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Comment Preparation & Community (Score 1) 700

We've started homeschooling our kids after a couple of years in public schools. I won't go into why, but our kids are happier and less-stressed and they are learning at acclerated rates. Not having a rigid school schedule allows for more flexibiity with extra-curricular activities and they school day is leaner and not packed with redundancy that stifles curiosity.

If you home school, the biggest challenge will be finding curriculum. There are lots out there--some kooky some good. The reason most people home school in our state is for religious reasons (i.e, they want to teach creationism and eschew anything secular about science). You're going to find lots of "young earthers" out there and their materials. You will aslo find Wiccans, atheists, and Pastafarians. There's a niche for everything so be judicious. A plus to the Christian curricular materials is that they are great for learning Latin. We teach that as the first secondary language because it is great for grammar as well as all of the root words and scientific applications later. It also makes it easy to branch off into Italian, French, and Spanish. You can just ignore the religiosity of it if you choose.

Try to stay astride with the local school district as far as the core of the compentencies are concerned. Teach those first. You'll spend a lot of time trying to figure out your kids' learning style--the strengths AND weaknesses become quite apparent. You'll probably find that your kids pick up on the material faster when they're not waiting on a teacher to corral 23 other kids along with the unit. This gives you more time to learn. My kids love science experiments and organized field trips with other home schoolers. Find a good community of others you can team up with--parents can share their strengths. We have a French Canadian mom who helps teach French and another who is an engineer helping with science.

There is a great opportunity for success and failure--it's all in what you bring to it. The important thing is to keep your kids curious--it's the engine for learning. Public schools can kill that curiosity but an ill-prepared home school parent can underserve it!

Good luck!

Comment Marketing, Branding, and Translating (Score 1) 242

The problem with Hollywood has several layers that contribute to the origin story fatigue issue:

1) Marketing
"Give me something I can sell" is the mantra of the salesman. Hollywood executives are in it for the money. Period. They don't give a flying fuck about the integrity of the story, character development, story arc, catharsis, or any of that artistic stuff that makes a good movie good. They think they can pay the rainmakers to make it rain craft be damned. If their marketing firms give them research data that says "teenaged vampires and werewolves is the sweet spot," they will make those movies. They are looking for projects that fit market analysis. When the average feature film marketing budget is $50M, your movie better be a rainmaker by their voodoo or it's not getting a green light for development much less going into production.

2) Branding
Because "the brand" is ever so important in our increasingly consumer-conscious pop culture, teenaged boys between 13 and 25 are the target audience for a "Brand" like Spiderman or any other comic book coming to the big screen. They will milk that cow dry and grind the meat for sequel burgers.

Here's where your fatigue starts to set in.

3) Lost in Translation
Production companies have become mills that hire production teams to crank out scripts for material we've already seen. (franchise fatigue).
The problem with comic books becoming movies is that the screenplay genre often generates a completely different storytelling form from the original work. Comics and graphic novels have a very unique and staccato language of storytelling that is negated by the transition to live action. The art of the comic or graphic novel is the craft of telling the story without telling you too much. This economy of words and pictures leaves much to the imagination--an abstract economy where the reader experiences the story in a world co-created between his imagination and the artist's craft. When you jump to to big screen, the viewers' intimacy of the details is hijacked by the director and the viewer is no longer an active participant. For this reason, I think adaptations of comic, graphics novels, and even regular novels will always disappoint those familiar with the prior art.

That said, producers, writers, and directors think that they can do better a better job than our imaginations so they keep trying to find formulas, remakes, reboots, and new origin stories to keep us interested when, really, it's already a losing battle for the reasons I posit.

This isn't to say that there are no good comic book movies--but most will agree that there are, in fact, very few in that category.

Audiences keep paying money to see movies they usually dont' like. We're enabling their behavior. Well, the 13-25 yr old males are anyways.

Comment Re:Wisdom from Folly (Score 1) 450

Good point--one that was intended to be the understood other half of the argument I was making. I think the "over" part is probably describing the large percentage of users who fall into the unproductive category I mentioned. Programmers and content providers are a small percentage of diligent users; the unproductive types swarm in, graze until the grass is gone, and then move on.

Like all things pop, social media and the digital lifestyle are subject to the same boom and bust that dooms all fads as ephemeral. BUT Prince probably should have chose his words more carefully or taken his Geritol. ;)

I used to go to this really nice coffee shop years ago. Then, coffee became really popular and suddenly everyone discovered how cool "my" coffee shop was. The hipster-wannabe in-crowd popular types came in and didn't buy coffee. They just hung out to be seen for hours on end. I couldn't find a place to sit with my laptop to get any work done so I stopped going. Between the loss of the real paying customers (regulars who bought by the cup and bought roasted beans) and the complaints by neighboring businesses and residences about parking, they lost their lease and had to shut down. Ruined by success.

I'm sure I had a point...

Comment Wisdom from Folly (Score 1) 450

Prince is right--sort of. A steady diet of instant gratification is bad for you. Make fun of his religion, sexuality, and eccentricities, but he has a body of work to show for his efforts and is successful by any measure. Most of us internet dweebs troll comments and dispense our own pious judgements from our own corners of Loservania but here's a guy with some credibility making a somewhat valid comment about social media--eccentric as it might be.

I think the internet is making us stupid if not just plain lazy. If you think about it, all the time we spend engaged with a glowing screen is kind of ridiculous when there are so many other life-enriching things we could be doing instead.

That doesn't make the internet or gadgets bad--it just spotlights our own weird constant need to escape "real life" by stimulating our brain's addictive center with a steady stream of mostly meaningless information.

Think about that every time you text, check Facebook status changes, click refresh on your e-mail client, reload news sites, or troll slashdot comments, and/or look at your smartphone (again) when you could be paying attention to your friends and family with real face-time.

It's got to be a weird if even Prince thinks it's kind of creepy, right?

Just sayin' (ironic as it is here on /.).

Comment Re:It's all about education... (Score 1) 1306

I agree that the students should be well-versed in the sciences but the curriculum should include a diverse range of disciplines. Kids should be doing well in all courses for that matter. However, I don't agree that the problem is with limited time or with not enough academic focus in the classroom. I suggest that the problem is more systemic to our current culture of instant gratification and instant information and too many distractions and pressures outside of the classroom.

With the advent of "no child left behind," the peer groups of school-aged kids become watered down to the lowest common denominator. Kids who are not getting reinforcement at home from parents do not do their homework or value education. As a consequence, the classroom becomes unruly, distracted, and overrun with apathetic students--both bright students who are bored while the undisciplined ones play catch-up. Increasing the workload or paring down the curriculum does not solve that problem. Of course, increasing the breadth and depth with more stuff to learn doesn't either, but I digress.

Developmentally, middle-school (formerly junior high) and high school are times when forming peer groups, friends, and social networks are very important to kids as they learn to navigate those social structures. With cell phones, Twitter, e-mail, texting, and whatever the communication du jour may be, come distractions. Television, video games, and the internet also provide lots and lots of stimuli that is counter-intuitive to the needs of our school curriculums: they require focused studying and our kids are adapting to a rapid-fire short-attention method of dealing with stimulation and information.

My point is this: I think there are more layers to the education problem than just what's on the curriculum. Kids are not learning because, in my opinion, they are not equipped to learn or study nor do they have an atmosphere in the classroom or at home that is conducive to learning.

Perhaps I might be contradicting my earlier comments but I think the kids that are doing well will continue to do well and can handle a well-balanced academic plan that includes arts, sciences, and letters. We shouldn't remove material for the sake of those who can't keep up.

Comment Re:It's all about education... (Score 1) 1306

Look--this isn't about teaching kids to be religious but rather putting things in a less subjective perspective. Teaching a course in the "Theory of Evolution" as a science course is 100% appropriate. Teaching creationism as a science course is 100% wrong--religion and creationism belong to the realm of social sciences and humanities because of the political, historical, and philosophical contexts. Ignoring the world's largest religions and their impact on humanity because one doesn't "believe" in them is ignorant and small-minded. A "World Religions" course is 100% appropriate in public schools. Teaching a child which one to follow is not.

I'm not suggesting that science courses be taught differently but rather changing the method by which we expose school children to the world around them. Moving Creationism away from the "hard" sciences seems to be the logical compromise for dealing with the faith versus science argument.

Wouldn't you prefer a well-rounded education that includes an objective perspective of religion, science, and the socio-political world? I would.

If included in the arts, sciences, letters, kids also learned that Islamists have been fighting wars amongst themselves since the death of Muhammed, that the creation from the Bible is kind of a hodge-podge of religious ideas that trace back to Zoroastrianism, and the Darwin actually believed in God, I think kids would have a better understanding of other cultures and each other.

In the end, that's what education is all about.

Comment It's all about education... (Score 1) 1306

In the end, it's all about education not being right or wrong.

I wish both sides could understand that being educated and informed doesn't necessarily equate belief, endorsement, or apostasy. You can study Christianity (or any religion) without believing in it and you can study evolutionary science (or any other scientific theory) without believing in it. Ignoring the other view is just, well...ignorant.

I think it's best to approach education from a perspective of learning and understanding rather than discriminating against information in which you do not believe while promoting one's own agenda or belief system. That's not education--that's brainwashing.

That kind of thinking led to the dark ages.

Ignorance reigns amongst the absolutists.

Comment Silly article... (Score 1) 1064

It's not about science or common sense--it's all about billing the insurance companies. That's how hospitals and clinic "businesses" make money. Doctors order tests because they are told to do so as often as they write prescriptions because they get "incentives" to do so from pharmaceutical companies.

It's all about money.

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