Is anyone out there? Anyone? Please speak up

ben-stein-ferris-buellers-day-offThe worst teachers stand in the front of a classroom or lecture hall and drone on from the time their classes begin until they end.

Communication in these classrooms is mostly one-way.

chariton-high-school-1The teacher talks and talks and talks and talks. Students in the classroom listen or take notes. Or, speaking from personal experience, they sometimes sleep. This is what I did in high school for an entire semester of seventh-hour U.S. government.

And that brings me to this blog and the conversation it doesn’t ignite. So far, the dialogue has been generated mostly by me. That may not be a good thing.

Tuesday, on the other hand, was actually a better day. Of the 103 people who read the blog by Tuesday evening, five posted comments. I responded three times, raising the day’s total number of comments to eight.

Also, a total of 11 readers voted in a poll posted on the blog Tuesday.

Nancy Nall Derringer
Nancy Nall Derringer

This is something I’d like to change at Brome Hill. A blog I read nearly every day is written by Nancy Nall Derringer, a former newspaper columnist who lives in Michigan. Granted, she has been blogging for quite a bit longer than I have been. And she’s a better writer than I am to boot. But on a daily basis,  Derringer and her readers have a great dialogue. They discuss. They debate. On days when she is busy, she simply opens a thread and turns them loose to carry the conversation on that particular day.

I see similar things going on at some of the WordPress blogs I have started to follow.

Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of community here? Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks so.

It seems to me this blog could become a great place for people to chat. It’s read by quite a few Muscatine residents, along with a growing number of WordPress bloggers and many of the friends I’ve made going back to my grade-school days. Readers have come here via word of mouth, their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds and via Google and other Internet search engines. The readers I know are as far-flung as Finland and Oregon. They are both politically conservative and liberal.

Just imagine what we could learn from one another if more of them joined me in what has been largely a one-way dialogue up to this point.

Speaking of There were a couple of links posted Tuesday on this blog that are worth your time. I often wonder how she finds this stuff.

The first link was a great commentary on Lance Armstrong. Nall Derringer called it the best column she has read about Armstrong in a good long time. For what it’s worth, I agree.

The second link is from the TV show, Myth Busters. It’s far more interesting than was the movie on which it was based.

12 thoughts on “Is anyone out there? Anyone? Please speak up

  • I was awake. Forgot to silence my phone. I am very disappointed and mad at Lance A. Wish I had not bought read believed and talked to people about his book.

    • Welcome, Don. If I’m not mistaken you are a first-time commenter here. Glad to have you. Or, you my friend, Don, who sends me a fair amount of email?

      Anyway, I’d say you have lots of company when it comes to Lance. I know plenty of people who have believed in him.

  • On the other hand, standing in front of the students and giving them the material they need to go on to do individual or group work is an honorable methodology. Some current administrators would like to eliminate it; kids should be able to learn with no guidance or knowledge, just get in a group and what? Be spontaneous, I suppose. Higher Levels of Thinking by ignoring the preliminary steps of learning and comprehending facts. One wants a reasonable mix of teaching techniques, not all lecture, of course, but the teacher telling the kids stuff– maybe not so bad.

    • Thanks for the comment, Mrs. Conlon.

      This salutation points out something with which I have struggled. And that is how to address you. I haven’t figured out if I should call you Kristine or Tina. And since you are a retired teacher, Mrs. Conlon always seems safe.

      For what it’s worth, a reasonable mix of techniques makes sense to me. For blogging purposes today, I just used the Ben Stein example of teaching because it’s how I sometimes feel here … that I am droning on and on and on.

      Plus it enabled me to sneak in a reference to sleeping in government class, which used to annoy the heck out of my sister. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity just in case she happens to read it. And I know my mom will read it.

  • 1. Teaching is so complicated, depending on the subject, the age, the other demographics, that there is no way to generalize – whether in practice or in governmental/administrative mandate – the way in which it should be done. And thanks for the reference to “Mrs.” Conlon … teachers don’t get nearly enough respect these days! (No need to call me Mrs. Carroll, though, since I would hope you consider me a friend.)
    2. I read the Armstrong article, but since I have so little interest in athletics of any kind, I have no opinion on the subject.

  • Just wanted to check in and say I read this every day. How else would I hear Muscatine news while I’m in North Dakota?

  • Chris,

    I check in fairly often, and your offerings are surely part of the rich conversation I enjoy via the magic of Internet. I’ve started but not followed through with several blogs of my own, most recently a WordPress one. I watch your effort and contemplate trying harder, but so far energetic Facebooking is about my right speed. I like its Note feature and “photo” Albums, the latter especially, for chronicling ideas and info I might write more about or hope to find again. I avoid all games and most other apps that would only distract me and post their stuff in my name. So, about interacting with you here: I hereby resolve to try harder, but I make no promises. I’m glad for your welcome—I count on it—but realize I’m easily drawn in too many ways already. You simply cannot win that competition every day. Thank goodness I can log in here now via Facebook ID, one of the few good reasons for breaking my no-apps rule. As for sleeping through class, I was more apt to do it in math or science than in government, but otherwise I resemble you and welcome your attitude toward boring one-way communication. Keep up the good work!


  • Thanks for reading, Dan. As you know, I’m well aware of your fondness for Facebook. I’ve been accused more than once of being a Facebook addict.

    I’ve tried to cut back a bit on Facebook because it can really suck up a lot of time.

    Also, WordPress has added some tools for doing status updates and other features similar to what you find on Facebook. So, for now, I’ve decided it makes more sense to use my blog to share links, status updates and most of what I used to put on Facebook.

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