Lazy Sunday CLVII: School, Part I

Aside from a fairly early issue of Lazy Sunday about education, I haven’t really done one about school.  Now that I’m back to work, it seemed like a good time to revisit some timeless classics about education, school, etc.:

  • Back to School with Richard Weaver” (and “TBT: Back to School with Richard Weaver” and “TBT^2: Back to School with Richard Weaver“) – I used to reread at least the introduction to Richard Weaver’s seminal Ideas Have Consequences, probably the most powerful book I’ve ever read (besides the Bible).  I haven’t read it in some time, but I think it’s time to pick up this old chestnut again.
  • First Day of School 2019” – Ah, yes, the 2019-2020 school year—easily the most unusual school year any teacher has experienced, with the possible exception of 2020-2021.  I was absolutely burned out by the time The Age of The Virus hit in mid-March 2022, and it ended up being a bit of a silver lining (with all due respect to those who suffered and even died because of it).
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Returning to School in The Age of The Virus” – I grew so accustomed to the freedom of working from home, I was actually really dreading returning to school for the 2020-2021 school year.  It wasn’t that bad overall; 2021-2022 was much more difficult.  But it was certainly an unusual—an unprecedented!—time to be a teacher.  I still feel sorry for those who entered the profession this year.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT^2: Back to the Grind 2020

Well, tomorrow I head back to work.  Classes don’t start for nearly another two weeks—I guess in thirteen days—but I’ll be back in endless meetings, OSHA training, and AFLAC presentations, followed by a lot of registration stuff.

The last couple of school years were really a slog, especially last year, when we were kind of getting back to normal, but still dealing with the inconvenience of Virus-related mitigation measures.  I’m praying this year for some sanity—no masks, no vaccination passports.

Well, teaching always includes some insanity.  It keeps the job fresh, and keeps us young (while simultaneously aging us rapidly, it seems).

I’m not sure how I’m spending this last day of summery freedom—probably writing blog posts and teaching lessons!—but Summer 2022 has been a pretty good one all around.

With that, here is 12 August 2021’s “TBT: Back to the Grind 2020“:

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Phone it in Friday XX: Miscellaneous Late July Update

By this time next Friday, I’ll be back at the grind, starting with some teacher meetings.  The public schools in my area have shifted to a semi-year-round schedule, so those unfortunates will start classes on Monday, 1 August 2022.  Yikes!  That means teachers in the public schools have already been back, which doesn’t seem right.  No one besides an administrator or grounds crew should be darkening the door of a schoolhouse in July.

Of course, heading back on 5 August 2022 seems pretty dang early in my book.  I notice that my school keeps inching up the return time for faculty a bit more each year.  I’m still a tad baffled as to why they want us to start back on a Friday.  Classes won’t resume until Wednesday, 17 August 2022, though, so I still have a little time before I really hit the ground running.

The news cycle remains slow, it seems—just more of the usual bad news.  As I am writing this post, I’ve spent nearly $400 in gasoline (petrol, for my British readers) this month in a car that gets around 32 miles per gallon.  Granted, I’ve been keeping the road hot with lessons and seeing my new lady friend, but, goodness, something has got to give.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Summer Camps 2022 Reviews

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I spent the first three weeks of summer break running camps:  two sessions of the popular Minecraft Camp, and one session of the far-less-popular Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp.  These camps make up a substantial portion of my summertime earnings, and so are an important revenue stream for yours portly during the otherwise lean summer months.

In this post, I’ll discuss each camp briefly, then break down the financials, and how I netted (after expenses, but before taxes) $1965.64 across roughly forty-eight working hours.

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TBT: Fighting Back Against Critical Race Theory

We observed Juneteenth, the new Independence Day for black Americans, here in the United States this week.  The “national” holiday is an extremely regional celebration that dates back to 1866 in Texas.

To state the obvious but controversial:  the only reason we have Juneteenth is because of a summer of racial violence two years ago.  Apparently, our entire political system and culture has to bend over backwards to accommodate a handful of disgruntled race-baiters.

But all of that traces back to Critical Race Theory (CRT), which I described last year as an odious blend of “identity politics, Foucaultean power dynamics, Cultural Marxism, and Nineties-style corporate diversity training.”

Race-baiting isn’t anything new in America, but now it’s taken on a quasi-systematic, pseudo-intellectual, cult-like quality that has major corporations and government entities at all levels cowed.

But appeasement clearly doesn’t work.  Indeed, I’d argue it undermines CRT’s alleged goal of racial reconciliation.

I said as much in 16 June 2021’s “Fighting Back Against Critical Race Theory“:

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Midweek TPP Update: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, #MAGAWeek2022, Etc.

Summer is rolling right along, sometimes at an alarming speed.  I’ve gotsta buckle down if I’m going to get all these projects finished.

This week I’m running Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, which I offered for the first time last summer.  Last year I had three campers—a small but talented group.  This year, I’m down to one diligent bassist.  I wasn’t even sure if he was going to show up, but his grandmother rolled up Monday morning and dutifully dropped him off, so we commenced a-rockin’.

Essentially, he’s getting twelve hours of private lessons from yours portly for about 22% of the normal cost (if I charged my half-hourly rate of $30 for twelve hours/twenty-four half-hours of lessons, I’d pull in $720; I’ll net $160 on this camp [that’s $200 total for the camp, less the 20% the school takes]).

Of course, we’re not playing bass for three hours straight each morning.  Where it’s just the two of us, we’ve worked out a schedule that seems to work pretty well:

  • Start with about thirty minutes of bass guitar—his bass “lesson” for the day.
  • Shift over to piano (his little fingers need a rest from pressing metal against a hard wooden fretboard) for about thirty minutes, working on chords and music theory.
  • Take a morning break, during which we talk about songwriting.
  • Work on songwriting (we’re currently wrapping up a tune called “The Story of Sam the Clam”) for about forty-five minutes.
  • Take a second, shorter break.
  • Review the songwriting session, then clean up and organize the Music Room for the day.

It’s pretty cool to have the flexibility to build the camp around what he wants to learn, while also working in some things that I know will be beneficial to him.

The other looming event of the year is #MAGAWeek2022, which will run from Tuesday, 5 July through Saturday, 9 July 2022.  For newcomers, #MAGAWeek2022 is when I celebrate the people, places, things, ideas, concepts, institutions, etc., that have, in their own way, Made America Great (Again).

During that week, all posts are behind the paywall over at my SubscribeStar page, but generous previews will be available here.  Fortunately, it’s just $1 to get access to everything for the week.

Finally, I’ve at least pulled up the manuscript for the first volume of Sunday Doodles, which I hope to publish via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service by the end of the summer.  The plan originally was to include the first fifty editions of Sunday Doodles, which are normally only available to $5 and up subscribers, as a handsome, black-and-white paperback.  Now, however, I’m thinking I might go even bigger, and include the first 100 editions of Sunday Doodles.  Talk about a nice coffee table book!

Speaking of, I am running late—for the first time in a long time!—on this past Sunday’s edition of Sunday Doodles.  Hopefully it will be live for subscribers by the time you read this post.

So, there you have it—some quick updates on yours portly.

Happy Wednesday!

—TPP

Minecraft Camp 2022

Yesterday (Monday, 6 June 2022) marked the beginning of Minecraft Camp 2022.  I’ve been doing Minecraft Camp since 2014, when a former colleague of mine created the camp and brought me on as his assistant.  That first camp—eight long years ago!—was announced on Friday, 6 June 2014 (it started on Monday, 9 June 2014) so there’s a nice symmetry there.   The cycle of time—and Minecraft—marches on.

My former colleague created a little blog for Minecraft Camp, Minecrafting at 5001, way back then, but I did not do a great job of keeping it updated last year.  That’s in part because we had something like sixteen campers, which made keeping up with the blog difficult.

I’m hoping to keep it updated a bit more frequently this time around.  I’m actually running two sessions of camp this year:  one this week, and another next week.  At the time of writing, I have eight campers confirmed, with a possible ninth.  I just have three campers for the second session, but I look for that to change—Thursday of last week I just had five campers enrolled in the morning; by that afternoon, I had three more last-minute sign-ups.  One of my campers is doing both sessions.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The State of Education Update II

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Spring Break is drawing to a close, with a four-week-ish slog to the relative freedom of summer vacation, when I go from being a stressed-out ball of blubber persisting on processed foods and frozen pizza to living like a chubby retiree.  As such, it seemed like an opportune time to look at the state of education in the United States.

As I wrote this morning, lately I’ve been listening to quite a bit of the ideas of “unschooling” advocate John Taylor Gatto.  Some of his views on adolescence (he says there really isn’t one, and that childhood essentially ends around the age seven) are pretty radical, though they aren’t without historical precedent, but for the most part, I find myself in agreement with assessment of the modern educational-industrial complex.

The first JTG video I watched/listened to

In essence, Gatto (should I call him “JTG”?) argues—and supports, with ample primary source research—that the modern system of “warehouse” schooling is not a proper education at all, but rather a massive system for indoctrinating students into compliance and mass conformity.  He argues that little real “education” takes place inside of schools, and that a genuine education comes from within the student himself.  In other words, all of the world is a “classroom” and everyone in it a “teacher” to the open learner.  An elite, private or boarding school education is available to anyone, Gatto contends, for free.

Gatto famously quit after a long, celebrated career in New York City public schools in a letter to The Wall Street Journal entitled “I Quit, I Think” (note that the title has two possible meanings:  the first, obvious one is the note of uncertainty the added “I Think” carries; the second one is the subtle implication that because “I Think,” I (Gatto) must quit).  In short, Gatto came to believe that what he had been doing for years was actually harming students, rather than improving their lives.

Talk about a heavy epiphany.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Spring Concert 2022 Postmortem

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This past Wednesday night was the Spring Concert for my students.  As is my custom, I like to do a concert “postmortem” with my students to talk about what went well, and what we could improve (myself included) for the next concert.

This year’s concert really went over well.  Anecdotally, I was told that a number of parents said something along the lines of “I thought last year’s concert was good, but this one was even better.”  I do think we hit the runtime just right:  the concert kicked off a few minutes after 6 PM, and we wrapped up right around 7:15 PM.  That’s with our dance classes performing in the middle of the program.

We split the concert into three parts:  an opening section with Middle School Music and a couple of solos; the dance classes performing six pieces; and a closing section with my High School Music Ensemble (and a few more solos).

With that, here is a breakdown of the two musical portions.

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