Friday, January 25, 2008

Today's news

Today's paper had a public forum letter that corresponds a bit to my post yesterday. A young lawyer had a wedding celebration and had invited two former teachers. Apparently, they were people who had had a profound effect on this person's life. Were they professors? No, they were high school teachers. They taught history and English.

Teachers are suffering through some very difficult times right now. Class loads are big, pay is low, legislators are annoyed at losing their voucher program, many teachers have lost health care benefits, retirement incentives are eroding, parents are demanding, administrators are wimpy, mandates and assignments are expanding, and students want things easy and entertaining. Top that off with letters to editors demeaning the quality of our teachers, and one wonders why anyone should want to educate children. Oh, wait, not many do. That's why Utah started school this year with substitutes in 700 classrooms. It's no wonder.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Teacher Value

Discussions of giving bonuses to teachers of math and science are going around again. People with these skills can make so much more money in the marketplace, few of them go into teaching. True. However, teaching math and science is no more difficult than teaching English, history (ancient, European, American), foreign language, etc. In fact, in many ways it is easier. Math has correct answers; writing is very subjective. Math tests are quick to check; reading 200 papers is tedious and time-consuming.

It is my experience that students who have the most difficulty in science are the ones who don't read well. Oops.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


 It's discouraging to read the newspaper lately.  It is full of stories about damaged, dangerous people doing terrible things to others--especially children.  Children scalded, kicked, thrown, crushed, dropped, and punched for what?  Crying?  The only way small children have to communicate their unhappiness.  My first reaction is fury.  I want the perpetrators to suffer the same wounds that they inflicted on the children in their care.  Not possible.  We don't have people sufficiently bigger and stronger.  But what I don't want is for these awful people to have free room and board, free health care, educational opportunities, and 15 years of lawyers and appeals.  There is no defense for the things they did.  No way they can make up for their irrational fits of rage taken out on the defenseless.

I have no sympathy for anyone who hurts innocent babies and children.  I would love to be the one to deliver sentences.  Unfortunately, that's not the way it will happen.  

Friday, January 18, 2008

Missing the kids

Sometimes I really like being retired.  I enjoy being able to do whatever I want to, when I want to.  Other times, though, I miss the routines.  I miss the friendships, the laughter.  I miss the excitement of helping students find a book they love, or understand a cool math concept.  I miss the awe of science and the appreciation for events in history.  I miss reminding them (some would say nagging) about correct language principles, the importance of spelling, the value of vocabulary.

Yes, retirement is a mixed blessing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Former teacher leaving the country

Other than a small dip into Canada, I've never been out of country.  Now we have reservations for a trip to Italy in May.  We wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for our nephew.  Thank goodness he is willing and able to go with us.  This will be his 10th trip and he knows the language, the places to see, and the transportation system.  We have talked about this trip for a number of years, it is difficult to believe that we will actually be going.

I plan to take lots of pictures and write every day in a journal.  That's the only way I will remember everything.  Otherwise my husband and I will end up disagreeing about where something was or when we saw it (it's just the way it is).

Who knows, this may mark the beginning of our world travels, but I doubt it.  

Monday, January 14, 2008

This Friday or Next Friday?

Here's a question.  If it is Monday and you are talking about the upcoming Friday, is it this Friday or next Friday?  In my little world, the Friday that will arrive first is just..Friday or this Friday.  Next Friday is the one after that.

However, to my husband and mother, the next Friday is the one that comes....well, next.

As far as finding grammatical rules, it seems there are none really set in stone.  I'd like to know what other people in the wide web seem to think about this conundrum.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Homophonic errors

The Salt Lake Tribune today carried the weekly Readers' Advocate column.  Someone wrote in complaining about the editors who missed two different homophones in separate articles.  One article was about the "sheering" off of a bus's roof (rather than "shearing"), and the other was about "towing the line" (rather than toeing).  I admit I was ashamed that I hadn't caught the errors.  I guess I am guilty of not paying enough attention.  I think that is why lots of people make careless mistakes in writing as well as speaking.  I just thought I wasn't part of "lots of people."  I've got to do better; I might be slipping.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Teaching is so much harder than you think it will be

In college courses, professors (who may not have ever been in another kind of classroom) try to tell students that if they have a well-thought-out lesson plan, with all the new learning theories considered, they will have few problems. 

It will take just one year in an ordinary classroom for new teachers to learn that their college courses were mostly useless theory--ideas put together by learned editors/professors/researchers who know very little about working with small people in the real world.

I used to say that when I retired, I'd enroll in a beginning education course.  I think it would be great fun to sit in the back and point out the flaws and fallacies in the course.  Hey, maybe I still will.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Novice blogger, not novice reader

With time on my hands and lots of opinions, blogging seems like a natural fit.  I hope some will find what I have to say interesting, amusing, enlightening, or even annoying.  Things will likely change as I learn, but learning is what I like to do.  Stay tuned.