Saturday, October 27, 2007
One of my old flatmates, a former Campus Crusade stinter, publishes a web zombie comic on the side. Halloween is just around the corner and posting this link is just about all of the celebrating that I intend to do.
Warning- Comic may contain violence.
Today I was sitting on a park bench in my neighborhood drinking bubble tea when I met a neighbor named Evelyn who brought out her two pet birds. One was a parrot name Charlie, and the other was a cockatoo named Angel. You figure out the TV show connection.
She had Angel out on a leash and he kept coming toward me. He (Angel is a male.) then stuck out its claw for me to shake. Eventually it even jumped up on my shoulder and began walking back and forth. Evelyn conjectured that maybe the bird wanted to play with the straw in my drink. However, she also told me that sometimes her pet just took a liking to certain people. There was an old Indian uncle that came up to check out the bird, but was shunned by the cockatoo as it walked away to the other side of my shoulder.
I've never seen a more intelligent animal. It said "hello" to me, and it would whistle to me when I whistled to it. The bird was also potty trained. Twice it hopped off my shoulder, let go its waste and then hopped back on. I asked Evelyn if she trained the bird to do these things, and she replied that it did them just on instinct. The cockatoo is definitely more tame and intelligent than the guinea pigs and gerbils that I used to keep in grade school.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
I remember two specific instances in high school where I was faced with the temptation of academic dishonesty. Once a teacher assigned a research paper and another student wanted to copy information from mine. There was no way that I was going to let that happen, but I did almost give that student my bibliography. I ended up not going through with it when a teacher (not the one that assigned the research paper) overheard the discussion and raised an eyebrow. Another time I remember a teacher accidentally showing his answer key while picking up tests. I could have quickly changed a few incorrect answers, but I decided to keep my integrity. I suppose if I searched for repressed high school memories that I could recall some time when I accidentally saw too much on the teacher's desk or someone whispered a homework answer to me, but for the most part I can't recall any major moral failure in that department. Yes, I knew people in high school that cheated, but most of what I was aware of were last-ditch-effort, opportunistic attempts.
When I became a teacher in a small central Missouri town, I realized that there was more cheating going on than I was aware of as a student. I was probably too goody-two-shoes to be privy to most of those happenings. However, it wasn't the average student who cheated. The cheaters fell into two distinct groups: the students with perfectionist parents who demanded A's and the desperate, beaten-down, rough-home-life students who were just trying to pass with a minimal amount of effort. If I were to give a liberal estimate, I would say that maybe twenty percent of the students fell into one of these two categories.
Despite working in schools, I was shocked when I read this article that was published in Sunday's San Fransisco Chronicle. If surveys and studies are to be believed, some school apparently have a rampant and systematic culture of cheating.
One section in the article stated:
Not only is cheating on the rise nationally - a 2005 Duke University study found that 75 percent of high school students admit to cheating, and if you include copying another person's homework, that number climbs to 90 percent - but there has also been a cultural shift in who cheats and why.
Moreover, almost none of them gets caught:
... according to one study, less than 2 percent of all academic cheaters get caught, and only half of them get punished. So there's almost a 99 percent chance of getting away with it.
Fortunately, there is a solution:
...there are a few steps schools could take that don't cost any money, that would cut the incidence of cheating in school testing by two-thirds in one year: Don't give the same test over and over again, separate kids so they don't see each other's papers, make it clear to students that it is unacceptable, have them sign a document that says they haven't cheated and punish cheaters. Also, don't let them come into tests with PDAs and cell phones.
I'm glad that I already do most of these things in my classroom. Watch out cheaters.