Category Archives: education

Would you choose to live a war?

The most logical answer would be “no”, of course. But there are hundreds of occasions in which thousands of people decide to relive wars – and their potential PTSDs – on purpose. Reenactments, for example, so popular in the US.

On one hand, they are part of the trend of romanticizing and nostalgizing the past, just as the reenactments of other, not so traumatic events and activities, like Renaissance fairs and heritage villages, replicas of everyday life of years past. You get a hands-on, or rather eyes-on, play-on education of what the past actually was. What it meant to be witnessing it.

I can understand that. We’ve got some wars that are already far enough in the past for us to accept as part of our national mythology: Revolutionary war, Civil War, Spanish-American war reenactments and even more obscure cowboy gun battles that definitely qualify as non-traumatic reproduction of history snippets. But it’s different when the war in question is so close in time and emotional connection to us like WWII.  Even if we’ve settled into our collective interpretation of such a war, reliving it unsettles us. Continue reading

Survey courses in literature vs. Bob Dylan

Stanley Fish’s column in the New York Times is probably the most prominent place where the world meets academia. After all, the world hardly reads The Chronicle of Higher Education and it’s sad these issues are otherwise largely ignored, beyond the annual college admission campaign. Getting into college seems to be extremely important, but the question of what college should actually be, now that is a conversation that that rarely happens. And it should.

Fish’s latest post is related to this existential topic, What Should College Teach? The answer to this lies in the inherent value we assign to higher education in general. It depends whether society expects it to produce independent minds  (liberal arts education) or provide practical skills (professional training).  With the trend going in the direction of practical skills and the growing popularity of majors such as accounting, it’s heartening to see that literature and foreign languages  are part of the obligatory mind-cultivation process that college is. Continue reading

Blogs for Spanish teachers

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If you are a language teacher, you are most probably a passionate ambassador of the culture you represent to your students, in the classroom and outside. But even though Spanish is so ubiquitous in the USA and resources are abundant, Spanish and bilingual teachers often say they don’t have the time to stay connected with the language and culture they love. Just the research about news, keeping up with current events and cultural information can be time consuming.

If you are someone interested in Spanish, Latin American and US Latino culture, here are three other blogs I write that will help you stay in touch and learn more. And they save you time researching about literature, cinema and art of the Spanish-speaking world. Posts are monthly and discuss films, art and newly published and classic stories, poems and also children’s books by Spanish-speaking authors. Continue reading

Learning a new language is no baby talk

The best time to learn a new language is around teenagerhood and beyond. Yes, learning at a younger age is always an advantage and young children absorb a new language faster if they happen to be immersed in the respective culture. But they also forget it easier if they are removed from it. Their language abilities disappear just as their childhood memories fade and a curtain is drawn between the cultures of childhood and adulthood, through language. Continue reading