Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 6: Mostly boring....

The lead story is that the CFL will play a game in Moncton this fall - and we'll make millions and millions of dollars. Several questions have always puzzled me about these extravaganzas.
1. How much do they cost us?
2. How much money do they bring in?
3. How much of that money stays in Moncton? After all, money spent on hotels and fast food, perhaps most of it, goes somewhere else.

What are we getting for our money? And why does the TandT never report on that?

A Target Store is going to open in the Fall.  Be still, my heart.

Headline on A2 - "Coalition won't publish attack figures". Real story? The US government has been caught lying in releasing figures suggesting it is winning the war in Afghanistan when, in fact, it lost it a long time ago. So it won't release any more figures on the scale of taliban attacks. It might take a moment to figure that out because the report is a beautiful piece of bafflegab.

Skip the rest of section A unless you didn't know that schools were on March break, and that kids sometimes go to Crystal Palace on the break.

On the Your Business page, the big story is that PEI is producing a new beer which can now be obtained in NB liquor stores. It's called Beach Chair, and it has a picture of - you guessed it - a beach chair in the sun and on the sand. In other words, the whole image on the can is heat. However, it is my experience that few people buy a can of beer to warm up. Beach Chair may not be a brilliant marketing concept.

But, evidently, it's big news in the Moncton business world.
Section D has a longish story on the death of Chavez of Venezuela which tells everything but the truth.
Historically, Venezuela was run by a a wealthy elite  (something like New Brunswick) who lived high on the nation's American-controlled oil reserves while the rest of the population lived in utter misery.

Chavez changed that. He took national control of the oil, and used the money to provide services the general population had never had before - education, medical care, decent housing... The rich immediately fled to the US where they joined their friends, the dictator's thugs who had fled Cuba in the 50s.

The oil companies, with the help of most US governments, have been trying to stir up a civil war or to murder Chavez ever since. My guess is they'll now go for a civil war to bring back the good, old days when oil barons ruled the land and kept most in poverty, and when elections were rigged to keep it that way. And then our hypocrite prime minister will praise Venezuela for returning to "democracy and freedom".  (Harper's other great friend is Saudi Arabia, the country with the tightest and cruelest dictatorship in the world. Harper's kinda guys.)

John Baird, our Foreign Affairs Minister, pledged to punish Palestine if it took charges of criminal behaviour against Israel to an international criminal court. He might, for example, cut off humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people - who desperately need it.

What a thorough bastard!

For a start, if Israel is innocent, a court will decide that. Who is Baird to decide that a country cannot take a case to court?

And who is that tool of Harper to inflict punishment on people who desperately need food and medical help?

Result? The American and Israeli far right who want to wipe out Palestine will pat pit bull Baird and his master Harper on their unattractive heads. And we will continue to play the stooge for American foreign policy while the innocent suffer.
Both Alec Bruce and Norbert Cunningham write on the same topic today - the future of universities.
Norbert has some good points. What a pity he cannot make them without rant - or with evidence. I was struck, though, by his attacks on Frank McKenna as a "spin doctor" (liar) and on bureaucratic madness in big corporations. Wow! If they're as bad as he says, why has never attacked them as he attacks the poor, the unemployed, and anybody he doesn't agree with?

There is some truth in what he says about universities. The problem is he is so ignorant of what universities are and what they do, he has no foundation making any suggestions to improve the situation.

Alex Bruce comes closer to the mark, but he misses by thinking too highly of what the universities have to say for themselves. He says that high school does not prepare students for university.

Not true.

The high schools do prepare them. The universities officially recognize that. There are university officials whose job it is to examine applications to the university. They have records of the high school standards of just about every country in the world. They decide on who gets accepted. And that acceptance letter MEANS that the student is ready for university.

So where does it all go wrong?

It goes wrong with the professors. Most don't have a clue on how to move the student into the next level of learning. Most have no training whatever in teaching. Indeed, those profs who know big words will say that teaching is yuckie-poo. Many think only of the subject, and not at all of the student.

If they were trying to hitch a trailer to a car, but couldn't do it because the car had no ballmount, they would say it was the car's fault.

In universities, they blame the student for not being prepared for university. I don't know how often I've heard that excuse. The university has said they are prepared. That's why they got accepted. Of course, they aren't prepared to jump into the deep end. They need someone who cares about teaching and knows something about it to make the transition.

But what they get, too often, are arrogant, ego-driven profs who don't have a clue about how to teach, indeed who have contempt for the very idea of teaching. And I have seen that arrogance and incompetence repeated all the way through university so that some final year professors still say - they're students aren't prepared for university.

And I must disagree with Alex's final point - that critical thinking is what professors do best. All my experience is that what they do best is pumping up their own egos, and shining their personal prestige.
Critical thinking is what they can do well - within their own, narrow fields. But it rarely gets much beyond that.

The universities face a very real crisis. They should have realized that fifty years ago. They didn't. They still don't.  And they won't.

I have two, strong memories of my undergraduate years. I had only grade ten when I started. (I had been kicked out of school in grade eleven.) I was often at sea in my classes, as Alex mentioned he was. I still passed. So much for the importance of preparation.

The second memory is that today I remember almost nothing of what I was taught and passed exams on. That's because most university teachers don't have a clue about how to teach writing or thinking (which would be useful for all of us.)  All most can do is give us useless information to memorize (which is forgotten months after the final exam).

However, I remember one thing. If you have two rabbits, one black and one white and each of them only one sex and that a different sex from the other, and they get married and have four bunnies - one bunny will be black, one white, and two grey. (I think). This is the first time in my life I've had an opportunity to use that information.

Eric Lewis and Brian Cormier on the op ed page are so boring and irrelevant, they should be university teachers.

1 comment:

  1. "If you have two rabbits, one black and one white and each of them only one sex and that a different sex from the other, and they get married and have four bunnies - one bunny will be black, one white, and two grey. (I think). This is the first time in my life I've had an opportunity to use that information." ???

    You are hilarious. :)