My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

2 Articles from February 2016

  1. The Big Bang Theory and cultural appropriation

    I started watching The Big Bang Theory in my last year of university. A friend introduced me to it via the tried-and-true method of pressing some torrents on burned DVDs into my hand. (We were such rebels!) I quickly devoured, what, three seasons? Then I started watching it on TV. And, for a time, I really enjoyed it.

    But eventually that enjoyment dulled into a vague sense of ennui, which then sharpened into a more sour distaste for the entire enterprise. Unfortunately, the pressure of carrying on for 9 years has understandably diluted the quality of the writing. What I had once thought of as a “sitcom for nerds” now seems more to my eyes like “another sitcom about how nerds are socially awkward.” So I stopped watching.

    Yet it’s still around. And lately I’ve seen a couple of articles hating on the series—yes, still wildly popular, it’s now popular enough that hating on the series is nearly as mainstream as liking it. Counterculture is so confusing!

    We can debate whether or not the show’s “jokes” are funny and the degrees to which they seem original. But I feel like that’s ignoring a whole dimension of the issue, which is

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  2. Are we human or are we dancer?

    The UK government's latest remarks are frustrating and wrong

    I may not teach in England any more, but I keep up with the news—particularly about education. So when I saw that there's a controversy brewing over the way the UK government is emphasizing STEM subjects at GCSE and criticizing the usefulness of general arts, I couldn't resist digging deeper and then getting angry.

    I also follow, in a vague and undirected fashion, educator stuff on Twitter. Over the past little while I've seen the rise of a new (or new to me) acronym, STEAM—Science, Technology, Arts, and Mathematics. The idea, I suppose, is to restore the arts as a subject on par with these other disciplines. On the one hand, I get it, and it's clever. On the other hand, as an educator, I'm just so tired of acronyms and jargon. It seems like every month brings a new movement with a catchy, tweetable, hashtagable acronym. Yes, there are trends in education, and I am the 26-year-old curmudgeon shaking my cane at them and telling them to get off my lawn.

    But I digress. This post is not about education trends on Twitter; it's about the regrettable and supercilious attitude of the UK government towards arts education.…

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