Advice to new teachers

By August 17, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

I’ve been teaching journalism at the college level for 10 years and, trust me, I still have a lot to learn.

Yesterday I helped organize our college’s new faculty orientation, where recently hired instructors and counselors meet to learn about the campus, the expectations and the basics about the job.

But this time we tried something a little different.

One of our colleagues invited students to share their experiences and offer advice to the new faculty. And what they said was, well, helpful.

One student told the new instructors to answer e-mails promptly. Another advised they meet their own standards. And still another emphasized showing excitement and passion for the subjects they’re teaching. “If you’re not excited about it, why should I be?” he said, rhetorically.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been a student, and as a teacher, sometimes we forget what that’s like. We tend to blame the change of attitude in or higher demands of this younger generation and not self-reflect as much as we should.

I mean, maybe it’s US!

So I’m asking you to dig deep — some of you deeper than others! — to back when you were in high school or college and find some tips or advice I can pass on to these new faculty members.

Got any?

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You tell me: your last meal

By August 16, 2011 Food

Maybe this is a bit morbid for a morning blog — but you can’t deny how provocative it is, even for a Tuesday.

A while back, the Nonstop Honolulu team had a discussion about the last meal you want before you die. And since then, I’ve been really thinking about it.

You’re supposed to envision what you’d request if you were on Death Row, say, so you could actually plan out your final feast.

But what always bothered me about the concept was that all of us, at some point, were going to eat our last meal — but we might not realize it at the time. (This is when I get depressed and gorge on Ben & Jerry’s.)

What I’ve decided, after all this, is we should try to eat something we love — and do something we love — every day. We shouldn’t hold back on that one bit of fried ice cream because we’re worried about fitting those skinny jeans. (Buy fat jeans!) And we should try to find something to enjoy every day. As morbid as this sounds, it might be our last.

So back to the original question: what would your last meal be?

Mari Taketa (@nonstopmari) of Nonstop posted the last meal requests of familiar bloggers and foodies including KITV’s Yasmin Dar (@yasmindar), Eat The Street organizer Poni Askew (@streetgrindz), foodie Jennifer Ozawa (@mrshawaii) and comedian Fernando Pacheco.

Here are my picks:

• Cheeseburger and fries — nothing from the Secret Menu — from In-N-Out Burger
• A teri beef plate lunch from the old Kewalo Basin lunchwagon run by the Kanda sisters
• A bowl of tomato basil soup and about a dozen crostinis from Nordstrom Cafe
• My mom’s chocolate cream pie with her homemade shortbread crust

I could die happy after that.

How about you?

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Today’s happy shot

By August 15, 2011 Happy Shots

Indulging in the signature haupia cake from The Pineapple Room at Ala Moana Center.


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Are kids these days overbooked?

By August 15, 2011 Musings, The Daily Dish

One of my girlfriends recently confessed that she’s paying thousands of dollars a year for football clinics, workshops, equipment and personal training for her son.

He’s not even 12.

The goal, she hopes, is a lucrative professional football contract in 20 years. A full-ride scholarship to a Big 10 school is a nice consolation prize, too.

While her intentions are noble — hey, who doesn’t want their kids to get a college education and make millions of dollars in Nike endorsements? — the cost is overwhelming. She and her husband aren’t rich. They live in a modest townhouse and make a modest income. And like most parents, they want the best for their son — who, by the way, loves playing football. But when does it become too much — and what happens when it’s not enough?

The New York Times recently published an article about parents who sacrifice to provide these opportunities for their kids — from tutoring to horseback riding to summer camps with professional athletes. Some have even take out loans, borrowed money from their families and maxed out credit cards just to pay for all these experiences they feel their children can’t miss — or feel guilty about denying.

But here’s the thing: there’s no evidence that shows these experiences will pay off in the end.

“It’s easy to take a look at the more successful kids and assume that all the activities are why they are more successful,” said Bryan Caplan, an economics professor at George Mason University. “But research doesn’t bear that out.”

When I was growing up, both my parents worked — and they didn’t have time to take me to soccer practice or piano lessons. I grew up fending for myself, signing up for volleyball and basketball on my own in fourth grade — I was good at forging my mom’s signature — just to kill time before my parents could pick me up after work. We didn’t have the means or the time for the kinds of extracurricular activities kids today have.

Sometimes I wish I had done more, started earlier, learned a foreign language or played an instrument. And I wonder if I’m going to be one of those parents who give their kids all the opportunities I missed out on.

Then again, I actually played during my summers growing up. I went to the beach and hung out with my friends. Playing, to me, is an essential part of childhood. (Well, even adulthood, but that’s another blog.) I don’t think I would change that, either.

My girlfriend is making the best decisions she can for her son. She wants to provide him all the opportunities she can that will help him succeed in football — and life. I admire her commitment and devotion. And I know even if her son woke up one morning and said, “I’m over football,” he will have learned a lot from the experience.

Let’s hope he remembers to pay his mom back!

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Today’s happy shot

By August 12, 2011 Happy Shots, The Dog Dish

Watching Sunny and Indy have fun at the Hawaii Kai dog park makes even the worst day at work tolerable.


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