7 April 2009
answers, conversations, flickr, hawaii, korea, korean war, learning, questions, Teaching
Tonight on the way home from dinner, two students engaged me in conversation. They had heard this morning about the missile test of North Korea, and both were New Yorkers… was their city safe? Were their families safe? Could they expect to have a home to go home to in the event of an attack?
We spoke about some of the issues involved: the size of a potential nuclear weapon, the size of the retaliation from America, the size of the American military force in South Korea, the reasons why North Korea might want nuclear weapons. Question led to question: what is the the size of the American army relative to China’ army? What’s the Yalu River? What happened during the Korean War? Who did we fight then? How many missing men are there from the Korean War? So a lot of those guys must have been World War II veterans? Who was Douglas MacArthur? Was this the same Truman as President Truman? If a nuclear bomb hit here, what would happen? Does the U.S. take over territory? So a bunch of pineapple farmers overthrew the Hawaiian government??
When I first came to teach, I did this sort of thing all the time; I’d have deep conversations with kids that consisted mostly of questions at first, and then gradually became kids and me answering questions together, and then became kids contributing as equals to a conversation that could go pretty deep. It feels like those conversations have gotten rarer over the years, though, and the last class that really cared about that sort of conversation about to graduate. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I’m also not sure what’s been different about what I did then to engender such talk, against what I do now. It’s a puzzlement.
Today in class I made a map of a typical manor in medieval Europe. One of my students poses with the picture.
5 April 2009
browser, flock, tech review, technology, web2.0
So there’s a new browser available, called Flock. I’m experimenting with it, and so far I like it a lot. It integrates blogging (yes, it handles LiveJournal), photo-sharing (works with photobucket and flickr), and social media (handles tribe.net and facebook). It even handles social bookmarking like Delicious and Digg and suchlike, all integrated into the same system. News, such as from NPR and
the New York Times, is also integrated, which means you can drag-and-drop news stories and send them to people on Facebook automatically. You can also drop pictures from your Flickr feed into blog entries the same way, just as I’ve done with the attached photo of the Sunwheel at UMASS-Amherst. All of these features are integrated into the main browser system, and you can create bookmarks and favorites list. It also is capable of learning whether a new site is a news-oriented site and ask whether it should grab the RSS feed, or whether it’s web2.0 social media, and it should integrate your friends/co-users into your learning network. I am, quite frankly, impressed. I am so impressed that I am suspiciously looking around for some serious negative to using this software. Does anyone know of one?
5 April 2009
bread, cooking, Image, photo
The ancient Romans celebrated a six-day festival in honor of Magna Mater, the great mother. I’ve taken this as an earth-day kind of celebration, and I make a point of making bread by hand on the first day of her festival. Usually I make a small braided loaf for me and my house, and two larger loaves to give away. I try to make bread 2-3 times during this festival, and then again later in the month for the festival of Ceres.
This is the standard Yeasted Bread recipe from the Tassajara Bread Book. It’s really eay to make bread, and everyone should do it regularly, if you’re not allergic to gluten or have celiac disease.