June 2, 2015 by baldaufbr
Hey, Digimon! Hey, Digimon!
Monster friends of the boys and girls, champions of the digital world, Digimon was, in my opinion, a more captivating story than its mainstream competitor Pokemon. I was as much a fan of Pokemon as the rest of the kids in those days and for a time I was inseparable from my stuffed Pikachu, but I longed for an eclipse portal to another world where a Digivice and creepily positive jumping head was definitely waiting for me. More than one plan was hatched to get me through that two-hour hole in the sky, so when I saw it I’d be ready.
For those of you yet sadly unfamiliar with the glories of the Digital World, allow me to enlighten you. Digimon: Digital Monsters (Digimon are the champions) was the story of eight unsuspecting youth at summer camp who, chosen four years prior unbeknownst to them, were transported into the Digital World to help save it from the forces of evil that were corrupting it. Bear in mind that the Digital World was exactly what it sounds like, but remember that computers were newish and the internet was a mystery land where anything could happen.
As with anything, the show was amazing for about two seasons and crept steadily downhill as people realized that the digital universe wasn’t a place where good and evil were at war with each other that could suck people in to do business with creatures who aren’t real and could potentially be fatally harmful to everyone.
Each of the original eight children represented one trait and it was their friendship and their faith in each other that allowed them to ultimately save everything. Now, fifteen real-life years later (six in the Digital World according to no math anywhere), the eight digidestined (Coolest name ever? I think so too.) are once again called to action to unite against dark forces that threaten the very existence of both worlds.
Digimon Adventure Tri was announced in August of this year as a sequel to the original events set to be released on November 21st, but that’s not all! Rather than another TV run, the newest addition to the story will be a six part movie series beginning with Part I: Reunion. The second set of children may make a few appearances, which could serve to bridge the first and second groups. Other than that, not much is known about the story, but stylistically, the team has had a makeover.
Understandably, the return of Tai, Matt, Sora, Mimi, Joe, Izzy, TK, and Kari may not turn you into a squealing, 11-year-old girl. You’re above that and I applaud your strength. For those of us without your admirable composure, this marks the return of the Digidestineds’ heyday—no more entering and leaving the Digiworld through screens, no more plastic cards that give humans magical Digiworld powers, and no more feeble attempts at unifying the two worlds.
Maybe this will give some insight as to how the kids end up being able to go back and forth at will and maybe it won’t, but one thing is clear. The writers were either narrating the evolution of the internet and our deepening relationship with its wonders or they were prophets and the script of this show is part four of the Bible if you’re Mormon, three if you’re any other Christian, or two if you’re a Jew. Either way, I’m very excited for the new adventures of the original crew and I’ll be even more excited if the show is still 50% computer animated digivolving sequences with sweet “digivolve into champion, digivolve into ultimate” techno accompaniment.
The Plural of Anecdote is not Data
I won’t lie; when I set out to offer this double post as recompense for failing to complete what you’ve already read due to lack of productivity on a plane and the quite literal dregs of the overheated pot of lackluster diner coffee that was my last week of teaching, I did intend to make good on the promise of a science fiction double feature. From Channing Tatum’s upcoming portrayal of Gambit to the possibility of a live-action Johnny Quest (there is a god!), there is a rather extensive list to comment on in the world of Science Fiction (ok—ok—fantasy…) these days. But try as I did, I found my “research” rather consistently defecting like the worse half of today’s attention spans, the measure of which I judge based on the fact that I can’t recall a shred of what I now realize I spent hours reading. Something something superheroes and the lackluster performances that pre-date the upcoming versions, depictions, reboots, or revivals that obviously mean newer is better, pretty is famous, and bigger is, well,
Having spent my biweekly masturdate (dating yourself, people—D as in brunch on the porch in the morning Daylight) when I usually write my posts hanging drawers on my walls like a badass, modern-rustic lumberboy (which is an infinitely better wombo than cowjack, a moderately amusing word if used as a literal verb and not as one spoken by a child who still has trouble with the -r sound), I had to postpone my writing until after today’s less-than-exciting(-thank-you-Sandie-Berka) Grammar Training. Hence my reneging on my unmade promise and the disastrously confusing communication I’ve employed in the construction of this paragraph.
As an introduction, the paragraph you’ve just fought through is preeminently one which a teacher might use to show students how not to write. The insufferable tangents, perplexing syntax, and questionable use of vocabulary, referential asides, and unintelligible lines of reasoning make it difficult to follow at the very least. And yet, each sentence is technically correct from a strictly grammatical standpoint with the exception of the incomplete sentence leading up to the gif. My point then? I’m glad you asked!
The Scene: An unused classroom set aside for district trainings, therefore stocked with all manner of school supplies mostly covered with posters
The Characters: 8 Elementary teachers, 10 secondary teachers, 1 Language Acquisition specialist whose decision it was to adopt the instruction model being presented, and 1 Guest Presenter showing the instruction model she developed
The Conflict: The presenter and one secondary teacher have a working knowledge of the linguistic functions of the English language. The presenter does an excellent job demonstrating the uses of each subcategory of the 8 parts of speech. 17 teachers and 1 Language Acquisition specialist are amazed at the cognitive demand that is involved in the simple task of reading. The presenter is pleased. The remaining teacher spends the 6 hours watching the presenter become a god among predominantly women because she can narrate the processes that literally every person in the room performed subconsciously.
Over time Grammar has become a catch-all term for the study of different linguistic properties of a language, primarily those involving syntax and, more often than not, including orthography and semantics. Therein lies the biggest problem with our current inability to read and write effectively. Current studies dictate that the writing skill that most students from Kindergarten to College lack is the ability to classify and categorize information effectively to communicate the greater importance of some ideas. Essentially, when writing, students present a largely insignificant detail as a thesis because they cannot tell the difference between a detail, a main idea, and a theme. They cannot mentally collect details in order to determine a list of explicitly stated or heavily implied main ideas, nor can they synthesize these ideas to summarize a text and succinctly communicate a theme which can be applied to the reader’s life. They do not have these skills, not because they are simply bad at writing, but because they never learned them.
Recent educational trends have seen a heavy stress on fitting the instruction of reading and writing into the mold of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in order to gain lost footing in international rankings in these areas. Please understand that students’ ability to be highly functioning in these areas is paramount for success in the current workforce, so the STEM model is, in and of itself, good. What is not good is the suffering of arts and humanities to make room for this way of thinking. If you want reading and writing to fit into this model, you still need to equip students with the direct instruction of reading and writing skills such that they can perform among the world’s best when it comes to functional text.
Unfortunately, the current methodologies of grammar instruction are founded in the 8 parts of speech at the hands of the 17 teachers who worship the presenter as a god. As such, students spend 16 years of school reviewing what a noun is and ignoring the more complex structures available to us. This is why nobody wants to read classic literature: they are more or less incapable of comprehending a sentence that has a compound, complex, or—heaven forbid—compound-complex structure. This is also why no amount of STEM instruction will see gains in our nation’s ranking. If students cannot effectively communicate their academic work, they cannot be successful.
So far, I’ve introduced, albeit vaguely and sometimes incomprehensibly, the three concepts that I’d like to discuss: “Grammar,” Linguistic Instruction, and Circumstantial vs. Tangential thinking. Before I go, I’d like to leave you with a question: how much grammar did you learn in school and how much of a text do you actually read before you 1) decide what a text is about, and 2) form a solid opinion about its contents. Hopefully my next post will be much clearer, probably more enjoyable, and ultimately more like an actual post where the title will make sense. This was, however, entirely necessary.