Saturday, July 31, 2010

Book Review: Stranger in a Strange Land

This is a book I've had for a while. A friend bought it for me when I was 18 (I think; it is getting difficult to remember that far back) and for whatever reason I had not read it, but managed to hold on to it. Finally I picked it up and read the dang book. It was really good. Well written, interesting, strong characters and plot. Basically everything you would look for in a book, this one had. The story is about Michael Smith a man born on Mars to astronaut parents who is adapting to life on Earth. He has strange habits and beliefs given his martian origins and it is interesting reading about him trying to learn human behaviors and actions. Mostly humans do not make sense to him, but when he finally understands he becomes a powerful man who is messianic in nature. To further that idea he starts his own complicated church, which is a strange mixture of pagan practices and highly organized denominations. I began to get the sense that Heinlein was somewhat similar to Ayn Rand in that he was promoting personal enlightenment and responsibility and even the Randian theme of human heroes. I'll have to grok that some more. Overall it was very good, a little slow in the center of the book, but still great. I especially loved the character Jubal Harshaw the eccentric and grumpy lawyer/ writer who mentors Smith among other things. I recommend it to anyone interested in solid Sci-fi and even general fiction. It is a great read.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't live in darkness

For better or worse I've been on a poetry tear lately. I had put poetry away for a while claiming that it was a lower writing form, and then when I was having trouble writing prose went back to it in order to practice the craft. Now I've been writing it randomly and posting some here. Well, here is another one then.

Don't Live in Darkness

Don't live in darkness,
follow the light.
Forever lost in,
the pitch black night.
So often afraid,
no need for fright.
Stay right where you are,
hold on with might.
You know someday soon,
will come your knight.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I got to thinking about the upcoming school year and how I would adjust my teaching methods to improve student learning and wondered about a whole slew of things. I started to think about all the brilliant people in the world. Not just the classic scientist types but the creative minds in music and the arts, engineering and construction, medicine and even things like interior design and cosmetics. I was thinking about all of the people who are really good at what they do and I wondered how they found it.

Then I decided that they probably found their passion and uncovered their ability in spite of public education. I know I certainly didn't. I continue to lament the things I wrote in school that I took a chance on. You know, creative pieces that went beyond the assignment and took real effort. Then it made me sad because most of those were returned to me as "incomplete," "off topic," or "did not meet standard." What horrible words. In my class I try to reward effort, creativity and passion, but I fear this is not the case in most of the education world.

No. In education we focus on standards, benchmarks, tests and rubrics. Tools, we tell ourselves, that will improve student learning. Perhaps. But how does a student find his passion if he cannot stray beyond the preconceived standard? Does he have room to explore? Or is he a slave to "direct instruction model," like we have adopted on our campus? Will he love to learn or hate the worksheet, drills and endless measuring he must endure? Will school enhance his life or handicap him?

I would like to see a learning environment where students were encouraged to explore a variety of subjects in multiple ways in order to discover the God given talents and abilities and then, along with a passionate teacher, develop as a whole person and not just another test taker, another seat filler, another number in the expansive sea of faces. Can I do this in my classroom, or will I be written up for not putting daily objectives on the board, using direct instruction model and preparing my students for bench marks? I'm afraid.

Just some thoughts.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I See You

You try to hide
I see you
You put up walls
I see you
You dress up
I see you
You put on a show
I see you


I love you
For your passion
I love you
For your caring heart
I love you
Mother, Daughter, Sister
I love you
Perfect creation of God