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When Teachers Try To Be Cool, What’s The Worst That Can Happen?

One of the important signs of our Lord Jesus’ presence is the development of nuclear bombs that have the capability of annihilating all life upon earth many times over… Such bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in 1945, and were influential in bringing an end to World War II.”

Fabiola weaseled me into doing research for her on the “Soviet Bloc of 1953” this weekend, because I feel guilty that I still haven’t set up her computer to connect to the Internet at home, and I didn’t say “no, do your own damn research, kid” in time.

Apparently her teacher has assigned each student in her class to do a brief essay on a line from the Billy Joel song We Didn’t Start The Fire. I’m guessing the line is “communist bloc.” No other context for the research was apparently given.

I’m chafing about the whole situation. For crying out loud, how does using a pop song help to make an assignment exciting and accessible if it’s by a singer who went out of style twenty years ago?! And how the hell is this content supposed to matter to the kid if she doesn’t have any direction on framing it?! Add that to feeling stupid that I got suckered into doing her work for her. stupid stupid liberal white guilt and my own bad teaching skills.

Anyway I sent her off to comb A People’s History of the United States for starters before I get there. I just hope she’s able to make sense of the stuff about the McCarthy hearings in light of all this. I poked around and found a few interesting tidbits on the CIA’s site, and I’m also planning to drag along my own excellent high school American History textbook, which did a great job of covering events by theme rather than chronology, and for laughs a copy of Kiplinger’s Looking Ahead given to me by a cousin of mine who co-authored the book. That’s basically a compendium of historically-relevant quotes from the Kiplinger Washington Letter, which as far as I can tell is aimed at keeping the ruling elites up on the news in Washington and the markets so that they can continue to profit off eliminating your jobs, running through environment and tax loopholes, benefitting from advance knowledge of global wars and inequity, etc. (Ha-ha, I’m only kidding about the role of the Letter in that crap. Um, at least as far as maintaining serene family relationships is concerned.)

Anyway, a few of the hits on Google for “communist bloc 1953” make me glad I didn’t just turn her loose on the Web… I’m sure nobody’s bothered to equip the poor child with any skills for positioning Internet documents in context… Actually, I think I will give her that document just to see what she makes of it. All in all this could still be a good lesson on evaluating sources and triangulating between them.


  1. gus wrote:

    It’s amazing to me that I don’t remember ever hearing about that class. Nowadays I’d take a course with that title in a heartbeat. I can’t imagine why it must have seemed so uninteresting to me at the time. Maybe I just wasn’t looking for courses in CCS at all.

    I’m off the h(izz)ook — my printer isn’t working, so I told Fab there was no use in me coming out to the Bronx, and she said she’d do the research at school on Monday. Cop-outs all ’round!

    Sunday, February 8, 2004 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  2. gus wrote:


    Sunday, February 8, 2004 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
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