Archive for education

Education News: New Illustrated Book Helps Children Understand Autism

Posted in Blog, education, people with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by dustus

Marsha Rae Osborn Tells Story of Compassion, Acceptance in New Children’s Book
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MADISON, Ala., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ — “Understanding Jason” (published by AuthorHouse), the new book written by Marsha Rae Osborn and illustrated by DeOnna Mills, tells the story of a group of typical students who learn from their teacher how to accept and help an autistic student, Jason, fit in with their class…

read this News Release!
source: Reuters
Wed Sep 9, 2009 8:40am EDT


Author and Reader at a Crossroads

Posted in Blog, education, people, social media, writing with tags , , , , , on July 22, 2009 by dustus

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.”
~Robert C. Gallagher

The other night I felt like I caught a glimpse of the future. I was reading James Joyce’s classic Ulysses on an Amazon Kindle. While the Kindle 2 is a little pricey at this stage in the game, Ulysses was only .99 cents to download!  I realized right then the direction publishing has already taken.  To my traditionalist literary friends, take comfort in knowing that you can at least say goodbye to paper cuts!

“Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney estimates that Amazon sold 500,000 devices last year and will become a $1.2B a year business by 2010.”
source: http://tinycomb.com/2009/02/03/just-how-many-kindles-were-sold-last-year/

While still maintaining a reverence for the way I grew up reading, I believe the printed book will become an antique over the course of this next generation (this change will most likely be broadcast through electronic media, blogging, and microblogging).

Part of me is torn on this promised societal change. But then again, I resisted email when it began!  Media downloads could very well prompt a great advancement in educational technology, benefiting the entire learning landscape—especially as high-functioning, portable “assistive technology” for children with disabilities.

Nonetheless, I’ll miss the feel of holding a classic, even the musty smell of really old ones.  More so, I’ll miss the fact that I can’t deface a book by scribbling sloppy notes all over the margins.  I’m willing to give that up if it helps the environment. Depending on how these electronics are disposed of when broken, this could become an environmental friendly teaching tool that in the long run can save future scholars (and countless school districts) exorbitant textbook fees. Think of how many textbooks for college kids across the country are recycled via buy-backs for two years or so (at a ridiculous profit, taking full advantage of poor college students) until the new edition is soon thereafter released, and in many cases sold for well over one hundred dollars.

What I have to get over is this: It feels different reading on the Kindle 2.  I love reading printed books.  I always will.  However, I love technology too and find the good and useful in it.  Thus, I consider myself an author and reader at a crossroads. This is such a unique time in history.

On a much more personal level,  I was reading on the Kindle 2 and my eyes became tired.  I enlarged the font with minimal clicking and voila!  Much easier to read.  In fact, it took one day for my professor friend with a visual impairment to extol the virtues of this device. I thought that was really cool.  Incidentally, she’s going to write a thank you email to Amazon.

A Personal Change

Posted in Blog, education, writing with tags , , , on July 7, 2009 by dustus

As a withdrawn bookish teenager and through the early part of my adulthood, I was not very good at handling pressure.  Being considered a “nervous person” was an understatement— I was so painfully shy that I could not look people in the eye, muttered often, and thought nobody understood what I was going through. Fortunately, I changed and began to appreciate people as much as I did words on a page.  It always felt contrary to my nature pursuing a solitary life.

I’m at the point now where I am determined to keep writing.  Having gotten past obsessing about what others think of me, every day I look to improve my skill.  Though I often wonder why I feel compelled to push myself, it probably has something to do with my fear of impermanence and longing for my time on earth to last.  Ego aside, I wish to keep a record of my thoughts and creativity.  I just want desperately and foolishly for something in my life to remain, even if it only be a brief ramble or 2.  I guess this is my way of saying, “Hey world! I was here.”

Probably because I was a very lazy and apathetic teenager, I did not try very hard at academics—at least not until I entered college. I realized the other night that since I left home at age 19, I’ve lived in about twenty different places with more than that number of roommates.  Once at college, I began writing to maintain a semblance of consistentcy in my life….  As far as dealing with impermanence, two of the schools I’ve attended no longer exist. Unfortunately, they were the two I appreciated the most.  More importantly, a dear friend from high school died years ago and I still think about him all the time.  Family members keep passing away.  Relationships have ended abruptly.  Nonetheless, I guess I had better get used to the idea that places and people do inevitably change.  Perhaps change is the only true thing in life?  I need to accept that.

About Bullying

Posted in Blog, education, Poetry, writing with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by dustus

Attitudes promoting friends and teamwork
Some say schools have hardly changed
Though many institutions exist with metal detectors
Kids still hide what they need to feel safe

Anti-bullying legislation
A slow-to-warm mediation

Abandoned security
Abuses taken way too far
Many bright creative kids
Educated baring emotional scars

Bitter and angry
Where’s our common humanity?

Don’t reply to cyberstalking
Nasty threats, text-message mocking
Advocate your own peace
If schools do nothing
Talk to the police

hit, kicked, spit-on, beaten
No person deserves despicable treatment

Silence promotes helplessness
What passes parental eyes unseen
Nearly a third of our children
Want desperately to regain their dignity

Build together involved school communities
Teaching the virtues of genuine unity
But for any notion of change to become actuality
We must acknowledge our social realities

The Golden Ruler

Posted in Blog, education, Poetry, writing with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by dustus

Once upon a time
In a world begun by cliché
The Sisters of St. Mary’s
Taught me precisely how to be afraid

Sitting in class or when enjoying the playground
Were instructed to pause, say a prayer each time
Police, ambulance, and fire sirens sound

Expecting the worst in tense moments
It was all never good enough
Minor infractions deserved severest punishment
The Golden Ruler administered
Perhaps possessed of deserving lashes
Fury spewed from an old virgin bride
Supposedly promoted by Jesus Christ,
Who was saving us
Wimple worn and full of scorn
Such a humiliating experience inside
Classroom prison, not the mission
Bruised into submission
Especially when spanked on end
Ruler’s medieval metallic gleaming edge
Could cut curiously natural imperfect children
Beaten into confession that one is a bad kid
“To toughen you up”
Made us feel guilty
Not wanting to be us
Feeling filthy

Those nuns of course
Lived by holy orders
I also have no stomach for
Secular parents abusing their sons and daughters