Wednesday, October 28, 2009



The staff here at Camp Nickleby always wonders what happens to our graduates. Well, we now know where last year’s valedictorian ended up. Bethalynda Gurd, Class of 2009, managed to get hired on at the local purveyor of breaded and fried protein down in Hog Lick Corners. And of course, being one of Camp Nickleby’s exemplary spellers, she was immediately put in charge of the reader board outside of the ‘restaurant’. As you can see, she has a rather intuitive approach to spelling. Also notice the inventive use of the number 7 and giving double duty to the letter ‘W’. Most people would not have those important outside-of-the-box problem-solving skills so important with American businesses today.

Good on ya, Bethalynda! We are so proud of you!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


We heard that Soupy Sales died last Thursday. The Camp is in mourning. When I was a kid, I don't think I missed one of his shows! I ran home from school everyday and plopped myself in front of the TV. Couldn't wait to see what White Fang was going to do on any given day. Soupy, and for that matter, The Three Stooges, made me the person I am today!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Superintendent Kim Chee has been ragging on many of our staff members recently, claiming that we are out of shape. The nerve! She says we need to lose some weight and look more ‘professional’. WTF? To achieve her goal, she thought it would be a good idea to hire a staff Yoga and Pilates instructor. Yippee! Meet Duane ‘Moondawg’ Thudwiemer, our new Yoga and Pilates teacher. In addition to trying to get our counseling staff in shape, Duane will also be teaching classes in our P.E. department. We wish him luck.

To better introduce Duane to our loyal readers, here is a video of one of his yoga sessions, which he supplied to the interviewing committee last month. Please notice that Duane utilizes many of the classic yoga poses while attempting to purchase a large quantity of brewed adult beverage. Duane starts his routine with the Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog, and then seamlessly flows into the Bhujangasana or Cobra. Next, watch as Duane utilizes the Uttanasana II or Forward Bend, then immediately segues into a perfectly-executed Trikonasana or Triangle pose. To culminate this perfect routine, Duane executes what could possibly be his finest move, the Savasana or Corpse pose.

Duane is a product of one of those new Teaching Credential mills we’ve been reading about. His training lasted a total of five weeks! We are expecting great thing from him. And no, we have no idea why his nickname is Moondawg!


I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m a used-book-store junkie (but in a good way). I like the smell of musty books, I like the fringe clientele, and of course I like the decaying ambiance. My latest find is, To Open Minds, by multiple-intelligences guru Howard Gardner. The subtitle, Chinese Clues to the Dilemma of Contemporary Education, reeled me in and shuttled me to the bookstore cashier. Although written 20 years ago, Gardner discusses the same school reform crap that we are going through now, only the names are different. I’m sure Arne, Newt and Al all have a dog-eared copy of this book on their nightstands. As I was perusing through the pages, I came upon this passage concerning test-taking, with a little bonus by William F. Buckley, thrown in for good measure.

Always a good test taker in school, I had found the Stevens Battery easy enough. My test-taking prowess was to continue when I took standardized tests in high school and college: I had whatever knack it takes to pick out the best answer from a set of four or five. The columnist William F. Buckley has aptly indicated that his own skill at such tests involved not figuring out the correct answer in any absolute sense, but rather figuring out “which was the answer the examiners probably desired me to give.” According to my own analysis, test taking assesses chiefly linguistic and logical intelligence, with some bonus points for speed, flexibility, and superficiality.

Monday, October 19, 2009


When I woke up Sunday morning, I was hoping there was something in the Cedarville Gazette that would make me come to camp this morning. Something to inspire me to teach. Something that would validate me as a teacher and a human being. And there it was! Nicholas D. Kristof, of the New York Times, has all the answers! In a recent opinion column, Kristof suggests that ‘good’ teachers and a ‘good’ education will bring America out of poverty! In his column, he states:

Good schools constitute a far more potent weapon against poverty than welfare, food stamps or housing subsidies. Yet, cowed by teachers' unions, Democrats have too often resisted reform and stood by as generations of disadvantaged children have been cemented into an underclass by third-rate schools.

See? Teachers have the power to end poverty and hunger in the United States, if only we didn’t have those damn unions, and if we were willing to do it all for minimum wage! Thank you, Mr. Kristof, for setting us straight. What a tool!

And here is some interesting night reading that I found on today.

Friday, October 16, 2009


You might have missed this story in the MSM from last week, but apparently there was a moratorium on public school bashing by the wingnut punditry, causing the earth to shift on its axis by thirty degrees! This shift lasted for seventeen minutes. During this time, Vladivostok replaced the North Pole. This lapse in conservative invectives against public education and for union busting school reforms was brought about by President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, which caused many of the lunatics on the right to get their panties all in a bunch. They were so busy foaming at the mouth over Obama’s prize that they forgot to hammer away at public schools.

The likes of Ruben Navarette, Jr., Jonah Goldberg (former 101st Fighting Keyboarder), David Brooks and even Mortimer Zuckerman of U.S. News and World Report took their collective eyes off the prize. During those brief seventeen minutes, we in public education breathed a sigh of relief, but actually weren’t quite sure what to do in the classroom without some ‘expert’ telling us how to do our job.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


The New York Times (10/15, A18, Dillon) reports that new National Assessment of Educational Progress math scores "show that student achievement grew faster during the years before [NCLB], when states were dominant in education policy, than over the years since, when the federal law has become a powerful force in classrooms." According to the Times, NAEP scores "increased only marginally for eighth graders and not at all for fourth graders, continuing a sluggish six-year trend of slowing achievement growth since passage" of NCLB, "which requires schools to bring 100 percent of students to reading and math proficiency by 2014." The New York Times (10/15, A1, Medina) reports in a separate story on its front page, "New York State's fourth and eighth graders made no notable progress" on NAEP "math exams this year, according to test scores released on Wednesday, sharply contradicting the results of state-administered tests that showed record gains."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Well, I’m just a little bit bummed. After the campers headed back to their cabins today once classes were over, I shuffled over to Spellings Hall, to maybe get the last cup of simmering, afternoon coffee and put my feet up before I headed home.

On the table was a copy of the latest issue of Money magazine. And in it was an article, listing the 100 Best Jobs in America, according to them. Well, I couldn’t wait to see where public school teacher ranked on
the list. I searched the list for ‘high school teacher’. Nothing. I searched for ‘public school teacher’. Nothing. I searched for ‘miracle worker’. Nothing. I even searched for ‘pathetic, delusional sucker’. Still nothing.

I thought for sure the noble profession of public school teacher would rank, oh I don’t know, at least 99, maybe even as high as 95. I feel so dirty.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


We started a new project in 3D Design today. The kiddies are to create a new sport and then make a trophy or award for it. Because of my many years of MUMBO JUMBO instruction, I know how important the anticipatory set is when introducing a new lesson. I showed several slides of famous awards and trophies (Oscar, Americas Cup, Heismann, etc.). When I came to the Davis Cup, I asked if anybody knew what sport this trophy was for. I timid and hesitant reply came from the back of the room. "Cake decorating?" was the response.

Come to think of it, that makes a load of sense!


Last night, as I was filling out my KPFA membership survey, I came across this section! I laughed so hard, I almost dropped my glass of 2006 Australian Shiraz. Last time I checked, there were only TWO GENDERS! What could possibly be considered an ‘OTHER’?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Questions, questions, they’ve got questions!

At the end of every lecture, I hesitantly ask a class, “Any questions?” Usually I receive the glazed looked, signally the fact that they had absolutely no interest in the last fifteen minutes of their life in the classroom. Occasionally, there is the classroom smart-ass who comes up with a question that only he and his minions they is absolutely hilarious. Then I received yesterday’s question.

“Teacher, what’s a yeast infection,” a young lady asked me, her table-mates snickering underneath their breath. Considering that the art lecture preceding this little gem was on color theory, I was hard-pressed to find a connection between the two. Not wanting to fall into her trap and remembering that I forgot to go to medical school, I came up with the only safe answer I could think of. “It is an accident that happens in a bakery,” I proclaimed, dodging another sticky situation.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend.