Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Most Sensitive Generation?

I'm reading a book by Father Michael Scanlan, who's among other things the academic dean of the University of Steubenville.

In it he recounts a story from his childhood where he fell from first place in the class to fifth place or so ... see, their seating assignments were according to academic class rank. Scanlan just missed World War II, but shares the values, work ethic and philosophy of "The Greatest Generation."

Can you imagine that today? Visibly ranking students according to academic performance and effort?

The lines in our culture running between accomplishment and recognition have long ago been muddied and smeared; celebs and public figures have shown us a person can be famous for just about anything. Or virtually nothing.

The biggest violation a teacher can commit, in the eyes of his students, appears to be "calling a student out." Singling out a student for negative behavior in front of his or her peers.

My fear is while much of the world seeks a softer way, reality remains very real. The grades of all students are still posted on the walls in China; employers still want only the best and brightest - and hardest working - and they still fire employees at will in the quest for the best talent.

"Life is not a bowl of cherries, Vincent," my grandmother has said to me sternly, several dozen (hundred?) times over the years.

I've come to learn the fruit tastes so much sweeter when it's been picked from high places.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Create Digital Timelines with Dipity

Dipity is a neat, free online tool students and teachers can use in a lot of cool ways.

In just a few clicks, you can combine pics, text, links and map locations to really bring a timeline to life. Here's one I found on Shakespeare.

The free version has a few ads up top - nothing obtrusive. A cool tool for History or current events, for sure - here's one on the civil war in Libya.

Dipity would also be great for desktop publishing or a similar tech-oriented class; here's a timeline on Apple CEO Steve Jobs.