Change the way you teach. Your children will soar.

The idea of passing information on, whether it be educationally enriching or merely a touch of girly gossip, has been around since the primitive era. However, the “modern” concept of teaching, and obligatory school attendance, dates way back to Europe during the 18th century.   Times have changed but our teaching methods certainly have not. Forget discarding the old-school methods of slapping children’s knuckles and whipping the back of their legs; the actual method of teaching has remained the same, despite giant societal and technological leaps.

The ancient schooling system is far too outdated for modern minds. In this fast-paced twenty-first century, and certainly among scholars & students, instant gratification is prioritized.

– Before you read any further, you should probably know that I’m a total purist when it comes to my lecturers and teachers. I’ll always opt for old-school educators who are passionate about both their subjects & their students and who do not rely on the latest gadgets to enhance the classroom experience and to mask their ability (or lack thereof). Thus, I speak on behalf of my generation. –

Despite all that, here is my proposal: take the ingredient that makes television-watching; web-searching, and phone-browsing so popular, and introduce it into the classroom environment. Forget old chalkboards (however charming) and wooden desks, and start introducing PC-based lessons, digital media, and interactive programs to really capture young audiences. Allow scholars to really be involved by using media that they are most comfortable with in order to introduce entertaining enrichment.

So, this mythical ingredient – what is it? Is it the icy feel of a keypad; the constant feeling of being ‘connected’; or the charm of a flickering screen pixel that makes technology so attractive? Whatever it is, it’s probably about time that we figure it out and start making some changes to the way we learn, teach, and expose ourselves and our kids.

While it is always heart-rending to shut down any ancient tradition, it is also always equally exciting to fire up a new one. So kiss goodbye to red knuckles and the ever-charming smell of paper and welcome in shorter classes and a drop in brain capacity. What’s to lose?

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It’s 2AM At Orange Street…and the hipster takeover begins.

One may be uncertain as to why every curve, corner and triangle (the quintessential symbol of the hipster ‘race’) is splattered with the hipster ambience tonight. Because let’s be honest: the last Labia film finished at 8PM; the last Jammie from Michaelis arrived at Hiddingh six hours ago; and the ‘vibes’ at Long Street’s hipster night clubs are only starting in an hour – so save your grooves.

If you’re unsure as to what exactly a hipster is, read on.

Our alpha-male (A-m) will wear too-tight-but-fits Sissy Boy skinny jeans with a perfectly creased, buttoned-to-the-top checked shirt. Wait, let’s give him a break – he only woke up three hours early to perfect his ironically “just rolled out of bed” look – I mean, those skinnies take twenty minutes to roll up – per leg! He’s nicked Ray Ban’s new deal on round, Lennon-type frames – and will be wearing them, at night. He’ll lie and say they’re prescription, when, in fact, they’re lens-less. Toni & Guy Hair Gel scored big (and always does) this morning – our alpha male’s half-shaved, half-dyed ‘do requires an entire fistful of the stuff. He’ll sport a rather effeminate nose-ring; perhaps a forearm stud; and no-one’s sure if Prince Albert will crack a nod too…besides our alpha-male’s lady of the land.

And the lady of the land: She’ll squeeze into a pair of high-waist faded denim shorts (and if she’s totally chubbed-out, she’ll justify it by claiming they suck in her tum-tum). She’ll dress them up by wearing a cosmic-themed crop-top which will probably have round cut-outs around her chest area – this time she’ll claim it’s “expressive”. Look down, she won’t be wearing shoes – but she’ll make sure to have perfectly pedicured feet and wonderfully accessorized ankles and toes. Look up, she won’t have washed her dip-dyed hair all week, but she’ll have her pixie-fringe perfectly in place. Her glasses will emulate your mom’s from the 80’s. However, unlike her man, reading Dickens in the dark has caused her to actually need them, because apparently goofy is the new groovy.

They’ll trawl around the street with either an empty glare (too much dope) or a deep, sophisticated look. You’ll overhear them talking, sober or not and with much authority, about the meaning of life; their many experiences working with Sudan’s NGOs; and, most importantly, finding beauty in negative spaces. And then, you’ll spot them nearing the end of the road, en route to the infamous 24h McDonalds. I know what you’re thinking: “The irony!” But, don’t be fooled – they’re not there to break their veganism, but rather to grab a quick-e skinny espresso loaded with caffeine, because the night has only just begun.

So, what could possibly be attracting these guys and gals to Orange Street at 2AM? Is it their hipster cult that they need to impress by challenging themselves to a “who can stay on their (bare) feet the longest” competition or could it perhaps be to catch some last-minute window-shopping at all the second-hand boutiques around the hood, or could it be to suck up the positively ‘indie’ air that the City Bowl has to offer? We hear it’s an amalgamation of it all…because the more they prevent us from understanding them, the better they are at being first-class, forever “misunderstood”, hipsters.

 

The American Soapie

Soap operas, affectionately known as “Soapies”, have been a staple of daytime telly in the USA since the early 1950s. American broadcasting giants, NBC, launched two shows which flooded TV screens worldwide: The Bold and The Beautiful, and Days of Our Lives. Loaded with extremely attractive people, yet rather weak storylines, these TV shows were the ‘IT’ series’ to be watching. If your name was Brooke, and you were head-over-heels for Shane or Shamus, you were the flavour of the month.

A number of years have passed, yet broadcasters in the USA have failed to evolve. With more recent shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, and Grey’s Anatomy – which CW Network has coined as “Teen Dramas”- viewing has lost its very essence (not that Soapies were anything special to begin with anyway). Their inane dialogues along with completely absurd story lines make them nothing short of a Soapie. That hasn’t stopped us though. We, as the viewers, are the people keeping these shows running. I mean – at least ¾ of this class probably can’t wait to go home this afternoon to watch the next episode of the next season they’ve just started – only to find out that she’s married to her two-times removed step brother.

That brings me to my next point – What is the secret ingredient to success? If we all know that the plot is either completely unrealistic or inevitably predictable (or both), why do we keep watching it?

There is a formula followed by those who produce Soapies. It consists of a series of rules which are vital for the success of the show and somehow make sure to keep us hooked.

The first rule: the love triangle. In every Soapie to date, love triangles play an integral part in keeping a fan base. There is so much promiscuity. Why is it that there are no realistic consequences though? Nobody gets AIDS and nobody gets any kind of STD. Not to mention that every cast member has had some kind of romantic relationship with another.

There has got to be a hospital scene – either where the victim is lying in a coma or recovering from a dreadful accident which was caused by the villain of the show. Pity that the victim now has amnesia and cannot remember who’s to blame. On the topic of health and hospitals: Nobody dies. (Unless of course behind the scenes you’ve made some sexist or racist comment and the producers have no option but to terminate your role). But realistically, nobody dies – and nobody gets old.

Baddies returning from the dead is a favourite. But this time, with an ulterior motive. Funnily enough, in more contemporary Soapies, every single “new” addition to the show has a hidden agenda or some bizarre plan to take someone down.

The truth is –

Reality is dull by comparison. Soap Operas allow us to escape for 45min and to watch it and have a little giggle at its ridiculousness. They are made not for the viewers to make an intellectual pursuit out of, rather to make some light out of. Their gripping nature and nail-biting drama keeps the majority of us hooked – I mean, it’s not really harming anyone anyway.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same (A Peek Into South African Politics)

Discrimination: The more things change, the more they stay the same

There are a number of issues regarding university acceptance in South Africa. With the new year rapidly approaching, this is particularly relevant because many young people are currently exploring a host of university options.

Currently, acceptance to almost every university in South Africa is, quite unfairly, based purely on skin colour. With new black empowerment policies, BBBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) in particular, those “previously disadvantaged” are now put at an extreme advantage, at the cost of discriminating against anyone who does not fall in that category.

The University of Cape Town, for example, uses an APS points system, whereby, once the percentages of each school subject is added, an idea of one’s ability is gauged. Each course requires one to have a minimum number of points, but varies according to one’s skin colour. For example, the requirements for a Business Science degree is 450APS points for a white person, yet only 420APS points for a black person. Not to mention that white people aren’t even placed in their own “category”, but are instead relegated to the ‘other’ “category”.

Undoubtedly, one may have sympathy and develop an understanding for kids attending a so-called “underprivileged” school. The ugly reality is that these schools are made up predominately of black children, whose C’s match that of a “white” school’s A. Perhaps that is why universities have lowered their standard for black children?

Although our government is trying to correct the wrong-doings of the past, this procedure doesn’t quite bode well for the rest of the citizens of South Africa. It is not fair to base acceptance solely on skin colour for a host of reasons, the main one being that many inclusive schools that pride themselves on their fine academic standard, house many black people. The same goes for the fact that underprivileged schools include white people.

Is it really fair for the white youth of our generation to face the consequences of our parents’ and grandparents’ wrong-doings? By isolating and sidelining white people, we have a divided country. Apartheid in theory may be dead, but replacing Apartheid is now another divide – based on colour…again.

I confess

Father McAdam

I confess; I’ve given up on God. I know this may seem a shock to you, with my passion for religion and all, but I woke up this morning with a different perspective. You may, however, question that my belief was not that strong to begin with, with its tendency to be swayed so easily. Although at times I’ve expressed some doubt, my lack of belief in the Great Man was confirmed by a few measly words I read last night.

“The biggest thing a blue whale can swallow is a grapefruit”.

These words seem completely arbitrary but take a deeper look at the meaning of the sentence and the history it holds. The fact that Jonah (from Jonah and the whale, of course) was supposedly swallowed by a blue whale comes to mind, doesn’t it? Well if those words are true, which they are (I’ve looked them up in numerous books about ignorance and on the internet [ghastly, I know!]; and I’ve even visited the aquarium’s library in order to confirm it), this could mean that the entire Bible is a fib.

If Jonah’s theory can be so easily dispelled, what about the millions of other theories? Don’t get me wrong though – I want to believe in God. I want to believe that there is an old wise man sitting on a cloud waving a white staff. It’s comforting to think that there really is a being watching over us, wanting to protect our best interests.

So, let’s examine some other myths that have been construed. Genesis is a good place to start.

In the beginning, there was Adam and Eve. What were they really up to in the Garden of Eden? With the Bible showcasing all those “hidden” symbols, such as the eager snake and the luscious apple (guava?), our willing duo gave a whole different meaning to the word “eating”. Bang goes another not-so-innocent story.

Move off from the Bible: the world will end in 2012. Well, it’s 2011 right now and I see no evidence of our world’s coming to an end. Yes, God may have little to do with this Mayan theory, but starting from deluded stories from the Bible, people have adopted those habits and concocted some bizarre theories of their own. Instead of Moses parting the seas, we’ll have Al Gore sailing them. Nowadays, a bunch of scientific stats will, and do, determine the end of the world – not Armageddon and the fight between good and evil.

So Father, can you blame a girl for having a lapse in faith? With all this, can you really make me pay for expressing some kind of doubt?  So I’ve decided to take comfort in this: No one really knows. The universe has its own way of revealing itself, and it’s about time we sit back and let it do so. It’s about time the blue whale was left eating what it can actually fit in its mouth.

Sunday kick-off at 10 thirty, right?

Hello, world!

Hey. Hi. Hullo (what?)… Ahem, Hello. Hoorah!

(If that opening line made you feel uncomfortably confused, I’m doing my job well.)

Welcome to the mind of a young Arts student trapped in a mind and body that are resistant to change with their surroundings. One of my resolutions for 2013 was to, quote-on-quote, “.3) Keep writing.” – for both pleasure and commercial exposure. I think they call it building a “porti” – a portmanteau that sounds like an amalgamation of ‘porter’ + ‘potty’…uh, classy. Keeping in mind that my delusions of grandeur are halted by my sparse student budget, the idea of a free blog seemed like a wonderful idea.

So, if you’re reading this – like my posts, hit ‘follow’, and make me look like something I’m probably not: a budding writer-cum-philosopher who will knock the socks off any ad agency, publishing house, or Joe & Jane Soap.

‘Til next time,

YABB.

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