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CAAL Report: The Power of Technology to Transform Adult Learning

I am looking forward to finishing up the report The Power of Technology to Transform Adult Learning, released a few days ago by The Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAALCAAL).  In it, the report’s main author, Mary McCain, makes a number of recommendations, including:

  • the establishment of a national web portal for adult basic education
  • support for the development of distance learning programs in adult basic education
  • creating a sustained, serious, and well-funded research effort in the field

I can’t argue with these recommendations,  but I am skeptical that these very broad and comprehensive changes will come from the top down. I don’t see any demonstration of the type of political will needed to address the very large and very serious educational issues faced by both  K12 institutions and the field of  ABE.

Furthermore, the field of adult basic education is fairly balkanized and uncoordinated and is lacking the necessary leadership to help make these types of large changes happen. Until we build a unified professional field, adult basic education will be beholden to the whims of the political power brokers, most of whom don’t give a second thought to high school drop-outs or English-language learners. How long have we waited for those at the top to act?

Despite my cynicism, this report coincides with a number of positive developments  in the field of adult basic education: the slow but thrilling progress of the Adult Education and Economic Growth Act of 2009 through the House and Senate (sponsored by Virginia Senator Jim Webb and including lots of new funding for technology initiatives in ABE, among other things). And the upcoming Summit on the Future of Adult Education in the New Digital World at VCU (in which Senator Webb will provide some recorded remarks) that will hopefully create the necessary space for identifying and developing the needed leadership and vision for adult basic education in the future.

Playing with Knives


Forget carbo-loading and resting before the Richmond Half-Marathon: I plan on preparing for the race  by drinking beer, bathing in secondhand smoke, knocking down a few duckpins, and rocking out to cute Japanese punkers Shonen Knife. Inspired by the Ramones, adopted by Sonic Youth, Shonen Knife are one of a kind and not to be missed.

SK are currently touring the US in their Hello Kitty tour bus and will be stopping by Richmond’s own duckpin alley, Plaza Bowl, on November 13th, the night before the big Richmond running hooha. Hot Lava, Hex Machine, and Jeff the Brotherhood will be sharing a lane with the ladies. Get your tickets here


Frontline’s “Digital Nation”

I am really excited by Frontline’s upcoming documentary series, Digital Nation: Life on the Virtual Frontier. The series addresses the profound ways that technology is digital_nationaltering the modern, human experience, from the way we fight our wars to how we manage our relationships and pursue learning. I am especially excited by the interviews with James Paul Gee and Henry Jenkins about the benefit video games  and social media can offer to learning and engagement.

While the series is not due to be released until the Winter 2010, according to the website, rough cuts of interviews from the show are posted to the site for viewer feedback.

Back at it

This is the first sentence of my new blog. Here is the second. The third is late–but should get here ’bout the time this upcoming period hits. Pop. Just in time.

I am blogging again. My last blog, Hector, died a long, slow death over the course of the last two years, done in by the attention to my all-consuming dissertation and, once that was dispatched, by my subsequent aversion to writing anything longer than a grocery list. If my blog could have written a suicide note on its own, it would have–probably a lengthy, sentimental tome, full of digressions and apologies. But no. It went without a peep.

So, it’s a new day, and I want to announce my intentions to the world: this is my new blog. Welcome.

What I Ate

Breakfast: Sparrow egg omelet and hot bread
Morning snack: Popeye gum
Lunch: Bag of meatjuice, lunchmeat potpie
Afternoon snack: Skim o’ buttermilk, cough drop, giblets
Dinner: Grub worm casserole, slime shake

“…clings to life.”
“…condition worsens.”
Detroit Free Press
“…condition grave.”
“…remains very serious.”
“…near death.”
“…nears death.”
“…edges near death.”
“…slides toward death.”
“…remains near death.”
USA Today
“…on the verge of death.”

Recordable Rooms

I need to make a list, a comprehensive list of All the Things I Need. Things run out before you know it. One day the pantry is near burstin’ with food, and the next it is a dusty wasteland containing only a few rusting cans of beets and a box of pistachio Jell-O.
So, the first thing on the list is bananas. Preferably super bananas that don’t ripen so quickly. Seems they are always either green or brown. If they are yellow at all, it is a brief burst of yellow, like a flashbulb going off. Then, it’s just brown spots, and blackness and gooey sap seeping from beneath the peel.

I need more beer, powerful beer, the kind of beer that will help make the world look a bit less like some kind of cruel frontier, full of betrayal and delusion. I’ll add honey to the list, too. To sweeten the hours and quicken the pulse. I’ll have honey on my breath all day.

I need a grocery store haircut. It’ll be a monk’s tonsure, with several product endorsements plastered on my pate. I need medicine for my rickets, and a new apron. I need clam sauce, genital numbing cream, and baby wipes, too.

I have been tossing around the idea of getting a private nurse. Not that I am sick. But, if I scrimped, stopped buying expensive coffees, canceled my subscriptions to Maxim, Mustache Aficionado and American Dildo, and sold my Curlique Collection on eBay, I could easily afford it. She could come in a few times a week, take my temperature, change my bedpan, and feed me some Malt o Meal. Who wouldn’t benefit from that? Besides, this Meals on Wheels thing isn’t working out.

The Runes

It’s all Heart-of-Darknessy today, the clouds and drizzle ominously perched above our little house. It’s a sunny day everywhere else. Big fat menacing clouds with gruesome faces. I feel like I am plunging deeper into the untamed jungle. the jungle of Saturday. A rotten, viney Saturday, full of hooting noises and swarming insects. A decrepit Saturday with black teeth and wild eyes, leaning on a cane, beckoning me to come closer. It wants to tell me something. It wants to whisper a secret into my ear.

E. and I are off to my ‘rents this afternoon at 1. We haven’t seen them since getting engaged 3 weeks ago. I know my mother is constitutionally unable to lets us plan this thing ourselves, but she still is acting as if she is being laissez-faire about the whole W thing. It isn’t that I am not excited, but I fear that with her, the only topic of conversation between now and The Big Day is going to be about invitations, guest lists and caterers. She will pretend when we tell her we’ve decided on a lumberjack theme, with tree sawing and log rolling competitions, and a sit down pancake dinner, but I’ll see the panic and displeasure in her eyes.


I got myself all slicked down and liquored up for this miserable and unruly day. Skipped my morning prayers and rolled up my sleeves instead; set my jaw against whatever dirty outcomes head my way.

You can’t see a lick of doubt in me. I’ve hidden it in my rooster-walk and my flashy red shoes. I know I’ve got a golden soul that is going to shine no matter what.

I’m telling you, you can’t miss me, and when you do see me, you’ll know it too.

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