Saturday, October 20, 2007

Digit Data

Well, I've not been a very active 'blogger' for some time now. You may recall, my most loyal visitors, that this has been due to an injury I incurred during the summer- an injury that required surgery on my left hand.

The update is a good one. The surgery has been successful. My left hand now works properly again. It is not yet as strong as it was, and there is still some pain from time to time, but I am happy with the improvement. I've had many doctor visits, physical therapy appointments, and a lot of down time for my hand. Now I've been given the 'green light' by my doctor to do what I wish and feel my hand is strong enough for. I have only one more- presuming all continues to go well- doctor appointment, and while I continue to do physical therapy on my own, I have no more appointments with the physical therapist to attend. My time is becoming more my own.

I still find that if I attempt to type too much- too long, that is- that I experience discomfort. However, I am improving and am finding that I can type much more rapidly and accurately, and the length of time I can type is gradually increasing. I suspect my hand will never quite be 'normal' again, but it is returning to at least 'very good' if not perfect, and is much, much better than before the surgery.

Thus, I hope to return to a more active mode here in the weeks ahead. I hope to get back to my thinking, analyzing, and writing about important topics of our collective lives.

One of the important issues that I live with daily is that of education. I find that now, my teaching, may also keep me somewhat limited as a blogger. Why? The standardized test fixation of politicians today is changing the nature of my work as a teacher in ways that are not good- taking up enormous amounts of time as I try to work at a breakneck pace and virtually sucking the life out of me as I become a mere implementer of what the very wise (italics indicates sarcasm in this case) people in Lansing and Washington, DC believe I should teach.

If those people are such experts on the teaching of history, why do they prove to be such poor students of it? Why do they think that they are more qualified than I to decide how to teach the history that they clearly do not know?

Oh, sure, they know some facts. But there is a major difference, and substantial gulf, between mere knowledge and understanding. This the politicians clearly do not grasp. They clearly think that if our students are capable 'Trivial Pursuit' (remember that game) or 'Jeopardy' contestants, then they are ready to be citizens.

An education should not merely be about the ability to recite facts. Educated people should understand the context of those facts, be able to discern the meaning of those facts, and be able to apply those facts in new, flexible, and powerful ways. The current drive towards testing our students by having them fill in bubble sheets takes us no where in terms of these goals. Even the writing that is required by many states- including Michigan- as a part of their testing does nothing for true education because it is so locked-down in terms of format and constricted in terms of content.

Oh, and did I mention that these very wise politicians expect us to do all of this in an environment where our resources are being cut back? Do more and deal with greater problems among our students with less money- is this educated thinking?

So, as a teacher I am left tremendously busy, physically tired, mentally drained, and endlessly frustrated by the environment in which I work. Thus I may not have the time and energy to post as often as I like.

That said, I do hope, however, to become a more frequent contributor to this blog in the future than I have in recent months.

Thank you to all who have continued to visit, only to find limited posts and a lot of 'cut-and-paste' quotations. I hope the future will be more satisfying to us all.

Grey Pilgrim

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