Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{November 12, 2008}   I admit it. I like Nickelback.

Apparently, at least according to the radio station I listen to most, no one will admit to liking Nickelback1, but yet somehow their songs always do really well.  Well, I’m here to admit to a dirty little secret.  I like Nickelback.  With the notable exceptions of Rockstar2 and Photograph3.

Here’s their latest song, Something in Your Mouth.  (And yes, it’s exactly like it sounds).

I mean, I know that the lyrics are stupid. (Seriously, if you saw a girl in a club dancing around sucking on her thumb, wouldn’t you be concerned for her? Like, you’d check to see if she was having a brain hemorrhage or something?) And I don’t even know what “if Hollywood hadn’t caught her she’d be gunnin for ya holler” means. Seriously, can someone help me out on that?4

But the tune is catchy. And it makes me want to dance.  And to gun for ya holler. Come on.
1zomg, Nickelback’s site makes me angry. Apparently you can only access one page for their site right now, a giant ad for their new album with links to buy it on iTunes, Amazon & WalMarta. All the other links to their site return an error message. Even though they have a little site map (I think that’s what it’s called) when you Google them, all the links there = FAIL. Nickelback make Beth angry.
    azomg, I hate Nickelback’s site. I wrote most of this blog posting yesterday and what I wrote above was true. And now that I’m finishing the blog posting, I went back to the site and now it’s different. Still can’t get to the lyrics page, so it’s still a FAIL. But it’s making me look like a liar.
2That song makes me want to puncture my own eardrums so that I never have to hear it again.
3I think Dave says all that needs to be said about Photograph.
4At least, that’s what the majority of lyrics sites claim the fourth line of the song saysb. One site listed it as “if Hollywood had called her she’d be gone before ya had her,” which at seems to make more sense, although when you listen to the song, it really doesn’t sound like that’s what they are saying.
    bAnd since Nickelback’s freaking site is pooched right now, I can’t consult *their* lyric page to find out for sure.

{September 3, 2008}   First Day of School

In honour of today being the first day of school1, I decided to share with you some education-related podcasts I’ve listened to/watched lately.

First, up from the Philosophy Bites podcast, I give you M.M. McCabe talking about the Socratic Method.

The Socratic Method is:

a form of philosophical inquiry in which the questioner explores the implications of others’ positions, to stimulate rational thinking and illuminate ideas2

It’s an form of “investigation through dialogue” and one of the key things I take from my reading about the Socratic Method is the reminder that in order to learn anything, you need to first recognize that you don’t already know it!  Typically in our educational system, we make students afraid of saying, “I don’t know,” but really, that’s just the thing we need to say in order to figure out what we need to learn.  When I teach using Problem-Based Learning (a student-centred technique that requires students to determine what is the problem they need to solve, what do they already know that can help them solve the problem, and what do they not know, but need to know, in order to solve the problem), I use Socratic-style questions to help students recognize for themselves what they know and what they don’t (and, in many cases, it turns out that people assume they know something, but once questioned, it turns out that they don’t actually know it!). Although the course I’m teaching this term isn’t PBL, it will be student-centred, involving debates and student-led seminars, so I anticipate using a fair amount of questions to get critical thinking happening. Some of my favourite questions for use in this reals are:

  • how do you know that?
  • how did you come to that conclusion?
  • what is your evidence for that?
  • why?

One time, a student got a bit, shall we say “annoyed” with my questions – students are used to asking the instructor a question and being told the “right answer,” so my always answering a question with a question can bit a bit off-putting3. Exacerbated, the student exclaimed: “Can’t you ever just answer a question without asking another question?!”  To which I replied, “Why do you think I always answer a question with a question? What education benefit might there be to my doing this?”  Hmm… I think I’m starting to see why Socrates was forced to drink hemlock and die because he annoyed the hell out of everyone with his infernal questioning.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Next up is an interesting talk I saw in the TED podcast – Ken Robinson’s talk: “Do Schools Kill Creativity.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Ken Robinson says schools kill creati…“, posted with vodpod

And finally, since I teach nutrition, I give you this clip from the Onion Radio News:

Also, as a scientist, I feel the need to share these Onion Radio News clips:

Here’s to a school year filled with Socratic questioning, creativity and french fries.

1Well, technically yesterday was the first day of school, but the course I teach is on Wednesdays, so today is the first day of school for moi.
2Socratic Method. Wikipedia.
3I always explain why I do what I do when I’m teaching and that usually helps. But it does appear to take some getting used to.

et cetera