Haiku Series, #10

2015-04-18 20.07.28

Photo taken by Andrew Joseph Pegoda, April 18, 2015, Lake Jackson, Texas

Unflawed life resists
Uncontrolled captured marvels
Underlining all

See more haiku illustrated with pictures, here.

“Students” or “Citizens” of Colleges and Universities (Working Thoughts): – Hidden Power of Words Series, #17

When we teach classes, do we think about our classes as consisting of students or citizens

“Students” denotes a much more temporary relationship and one where, in so-called traditional classrooms, the professor delivers information which the students learn (e.g., memorize and master) – called the “banking” method of education by Paulo Freire. Even in environments grounded in adult learning theories and active learning strategies, “students” are there, temporarily, to learn and study and move on after earning degrees. The definition of student even is “a person who is studying at a school or college.” “At” being a key word describing this one-sided relationship where “students” are given little agency or any real role. “Studying” is inherently vague and passive.   

Using “Citizens”—think of “citizens” of a contemporary nation state and associated rights and duties—requires we think about the larger relationship between all of the people involved, learning and teaching, and academia. If we teach “citizens,” we are talking about a “society”- one that best functions with some kind of unity; although, for sure, not purely homogenous societies. We are talking about teaching people how to contribute to society, in and/or out of academia, in meaningful ways, ways grounded in knowledge and analysis. This line of thought is different than goals of making “life long learners,” per se.

“Citizens,” from one perspective as suggested in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, are those who have some kind of close relationships among strangers. Histories, institutions, demographics, and/or similar factors help these “strangers” have some kind of unity. Being enrolled in classes, ideally in the pursuit of knowledge, gives people a definite unity. 

“Citizens” (think “social contract”) also have responsibilities to actively read, write, and ask questions of anything and everything and everyone. Citizens receive opportunities and advice and in turn, use that to advance their own knowledge and life and to give back and further the number of places where intellectually riggirous conversations are wanted, needed, and/or valued. 

Notions of uniting concepts of citizenship and academia also deserve special care. For example, there are constantly (unnecessary, quasi-racist, and privilege-driven) conversations about who can and cannot be a citizen of the United States. Academia should be open to all people interested and willing to study. This helps provide an important critique and reminder that we need to always make sure academia is open and accessible. Costs should not be a prohibitor. Geography, with options to study online (which is by no means free of its own problems), is no longer the barrier it once was. Additionally, looking at academia as a quasi-nation, gives us the opportunity to consider how, when, where, and why academia asserts its authority (or “sovereignty”) over knowledge across society and should prompt us to ask when and if this is appropriate. 

By using “citizens” instead of “students,” we can better create life long learners and give people the opportunity to have a deep and meaningful college experience. 



13 Painful Memories Remain Two Decades after First and Second Grade

My time in first and second grade was miserable to say the least. There were some good times, for sure, but a combination of not-so-good teachers and on-going health issues made for interesting times. At the school I attended, I was in a class that had two teachers in one really big room with around 40 first and second graders mixed together.

  1. Until doctors found a medication that worked, I had severe migraine headaches for days and weeks at a time. Doctors requested I always have a small notepad to write the time I got headaches. My teachers refused to let me use this and said whenever I claimed to have a headache, they would send me to the nurse, who would say (by taking my temperature) if I actually had a headache or not. The nurse went along with this. (She should have know better because body temperature is not a measurement of whether one has a headache or not – there is not test for that.) One of the teachers said, “I get migraines, and my doctor said you always throw up, so you’re not actually having migraine headaches.”
  1. Because they were worried I would injure my head, teachers made me wear this big bicycle-like helmet during PE for several months. Before this, I never got to participate in PE. After this, because I was struggling with reading, I was sent to extra classes and never got to attend PE. No wonder I was endlessly teased.
  1. I wrote an essay for our assignment, and for some reason the teacher didn’t like it. She tore it up and stormed out of the room.
  1. I was drawing a picture of my house for an assignment. I drew the roof as being blue. The teachers said, “Why did you color your roof blue? I’ve been by your house. It’s not blue.” (For the record: it was!)
  1. One day we were all working at our desks on an assignment. I needed to tie my shoe, so I started to do so. The teachers said, “What are you doing?” I answered accordingly. She screamed, “Liar! Liar! You are lying!” over and over.
  1. Teachers regularly forced me to eat foods I was not comfortable eating.
  1. During the annual 4th of July program one year the teacher walked up to me (we were all seated on the stage) and said, “If you don’t watch me, I’m going to drag you off this stage.” (I was watching her because she was “directing” “the choir.”)
  1. Because some of the boys and girls kept making a mess in the restroom, teachers constantly threatened to WATCH everyone go and said we could only go when they were available to watch.
  1. For reasons I can’t remember but because the class did something they didn’t like they constantly threatened to remove all the furniture from the room and all the books and all the posters as a rest-of-the-school-year punishment.
  1. For the longest time, I was placed in the reading group called “tortoises” because I was too slow.
  1. Doctors at M.D. Anderson wanted me to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as part of my lunch each day because it would be like a peanut better and jelly sandwich. Teachers refused to let me eat this, even with a doctor’s note.
  1. We were forced to recite the United States Pledge, Texas Pledge, Star Spangled Banner, all of the states, and all of the presidents every single day, without ever being told what we were actually saying or what it meant. (More on this here.)
  1. Being lied to. About history. About science. About e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. In first grade, they told us, “the sun never moves.” In second grade I asked, “If you can do 6-3, what happens when you do 3-6.” The teacher replied, “That’s not possible. You can never subtract a larger number from a smaller number.”

These memories stay with me and help inform the professor I am. I use my experiences to creative positive learning environments and experiences for others. I demonstrate what a good educator does.

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“Britain’s Got Talent” or Does it?: A Critique of Popular Culture

Two weeks ago Britain’s Got Talent began its new season. So far, with a few notable exceptions such as this “boyband” and this singer and this singer, this year has a somewhat ridiculous lack of talent. Comedians aren’t funny, dog’s don’t preform on command, and singers are off key. So far, there is less talent than in any previous season, all of which are on YouTube. 

Or, is the issue not a lack of talent per se, but an issue of what people find entertaining or what producers (rich White guys) find entertaining and this becomes what people enjoy and find normal.

Indeed, Britain’s Got Talent (and America’s Got Talent, etc., etc.) are profound examples of how everyday the Jerry Springer Syndrome has become. The United Kingdom, with its 64.1 million people as of 2013, is bound to have 64.1 million plus individuals who are truly talented at something, some exceptionally so and a talent that would gain sincere applause or laugh.

For instance, this bagpipe trio should have never made it past the pre-pre-audition stages if producers and judges are sincerely interested in talent. “Contestants” could well be in on it (people generally have some idea of what they are and aren’t good at), but making fun of people should not be pleasurable entertainment. 

Additionally, this comedian is clearly not talented (or not shown as being talented) at being a comedian – this act did not in any way contribute to finding unseen talent in Britain or toward finding a performance for the Royal Variety Performance.

Why is this show called Britain’s Got Talent? Personally, I would enjoy seeing people doing things—singing or otherwise—they truly are talented at.

Maybe, thinking of semiotics, we should ask what does talent even mean?!  

Other times, this show and its sister versions in dozens of countries around the world build people up entirely too much, per se. The way this world is, having one great (or bad) performance will likely change little overall – Susan Boyle is the exception. On America’s Got Talent, judges told Jonathan Allen, who was abandoned by his family for being gay, “With your talent, the show has become your family…welcome home, we love you, we love you, we accept you, and we’re so proud you came here,” only to also abandon him. 

I have been planning a version of this post for almost two years! I’ve seen one episode of America’s Got Talent on You Tube over a year ago (season 8, week 2), and it pretty much features everything that is wrong with the nation. And that is only one of the reasons why I don’t have a television and don’t watch its programming (except, in very, very rare circumstances to see what I need to critique, and only if it is free on YouTube).

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Haiku Series, #9

2013-09-07 10.37.03

Photo taken by Andrew Joseph Pegoda, September  7, 2013, Lake Jackson, Texas

Thousands of pixels
Individual boxes
Create our beauty 

Life boldly requests
Parallel acknowledgments
For all seen, unseen

Little known bugs cry
Unseen is most powerful
Respect challenges 

Mammoth trees protect
Symbolize all of life too
Shades of gray, weeping

Skies call, pale blue dot
Demand, know your place, dust specks
One, to everything

Unknown stars remind
Pause as the pixels were forced
Courageous, careful

See more haiku illustrated with pictures, here.

Haiku Series, #8

Picture 135

Photo taken by Andrew Joseph Pegoda, December 25, 2004, Lake Jackson, Texas

Blue snow memories
Mysterious nature’s calls
Sound circles of life

Memory’s blue snow
Call’s mysterious natures
Life of sound circles

Circle of life sounds
Mysterious nature’s calls
Memories, blue snow

See more haiku illustrated with pictures, here.

Haiku Series, #7


Objects arranged by and photo taken by Andrew Joseph Pegoda, April 16, 2015, Lake Jackson, Texas

Sum totalities
Complex geometricals
Randomness of life

See more haiku illustrated with pictures, here.


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