Sex Education Obama-Style

Look what I just found at Twisted Spinster’s great blog. The Obama administration teaches school kids the following things about sex:

“Males and females are aroused at different levels of intimacy. Males are more sight orientated whereas females are more touch orientated.”

“This is why girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.”

“When couples live together outside of marriage, the relationships are weaker, more violent, less [equal], and more likely to lead to divorce.”

Go visit the OP because there is more. I just copied as much as I could before my gag reflexes started getting too strong.

Before you have a vomiting jag of major proportions, I want to repeat: this is the kind of sex ed that Obama’s administration is promoting.

How to Prepare for an Exam?

The last question on my Beginners Spanish final exam was: “How did you prepare for this exam?” The students had to answer the question in the past.

Some of them went over the grammar to prepare, some read the textbook, other looked at their notes. One student, however, wrote the following,”I didn’t really prepare. I just watched Latin American soap operas and El sabado gigante. And on my way to class, I listened to some Spanish music.”

Not only did this student do a lot better on the exam than everybody else, she also did a lot better than I expected her to.

Well, at least one person had taken my recommendations as to how to prepare for the exam seriously. The students seem to think that I’m trying to be funny when I say that the best way to prepare for a language exam is by watching TV and listening to music.

The Life of Julia

People, did you see this super fun campaign tool that Obama’s presidential campaign came up with? It’s called “The Life of Julia” and it shows how one woman’s life would change for the worse if Romney were elected (which is very obviously not going to happen but, still, the tool is fun). There is nothing about how “In spite of being very careful, Julia falls pregnant and decides to manage her own body and terminate the unwanted pregnancy” , but we all know it should be there.

Here it is.

P.S. I did not know Obama’s healthcare plan provided for free prenatal care. Wow. That’s amazing. Now, who really cares about fetuses?

I also liked the assistance to small businesses because I’m a huge fan of them.

Finally, the Obama campaign is doing something right.

UK Impressions Circa 1990, Part I

The last time I visited the UK was in March April of 1990. I was traveling with a group of students from my school as part of a student exchange program. We were still Soviet citizens, and traveling abroad – and to such an obviously capitalist country, too – was a big deal. After I came home from the trip, groups of people would come to our place for months to listen to my stories  about England and to ask questions. The questions were often very unexpected.

“Do they have curtains in England?”

“How big are the windows?”

“What do the heating radiators look like? What color are they?”

The things that impressed me the most in the UK were not the curtains or the radiators, however. I was 14, so I concentrated on very different aspects of my trip.

Here are the things that I found especially unusual in England:

  • how little people ate. At that age, I still ate very little according to the standards of my own country. But the British people ate even less. For the very first time in my life, I felt perennially hungry. I was staying with two very well off families, so it wasn’t lack of money that prevented them from feeding me like I needed to be fed. It was a cultural difference. We are Northern people and our metabolism is different from that of the people in warmer climes. We need calories to warm our bodies in winter. Which is why I felt cosmically misunderstood when my hosts would ask me, “Are you hungry? Then should I boil you an egg?” And seeing my crestfallen face, they would add, “Two eggs, then? Or maybe you prefer an apple?” In Ukraine, we don’t consider an egg or an apple to be a meal, so I went hungry for the entire duration of the visit.
  • how fixated everybody was on the weather. Never before had I witnessed people engage in an actual conversation about the weather, so I was completely unprepared to participate in such discussions. I could see that this was a subject that fascinated people but I had no idea what to contribute to the weather-related conversations.
  • I wasn’t especially surprised by the abundance of consumer goods in the UK. This was a capitalist country, so, of course, it was supposed to be overflowing with goods. What I did find shocking was how a significant portion of the wares was placed outside of the stores on the pavements, with nobody supervising them. It was as if the goods were spilling out of the stores. “Don’t people steal these things?” I asked my hosts. “Yes, all the time,” they responded phlegmatically. I haven’t seen anything like this in the US and Canada, and I can’t wait to see if that is still done in the UK.

(To be continued. . .)

Exam Woes

On the final exam, I write in capital letters “ANSWER IN COMPLETE SENTENCES” in every single assignment. I also repeat it verbally at the beginning of the exam. When the exam is about 50% done, I remind everybody to answer in complete sentences.

Then, it always turns out that about half of the students did not answer in complete sentences.

I know my students and I know that they are perfectly capable of creating complete sentences at this point. It is not the lack of knowledge that makes them do this. It’s the annoying carelessness and shoddiness that seem to be very pervasive.

Many people would be so much more successful in life if they learned to be a little more meticulous and detail-oriented.

Advance Grades

I have a question for my fellow educators. Do you let the students know what their grade is before the final exam? I never did this before but I decided to do it this semester. I need to be able to enter my final grades into the system very fast because I’m leaving for Europe almost immediately after the finals. So I calculated what the grades are like minus the final exam. And I let the students know where they stood.

The results have been confusing. On the one hand, many of the struggling students were terrified of their projected grade and REALLY prepared for the final. Some of them handed in the kind of high-quality work that I was so unprepared to see from them that I kept checking their names on the first page. (This is a language course, so cheating is impossible.)

However, several of my star students did atrociously. I don’t know how one can manage to forget the entire Spanish language within a week just because one has seen one’s final grade but that is precisely what happened. To give an example, a Francophone student did not get a single case of the Subjunctive and the Preterite / Imperfect right. Not a single one! And these are the tenses that exist in the same form in French and in Spanish, which was a constant subject of jokes between me and her. (“Ah, Jacinthe, I guess you are finding this material to be super easy!” “Yes, professor, it’s exactly the same in French!”). I can’t believe she messed this up so completely.

So I’m wondering whether I should continue the practice of telling the students their grade before the final exam. Do you have any suggestions? What do you do?