May 14, 2013

Constrained Writing

Sentences without verbs, impossible, right? Maybe not. So far, not one in this post. Yet, comprehension. How? Easy, language as a vehicle of knowledge. Clear meaning almost lyric in form just not convenient. Why? Good question. Michel Dansel, a French Doctor of Letters, an intelligent man. His passion against verbs, those "invaders, dictators, usurpers of our literature," notable especially in Le Train de Nulle Part, by Dansel, a book without verbs.

This type of writing, Constrained Writing, pure in format without the clutter of verbs. Dansel's belief, the clearest kind of writing. My opinion, not so much. Lyrical and poetic quality? Yes. Interesting thought exercise, of course. Useful? No, not beyond academically. A quotation from my friend, Veronica: "Verbs... So great! A post without verbs, not easy, nay, near impossible. Only nouns and adjectives, no spice without verbs!"

May 13, 2013

Jeff Bliss: Educational Martyr or Grandstanding Punk

Last week was pretty sweet for viral videos and auto-tuned quotes. Charles Ramsey generated enough content on his own to capitalize on a potential McDonald's spokesperson deal and he had not one, but two songs made from his explanation of what happened to him while eating a Big Mac. However, I think the rant by Jeff Bliss, sophomore at Duncanville HS here in TX, is just as interesting but for different reasons. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the video below and the story on The Huffington Post. I'll wait... Yeah, so that went down. Bliss' rant begs the question: Is he an educational martyr, chaffing under the restraints and apparent laziness of his teacher who is so disengaged from her job that she refuses to interact with them? Or, is he a grandstanding punk who knows he will be filmed and put online with potential for viral stardom?

It's tricky. As an educator who has dealt with a fair share of lazy teachers, I understand his frustration. Handouts and packets should be supplemental material used to enhance a lesson plan. They shouldn't be the lesson plan. In this regard, Bliss is correct to call out his teacher. She is not teaching. As a student who dropped out of school but has returned, Bliss is in a position where he needs his classroom time to count and be as productive as possible. As a teacher, she has to facilitate that.

However, towards the end of the video it is obvious he is making a scene. It is difficult to tell when he realizes he's being filmed but there is a moment when his theatrics increase and his initial message becomes less important. Were his only concerns the lack of teaching taking place in the classroom he would have left after "This is my country's future and my education." As good a line as any as a finisher. But he doesn't stop there, he goes on because he has the attention of the class and the camera.

So, dear reader, what do you think? is Bliss taking a stand for what should be done or is he subverting the teacher's control of the class and learning environment just to shine a spotlight on himself? Let me know in the comments.