08 August 2011

Enjoying & Improving

"If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." 
- E.B. White
The world is such a vast and wonderful place that is full of disappointment and misery, that the dichotomy between the two extremes often makes it hard to function. Thankfully, I've chosen a career that allows me to experience both ends of the spectrum, and keeping this blog allows me to detail the constant struggle of how I plan my day.

Enjoying the World
Besides my review of Captain America, I never finished up discussing the rest of my upcoming summer movie choices. Of the three left, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 earned my dollars, while Cowboys & Aliens managed to pass me by. From the two I saw, the latter far outclassed the former, but who didn't see that coming? At the same time, it feels unfair to compare the two movies as they are in such different leagues despite being effect-driven blockbusters where extraordinary things happen every few seconds.

The Potter franchise, due to the connection with the books, has a heart and soul that big clunky robots that appear to be made out of random assortments of jagged metal could never have, especially considering that the closest thing to heart in a Transformers movie is a fart joke. While easier to follow than the previous sequel, Transformers is clunky, loud and way too long. Meanwhile, Potter manages to close out the series in a fashion suiting an eighth movie of an extremely long, albeit uneven, narrative. Captain America won the summer movie competition, with Potter and Thor trailing close behind.

Improving the World
Jim True-Frost plays Mr. Roland
Pryzbylewski on The Wire.
Last year, I continued my habit of being late to parties by finishing up season one of The Wire going into the beginning of the school year, and it's only appropriate that I finished the fourth and am just over halfway through the fifth season of the show as we start the academic calendar. Also appropriate? Each season focuses on a different section of a (sort of) fictional version of Baltimore and its corrupt systems while exploring the destruction of an American city. The first season focused on the drug trade and police, the second on the dock workers and their unions, the third shifted over to politics and real estate, and the fifth explores the media.

The fourth season that I recently completed watching still has a finger in the political pie, but the main focus is on the schools. Former cop Mr. Prezbo takes up teaching math in an urban middle school, bound and determined to make a difference only to find that the system in place prevents too much substantive change from taking place. Prez struggles to work within the confines of a broken patchwork of educational landmines and makes many of the same mistakes that first-year teachers always make.

This year, I'm taking on something completely new in teaching Frosh Honors English, and while I've gained plenty of experience going into my eighth year at ALHS, the fear that I'll fall into old habits or won't live up to the expectations of others constantly gnaws away at me. But I'm also hopeful that I can make an impact on a brand new set of students. As a product of Alta Loma High School's GATE program, there's a lot to live up to in my own mind. My ultimate goal is always to improve in some small way on my effectiveness as a teacher compared to last year. Living up to that goal this year will be difficult because I'm on a different stage.

As a goals go, it's lofty and vague (I'll get into some more specific goals later in the week), but it'll do for now.

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