Category Archives: Language

Lyrics Part 2

I honestly did not think I was going to grade any more lyrics, but then I remembered the song “Story of My Life,” by One Direction.  So yeah, I had to do it.  This time I did it in image format so it’ll be easier to see.  But my handwriting is just as awful as ever.  Enjoy!





So that’s that.  I think I’m done grading lyrics now.  The joke’s probably already old.  But I got that off my chest.  Also as a gift to my friend, Micah, I made a new elemental chinchilla.  Because Micah has been helping me out with a project I’m desperate to get right, and he deserves a fire chinchilla if he wants a fire chinchilla.  Here it is.  (see the last post if you’re confused)

Fire Chinchilla

If you’re wondering what this post has to do with writing, then keep wondering!

Sorry, that was rude.  I’m working on a thing (mentioned above) but I don’t want to share anything right now.  I’ll write about writing again soon.  Maybe there will be another chinchilla to go with it for some reason.


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Filed under Grammar, Humor, Language, Music, reading, writing

Your Lyrics Will Be Graded

I’m not a stranger to song/singer analysis.  You’ll recall I had a particularly scathing post about John Mayer a while back, and my friend, Liz, analyzed the nuances (or lack thereof) of Taylor Swift’s character.

As some people know, I am currently studying to become a high school English teacher in Texas.  This involves a lot of repetitive reading about how we should probably focus more on engaging students in school, and less on lecturing at them.  Turns out they learn more if they’re emotionally invested.  Who knew?

Anyway, as a fun activity, I decided to grade a couple songs as if they were student essays.  Starting with Katy Perry’s “Firework.”  Click to enlarge!


I didn’t bother doing the rest of the song because it’s just “Boom boom boom, even brighter than the moon, moon, moon” repeated a bunch of times.

So the thing is that – while that was fun – I haven’t graded any other lyrics.  I was going to do Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” because no one who can easily shake off negative comments goes on to write an entire song about all the “mean” things that are said about them for the world to hear (Irony!).  But that seemed like low-hanging fruit.  Ol’ Tay-Tay’s already suffered our wrath, as you saw above.

This activity left the subject of education knocking around in my brain.  It feels important to get a few things written down, even if they’re obvious.  At the end, as a thank you for reading my wall of text, I have presented you with a drawing of an Ice Chinchilla, which was commissioned by my friend, Liz.

  1. If the goal of schooling is to increase student knowledge and understanding, then the current model is waaaaay off base.  A fifteen-year-old can memorize all the significant dates related to the American Revolution.  S/he can regurgitate facts onto a test and get a good grade, but that does not mean that s/he understands this conflict.  The student likely has no feelings about the American Revolution one way or the other.  Because s/he has learned that the goal of school is to get A’s, not to understand the content.  Along those lines…
  2. Our methods of assessing students are crap.  We live in a country where C is average, but only A’s mean anything.  That means we are pressuring our students to jump through as many hoops as necessary to get top letter marks.  As I said in point 1, this rarely requires genuine understanding.  Just look at the term “Standardized Test.”  It is literally a test that measures students’ abilities to fit into a mold.  At the beginning of the year, all students start with an A in their classes.  The best thing that can happen for them is for their grade to remain exactly the same.  Most likely what will happen is their grade will drop.  This is expected to motivate them.  All I see is a practice in futility, neatly packaged with buzzwords.  “If you don’t do well here, you won’t get into a good college.”  How about this?  How about every student starts with a zero.  Not an F, mind.  A zero.  As they do assignments, they get points.  At the end of the year, the number of points they have can be translated into a letter grade.  It’s not a perfect system, but you’ll notice with this design, the only direction students can go is up.  Instead of losing, they’ll be working to gain.  Every day, every semester, every class.
  3. It turns out that every person learns in a different way.  This means that a significant portion of “Special Ed” students might not need drugs or a psychological diagnosis.  Maybe all they need is someone to approach teaching in a different way.  It’s hard to cater your teaching methods to suit the needs of a fifty-student class, but we can start by abandoning the “Sit still, shut up, and listen” model.  From where I’m sitting, “Special Ed” is a lovely euphemism for “We’ve given up on you.”  That probably does wonders for kids’ self-esteem.
  4. You’ve heard this all before.  Studies that prove kids aren’t learning in school have been coming out for decades.  Kids aren’t learning.  Kids aren’t motivated.  Kids aren’t supposed to be put through test after standardized test.  It’s common knowledge at this point.  As far as I can tell, we as a country have gone, “Oh, look.  Schools are failing our children.  What a shame,” and then moved back to reading the morning paper or whatever.  Just shrug and move on, America.  Your education system is a mess.  Oh, well!  It happens.  Right?  No!  No, damn it!  I have read paper after paper from people saying we’re in the middle of a “paradigm shift” and “we need school reinvention, not school reform.”  (See writing by Ornstein and Hunkins for more details about school reinvention)  By “paradigm shift” do they mean that about 0.5% of the schools in this country have made changes to the way education is accomplished?  That’s not a shift.  That’s not even a blip on the radar.  So why aren’t we seeing real change?  Well, for one, politicians love using education to boost their numbers.  They throw out buzz words, cite the studies that I’ve been reading for my classes, and promise change.  Then they introduce new standardized tests or cut more music programs.  Meanwhile teachers are left floundering in a system that forces them to dish out education like it’s a punishment.
  5. No more complacence.  Educators need to band together.  Families need to support them.  We need a separation of school and state in a lot of ways, because educational policies are being instated by people who have never stood in a classroom full of bored sixth graders.  As an individual, all I can do is try to beat the system one classroom at a time.  And write ineffectual blog posts about it.  Hopefully one day I’ll be able to do more.  If enough individuals decide to make real changes, maybe it’ll have a ripple effect.

I don’t know.

Here’s a chinchilla.

Ice Chinchilla

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Filed under education, Humor, Language, Music, Politics, reading, writing

I am Orangutan

It’s finally reached the breaking point, boiling over, filling me with rage.  I want to shout it loud and clear: YOU CANNOT BE OCD!!!  Not possible.  OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a NOUN.  That is like saying “I am apple” or “I am orangutan.”  It doesn’t work!  Unless, of course, you are an orangutan who has mastered the basics of English but still stumbles over little things like articles, in which case I applaud you, Sir Ape.  Congratulations on achieving something so monumental.  Surely you are the envy of your ape peers.

Furthermore, if you say you are obsessive compulsive (which is the right way to say that, if not “I have OCD.”) then you are probably still wrong.  Let me break it down: Obsessions are the thoughts.  The ones you can’t get rid of.  They invade your brain, leaving room for nothing else.  The only way you can stop them is if you do something.  And that is where the compulsion part comes in.  A compulsion is a thing you do to help drive out the obsessive thought.  For example, there was once a man who had to drive over a single speed bump on his way to work every morning.  And every time he drove over that speed bump, he had the same obsessive, invasive thought: What if that was a person I just ran over?  He thought about it so much that he had to turn and go around the block again just to double check that it was a speed bump and not a person.  This would be an obsession followed by a compulsion.  Even worse, as soon as he went over the bump again, he had the same thought: Was it a person?  He would go back over that same speed bump so many times that it made him late for work.  In the end, he began waking up earlier in the morning just so he could accommodate this hour-long, obsessive-compulsive delay and still arrive to work on time.

That, my friends, is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

It is not:

Wanting to finish eating your hamburger before starting on your fries.

Wanting all your pencils to be sharp.

Cleaning your room regularly.

Watching every episode of a show in order.

FURTHERMORE, it is definitely not a disorder unless it meets the three D’s: Deviant, Dysfunction, Distressful.

In other words, if it doesn’t fuck up your life in a major way, it’s not a disorder.

So stop abusing OCD.  People who really have it will thank you.  People who don’t have it should be glad they don’t spend six hours a week driving over the same speed bump.  I don’t care if you can only listen to Britney Spears music while wearing pink socks.  That might make you weird, but it doesn’t give you the right to self-diagnose with a serious disorder.

In other news, I’d like to take a quick second to thank everyone who has supported my blog this far.  I recently surpassed 200 followers, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is to me because I started this thing with zero.  And I don’t really do a lot of self promotion, or comment regularly on other blogs, so 200 is a big accomplishment for me.  So thank you.  And please excuse the rant.



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Filed under Grammar, Humor, Language, writing