Archive for the ‘Education and Language’ Category

Fourteen Years in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  Clayton Street at College Avenue, Athens, Georgia, May 17, 2008

Photographer = Richard Chambers

Image in the Public Domain

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For a long period of time during my youth, I moved with my family an average of every two years.  My father was a minister in the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.  Given my background, with its mobility, living in one place (Athens-Clarke County) as long as I have has astonished me.  I have put down roots.

I moved to Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, on Tuesday, August 9, 2005, shortly prior to the beginning of the Fall Semester at The University of Georgia (UGA).  My doctoral program in history died prematurely and ingloriously in December 2006.  That affiliation with UGA ended in bitterness and tears, but my affiliation with St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church has been constant since late 2005.  The number of my responsibilities in the parish has increased overall, and I have accepted these tasks gladly.

We do not know what the future holds or should have in store for us, but I do know the following:

  1. I like Athens-Clarke County very much.  It is one of the few places in which I do not feel like a marginal figure, an outcast.
  2. UGA creates the intellectual and cultural environment that makes me feel welcome.
  3. I want to continue to live here for a long time.
  4. I may leave it one day, to pursue an opportunity.
  5. I continue to hope for a professional, long-term relationship with UGA.  I realize that, although my previous applications have not been successful, I cannot succeed if I do not try.  I am persistent.
  6. UGA is a place where I should have a place to make my full-time professional contribution of society joyfully.   If that place is not UGA, it will probably be another college or university.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 9, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Objective Reality   Leave a comment

I live in a polarized, postmodern society in which many people want to have not only their opinions but their own facts, also.  This is shameful.  As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, people are entitled to their opinions, not their own facts.  I, as a student of history, rely upon a body of objective evidence.  History, strictly speaking, is the interpretation of that evidence.  Interpretations vary, but the evidence remains.  To quote John Adams,

Facts are stubborn things.

Consider a recent news story from Boca Raton, Florida, O reader.

William Latson, the Principal of Spanish River Community High School, had an exchange with a parent in April 2018.  The topic of the exchange was the state mandate (dating to 1994) to teach about the Holocaust in Tenth Grade world history classes.  Latson told her that, at his high school, that one-day lesson was optional because some parents did not want their offspring to participate.  The anonymous mother replied,

The Holocaust is a factual, historical event.  It is not a right or a belief.

Latson answered her,

Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened and you have your thoughts but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs so they will react differently.  I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.

Latson has apologized and visited Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Holocaust was real.  The Third Reich documented it thoroughly.  Survivors told their stories.  Soldiers who liberated death camps saw the evidence.

The Holocaust should fill every human being with moral revulsion.

The unwillingness to admit something documented so thoroughly speaks ill of those who either deny or minimize the Holocaust.

One of the main ideas in the study of history is that we do not have to respect every opinion.  We have no obligation to respect any opinion that depends on fallacies.  Whenever I can contradict someone’s opinion solely by reciting accurate, objective information, I encounter an opinion for which I properly have scorn.  Holocaust deniers and minimizers exist; the Internet amplifies their opinions, unfortunately.  I heap scorn upon them and their counterfactual and anti-Semitic opinions, as I should.

We cannot repeat the past, for time does not play on a loop.  We must, however, be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past in different circumstances.  The first step is learning the proper lessons from the past.  We cannot do that as long as we confuse the categories of the objective and the subjective.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 9, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Abuse of the English Language   1 comment

The blatant abuse of the English

language is, like, you know, a cause

of much irritation–anguish,

even.  This is the truth because,

basically, I’d rather banish,

you know, disrespect for usage laws.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Originally published at ORIGINAL POEMS AND FAMILY HISTORY BLOG

https://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/abuse-of-the-english-language/

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Posted April 16, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Language

Impact   8 comments

Please, do not misuse “impact,”

substituting it for other

verbs, such as “influence” and “affect.”

Nobody has impacted me, or

else I would have known the effect

of the collision.  No crater

or wedging in someplace, “impact”

is not properly a good verb.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Originally published at ORIGINAL POEMS AND FAMILY HISTORY BLOG

https://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/impact/

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Posted April 16, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Language

Tagged with

It’s the Thought that Counts   1 comment

“I want to thank you,” the message

began.  I guess something or

someone prevented such a sage

from actually thanking, or

else one poorly wrote that message.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Originally published at ORIGINAL POEMS AND FAMILY HISTORY BLOG

https://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2019/04/13/its-the-thought-that-counts/

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Posted April 13, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Language

Temerity   4 comments

The temerity of some postsecondary students never surprises nor ceases to appall me.

Late last semester, I decided to abandon written assignments in my (history) courses at the University of North Georgia (the Oconee Campus, to be precise), effective this semester.  The cumulative effect of so much bad writing and inability or unwillingness to follow the assigned style manual, combined with persistent (and frequently denied) plagiarism, wore me down.  I took pity on myself.  I stripped out the essays, the book report, and the weekly quizzes, and replaced them with four tests, including the final exam.  The restructuring of my courses has necessitated the rewriting of my teaching notes (in progress during this semester), as well as the writing of possible test questions before and after classes.

The first test of 50 questions for Monday, February 4.  Grading will be easy, for I know where the Scantron machine is on campus.

My test bank for the first test has grown to more than 50 questions.  After I have mentioned the test bank in class, some students have asked if I will post the test bank on Distance Learning (D2L), so that they may study the questions.  I have given these pupils the looks they deserve.  No, I have said, pupils will see the questions on February 4, when I distribute the tests.

I am not alone in noticing the sense of entitlement rife in the undergraduate population these days.  My disgust with this attitude is evident in my new syllabi, which contains a bullet list that begins with the mantra,

You are not entitled to….

Sometimes I think about younger generations and feel generally positive about the future.  On other occasions, however, I ponder certain young people and mourn for the future.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Posted January 29, 2019 by neatnik2009 in University of North Georgia

Students’ Individual Responsibility   3 comments

Above:  A Portion of My Home Desk Area, November 5, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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When I was an undergraduate at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, taking upper-level history courses, a research paper was part of every such course.  The format was Turabian, of course.  In 1993-1996, my time at Valdosta State, I used an electronic typewriter to create my written assignments.  Almost always the professors were kind enough to permit endnotes instead of footnotes.  Those professors also never took any time to explain the Turabian format.  Doing so was not their job, and I never imagined that it was.  No, my responsibility vis-à-vis formatting was to consult and follow the style manual, then in the fifth edition.  My copy of the style manual was an essential volume in my library.

Many of the students I teach at the Oconee Campus of the University of North Georgia apparently lack the initiative to consult the current Turabian manual (ninth edition) or an online Turabian guide.   Many of them seem to think that my job is to tell them everything about the Turabian style, especially with regard to footnotes (easy to do via computer) and bibliographic entries.  Many of them ignore my written guidance (more than any of my professors gave, that is, none) and plead ignorance.  Yet ignorance, especially the variety born of laziness and apathy, is not a good defense.

Many of my colleagues and I see the same disturbing pattern:  pupils, overall, expect proverbial hand-holding through tasks that should be simple for college students yet prove challenging.  Furthermore, proverbial hand-holding often does no good anyway, based on results.

As I tell students, the more they put into their education, the more they will get out of it.  Regardless of what they did or did not learn at their high schools (some of which report high test scores), they are responsible for showing the necessary initiative.  Instead, many of them give up and avoid taking any of my courses again.

I accept my responsibility to my students.  They deserve my best efforts to prepare them for the world.  One lesson I hope I teach is the importance of showing initiative.  Another lesson I strive to teach is working hard through struggles to emerge better off in the end.

I ponder the causes of the problems I recognize in many students.  A partial list follows:

  1. The sense of entitlement commonplace in Millennials;
  2. The results of helicopter parenting;
  3. The failures of schools, especially the coddling of students, often for the purpose of raising scores on high-stakes tests;
  4. The endemic lack of time-management skills;
  5. Short attention spans; and
  6. The plethora of distractions, mostly technological.

Responsibility is both collective and individual.  Regardless of the negative influences of others on one’s life, one does have much agency.  Those other influences may not cease to exist, but one can, at least, consult and follow a mandated style manual in a university course.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 5, 2018 COMMON ERA

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