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Spring cleaning, binging on Bowie

18 March 2016

It’s a planning day here in Broward County, a good day to sit unbothered in my classroom and post links to some of the sites I’ve been browsing lately.

These include (as always) a few interesting posts on suggestions and attempts at education reform. A piece in The Atlantic notes the success of East Asian countries on international tests (no news there, eh, readers?) is based on the determination of educators to stop the “downward spiral” of failure leading to falling behind leading to failure …. Fans of Downton Abbey, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, AICE and any or all other things British might be interested that the UK is once again revising its standards and practices on A-levels, the gap between basic secondary-school competence and higher education. And finally in this category, here is an interesting (and if you look at the comments rather politically contested) argument that the most successful instrument of reform has already happened in the expansion of the Advanced Placement program to more, and more diverse, students.

Looking for lesson plans tied into global education? A very good source is the Pulitzer Center. Here are two lesson plans: one on elections around the world and one on countering radicalization of Muslims in Sweden.

Linguists and lovers of the English language will enjoy this piece, again from The Atlantic, recommending the standardization of “y’all” to distinguish the plural second person pronoun from the singular.

Finally, I don’t know what your latest surf binge involved, but to be honest, for the last three months I have frittered away so much time obsessively watching and listening to David Bowie. It’s like I’ve been in pop culture mourning since his death. Among his immense work are several songs that address the United States and its complex impact on global culture(s). (A parenthesis must open here for a quote from inaugural poet and guy-I-had-drinks-with-once Richard Blanco: “It isn’t where you’re born that matters; it’s where you choose to die — that’s your country.”) Here are some embedded YouTubes of those songs so you can binge too.

“Young Americans” (for some reason that’s the album I’ve been playing the most)

“This is not America”

“I’m Afraid of Americans” (I so wanted ESPN to use this as the theme for the US team’s run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, but some prayers are answered “no”).

A stirring version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” at the Concert for New York City after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001

“Life on Mars” (a Bowie classic written in 1971; I don’t know what it means either, but the words are lovely): “It’s on America’s tortured brow / That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow / And now the workers have struck for fame / ‘Cause Lenin’s (or Lennon’s) on sale again. / See the mice in their million hoards / from Ibiza to the Norfolk broads. / ‘Rule Britannia!’ is out of bounds / To my mother, my dog, and clowns.”


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  1. Always enlightening and lightening. Thanks for a brain massage on this wintry day before spring break.

    • Dr. Shipe permalink

      80 degrees Fahrenheit in south Florida tonight, Judy; come on down! 😉

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