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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Final Two Chapters of Teaching Vol I

Today I'll  add on to the blog's focus on Teaching: Education and Academics at the Turn of the Century. If you're just starting here, you may want to go back to the beginning of the week by clicking here and then reading forward.

Summarizing these chapters here in the blog this week  has caused me to further appreciate how far we have come since the writings ... when I began these articles for Phi Kappa Phi, I was composing on a desktop computer, sitting in a wooden kitchen chair upstairs in my bedroom. The computer was tucked into an armoire / entertainment center that was designed for bulky desktop components: the tower of power was horizontal and worked as a base for the computer monitor. Three and a half inch (not so) floppy discs fit into the tower in numbered 'disc drives' and had only a fraction of memory capability compared to today's tiny little flash drives / memory sticks. The keyboard sat on a sliding shelf beneath the tower. The printer was on the lowest shelf, next to reams of paper and an astonishing bulk of cables and electrical cord., all  nicely hidden with the armoire doors closed. I wrote often at night, or in the early morning, before heading off to my classroom.  The writing began in a spiral notebook, written while sitting out on the porch during warm weather, or in the back entry room next to the wood stove during winter. Such different settings than today's; now I have the mobility of a wireless laptop, and yet rarely roam from the comfortable couch in the living room.

But, let's look at these final two chapters in Teaching: Education and Academics at the Turn of the Century. The one titled An American Issue was written during a contentious fiscal battle over the rising costs of running a school district. During that difficult time, we were also hearing for the first time about the Mrsa Virus ... an infection that could be easily passed from one to another by tactile contact ... doorknobs, water bubblers and hand rails on a stair case were suddenly viewed as venues for contamination. I had recently changed my teaching assignment from elementary classrooms to the middle school, and from the west side of town to the north-east corner. In medical terms, I had entered a new germ pool, which explains my emphasis on cleanliness in this chapter. I open this chapter with a reference to the American Revolution and the resulting 'bad taste' left in our mouths for increasing taxation.   I encourage both teachers and parents to recognize the need for a consolidated, cohesive joint effort in establishing reliable funding for our ever-increasing enrollment and expenses.

The final chapter of commentary is titled Questions Worth Asking, and it is written again as a dialogue between two individuals, a teacher and her principal.  Our principal at the middle school was known for his forward thinking in terms of school reform. He had carefully built a staff with mutual respect, and I wanted to give him an opportunity to publish his own thoughts. As this would be the last writing of my three year term as a columnist, I invited him to co-write it with me, and worked very carefully to maintain both his style and my own. In this conversation, the teacher and principal discuss the affective, social side of students. We exchanged drafts on one of those floppy discs, back and forth, reading and reviewing what each of us had written, and finally came up with the article that closes this little book.

Remember, you can purchase a print copy of this book from CreateSpace by clicking on the link in the upper right margin of this blog, and entering the discount code at the checkout to receive a 40% discount this week.

Next week, I'll showcase my first volume of Poetry to Share.  But before I close today's blog, I want to share two more reviews of Multiple Sclerosis an Enigma:  One came to me via 'snail mail' from Canada, and the other is in a comment at the Facebook page I maintain, named for the book. Here's what each fan had to say:

Joanne wrote:
"... to give you a terrific review of your book. I and my whole family read your book. We are giving it five stars out of 5. Your book is excellent. My sister-in-law really loves your book. She could not say enough about it. We all love it."

And Paige left a comment at the Facebook page:
" I loved the book. Made me feel not so alone."

And I love their reviews.  I'll come back to the blog in the next day or so to share reviews that are written about Teaching: Education and Academics at the Turn of the Century. Be well!
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