March 5th, 2010

atheist teacher

Teachers & Books

Before the trip, I dashed through Paul Lockhart's A Mathematician's Lament. At first, there was some serious deja vu, since the book is based on a previous essay available online that got a great deal of notoriety when it went viral among the math teachers. I invite you all to read at least the first page of the PDF: the parable of the music teacher.

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Lockhart's book dovetails nicely with this lengthy article from the NYT Magazine on Building a Better Teacher. It details the obvious fact that education schools don't really teach teachers to teach, but explores how some people are beginning to look into the actual mechanics of teaching.
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On the trip to Orlando, I read Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, a fictional look at the life of a celebrated Canadian murderess. I enjoyed it, particularly the way certain events in the doctor's life strangely mirrored those of Grace. Excellent capture of the historical era, and Atwood does a marvellous job giving individual voices to the characters (bits of the novel is epistolary).

Oh, and as a last tidbit. I was reading the Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein on the plane back from Orlando and the girl across the aisle from me was reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so we had duelling horror literary rewrites. Not yet done with Memoirs, but it's less satisfactory than Alias Grace by far.
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Speaking of teachers...

A ways back, I funded a DonorsChoose project for a teacher to buy Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde for his students. His project was all about how "Monsters can teach us about ourselves and our history." So in my donor note I wrote, "As a Monster-American, I applaud efforts to teach children more about our kind."

I enjoyed the teacher's reply:
"Hi Mike! Monster-Americans are this country's great unsung heroes and deserving of understanding and acceptance just like everyone else. Thanks for your generosity! Mr. D"