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Posts Tagged ‘education’

 
How about this bit of human interest news? According to a front page story in the New York Times, teenagers now use a hug to say hello, enveloping even those they may not know wellkidshug. Everyone’s hugging – boys, girls, BFFs, casual acquaintances, even groups. 

What’s up with that? Are the hugs the leading edge of ever more casual interaction between people. Is it a teen reaction to the sterile isolation of virtual communication – e-mail, text, IM and Twitter? Are young people looking for connection in an uncertain world? Are they trying to make the geeks and the squeamish and the Christina Ricci Goth girl types who are ChristinaRicciuncomfortable with human contact feel even more out of it? Or is this simply another way for teens to defy convention and push defensive school administrators worried about inappropriate contact between students even further to the wall? Maybe all of the above.  

No matter; everybody’s doing it in high school. If it’s subversive, it’s cleverly so. I mean, who doesn’t love hugs? So warm, so fuzzy so fraught with meaning.hug frog

Somewhere back in the nineties, I read something about human beings needing fourteen hugs a day in order to feel well-adjusted. I was not about to depend on my exhausted, hard-working husband to deliver all fourteen so I settled for three or four and a shot at being moderately well-adjusted. At the time, I was married but working from home, thus somewhat socially isolated. My husband didn’t seem to worry at all, bless his well-adjusted soul. 

Now that I’m on my own and have a huggable little dog, I don’t feel as if I need physical contact with everyone and anyone I run into. I’m worried, in fact, that this ritual greeting might become a common cultural convention in social and business settings.menHugs I wouldn’t like that. I don’t want to hug my clients. I like my mailman Willy well enough. Hell, we  went through the anthrax scare together (Willie still wears a glove, kind of like Michael Jackson).  I tip him at Christmastime. But I don’t want a hug from him. Nor do I want the saleslady from Ann Taylor to accompany her enthusiastic “Those pants are so you!” with a hug. My doctor? No. My neighbor? Definitely not.  The cute guy who walks his dogs at the same time I walk mine? Okay, you got me there.

soloHugI am all in favor of shrinking our carbon footprints and trying to use up fewer resources but for better or for worse, I have managed to create my own space and I, for one, would appreciate it if no one would invade it uninvited.

 

 

 

How about this bit of human interest news? According to a front page story in the New York Times, teenagers now use a hug to say hello, enveloping even those they may not know well. What’s up with that? Are they the leading edge of ever more casual interaction between people. Is it a reaction to the sterile isolation of virtual communication – e-mail, text, IM and Twitter? Are teens looking for connection in an uncertain world? Is this designed to make the geeks and the squeamish and the Christina Ricci Goth girl types who are uncomfortable with human contact feel even more out of it? Or is this simply another way for teens to defy convention and push defensive school administrators worried about inappropriate contact between students even further to the wall? Maybe all of the above.
No matter; everybody’s doing it in high school, apparently – across gender and racial lines and including group hugs. If it’s subversive, it’s cleverly so. I mean, who doesn’t love hugs? So warm, so fuzzy so fraught with meaning. 
Somewhere back in the nineties, I read something about human beings needing fourteen hugs a day in order to feel well-adjusted. I was not about to depend on my exhausted, hard-working husband to deliver all fourteen so I settled for three or four and a shot at being moderately well-adjusted. At the time, I was married but working from home, thus somewhat socially isolated. My husband didn’t seem to worry at all, bless his well-adjusted soul.
Now that I’m on my own and have a huggable little dog, I don’t feel as if I need physical contact with everyone and anyone I run into. I’m worried, in fact, that this ritual greeting might become a cultural convention. I mean, I like my mailman Willy. Hell, we  went through the anthrax scare together (Willie still wears a glove, kind of like Michael Jackson).  I tip him at Christmastime. But I don’t want a hug from him. Nor do I want the saleslady from Ann Tailor to accompany her enthusiastic “Those pants are so you!” with a hug. My doctor? No. My neighbor? Definitely not.  The cute guy who walks his dogs at the same time I walk mine? Okay, you got me there.
I am all in favor of shrinking our carbon footprints and trying to use up fewer resources but for better or for worse, I have managed to create my own space and I, for one, would appreciate it if no one would invade it uninvited. 

 

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I can’t believe it came as much of a surprise that we’ve been in a recession since last December. Of course, we all probably hoped the recession wouldn’t prove to be as long or as deep as some projected. Well, now that we know we’re a year in, we can hope that the end is in sight.

What’s not to like about hope, right? Face it, our capacity to hope, even when faced with external forces beyond our control or internal demons that pull us towards the abyss, is truly astounding. Though we currently have reason to despair – over the economy, over the constant threat of terrorism (and now piracy!), or over the fact that home ownership, health care coverage and now higher education seem to be out of reach for many Americans – we can rejoice, my friends, because hope floats above the gray skies of our nation’s capitol. Probably not precisely the hope our newly-elected President was thinking about when he wrote his best-seller but we’ll take what we can, er, hope for.

Democrats may have to give up their hopes for a filibuster-proof Senate but they still hope for enough muscle to engage in payback. Republicans hope to escape severe reprisals and experience the kind of bipartisan cooperation they never considered back in the days of their ascendancy. Liberal elements of the Democratic Party hope Obama’s choice of so many Clinton advisers doesn’t signal a move to the center-right; moderates and even conservatives feel they have reason to hope it signals an non-partisan pragmatism. State Department types hope Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton will rely on their hard-earned expertise. Fans of Governor Bill Richardson hope he’s not too upset about being bypassed for Secretary of State.  Fans of Governor Janet Napolitano hope she’ll get Homeland Security organized. Although former Senator Tom Daschle may have hoped to be Chief of Staff, health care advocates feel hopeful he’ll jump-start reform.

Of course, the current Treasury Secretary Paulson hopes his ever-changing game plan works for the economy and the Big Three auto makers hope for a windfall. That’s where hope gets audacious but then again, if you’re going to hope, why not hope big?

Comics hope they’ll be able to find something funny about the new administration (hint: look at the Cabinet). Dog lovers hope the Obamas discover hypo-allergenic mixed breeds besides the Peruvian hairless dog. Classmates at Sidwell Friends, where the Obama girls will attend school, hope they’ll get invited to a party at the White House. Actually, DC hostesses and club owners alike are hoping members of the new administration will want to party. Almost anyone who did anything in any field office during the Obama campaign now hopes to work in the Obama administration. Millions of people hope to get Inaugural tickets or attend even if they don’t. DC-area residents hope to get obscene amounts of money for their humble abodes as hotels fill to over-capacity. District police, not to mention Federal security agencies, hope they can handle the record number of visitors expected for the events. NBC hopes David Gregory will be happy hosting “Meet the Press” until Matt Lauer retires from the “Today” show to do something else – like, say evening anchor at CBS.

It’s good to have hope.

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I love to read – always have – and so my eye was caught by the announcement of a recent study about Americans and reading. The report, issued by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that young Americans are not reading for fun as much as they used to. The study, ominously if cleverly entitled “To Read or Not To Read” is a followup to one in 2004 which discovered that more than half of all Americans don’t read novels, short stories, plays or poetry. Fearing perhaps that focusing on such effete intellectual pastimes as literary reading would draw further ire from Congressmen who have no use for the endowment, the NEA expanded its scope to include all reading, including nonfiction. What the research indicates is that there is an link between falling test scores and less recreational or “voluntary” reading among middle school and high school students (frequent readers do better on tests, obviously).

What occured to me to ask (and many others, according to an article in the paper) is whether either the researchers or the respondants are factoring in online reading.  True, the democracy of the Internet guarantees a high amount of purile drivel, particularly if you are driven to read the rant that passes for dialogue on most discussion boards. But there’s a surprising amount of decent reading available – original fiction from unpublished writers, online magazines with articles by thoughtful scribes, websites that bring together relevant articles from print magazines you might have forgotten to buy. I’m discomforted by the idea that reading comprehension scores have dropped and I hope educators can come up with creative ways to address that problem.  Most important to me, however, is not what people read or in what form they read it but that they are able to get beyond reading words to understanding fully how – and why – those words are being used.

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