Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Greatest hits of the '60s, '70s, and now the '80s"

This is the new tagline of the Boston oldies station, at least since the new year. There are two problems with this change. First, I happen to like the greatest hits of the '50s and want them back. Second, I was alive in the '80s. Oldies have always been an expressly historical genre, representing pop music that happened before I existed and thus was of interest to me for purely antiquarian reasons. (I mean, it's hard to explain how I was an antiquarian at age six, when I first started listening to the radio, but suffice it to say, I was.) Now, oldies and I have apparently converged. History has fused with the present! What outrage is next? My present will be the present's past? Oldies will represent my personal nostalgia instead of the nostalgia of old people? I WILL BE OLD???


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Speaking of gym class

In a serendipitous moment, just as Alpheus tries to candy-coat the futility and cruelty of gym class, my own high school district finally relaxes the class's iron grip on students.
The plan as voted on will reduce staff in the physical wellness department by incorporating health–now a one-semester stand-alone class–into sophomore physical education classes, cut drivers education, and schedule junior and senior electives more efficiently...

After listening to teachers talk about the importance of physical activity and drivers education, Superintendent Nanciann Gatta pointed out that while physical activity is important, the district now requires eight semesters of physical education and one of health–and only six of math and four of science.
I suppose I should not get worked up over the fact that these requirements have been in place--in that ratio--for at least a decade. One semester of gym class for every semester of high school enrollment--and no exceptions for such irrelevant substitutes as varsity sports participation. (Although that last rule may have changed since my tenure.)

Sure, I would've preferred to have a lunch period my senior year instead of standing out on a softball diamond in shorts and a t-shirt in November for 40 minutes a day. I probably could've found something better to do with my time instead of a summer school health class I was forced to take because it too was required for graduation on top of all that gym time, during which I spent eight weeks watching powerpoint presentations depicting the symptoms of chlamydia that the instructor had outsourced to the students so that he could get paid to surf internet sports sites. (He also told us he invented the cheese hat that Green Bay Packers fans wear and became a millionaire from it.) One day, when we look back on the successes and shortcomings of NCLB, the elimination of the colossal waste of time that was health class at Niles West will rank among its triumphs.

It's true that things worked out ok for me in the end. Now, maybe they will also work out better for other people. After much searching, I finally found the actual restructuring plan. (Notably, the revamped school "newspaper" has opted to forgo coverage of teacher firings and curriculum changes in order to whinge more extensively about how unfair the school ban on Facebook is.) While I am deeply dismayed to see such illustrious traditions as "Fashion Workshop," "Sports and Entertainment Marketing," and "Interior Design 1 and 2" (we had this???) bite the dust, I find it difficult to be upset about increased emphasis on real subjects at the expense of such otherwise edifying and important instruction as "Chlamydia 101, or How I Became Rich By Selling Cheese Hats."