Sun, 17 Jul 2005

Had a very pleasant weekend with my family, particularly my little brother and sister.

Started the weekend in Harvard Square at midnight, picking up Harry Potter six. It was pretty wild- there were at least a thousand people in Harvard Square, possibly up to 1500, spread out amongst three bookstores. Lots of people in costume, and Tosci’s renamed their ice creams for the night (I had Muggle Mango and Hedwig’s Snowy Coconut.) Apparently one of the local bars had created a new drink for each House, but since my sister is 14, we skipped out on that. Anyway, a really fun atmosphere, and great to see that many people actively interested in reading. (Took my sister 34 hours to finish the book; I haven’t started my copy yet.)

Woke up ass-early Saturday morning to drive to my brother’s summer camp, which is at the site of a small private school in far out new hampshire, near dartmouth. It was ‘parent’s weekend’ so we went to his classes with him and generally experienced his life there for a bit. Some educational observations. (1) He gets classes in ‘notetaking/organization’ and ‘research’. I never had a class in notetaking, and I didn’t get a class in research until I was taking my honors thesis in college. Both would have been very nice at his age (13). (2) the research class includes teaching outlining and writing a paper from an outline, both of which are fairly obvious topics. What was surprising and cool to me is that it also teaches them the use of iMovie to make a movie based on their outline. This generation will have rough and ready familiarity with creating rich media; the next generation (if raised well) will treat creating rich media as a trivial, everyday task like we treat writing, and that will make the world a richer, more interesting place. (3) these seem like decently smart kids, and some of the research I saw in the research class seems of high quality, but in their lit class they put on a mock trial, and their rhetorical ability- the ability to make a clean, simple argument in spoken form- was terrible. When I and my older brother start our ‘Neo-Classical School’, rhetoric will be high on the list of things taught early, right up with ‘sources of culture’ (our omni-media replacement for literature) and programming.

Had a fun night with family at a B&B near the NH-VT border, and I started brainstorming/outlining my paper for my summer class, which I think will be on copyleft as a tool that structures relationships between community members and the problems in making a similar tool out of trademark.

In the morning dropped Dave off at camp and drove to my sister’s summer camp. As I’ve mentioned, she’s taking robotics, but it is on the campus of a prestigious boarding school that, were one to be there for middle and high school, would cost in the same neck of the woods as my university education. It looks like a fantastic place to go to high school- utterly no diversity of experience, which is a huge problem, but otherwise spectacular facilities. The science building had a full whale skeleton hanging in it.

I’m not opposed to people providing the best for their children, so more power to the parents who care enough for their children to send them to a place like that. But it is a shame that so few can do that, and that so many have to suffer through such shitty, shitty educations at the same time. That thought ruined a good portion of my morning, and what was an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable weekend.