March 5, 2008

Gary Gygax goes to a Higher Plane

Posted in Fatherhood, Life in Los Angeles, Role Playing Games, Teaching, World of Warcrack at 4:15 pm by loolar

I certainly owe a tremendous debt to Gygax for giving my science fiction/fantasy adolescent mind an outlet; or perhaps he owes me thousands of hours of my life back – either way, I would be remiss if not marking his passing.

I rarely get to roleplay anymore; it seems that with children, most of us who can run a game just don’t have the time to plan it. And most of us have ceased to play the Wizards of the Coast update to the TSR classic rules anyway, preferring home-brewed systems light on mechanics and heavy on flavor. Additionally, World of Warcraft has become a surrogate of sorts, since I still get to see most of the group online.

That said, I’ve been engaging in roleplaying in one form or another since my early teens, which I am forced to admit means in excess of 25 years now (kindly don’t do the math). I actually look forward to teaching my son the idea when he’s old enough, the same way I taught my younger brother. I still believe the game prompts creativity and literary hunger, and anything that gets kids to read is okay with me.

In honor, I’m linking a fun Salon article, mostly for the video at the end – a Warcraft inspired take on “Mahna Mahna” as made famous by the Muppets. For those not in the know, ROTFLMAO means rolling on the floor laughing my ass off; the other gibberish sung by the main character are similarly-inspired bits of email, chat, text and video game words, or “leet speak” (l33t for “elite”).

November 30, 2007

No Child Left Behind (or with critical thinking skills)

Posted in Life in Los Angeles, Teaching at 6:14 pm by loolar

Sad, but true.

The latest annoyance, thanks to the idiocy known as “No Child Left Behind” (code name: No Teacher Left Standing), is that we’re spending 8 weeks doing a straight from the prep course book CAHSEE review (California High School Exit Exam). We might as well be a strip mall prep course – only $49.99!

That’s right, folks, because if our scores don’t raise enough, we’ll get more administrative, bureaucratic oversight, despite the fact that four years of home-grown innovation have our scores through the roof. See, they’re rising, just not “fast enough.” So to preserve our autonomy, we have sunk to the lowest of the lows – teaching to the test. Normally we’d be studying Fahrenheit 451 right now. And writing about it.

I love the irony. (No, I don’t.)

Please, please, please, for the love of learning instead of cramming crap standardized tests, tell your congressperson/senator to REPEAL No Child Left Behind.

Underfunded Schools Forced To Cut Past Tense From Language Programs

The Onion

Underfunded Schools Forced To Cut Past Tense From Language Programs