Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Acoustic Metal at Its Best: Given that acoustic music gained mainstream popularity in the 1960s as part of the folk genre (Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, etc.), it would seem somewhat ludicrous that such a genre could mesh with metal. Yet in the 1990s and 2000s, nu-metal bands like Godsmack and Korn began to experiment with performing their music acoustically, usually in a live (concert) setting. Part of what was driving these bands to perform acoustically had to do with the immense success of MTV's Unplugged series, which really started with grunge bands such as Nirvana and Alice in Chains. Of course, what's ironic about much of the acoustic movement was that it emerged almost entirely opposed to anything electronic (and yet many of the live performances required electronic amplification). If nothing else, acoustic metal offers its listeners the opportunity to experience a divergent take on whatever they have already come to know and love.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Why Did New York City Unify in 1898?: When Robert Van Wyck became NYC's 91st Mayor on January 1st, 1898, he suddenly presided over 3 million people and 300 square miles of territory. At the stroke of midnight on that New Year's Day, NYC consolidated into five boroughs. Prior to 1898, NYC merely consisted of Manhattan and parts of the Bronx. But for decades, Manhattan had been looking to grow its influence over surrounding areas like Brooklyn and Long Island City (Queens). In the 1850s, Albany legislators expanded the NYPD's jurisdiction to include Brooklyn. This act marked the first sociopolitical endeavor to unify NYC. Yet as the second half of the 19th century progressed, each decade saw more sociopolitical attempts at consolidation. In the 1860s and 1870s, bridges across the Harlem and East Rivers started to get built primarily because these rivers sometimes froze in the winter, which halted boat traffic and disrupted trade. By the 1880s and 1890s, it was clear that expanding the city's harbor through consolidation would greatly enhance commercial opportunities in the region. And lastly, when Chicago annexed over 100 square miles in 1889, NYC officials feared that many financial and manufacturing firms might move there to take advantage of the "cheap land."
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
On Teaching English-Language Learners (ELLs): No matter what subject a teacher teaches, he or she is also a teacher of language. Nationwide, it's estimated that about 10 percent of American public school students are ELLs. But in states like California and Texas, the percentage is closer to 20. These percentages are only expected to grow as the years progress. Thus, it's becoming increasingly imperative that American educators receive some form of ELL training. Whether that training involves educational linguistics or cultural history, American teachers ought to be prepared for having language-minority students in their classrooms. For decades, a majority of American educators viewed ELLs as having "personal deficiencies," which resulted in lowered academic expectations. This viewpoint has only been complicated by the growth of standardization policies (Common Core, PARCC, etc.), which place exceedingly intense pressures on language-minority students. Yet with the adoption of ELL training as part of educator licensing, there's hope that the ELL experience in American public schools will be enhanced in the years to come.