Signs: “Check caching”

October 21, 2013

Utah has a Cache County, which includes most of the Cache Valley.  In 7th grade Utah history, if not before, Utah kids learn that the name came from the old Mountain Men, French-descended fur trappers who plied the area well before the Mormon pioneers and even John C. Fremont.

A trapper could collect a half-ton of beaver pelts in a season, to sell to a large corporation to export to Europe to be made into felt.  He wouldn’t want to carry that weight around with him.  So trappers would make a place to hide their furs until trading time — a “cache” in fractured French, from the word “cacher,” which means “to hide,” in this case. (See also Colorado’s Cache la Poudre River.)

Utah’s Cache Valley at least one year hosted the grand rendezvous of fur trappers and their hosting corporate suppliers and buyers, and for much of a decade or longer was a place where fur trappers hid their furs awaiting the rendezvous — great American explorers and pioneers like Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger, James Beckwourth, Peter Skene Ogden and Thomas Fitzpatrick.

Maybe the people who made this sign didn’t know that history.  I found it in Alvarado, Texas, after all.

There is a world of difference between “cashing a check” and “caching a check,” though.  Surely there is an Abbott and Costello-style comedy routine in this sign:

Check caching in Alvarado, Texas?

Check caching in Alvarado, Texas?

Six words on that sign.  Three of them are misspelled, 50%.

I imagine someone entering the store to cash a check, handing it to the clerk who promptly drops it into a slot in a mysterious box and says, “All cached.”  “Where’s my check?” the customer demands.  Abbott and Costello enter from the back room.

Then I got stuck with an ugly earworm for the next few miles, with Tommy James infecting my brain.  But for the want of an “e” it could have been the Beatles or Pink Floyd.

I hope the merchant got a heckuva discount from the sign maker.  At least 50% off.

Camp near the head of Cache Valley, Utah - NAR...

Cache Valley, Utah, in the late 19th or early 20th century; camp near the head of Cache Valley – NARA – 516657 via Wikipedia

Cache Valley, Utah, today, after an infusion of cash. Jim Bridger wouldn't recognize the place.  Wikipedia image

Cache Valley, Utah, today, after an infusion of cash. Jim Bridger wouldn’t recognize the place. Wikipedia image


Again: Motivation 101 – How NOT to

October 18, 2013

This is an encore post, mostly.

“A Swift Kick in the Butt $1.00,” A daily strip of the cartoon series “Calvin and Hobbes,” by Bill Watterson. Watterson appears to have an instinctual understanding of what motivation is not. It’s a topic he returned to with some frequency.

Educators don’t know beans about motivation I think. I still see courses offered on “how to motivate” students to do X, or Y, or Z — or how to motivate faculty members to motivate students to do X.

This view of motivation is all wrong, the industrial psychologists and experience say. A student must motivate herself.

A teacher can remove barriers to motivation, or help a student find motivation. But motivation cannot be external to the person acting.

Frederick Herzberg wrote a classic article for The Harvard Business Review several years back: “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?” Herzberg would get a group of managers together and ask them, “If I have six week-old puppy, and I want it to move, how do I get it to move?” Inevitably, one of the wizened managers of people would say, “Kick him in the ass!” Is that motivation? Herzberg would ask? Managers would nod “yes.”

Frederick Herzberg, 1923-2000

Frederick Herzberg, 1923-2000

Then, Herzberg would ask what about dealing with the pup six months later. To get the older pup to move, he’d offer a doggie yum, and the dog would come. “Is that motivation?” Herzberg would ask. Again, the managers would agree that it was motivation. (At AMR’s Committing to Leadership sessions, we tried this exercise several hundred times, with roughly the same results. PETA has changed sensitivities a bit, and managers are fearful of saying they want to kick puppies, but they’ll say it in different words.)

Herzberg called this “Kick In The Ass” theory, or KITA, to avoid profanity and shorten the phrase.

Herzberg would then chastise the managers. Neither case was motivation, he’d say. One was violence, a mugging; the other was a bribe. In neither case did the dog want to move, in neither case was the dog motivated. In both cases, it was the manager who was motivated to make the dog move.

Motivation is the desire to do something, the desire and drive to get something done.

Motivating employees is getting them to share the urgency a manager feels to do a task, to go out and do it on their own without being told how to do each and every step along the way.

Motivation is not simply coercing someone else to do what you want, on threat of pain, virtual or real.

Herzberg verified his theories with research involving several thousands of employees over a couple of decades. His pamphlet for HBR sold over a million copies.

Education is wholly ignorant of Herzberg’s work, so far as I can tell. How do I know?

See this, at TexasEd Spectator:

Death threat as a motivation technique

May 23rd, 2008
Education | MySanAntonio.com

The sad part about this is that I bet if a mere, ordinary teacher were to have made some similar statement, he or she would be treated more like the student rather than the principle.

Now imagine if some student at the school had said something along the same lines in a writing assignment. We would be hearing about zero tolerance all over the place. The student would be out of the regular classroom so fast it would make your head spin.

No charges will be brought against New Braunfels Middle School Principal John Burks for allegedly threatening to kill a group of science teachers if their students’ standardized test scores failed to improve, although all four teachers at the meeting told police investigators Burks made the statement.

Kick in the ass, knife in the back, knife in the heart — that ain’t motivation.

As God is my witness, you can’t make this stuff up.

I’m not sure who deserves more disgust, the principal who made the threat and probably didn’t know anything else to do, or the teachers who didn’t see it as a joke, or treat it that way to save the principal’s dignity — or a system where such things are regarded as normal.

Bill Watterson returned to the

Bill Watterson returned to the “Swift Kick in the Butt, $1.00” strip, but this time with the more lively Hobbes Calvin interacted with most often. What would motivate a cartoonist to do that? Watterson is said to have observed, “People will pay for what they want, but not what they need.” Can school administrators even figure out what teachers and students need?  Which version do you prefer? Which one motivates you?

More:


How can you tell the disturbed staff from the Members of Congress?

October 18, 2013

You can’t, Charlie Pierce says.

Logo for Charles P. Pierce's coverage of the shutdown, at Esquire's site.

Logo for Charles P. Pierce’s coverage of the shutdown, at Esquire’s site.

In fact, he makes a great case that some of the stuff Members of Congress say is crazier than what appears to be rantings of a disturbed staff person.

At his blog at Esquire.

You see, my dear young people, impromptu outbursts of the crazy cannot be allowed. If you insist on loudly making the crazy talk, you have to be elected by the citizens of Texas, and you have to be invited to speak at events like the Values Voters Summit, where well-dressed and well-organized insanity is encouraged. For example:

“The media wants America to give up and allow this country to keep sliding off the edge of the cliff.”    “This is an administration that seems bound and determine to violate every single one of our bill of rights. I don’t know that they have yet violated the Third Amendment, but I expect them to start quartering soldiers in peoples’ homes soon.”

“How scared is the President? What a statement of fear, what a statement of fear. Oh, they don’t want the truth to be heard. They definitely don’t want the truth to be heard.”

Read more: House Stenographer Snapped – Reign Of The Morons: The Elements Of Crazy – Esquire
Follow us: @Esquiremag on Twitter | Esquire on Facebook
Visit us at Esquire.com

Go visit.  The rest of it is well worth the minute it will take you to read it.

No, it’s not really required that you be insane to be a Congressman from Texas — Texas sent Barbara Jordan and Jim Wright and THE Charlie Wilson there, after all.

But these days, who can tell?


Fall colors at Great Sand Dunes National Park? White?

October 18, 2013

Looks like snow to me.  From the Department of Interior:

Fall colors have arrived at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Department of Interior

Fall colors have arrived at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. #nature #autumn #colorado pic.twitter.com/34RXSkuBLe


Piano on Utah Lake

October 17, 2013

Let me state right up front that the only reason I’m posting this is because of the cameo appearance of Mt. Timpanogos in this video.

The sun is setting in the west; Timpanogos is that biggest mountain to the east.

Never heard of this guy before, the pianist William Joseph; found it through a clip in the Deseret News in Salt Lake City.

I understand there’s a platform hiding beneath the water.  When my grandfather, Leo Barrett Stewart, Sr., was a child, about ten miles south of where this film was shot, he said one could paddle a boat out to the middle of Utah Lake, and see the bottom, picking the trout one wished to fish for.  That was before the invasive carp was introduced.

It would be wonderful to see Utah Lake restored to the point that you could see the platform holding the piano.

Filming and credit details from devinsupertramp below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Oops. Future of education already here; reformers missed it (and so did most teachers)

October 17, 2013

You need to see these slides, from Will Richardson.

First, teachers should send a copy of this to their evaluators, principals, and all other admins up to the superintendent.  Sure, it’s possible they’ll fire you for telling the truth.  But if every teacher in your district did it, they might look at the slides and ponder:  What in the hell do our evaluations and test scores have to do with this new future that is already upon us, and around us, and washing away the foundations of what the state legislature claims we must be doing?

Will Richardson

Will Richardson

Second, this is a model presentation.  Notice how few of the slides are cluttered with words.  Notice those slides with words are easy to read, easy to grasp, and complement and are complemented by a lot of great images.  (One of my students got a less-than-A grade on a PowerPoint presentation in another class, and brought me the evaluation:  “Not enough text,” was one of the criticisms he’d gotten.  That teacher is considered a model by too many administrators.)  It’s not a perfect presentation.  Garr Reynolds would have a lot to say about it.  I’ll wager Richardson’s is better than any other presentation you’ve seen this week, in the content, the depth of information, and the way it’s packaged.  (Would have loved to have seen the presentation . . .)  That is particularly true if you’ve been the victim of teacher professional development sessions in the past week.

There are a lot of slides, partly because so few of them are cluttered by text.  (Don’t know how long the presentation went.)  This presentation would win a case against almost every other slide presentation I’ve ever seen from any law firm, who pay tens of thousands to lawyers to make slide presentations that defy understanding.  The world would be ever so much better were lawyers required to watch this, and compare it with their last presentation.

Third (related to and justifying the first), you need to realize how things have changed in the past year, past five years, past decade, and how we as a society and nation failed to account for those changes, or keep up with them, especially in our public AND private elementary and secondary schools.  Richardson understands the changes, and has some great leads on answers.

This presentation appears to have been a hit.  It seems a few people asked Will Richardson for copies (@WillRich45, www.willrichardson.com), which is why it’s on Slideshare.

Richardson highlights the importance of these thoughts at his blog:

If the recent iPad debacle in Los Angeles teaches us anything it’s that no amount of money and technology will change anything without a modern vision of what teaching and learning looks like when every student and every teacher has access to the Internet. As many of us have been saying for far too long, our strategy to deal with the continuing explosion of technology and connections can’t be to simply layer devices on top of the traditional curriculum and engage in digital delivery. Unfortunately, far too few develop a vision that sees that differently.

*     *     *     *     *

Please note: Technology is integrated throughout these initiatives in ways that serve the vision, not the other way around. This isn’t “let’s give everyone an iPad filled with a lot of textbook and personalized learning apps aimed at improving test scores and then figure out how to manage it.” This is about having important conversations around complex, difficult questions:

  • What will schools look like in the future?
  • What kinds of spaces do we need to support instruction and collaborative work in 5-10 years?
  • How will technology transform curriculum, instruction, and assessment?

And how does it work at your school, teachers?  Students?

We missed the revolution.  The kids are ahead of us.

Can  we catch up?

More:


Sorry, America: GOP has suspended democracy and the republic; no film at 11:00

October 14, 2013

You know those guys running around screaming about Obama establishing tyranny?

I think they’re providing cover for the real tyrants.

Rules of the House of Representatives; available at Amazon.com for $104, but worth much less to the GOP.

Rules of the House of Representatives; available at Amazon.com for $104, but worth much less to the GOP.

This video is pretty amazing: Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) in the Speaker’s chair, announcing that the GOP sneaked through a rule change so that no Democrat, no Republican, can bring up any issue of the American people in the House of Representatives, if Emperor Boehner does not approve and do it himself.

Quick, call the Ladies at Mt. Vernon. This is the sort of tyranny that is liable to bring George Washington out of his tomb. Is the bell ringing?

Here’s an exchange from the floor of the House, on September 30, 2013:

Late in the evening on September 30, 2013, the House Rules Committee Republicans changed the Rules of the House so that the ONLY Member allowed to call up the Senate’s clean CR for a vote was Majority Leader Eric Cantor or his designee — all but guaranteeing the government would shut down a few hours later and would stay shut down. Previously, any Member would have had the right to bring the CR up for a vote. Democracy has been suspended in the House of Representatives.

(Oddly enough, via Mia Farrow)

It’s a lot of inside baseball, but not so much that you can’t understand it.

Unlike the Senate, where the rules say anyone can propose just about anything at any time, the House has too many  members to allow for such free-for-alls on legislation.  Under House rules, most bills come to the floor with a special rule about how it will be discussed, whether it can can be amended, how it can be amended, and by whom.  These rules get created by the House Committee on Rules.  There should be a specific rule on every bill.  When the bill is brought up, the rules on how that bill can be discussed are proposed, and usually accepted by the majority without much fuss.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland,  found some difficulties in the rule on the CR, and the way the GOP leadership interprets it to mean that no other Member of the House of Representatives counts for anything.  Unfortunately for U.S., Jason Chaffetz for the GOP confirmed that House is cut out of key parts of process for funding government — probably contrary to Constitution, but who could enforce the Constitution on the GOP?

Weird. Troubling. Not productive.

More:


%d bloggers like this: