Skip to main content

Learning about Foreign Affairs from my student

The peace plan brokered between Russia and The Republic of Georgia with the help of France's Sarkozy still seems about as stable as York's email server as of late. Reports of Russian and Georgian soldiers sharing cigarettes with each other one minute and pointing AK-47's the next suggest this conflict may not end immediately. These events remind me of what the Christmas Truce of World War I demonstrate about the internal conflict troops face. I don't claim to know what it's like to be a soldier in a war zone, but from what I've gathered, most soldiers who experience fire don't relish the experience. As realistic as the violence in Call of Duty or Rambo may be, I don't think such entertainment media conveys the horror of warfare. Which is why, when given the choice, soldiers on opposite sides of the front are able to find common ground, which is more elusive at the negotiating table among diplomats and generals. When I read a couple weeks ago about the crisis in Georgia, I wasn't particularly surprised. Not because I'm in the habbit of staying on top of former Soviet conflicts. I do try to stay current in world affairs, but the only reason I knew about this potential crisis is because I read the essays my students write. Last spring, in my senior English class, Morgan Paull, who is preparing to head off to Harvard, interviewed a York alumnus, Irakli Chikovani '97 and wrote a compelling profile. After York, Chikovani (an AFS student from The Republic of Georgia) studied foreign relations and now works for his government as a representative for the United Nations. Morgan's piece, written last Spring, was remarkably prophetic:

Since arriving in New York, Chikovani has been working hard in the face of what could only be called daunting challenges for his country. Faced with two internal regions attempting to secede, and striving for EU and NATO membership, Chikovani and his associates have had their work cut out for them.

The difficulties of achieving these goals are sharpened by Russia's strong resistance to any attempts by former Soviet Union nations to join NATO or the EU, although prospects may have brightened for Chikovani and Georgia when President Bush declared in early April that he would stand beside his support for Georgia and Ukraine's NATO membership regardless of Russia's complaints.

How many high school teachers get to read material of such insight when grading essays?

Popular posts from this blog

Assignment #1: Introduce Yourself

As I mentioned in my previous post, the first thing I do in class is have my students write and deliver two minute introductions. Obviously it gives me a sense of their writing and presentation skills, but more importantly it allows me to know who they are. Here's the prompt I give them:
Your first formal assignment is to compose and present a short introduction so I may better get to know you. I'm only looking for a two minute introduction. I would like you to type it out and then read it to the class. Make sure you save your work somewhere because I'm going to ask you to post it in your portfolio (more on that later). I'd like to get a sense of who you are and what your voice is. Not sure what to write? No problem ... here are some ideas to help get you started: What are you passionate about?What are some of your goals for the year? For your life?What is the most important physical object in your life? (take a photo of it and bring it to class)What is your greatest f…

A letter to my students and parents about the 20% Project

Dear Students and Parents of the York School 10th Grade Class,

I hope you all had an adventurous and energizing summer. I wanted to write to introduce myself and let you know a little bit about one of the unusual projects we’ll be taking on this year in English III.

In 2011 we began The 20% Project in English III. This is a major project-based-learning assignment that spans the entire school year and encourages students to pursue a creative interest they would otherwise not experience in our academic program at York.
Before I get into the details of the project, I want to explain why we’re asking students to participate in this activity. For over 20 years a trend in education has been gaining momentum that suggests the role of the teacher ought to shift away from an industrial model where the teacher stands in the front of the classroom to dispense knowledge through lectures, and the students sit to consume the information. Rather than being the “sage on the stage” as some …

It's time. Turn on 2-step Verification in your Google Account

If your Google account happens to be one of the billion Internet passwords The New York Times just reported to have been amassed by a Russian gang, then your docs, your mail, and your puppy photos are in the hands of a ... well ... Russian gang. Unless you have 2-Step Verification turned on.

We have no idea if any of these passwords are actually Google accounts, but really it makes no difference. The password system for proving that you are you is completely broken. Almost all passwords are weak even when websites say they're strong. If your password doesn't look like this ...
8.;=>#qH->8'6Mv  ... it's weak.

If it does look like that, then it's only secure as long as the Russian gang or any other hacker hasn't stolen it.

So far, the best way to protect your accounts is to use 2-Step Verification.

With 2-Step, access to your account requires not only something you know (password), but also something you have (your phone). After you have it turned on, each …