Logic runs deeper than arithmetic

My old classmates would be tickled pink to hear that I failed a math test.  Okay, so maybe I didn’t fail, I scored below average and failed to get a job because of it.  Big difference.

Back in the day, some would want to copy my homework, but the more competitive students were annoyed when I got the highest mark.  As a teenager, I put myself into game mode; so for me, math was like playing cards.

I won’t make excuses.  This time I wasn’t on form. Continue reading Logic runs deeper than arithmetic

How do you measure the quality of a “classic” film?

Last year, I was doing a comparison of the films on the WJEC French curriculum. There were four films on the A-level curriculum, La Raffle (the Round Up), (A very Long Engagement), La Classe, and Le Havre.  Which of those four would I recommend?

Well, for learning French, La Raffle had a huge weakness.  In the edition distributed in the UK, it was impossible to turn off the subtitles.  So, considering level of language, ability to toggle subtitles, and other factors, I thought that Le Havre was probably most suitable for the purpose of learning French at A-level. Continue reading How do you measure the quality of a “classic” film?

“A short course of nothing” review of “Las Maestras de la República”

I hate to start a review with a spoiler, but knowing your history is always a spoiler.  And, if you don’t know your history, historical films often lack interest.

Spain was backward during Franco’s dictatorship, just as fundamentalists in the middle east are making their own countries backward.  Much of Europe only truly emerged from the dark ages in the past 200 years, some parts have yet to emerge.

This documentary “Las Maestras de la Republica” is a story about education in a time between extremes, not only Franco’s extreme, but the extreme of the other guys.  The Second Spanish Republic was not a bed of roses, and the documentary skims over most of the problems of that regime.  Instead, it focuses on the new found equality of Spanish women through education, especially the role of teaching. Continue reading “A short course of nothing” review of “Las Maestras de la República”

Interview of a job hunt: from Pizza Hut to the Ben Franklin of the 21st century

A waiter, labelled republicans, serves a tariff bill to Uncle Sam
“Some of the moments were surreal”

In the past Ptara interviewed documentarians and historians, those who have been published and won awards. We’ve had some interesting viewpoints from those who’ve studied history and used it for work.

This time, we published an entrepreneur, and the Employee for the 21st century, a man who’s career includes coding Javascript, sharing statistics, and serving pizza: Mr. Joseph Ohler Junior. Continue reading Interview of a job hunt: from Pizza Hut to the Ben Franklin of the 21st century

Are Students dumber than they were 90 years ago? I sure hope not.

We’ve all heard that today’s students don’t know history, and can’t find anything on a map.   Is it reassuring or not to know that their ancestors weren’t much brighter?

American students back in the time of Gandhi and Mussolini didn’t even know who those two famous people were.

Benito Mussolini giving an evil star and holding a handkerchif
Would you ask this guy for a foot massage?

“Gandhi is an Italian Ambassador in Washington” said students at Syracuse university, back when “British Rule in India” was “confronted with its gravest crisis.”

“Freudism is a revolutionary party in Bavaria,” they added.  Well, at least Bavaria is geographically closer to Freud’s birthplace than Italy is to India.   “Mussolini is an alcohol rub” which was apparently used in massage.  Or, Mussolini might have been the forerunner to Ganghnam style. Continue reading Are Students dumber than they were 90 years ago? I sure hope not.

Have we forgotten the purpose of the University?

some towers in the distant background, other buildings on the side, as we look down the mall and see students play and communicate.
Village design of University of Virginia by Tanner

I don’t know when the first University was established in the United States. That’s not because I’m too lazy to find out, it’s because different colleges claim the title. So, rather than nitpick over names and dates, I’ll tell a few stories from history that illustrate the worth of University, and how its meaning has changed.

When I started my degree at Aberystwyth, one of the lecturers made an observation, about our changing expectations. Continue reading Have we forgotten the purpose of the University?

History ‘is boring’, says bestselling historical novelist

A man yawning on a bench as an old lady tries to interest him in a game of table tennis
A Dismal Outlook by Ehrhart

The Times asked historical novelist Philippa Gregory why British school children stop studying history the moment they have that choice.

Like one third of all British 13-year-olds, Ms. Gregory chose to stop studying history at GCSE level.   It was as if her teachers ‘sat down and said “What’s the most boring thing you can possibly study to put people off studying history forever.”‘ Continue reading History ‘is boring’, says bestselling historical novelist