October 30, 2008

a book by its cover

Blogger's latest notable. Four out of five "Blogs of Note" clicks leave me puzzled as to the definition of notability, but I suspect this one, which excites me to no end, is going to leave many others scratching their heads.


October 28, 2008

^sucky update

1. This is fabulous.

2. Sometimes I wonder why I put myself on the AR board with the kids; it's just another deadline to meet, and I am already smothered in "Where the hell's your ..."s. Then I read a book like Elijah of Buxton and I remember why. I'd say "Review to come!" but we all know what that usually means.

3. Conference week has bled into testing week. Will we ever have a solid week to read and write something, well, solid?

October 9, 2008

sorry, so sorry

This is one of my all-time favorites. It's a collection of essays and blurbs on a diverse range of topics, so like poetry, you can't consume it all at once, but pretty much whatever mood you bring to the bookshelf, Marjorie Williams will provide food for thought.

I wish Williams were still alive and writing, because I love her perspective and her prose style when discussing politics. Reading pundit blogs gives me a headache, because these issues have been on the table for years and I'm just tuning in (and I'm sorry, but what is McCain's "Crap Sandwich"?).

Just finished reading "The Art of the Fake Apology," a short essay published in March 2000. Somehow pieces (especially pieces with politics at the forefront or as backdrop) published before 9/11 seem automatically irrelevant; I skim them, wish for those times back, and move on. Pieces published after, I read for acknowledgment of a new era, scour for glimpses of optimism, an attitude of sure-footedness in this age of tension, heightened security, mistrust.

"The Art of the Fake Apology" is timeless, though. It offers a few examples of W's jack-assery, but other than that, states the author's distaste for bullshit apologies, i.e. the ones used merely to defend oneself, build an image, spin the story. It speaks not only of the character of politicians, but of the character of people.

"A real apology is useless, in the sense that it isn't offered for the giver's gain. Otherwise it isn't a real apology." - Marjorie Williams
Fake apologies may be the artwork of spin doctors and the most savvy of communications directors, but true apologies - any sincere declaration of feeling, for that matter - are way harder to produce. Because don't we all want something back for that kind of effort? Politicians want the upper hand, husbands and wives want forgiveness, people want it acknowledged that they're not the monsters they just made themselves out to be.

Our culture is so focused on "What do I get out of this deal?", and so true apologies are few and far between. The kids I teach really believe that mumbling "Sorry, dude" is an acceptable apology. The hardest thing about teaching them that it isn't, is the fact that true contrition can't be forced. Most times the kids aren't sorry for what they've done. I never tell my kids to apologize to each other (although I may suggest it if the offending party does seem sincerely regretful). Instead, I ask them what they're going to do about the situation. Lots of times, this just puzzles them. But it makes them really think, which I find preferable to them mumbling/shouting/sniping "Sor-reeee" and then going about their day.

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