Saturday, March 23, 2013

Random Thoughts

In my Thursday's post, I mentioned that I heard Crystal  Gayle and Willie Nelson singing Two Sleepy People over the radio. I felt funny because a question came right to my mind was: What would happen to the "two sleepy people" when they reached my age? Then immediately I thought of two other"sleepy" people in a poem written by Eve Merriam. Read the following for yourself:

 Tee Vee (Mr. and Mrs. Spouse)

In the house of Mr. & Mrs. Spouse
He and she would watch TV,
And never a word between them was spoken,
Until the day The set was broken.
Then, “How do you do?” said He to She.
I don’t believe we’ve met. Spouse is my name.
What’s yours?” he asked. “Why, mine’s the same!”
Said She to He. “Do you suppose we could be...?”
But the set came suddenly right about
And they never did find out.
By Eve Merriam (1916 - 1992)

Eve Merriam didn't live long enough to know things such as ipad, smartphone, etc. It is interesting to see how technology has changed human life. If you often do sketches in public environment like me, you would be surprised to see how many people are talking on their cells while doing something else. Two years ago, one of my colleagues was almost killed when he was driving and texting. No wonder someone said, "If you want to hear from Jesus Christ, pray. If you want to see him, text while driving."

One of my fellow bloggers called ours the "age of insanity". In a sense, it is true, I think. Before I was retired, the administration wanted all faculty to develop as many online courses as possible. The motivation was clearly to lower the cost. One colleague said sarcastically, "Someday, we are going to teach brain surgery online." No matter how advanced technology is, it is my belief that in education nothing could totally replace direct face-to-face contact and communication. Even before online teaching, I was involved in a similar kind of instruction called "distance learning." That is, I could teach students at three different locations at the same time, say, Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville. Through multimedia I can see and communicate with students and do a Q & A session. One day, an embarrassing incident happened to one of my female colleagues when she was teaching a "distance learning" class. During the break, she went to the restroom but forgot to turn off the microphone clipped to her jacket. Then, of course, as you know, it was like the whole state heard what she was doing in the bathroom. She was so embarrassed that she stopped teaching "distance learning" class. 

Bill Gates said that higher education would change beyond our recognition shortly. In art we have already seen some interesting computer generated pictures, but can technology replace our brushes in representational art? Let's wait and see.


  1. Your insights are right on. I got a degree in interior design on line...Experience was great, but there are truly pros and cons. The face to face is missing and to be successful the student must be very focused and disciplined. Love the poem and love your are so prolific. I love the greens you mix and the lovely light holes you make in your

  2. Thank you, Pegret. I tried not to sound like an old timer missing the good old days. The world is getting more and more impersonal and solitary to individuals. I am glad I've found solace in art.


  3. I taught courses with distance learning 3 cities at one time. We were suppose to travel throughout the semester to each of the sites so we could actually be in the classroom with them from time to time. I could do a watercolor demo on the Visualizer and a large number of people could see what I meant by glazing or color theory tricks etc. (That is an overhead camera that I could zoom in on something laying flat on my desktop) I could zoom in on a painting or image in their text or printed handouts that needed some explaining or discussion....or I could push a button and switch to the web and show video or websites of artists, performers, etc. I felt like I had a lot at my fingertips. The students all did presentations too and used the tools very well. We could look things up immediately and discuss the sources we came across and the reliability of such or point of view, etc. In a non biased way I could show a bit more of the cultures around the world or just the values of a single artist and maybe open minds a bit. Often my students were from a set way of life and had never really seen other things....or were surprised at how similar they were to cultures they had thought were very odd. I do think one has to really try to keep life from being run by computers without the human side. On the other hand Powerpoint presentations are really annoying to me and many faculty use these constantly to save having to tailor their courses to each new group of learners. A spontaneous discussion can branch off unexpectedly but cover the material just as clearly.

  4. Theoretically we were required to travel to all the sites, too, but, sometimes, faculty felt some sites were too time-consuming to travel and, therefore, time were not very evenly divided. I understand that with the advance of technology, instructional delivery has to change with it. There are always pros and cons in any modes. I was not against it, but, of course, people in my age didn't feel very flexible in learning new tricks of trade. That is why I remember those anecdotes so well when I am retired.