Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Jan 25 2006

Hats Do More Than Sit On Heads

Somebody mentioned a capuchon (in connection with Mardi Gras) this morning and I thought I knew what one was, but I had to look for a photo to be sure. I was thinking of something a wee bit more in the style of a jester hat, but after I saw an illustration of the capuchon I recalled having seen them before.

It seems as though anything humans use for practical reasons eventually also makes its way into decorative forms. Hats are no exception and many hats are also used to identify someone's job or their affiliation with a school or other organization. Hats can identify someone as a fan of a sports team or as part of a special event. During election years, even though no one wears one, we still talk about a candidate "tossing his hat into the ring".

There are even hats and headcoverings that have tremendous religious connotations. I think of a Bishop's hat or the veil-style head coverings that Roman Catholic nuns have traditionally worn.

And I always have plenty of questions when it comes to hats. Why have nurses traditionally been presented with a special starched cap, but not doctors? Why was it considered an acceptable 1960s substitute when a Catholic schoolgirl, having forgotten her headscarf, pinned a facial tissue to her hair with a bobby pin and went merrily into mass with a clean heart? And when did wearing hats to church become passe? I've wondered if a Muslim woman could wear her chador or roosari beneath another hat, or on top of another hat—or if these variations would be considered sacrilegious by her particular religion.

You've probably heard of a pillbox, a sombrero, a watch cap and a toque. But have you ever heard of a tagal, a leghorn or an a shu? I found a great list of hat definitions.

posted at: 10:24 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Denver Bronco Ethnicity?

I would agree with Kimberly that the teacher who targeted a high school student for wearing a Denver Broncos jersey used extremely bad judgment on several counts.

I once knew of a teacher who used Shirley Jackson's short story, The Lottery, as a teaching aid in a literature class. Each student, on one particular spring morning, had to take a piece of paper from a box as they entered class, with the brief explanation given that someone was in trouble and that one paper would have a black mark on it, a mark that was random and represented forthcoming punishment for one person, but that the whole group had to particpate in the selection and punishment. There were lots of nervous giggles and comments but each student took their paper and went to their seat. When attendance had been taken there was a discussion about how the students felt about the idea that they, or someone next to them, might be in trouble. Though most had figured out that it was a class exercise of some sort they still said they had felt uneasy about showing—or not showing—the paper they had drawn and they talked about wanting to see what other students had drawn. They discussed the mixed feelings of relief for themselves and of sympathy for whoever might have gotten the marked paper. As things progressed into the discussion and the students asked for details, the teacher pushed the point that no one had claimed to hold the marked paper. With more giggling and comments they basically told her they didn't believe anyone got a marked paper and that it had been a setup. She told them they were wrong. Someone in the room held a marked paper. Finally, she held up the one marked paper, which she had taken for herself. Of course, she had planned this the whole time, and so the discussion continued with the short story and the idea of someone taking on guilt and punishment for others.

This exercise took place in a Christian school setting, so the teacher was free to draw on the story's impact to point the students' thoughts to Christ, and she talked about Him taking on the guilt of each person. The whole exercise was effective without singling out any one student for ridicule or embarrassment.

I wish Mr. Kelly had been similarly creative in his use of object lessons. Two more things really bother me about the story Kimberley's blog points to. The first is that this teacher, if quoted correctly, seemed to think it was all "silly fun". The second is that this happened during an exam. It's great that Mr. Kelly wants his students to understand the class principles, but his lack of empathy for his students is a little frightening. His lack of professionalism on the day of a midterm exam disgusts me. I'm really hoping this incident has been blown out of proportion by media, because if it really happened the way it's been reported the man gives a bad name to caring teachers who inspire their students and yet seldom make headlines.

posted at: 08:03 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!