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The argument of Mac vs PC is as old as the two computer systems themselves, but I’ve always ended up on the Mac side of things. As a teacher, I proselytized the virtues of Macs. I helped convert and influence whole generations of students into the cult of Mac, and many of my friends have fallen as well. And I don’t feel guilty about it – I really do believe they were better machines, with better software. But I’m not so sure anymore.

I’ve been using Macs since they first showed up in my classroom in 5th grade (that would be around 1985). I’ve always loved them. Now, don’t get me wrong – I also used and loved PCs. In fact, I have many memories of being an elementary-aged kid and working in DOS, Basic, and the like. I would use any excuse I could to play on my friend’s Commodore 64. So I’m not a straight-up Mac snob. But there was something about them – the software was special, the whole computer was just different. Even when I was 10.

Mac8500Fast forward to college in 1994 when I bought my first Mac. I dropped an insane amount of money on a PowerMac 8500. 120Mhz, 16 Megabytes of RAM, and the humongous 17″ AV CRT monitor (with speakers on the bottom). That monitor weighed about 50 pounds or maybe even more, and I thought it was the coolest thing. I had the computer that everyone wanted to borrow (and many did). And then, after many years, I started buying the Mac Pros. And iMacs and Mac Minis for the wife and kids. We were a Mac household to the max. But before you think I’m some rich guy, I’ll tell you that many of those computers were always bought used, and I always took full advantage of the educators’ discounts for my Mac Pros.

But why Apple in the first place? Well, it was simple – they were the computer for the graphics professional. The OS was far more robust when compared to Windows when I started, even though when XP came around it was pretty good. Also, their software was amazing, especially in the early 2000’s. From Shake to Final Cut Pro, Apple was bringing truly professional software to the masses. Anyone with a great desktop could do what the pros were doing in movies like The Lord of the Rings (which used Shake) or No Country for Old Men (edited on Final Cut Pro 7). So all of that, or so I argued, justified spending the extra money on a Mac.

My classroom full of the very best 27" iMacs in 2014

My classroom in 2014 – Full of the very best 27″ iMacs.  But not anymore.

Once Apple’s Aperture came around, I was truly hooked. Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Aperture were my mainstay applications. Firewire in the 90’s brought digital video to the masses by offering a cheap and high-quality way of getting digital video footage from your camera to your computer without expensive capture boards. So, as a teacher, I was able to teach students in Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Aperture, with Photoshop right beside it. My school district spent tons of money getting me the best iMacs, loaded with the best Apple software. I’ve had plenty of students graduate and go on into the professional graphics and film/video world. It’s been money well spent, as has the money I’ve spent on my own Macs for the photography work that I’ve been doing. Just ask any of my former students. Most of them will be shocked if they ever read this blog post…

But now, Apple is not really an option for me personally anymore, and I’ve also worked with my district to switch over all 56 computers that we have in the 2 Art Department labs to Windows machines. So, if you’re interested, I’ve outlined my reasons for switching below, and I wonder how many of you will agree with me, and how many will think I’m the devil incarnate?

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The Value of a Great Teacher… Part 1

Categories: Education 1 Comment

Nicholas Kristof, in a recent article on “great” teachers in the New York Times, cites a study that, through research, gives an estimated “value” for a great teacher through his or her students’ acheivements. According to the study, having a “great” fourth grade teacher will accord a student an average of $25,000 more in lifetime earnings over an average teacher. That student is also 1.25% more likely to go to college, and 1.25% less likely to get pregnant as a teenager. All of this from a fourth grade teacher? Even though 1.25% doesn’t seem like much, when you realize that you are tracing that back to a single elementary school teacher, then it’s actually a very interesting number to me. Imagine what a whole host of good teachers could do for a child! But the real issue is how do we get – and keep – great teachers in the classroom so they can affect students positively? This is an incredibly important question, especially when just shy of 50% of new teachers quit before their fifth year of teaching… (What does that tell you about the profession?)

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Why Teachers Need Parents…

Categories: Education,Life 1 Comment

As I have been teaching for a long time, I have seen several approaches to “success” by students. Some may have a strict schedule. Others may find that sports help them focus and use their time better. Some have to have a study hall to get extra work done. But whatever it is, when I see very successful students, usually (although not every time), they have at least one very involved parent or guardian behind them. Not that there aren’t students who come from horrible family situations who do well in school, but let’s just say that parents are just as much a key ingredient to a student’s success as a good teacher.

This article, which appeared today on cnn.com, is an excellent article that vocalizes so many of the feelings that I hear said often, by teachers, counselors, and administrators, both from the school I work in as well as from many other different districts. I hear it from teachers across the boards, both in core curriculum as well as in the arts, and in music, etc. This is not a simple, localized issue. I personally believe that what we are seeing is the same issue that is plaguing so many places of our life these days – a lack of general ethics. You can see it everywhere in the news, from the students on up to the politicians who take “bribes”, er, I mean, campaign contributions, and care not a whit for their constituencies.

In reality, to many people, it seems that life has become more about only the end result, not how you got that result. If you win the election, or get an “A” on the test, it doesn’t matter how you got there, does it?!

Of course it does.

Click Here for the CNN Article