Hair Reactions

People are reacting in interesting ways to my newly short hair.

N simply failed to notice any change.

“So?” I asked him when he came home.

“This is a beautiful dress you are wearing,” he said.

“Forget the dress! There is something more important going on.”

“Huh?” he responded.

I’m taking this as a good sign. The man adores me with or without hair, what can be better than that?

Then I told my sister about the haircut over the phone.

“This is very unexpected! I’m not sure I can deal with this! This is too much,” she said.

“Look, I haven’t worn my hair this short for 23 years,” I explained. “I decided it was time for a change.”

“But these were good 23 years!” she responded in a tragic tone she will use when delivering the eulogy at my funeral seventy years from now.

Let’s see what my students say tomorrow.

Hair Update

I have realized that the time has come for me to liberate myself from the pernicious myth that femininity equals long hair. So I went to my salon and had my hair cut shorter than I’ve had it at any time in the past 23 years. It’s been blow-dried, so the extent of the shortness cannot be fully appreciated right now. After I wash it the next time, though, it will form a curly cloud around my head and will probably not even reach my shoulders.

I feel very grown up.

Why Homeschooling Cannot Provide Healthy Socialization

Reader el left a link to a very good post on homeschooling:

For most children, school becomes a primary agent of socialization alongside the family. This does not happen for homeschoolers, though, who generally continue to go where their family goes, see who their family sees, and be where their family is. The family continues to be the primary agent of socialization.

The main argument that the homeschoolers roll out whenever they hear that they are selfishly robbing their miserable children of normal socialization by keeping them away from school as if they were toys is, “But I organize many playdates! But I take them to many activities! But I create a rich social life for them!” Of course, the idea that growing people need to have their own existence outside of their parents sphere of influence does not occur to homeschoolers.  They aren’t raising independent human beings in their own right, you see. They are bringing up creatures who will continue servicing Mommy’s and Daddy’s needs for as long as possible.

At the same time, homeschoolers don’t get an opportunity to grow into their adult roles gradually:

Homeschooled children like myself shift straight from a family life based on affection to an adult life based on performance. This transition can be grinding and abrupt, and it can be a difficult one to make.

Notice that this is yet another adult who was homeschooled and is now sharing how undermining this experience was.

People always wimp out and start denying their own ideas whenever homeschooling is discussed. After being cyberbullied by a bunch of unhinged, hysterical, homeschooling housewives with no lives of their own and with a long experience of interacting only with those who will never dare contradict them, I can understand this fear. The author of the quoted post chickens out a little bit by the end of the article but, still, this post is an important contribution to the discussion of the crippling effects of homeschooling.

Where I Fail As a Teacher

I’m a very good teacher but I’m far from perfect. There is a lot of room for improvement in my teaching. One thing that I consistently fail at is mixing students up as often as I should. In a language course, students tend to choose one or two partners they are most comfortable with. Since most of the in-class work happens in groups, students want to work with their buddies.

This is very detrimental to their learning because they settle into the same roles and their language skills do not develop as well as they could. To give an example, if one person in the group is good at conjugating verbs, s/he will be put in charge of conjugating by the group, and other people will not get to practice their own conjugation skills.

The best thing to do is to mix them up and place them with new partners all the time. I know that I should be doing it but it isn’t easy. Students really resist being separated from their friends and placed with strangers. They get sulky, whiny, and sometimes have to be almost forced to change groups. This is disruptive to the learning process and creates an unpleasant atmosphere in the classroom. So I forego this practice most of the time.

This semester, I’ve had two buddies in one of my courses who threw actual tantrums whenever I attempted to separate them. I stopped trying and just let them be. Of course, the result is that now each of them is lacking a crucial skill because he’s been relying on the friend to provide it. Both run a serious risk of not passing the course.

Maybe I should explain at the beginning of the course why working in different groups is important. It always feels like students get really bored whenever you start explaining the methodology of teaching to them.