Celebrity or Author?

It seems as though one of the hottest new trends in Hollywood at the present moment is celebrities writing children’s books. You haven’t “arrived” until you have written a book. A few stars who have published books include Jason Alexander, Billy Crystal, Michael Jordan, LeAnn Rhimes, Jamie Lee Curtis, Katie Couric, Jerry Seinfeld, Julie Andrews, John Lithgow, Lynne Cheney, Ed Koch (former mayor of New York), Madonna, and Will Smith.

This new fashion statement offends me for a few reasons. First and foremost, for “common people” (i.e. the rest of the world), there is a certain standard of quality that a work of literature must meet before a publisher will even consider it. Sadly, celebrities are not held to the same standards. There are few precious books whose authors appeared to have taken the writing role seriously, but for the most part, celebrity books are uninteresting and poorly crafted. Curiously, the content of the book isn’t even what is publicized, but rather the name of the author.

Still, celebrity works are hot sellers, not because they are well written, but because (and this is the second characteristic of this trend that is bothersome to me) of the name on the cover. Parents who have an attachment to the celebrity purchase the book, but for their children who have no connection whatsoever to these people, the book is not worth the paper on which it is printed. This sends a message to children and adults alike that anyone who is famous can also write books. The opposite is true. Authors are gifted the same way actors or actors are gifted.

The bottom line is: Celebrities, don’t quit your day job.


Teachers and Technology

In the education profession, I believe that one of our primary responsibilities is to produce people who can make valuable contributions to society. To do this, we have to quip them with skills and knowledge they can use. Reading, writing, history, science, and mathematics are necessary subjects, but there are other important areas that tend to be overlooked.

Technology is one of these areas. In a world driven by technological advances (did you know that- in our society- technology DOUBLES every 17 months?) it would seem as though it would be priority to teach our kids how to use them. There are many standards set that dictate the importance of technology-based instruction, but the problem lies with implementation.

In every school in every state, there are too many teachers who have the attitude that they will never learn how to use these new-fangled tech toys like laptop computers, digital cameras, and PDA’s (palm pilots, etc.), and therefore refuse. Others who are “unable” to install a new printer to their computer or run a simple scan for viruses, so they wait for weeks until someone else will do it for them. Their students also adopt this helpless attitude. Some complain that technology is for younger people, but personally speaking, some of the most technologically-literate individuals I know are middle aged. They had the same opportunities to learn as others, and chose to take advantage of those opportunities. When teachers learn to accept and value the technology that is available to them, and use it, their students will follow suit. In the words of one football player to another in the Disney movie Remember the Titans, “Attitude reflects leadership.”

The bottom line is that, despite the wishes of those who lag behind in technology developments, it isn’t going anywhere. More and more aspects of our daily lives are relying on computer technology, and the failure of these educators to pass along the importance of embracing these advances puts their students at a distinct disadvantage.