I was talking to him on the phone last night and he was complaining about the education system and he was making sense.
He hates the tenure thing, that if you're good for 3 years you're set for another 30 and can turn into a Mr. Frost [a really bad teacher at our high school who retired recently and so didn't care about teaching]. He complained that there are cuts in education spending but there won't be cuts in the MCAS [a test all 10th graders in Massachusetts have to take and pass in order to graduate high school, is supposed to help create a standard of "this is what kids graduating high school should know"] so instead there will be stuff like fewer teachers hired to replace retiring teachers. I know a lot of what he was saying was parroting what his history teacher has told them, but he always does that (latches on to what someone says) and it doesn't mean he doesn't believe it, doesn't mean he doesn't think it makes sense. And honestly, a lot of what he was saying made sense. He said it takes them about 5 months to correct the MCAS (given when they take them and when they get their scores) and that instead they should evaluate teachers to make sure they're teaching well. I argued that that would take much more time, money, and manpower given that each teacher would have numerous evaluations of numerous classes and all. My brother argued that students should fill out evaluations and then the problem teachers (yes, including the "she gives everyone A's but we don't learn anything") could be investigated. That was my first, "Damn, he's actually making sense," moment. (I'm used to my brother latching onto a position and not listening to reason when it contradicts him.)
He also complained about a lot of what they're taught. I argued that the "5-paragraph essay" is to give you a base on which you can expand when you do writing later in life. He said that's not how it's presented to them, that it's presented as "this is how you write." I said that the foundation explanation was the one i had gotten when i had questioned the usefulness of it. I also pointed out that 5-paragraph essays are much preferable to those 5-page papers one gets later on. :)
He understands the need to learn history to some extent, particularly one's own. I tried to explain that it's not easy to say just "this is why the world is the way it is," that you need to know why things happened and how they happened, so to understand "why the world is the way it is" (which he agrees is important to know) one needs to learn a good deal of history. I am horrible with specific dates and have no defense of things like needing to know all the years the specific obnoxious taxes were placed on the American colonies, when really, as my brother put it, all you need to know is that the Stamp Act and many similar things were all passed around the same time and helped cause..... I did, however, point out that it's important to know the names of important figures so that you can talk about them and you're not just saying, "Yeah, ya know, the guy, who was king, during the French Revolution."
He thinks there should be a lot more education about real life things -- business ethics (i pointed out how teaching ethics gets one into problems with the separation of church and state because what you can get people to agree on as ethical is about at a kindergarten level), driving, car care, technology, etc. I definitely agree, though i pointed out the "liberal arts education" idea that everyone should have a certain common background of knowledge. I also got to point out the possibility of higher math helping work a certain part of your brain even though you're likely not to use it in real life outside of certain specific fields.
[Marvel at what my brother has learned to do in HTML, btw. Yay English projects?]
He asked me where i stand on the war, and i said i'm inclined to think it's justified, that Saddam is someone we should get rid of and i don't see any way of getting rid of him without war. My brother agrees, and we talked about this for a long time.
He said that at the beginning he opposed the war, but he really didn't know much about it, so he didn't argue about it. This is a HUGE step from the brother i remember, and i'm not sure he's really completely there yet as far as retaining that mentality (i'm not gonna argue until i know [all] the facts) but then again, no one's ever there all the time. (My brother is 15, btw.)
Anyway, one thing i loved, was he telling me what his history teacher had said and that he agreed with, was that although he didn't agree with the protestors he certainly thought they had the right to protest, and it would be hypocritical to not let them protest, since freedom of speech and all that is what we're fighting to defend. He feels similarly about flag burning, that although many people find it reprehensible, because while to those burning the flag it symbolizes imperialism (dude, my brother used the term "imperialism" and has some understanding of what that means!) to many people it is a symbol of freedom and of the people who have died and so on, so it's incredibly disrespectful, but if you want to burn it as a symbolic act against imperialism or whatever, that's your right.
I told my brother repeatedly that i was really glad he agreed that people should have the right to protest and so on even if you don't agree with what they're saying.
We talked about marches that disrupt cities, and i tried to explain the rationale, where the protestors are coming from.
It's interesting that i've gotten so used to this environment of, "Oh my god the war is so horrible how can you support if you even have one brain cell?" and my brother's take is basically the exact opposite. I called him on lots of small points, but it was nice to be talking to someone who basically agrees with me. I think i'm always gonna be calling people on the problematics of minor points (or at least points i disgagree with) but it's really nice to be with people who mostly agree with you -- one reason i love Smith and am always so culture shocked when i'm in places like my hometown.
My brother argues that the time to protest is before the war, and that once the war starts you should support the troops, and that the President isn't going to pull out of the war. I tried to explain about Vietnam, and also how a lot of the protestors have heard those criticisms and responded to them saying: "We do support the troops. We want them to come home alive and safe. We think that they are being asked to fight in an unjust war."
He said his history teacher got drafted for Vietnam and he went even though he didn't support the war. I said that i have problems with people fighting in wars they don't believe in. A lot of people sign up to pay for college, and then they have to go if called even if they don't believe in the war, or they have to serve for longer than originally thought if war breaks out during their term of service, and it is really problematic because for a lot of people, signing up for things like ROTC is how they can manage to pay for college. My brother pointed out that most of those people aren't in the front lines, and that may be true, but the point is that they're over there. Anyway, his history teacher was saying that since there are people in America who don't support the war, there are probably people who are over there who don't support it. I understand that you can support the troops without supporting the war, but i do find it very problematic to not support the war but be fighting in it anyway. Yes, i understand there are a lot of factors conspiring against your just saying, "No," but i don't know how you can live with your conscience if you're being asked to shoot people in a cause you don't believe is just. But maybe it does make sense. Maybe it's like how i still have this gut-level "killing people is wrong," but i think sometimes it's necessary, even though i could never do it myself. So maybe it's a similar thing, about duty/necessity overriding personal morals, but that of course is highly problematic, and gets me back to how i'm always troubled by my support of any war and wrestle with how i can maintain a moral consistency.
At some point we got to talking about the Holocaust and i got to use what i learned in Sociology class last semester.
Let's see, what else? I think there was more.
Anyway, we talked for about 3 hours, and around midnight after we got off the phone i started a LiveJournal entry, but Jelena (who had passed by my room -- since i am right in front of the door to the central staircase -- at least twice that night, it's Spring Weekend remember, and there was a party in our house) said i should come up to her room and hang out with them, so i did. Her friend Nadia thinks she's seen me around, like we've had a class together or something, and that's entirely possible. I still don't like beer, though Jelena maintained that what she had was the good shit (Bella Artois, a Belgian beer). She also thinks i should get gin and tonic when i'm in England (I've been asking people what i should drink when i'm over there). She picked up this boy while in line for a Quad party they didn't get into. "Isn't he cute? He's Persian." He's from UMass, a grad student i think, and i'm fairly certain he mentioned his subject though i don't remember. But all night it was "Isn't he cute? He's Persian." He was decently attractive, but i didn't find him anything to write home about. Incredibly patient to put up with her. I am a bad American because i couldn't recognize/name classic stuff like The Eagles. Dude, i recognized all the dykey/girly music, most of which got me high fives. Apparently she pulls this with everyone, though. And i got lots of high-fives and suchlike from her. She says i'm the smartest person in the house. I think she's hot and fun and definitely wanna take her her up on that whole "you should hang out with us," but i don't know where this whole idea that i'm brilliant comes from -- though i'm certainly not complaining. I was amused that her boy was just chilling on the bed while she sexy danced against every girl in the room. This is one of the things i love about Smith, but apparently she did that to Jane once and the poor girl ran away. Aw. Jane's terribly sweet, this petite innocent little first-year. Le sigh. I was the last person left in her room around 2:30 (except it was really 3:30 because of Daylight Savings Time) and she is so not subtle, making out with the boy, so i left. See, i have fun sometimes. I'm kinda sad i missed the acapella groups at our house party, but the party thing is generally so not my thing.
There are parts of ConBust i would have liked to go to if i had known about them ahead of time (one would think that someone, anyone, in smithies would have pimped it in their LJ -- where i would have seen it since i read the smithies friendspage -- if not in the community itself), but i did go to Nitpicking Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 2:15. trijinx, remember the thing we went to after Room Draw last year that kinda sucked because the guy was a professor reading a paper which had lots of German psychology terms (and we missed most of the "Hush" showing because of aforementioned Room Draw)? This was bad in a different way. I should have been tipped off by the "nitpicking" in the title. This was basically a bitch session. Given how much i latch onto small details in arguments i'm hearing or essays i'm reading, as well as the fact that i'm just a little obsessed with the Whedonverse, we are surprised that i don't notice continuity errors. The date incongruities stem from the fact that i suck at history, esp. dates. As far as plot continuity errors... it's just evidence that i'm not as obsessed as some people. It's a character flaw, whatcanyado ;) Also, i'm inclined to just watch my shows and love them. Is this how i approach fiction in general as opposed to nonfiction where i'm in a mindset to tackle the argument and see if it holds up and tear it apart and all that... which then relates back to how i'm about what a text means and whether it does that well (is the plot believable? does the logic of the argument hold up?) rather than how a text means what it means. *thinks* Yeah, i think this is how i approach fiction in general, liking it or disliking it, but not picking it apart like i do with nonfiction. Which is not to say that i can't pick apart this stuff, especially stuff i'm hardcore about like Whedonverse, just that i generally don't.
Also, i love these shows. I do. "you've got to be able to criticize what you love, say what you have to say" but it pains me to just listen to people tear apart the show(s) -- though yes, lilithchilde, of course i know people nitpick because they are so passionate about the show, but it still pains me to hear people tear apart the shows. Also, i'm inclined to be very forgiving of things, looking back on them and seeing them as part of a larger plan. And despite my passion for the show, i'm often very mellow about what i like and dislike about the show. For example: I wasn't all over Buffy and Riley as a couple, but it explored the dynamics of Buffy dating a "regular" guy, and while i wasn't in love with the Initiative plotline, it as an alterna-Watcher's Council with a lot of interesting issues including moral grey (Oz, Angel, Spike). And of course, there were also all sorts of slashy goodness. I use Season 4, especially Riley, as an example, because that seems to be what gets the most hate. I'll gladly defend in more depth (though, aw shucks, not too many obsessive fans read my LJ) as well as defend other opinions, such as the fact that (switching over to Angel) i like Fred and i liked the Pylea arc. I do, however, acutely dislike dorky!Angel. I also wasn't a fan of the Connor storyline, and still don't actually like the character (though i have sympathy and find him fairly well-written).
Back to Buffy, remember "I mean, look at me obsessing about being with someone. It's like... I don't need a guy right now. I need me. I need to get comfortable being alone with Buffy." ? That's something i wish we had gotten to see -- Buffy not needing a boyfriend. Also, i don't have the hate on that many do for Season 6, but i definitely thought the "magic as a drug" plotline was a bad idea and it would have been much better (in a lot of ways, including just plain more interesting) to have more of a power issue (and dude, lilithchilde's the only person in her fancircle to think a major theme in this season is Buffy being all about power? The first episode ends with "It's not about right, it's not about wrong, it's about power" with "Buffy" in the "power" shot. And then in "Help," Buffy nearly kicks Cassie's dad's ass, because she thinks he's gonna be the cause of Cassie's death. Buffy has always gotten to be The Law as far as the demon world goes, despite the Watcher's Council, but she always had to abide by daylight law [Snyder, her mom] during the day, but now that she's part of the daytime system she gets to be The Law there, too.). Speaking of expectations, i'm a fan of this multi-level Back to the Beginning theme, and we've been teased with hints of the roots of the Slayer's power (which we've been hankering for since the first episode of Season 5) so as well as more on the issue of power (and the idea of a necessary balance between good and evil) i want more about Slayerness being rooted in darkness. Which brings one to Faith coming back, and how Buffy and Faith are in many ways opposites again but have switched sides. I was talking with offbalance the other day about how it will be interesting to see the interactions between Faith and the Sunnydale people. lilithchilde reminded me that Willow hated Faith for a number of reasons back in the day, and though i pointed out a number of reasons why Willow wouldn't be all hostile now, it is a valid point that i hadn't thought of since i'm 4 years removed from S3 while she's watching the DVDs now. (And back to the magic issue, Willow did serious magic, totally in control, in "Orpheus." That had better translate over into BtVS or i will be seriously angry.)
Hi, my name is Elizabeth and i'm inclined to want to tell everyone exactly what i think and why. Sheesh, no wonder lilithchilde was surprised i barely spoke during the discussion.
When i came in, people were talking about what exactly having a soul means, and i thought of truepenny's essay on how being vamped unleashes one's Id. Discussions like that i find interesting and engaging (though admittedly i'm not a fan of going over stuff that *i* have gone over a slew of times already), but it became "what are everyone's nitpicks about the show," which is valid but quickly became simply a bitchfest, like let's hate on Marti Noxon and David Fury and talk about how they've made the show horrible and Season 6 was an "abortion" (yes, that's what the guy leading the thing actually said) and it's too bad Joss was doing too many projects at once and let these writers run amuck and fuck thing up, oh and we also hate Riley and some of us never really got the Tara love. (There was Connor hate, but apparently we have all moved past Dawn hate. Maybe because, like Xander, she's barely ever in the show anymore. And dude, hate for Xander/Nicholas Brendon? I was *really* surprised.) I can't vouch for their abilities creating arcs (though my understanding is that Joss was still in charge of Big Picture stuff), but looking at the list of who wrote what, they wrote a lot of fucking good episodes (which makes sense, since they're the ones who got promoted).
Angel may or may not have a fifth season. It won't be easy to pull off another season given how much has changed in this season, but i could totally get behind a Back to the Beginning type season, ensemble focused, monster of the week-y (since we've gotten rid of W&H -- though given "Through the Looking Glass" (2.21), one wonders if they're really gone that easily -- and essentially the PTBs), especially because i really like the ensemble. There has been discussion over whether Glenn Quinn (who played Doyle in Season 1) was fired. He did have drug problems, which are implicated in his December 2002 death, though i don't think anyone's said anything official. trijinx (who knows these things) says that in interviews Joss has said the plan from the beginning was to put a character in the credits and then kill him off, to show that nothing's for sure and all that. I've heard that they had to move it up a couple episodes because of GQ's drug issues, which is plausible, but it sounds like a very Joss thing. trijinx also said that they were gonna put Jesse (Xander and Willow's best bud who gets both turned and staked -- someone accidentally pushes him into Xander's stake, no less -- in the second episode) in the credits but he didn't have the money. I also read somewhere (unfofficial) recently that Joyce was gonna be put in the credits for "I Was Made to Love You" (remember, Buffy comes home and finds her mom dead) but it didn't happen, though Joss did do it with Tara in "Seeing Red."
For the record, i love that my family is all about having a plan (though there's certainly room for flexibility) and i'm always thrown by the fact that this is not how most people operate.
"I have a cunning plan, sir."Oh, and at/after the discussion thingy i got to mee meet sweetvalleyslut and gooniesforevah (two of lilithchilde's best buds) which was nice.
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognize a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, danced on a harpsichord and sang: 'Cunning plans are here again'."
I may have taught trijinx the term "retcon", but she went and linked to a nice definition of it. You know you wish you were us. :)
This uber-entry brought to you by a college student who thankfully did nearly all of her homework on Saturday.
Current favorite playlist...
Belle & Sebastian "Is It Wicked Not to Care" followed by saava's "Buffy & Spike: Possession" mix:
Chris Isaac - Wicked Game
10,000 Maniacs - Because the Night
Aimee Mann - Save Me
Counting Crows - Rain King
Crowded House - Into Temptation
Shakespeare's Sister - Stay
Duran Duran - Come Undone
Dynamite Hack - Anyway (mellow version)
Garbage - You Look So Fine
Goo Goo Dolls - Iris
Madonna - Frozen
Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes
Sarah McLachlan - Possession
Sheryl Crow - Strong Enough
Nine Inch Nails - Something I Can Never
Tori Amos - Hey Jupiter
I love that suspectplaces calls me "hv" in LiveJournal.
I am in a very tranceballerina kinda mindset when it comes to "end of the world" fic, so i have been weirded out by how many people have done this week's sunday100 challenge playfully.
I should really go to bed now.