doesn't mean I want to have sex with them. I can love, and I do love other men, but I don't want to have sex with them. I've got a penis and I like women. The penis and the vagina are designed for each other. Yes, designed. I'm a Christian, and I believe in intelligent design.

Take two identical cars. The designer -remembering that even simple machines don't happen by accident, let alone the most complex machine we know of: the human - recommends a certain kind of fuel be used in the car in order to achieve optimal engine performance and longevity. So, car number 1 has its tank filled according to specifications, while car number 2 receives a tankful of cheap, low quality fuel. Now the two cars will be driven for the same length of time, at the same speed, in exactly the same conditions -sorry naturalists, but in this analogy I have removed all elements of chance. It is a totally controlled environment. Two identical cars: one has good fuel, the other has bad fuel. Get the picture?

God has created us and given us all we need to, with apologies to Vulcans, live long and prosper. The designer's guide book is readily available. All we need do is follow it.

If only it were that simple...maybe it is. Maybe we have just become super efficient at complicating, and therefore, ruining our lives and the lives of others. Maybe we keep filling ourselves with bad fuel. Maybe we should worry less about other people's sins and concentrate on our own. Maybe there's a better way.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Celebrate the small things: salt and pepper

When teaching my students how to improve their writing, one of the things I stress is the importance of adjectives and adverbs. I explain to them that adjectives add information to nouns and adverbs add information to verbs. Without them, adjectives especially, writing can be dull, and the one thing you don't want as a writer is to bore your readers. I tell them that adjectives and adverbs add flavour to their writing. Without descriptive language, writing can taste very bland to the reader's palate. (with more advanced learners I can also discuss metaphorical language as exemplified by my previous sentence.)

I recently chose a book based on the title and the blurb. Had I also read the first chapter or even the first few pages, I would not have bought it. Why? As far as descriptive and metaphorical language goes, it was a desert. I won't name the book here, but I did, after much deliberation, review it on Goodreads with a rating of two stars. I read through it quickly without feeling engaged or especially interested at any point. At first, I didn't know why, and then I figured it out. Aside from other faults, like excessive use of passive voice, it lacked descriptive language. I might be wrong, but I don't think there was a single metaphor or simile to be found between its covers. 

Quickly moving on to the next novel, I was immediately relieved. To continue my desert metaphor from above, I had made it to an oasis where I was able to jump in to beautiful literary writing, full of wonderful descriptive passages and powerful metaphors. My soul was refreshed after just one chapter of The Water Horse by Julia Gregson.

That is also the reason I love classic novels so much: they feature such beautiful and fascinating language, as well as unusual and complex sentence structures.

So today I am thankful for adjectives, adverbs and metaphors: salt and pepper, and mushroom sauce on my reading steak. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: A taste of metal

None of my friends, in real life, or in my online life are major heavy metal fans like myself which means I have no one to talk to about one of the loves of my life. My son used to be. He was once obsessed with Metallica, and he introduced me to the band which is now one of my favourites: Australia's own, Parkway Drive. Sadly he has moved on from his metal phase.

To overcome this problem, I did what everyone does when they have no one to talk to...I turned to social media. I found a Facebook group for heavy metal fans, and now I can exchange opinions and music with headbangers from all over the globe. This gives me pleasure, so today I am giving thanks for Crescent Heavy Metal Rock Music.

I also want to give thanks for the genre itself, which contains surprising diversity. Bach is said to be the originator of heavy music, and many of the great early heavy metal bands, Black Sabbath for example, credit this influence. I don't like all the sub genres of heavy metal, but I doubt anybody does. Whilst some think heavy metal is just noise, the bands I like, impress and move me with their musicianship and the lyrical content. I actually find loud, fast and aggressive music relaxing. Okay, so that sounds weird, but each to their own right?

My top five metal bands are, in no particular order: POD, Metallica, Disciple, Parkway Drive, and Trivium.

Here's something moderate for your possible enjoyment:

Friday, February 3, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: Fluff and Bubbles

Social media represents different things to different people. For some it is an addiction, for others a time filler/waster. To some it is a weapon of activist/fundamentalist warfare, for others it's all about relationships, (sharing and connectedness). For some it's about information, for other it's about entertainment. For some people it's a mixture of all these things with recipes as diverse as humanity itself, while for others it's nothing at all.

I have an eclectic group of friends on Facebook so I get exposed to a wonderful variety of people and their worldviews. I love it! It's so fascinating - irritating and offensive at times, to be sure, but nonetheless engaging, informative and entertaining.

From time to time, I like to take my friends on by making provocative comments because I like a good discussion. At other times, I just want to 'share' my own thoughts. I also, on occasion, simply want some fluff and bubbles. I think most memes are stupid so I just ignore them. It still mystifies me how a video of ducks walking along a road gets millions of views on YouTube, but...whatever. I don't tell anyone what they should or shouldn't like or share because I respect people.

Today I feel grateful for the World Wide Web, and in particular, social media which is, on balance, a wonderful thing. So today because I'm feeling light and fluffy, here's a video of ducks; just for you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Healthy Choice Lasagne

Oops...this isn't supposed to be here. Maybe this 'accident'  happened for a reason.

It's what I also feared (perhaps too strong of a word) about microwave low fat/no fat meals: a lack of taste. This cost $4, and was quite filling, but lacked punch, and cheese. This is easily the worst of the microwave lasagnes I've had. Not terrible, just not as good as the others. 2 mangoes.

I bought myself another half pineapple for $2.50 from Coles, and had some tonight. Great. Sweet and juicy. 5 mangoes.