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Would you like to auto-recycle all your old items now?

When you’re interested enough in something, and sense that there’s so much depth to plumb and you know so little, the beginning of the pieces coming together, for you at least, can seem like a revelation. Like, maybe this stuff is actually not only the key to my life, the way out and up and on to my full potential (which might not be much, but at least it’s an honest evaluation), but it might explain a while lot more. It might explain the entire span of evolution, of the rises and falls and ultimate future demise of human civilization, and even why Trump got elected.

For you, the defining paradigm might be electrolyte balance. Or maybe a macrobiotic or paleolithic diet. Maybe it’s mindful living, or a growth mindset. Maybe keeping your home fires burning, or an attitude of trust and obey, for there’s no other way (not likely, if you are reading this). I respect your right to choose your own lens through which to see the world, but the one I’m trying on is the biology, my love.

The genes we carry want to carry on. That’s by definition, not necessarily an indication of divine purpose (though I don’t rule out the possibility). According to Richard Dawkins, the ultimate unit of life and the driver of all survival instinct is the gene. How genes operate is by building bodies around them made of cells, in myriad forms which carry them into all kinds of environments so they can absorb resources–atoms and molecules to be made into genes and cells and body copies to carry them around. Doesn’t even matter which kind of body they build, as long as it efficiently does the work of replicating those genes and spreading them around. That can be by reproduction, but also by being a host for the replication of other cells and bodies such as parasites, bacteria, and viruses, or food–a quick remix of ingredients, of another beast carrying around similar genes. It’s not the species that’s trying to survive, or the population, or family, or individual, but the genes inside them all.

So if a species which has so far been successful at allowing the replication of the genes within it starts to threaten the replication of the exact same genes in other species (such as chimps, dogs, frogs, or bacteria, all of which are carrying around many of the same genes in varying degrees) it would make sense that the other carriers of the genes might take it down in some way. Likewise, if a carrier gets off on a side track of thinking and behaving as if replication isn’t so important after all, that it’s the life of the spirit, or culture, or just the individual me, myself and I, that matters, then again, the genes influencing that carrier either directly (from within) or indirectly (in the ecosystem) should interfere and go to plan B.226.3alpha, which is, let that species self-destruct, releasing its genes into the parasites, symbionts, decomposers and predators better equipped to do the job. Fire and the gnashing of teeth, start again.

A bit more about the curbing of reproduction: If the evolutionary success or fitness of a species is defined as its ability to sustainably reproduce, why would a population ever stop trying to be fruitful and multiply? Why is it that as humans become more “educated,” they are less likely to try for large families or engage in polygamy, and more likely to use contraception, delay childbearing, or choose not to have children at all? Not, as in the bees and other species, to take care of the head couples’ brood because it ensures the survival of the genes we share in common. Why would genes, which by definition are replicators, allow the formation of thoughts and behaviors that lead to the reduction of reproductive behaviors?

History shows that it’s the most educated and technologically advanced that use, waste, and pollute the most resources, so it’s definitely in the interests of genes to curtail the reproduction of such beings. And we thought it was a sign of higher culture to exercise choice over our own bodies, and of progress to embrace a diversity of types of love, even if they aren’t centered around procreation! Instead, it could be an adaptation to the rise of extra-destructive variations in the human genome, a function of genes that are cutting down on a bad model. Maybe a subsistence life with a good deal of natural mortality might be better for the survival of the fittest. A cultural agenda focused on the eradication of poverty, disease, and homelessness may be at odds with the agenda of the genes within our bodies and in the bodies around us, from the tiniest virus to the dearest friend or relative.

I don’t want that to be true. I’ve got attached to those aspects of my culture and beliefs. Dawkins says we can “rebel” against our genes, the main example being contraception. I’m not convinced—I think Dawkins is being inconsistent. I think he just wants to believe that being an intellectual is higher on the evolutionary chain of fitness than being the head of a polygamous cult in the desert or one of the throngs of wiry street urchins of the inner city that grows up to leave broods of unwashed, unloved children staring through laundry hanging in urban alleys crawling with rats, disease, and criminals. Just like he wants to believe that there is a divine and benevolent creator, though this belief is differently expressed, as a reckless, headlong plunge into logical analysis of biological evidence to the apparent contrary. I can relate to that.

 

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2016 in Ideas, science

 

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Ten things I don’t want to read in real estate listings

I just read a listing that had at least five of these irritating, misleading, or otherwise off-putting descriptions. I know the list would be different for others, but here’s mine:

10. Wide open plan

If I lived by myself, I might like to keep an eye on the kitchen while I’m kicking back by the fire or working in my office nook. But with a family of six, how is a person to carry on a private conversation, with meaningful hand signals? And I don’t want to to be faced with the mess some snacking teen made in the kitchen while I’m trying to work on lesson plans at the dining table. Give me a few different sizes of rooms with walls between, mostly with doors, some locking. Then getting together for meals or conversation is a special event, not an obligation.

9. Exclusive

Makes me feel excluded, which I find very triggering. Or, if it’s only exclusive of burglars, then “security system” would be a better choice of words.

8. Soaring (vaulted) ceilings

I don’t want to soar in my own home, or hang large chandeliers, or even seagull mobiles. For that feeling, I go to a cathedral, an airport, or a gymnasium. Lots of things need to soar there. In a house it just creates a draft through wasted space, with occasional shafts of dust-filled light stabbing through.

7. Immaculate

What does that have to do with anything, except the price of housekeeping, landscaping, and power washing services, plus a good home stager? I’m not buying those. Or did you mean morally immaculate?

6. Stunning

This is not a positive emotion to have about a house, its grounds, or the price. Trust me, I know.

5. Over sized

Oops–you built it too big to be practical or comfortable, so I can see why you want to sell it. Too hard to heat, to clean, or to locate your cell phone, family members, or pets in. But why turn off potential buyers before they even take a look?

4. Be the envy of…

To tell you the truth, I think about this quality a lot. Except, it’s a test of whether I would be ashamed to live in a certain house, not whether it’s desirable. I don’t want to buy a property that would evoke sinfully covetous thoughts in others. I don’t want to be a symbol of  the inherent social inequity that can arise from being born into privilege or living a self-centered, materialistic life. I also don’t want to use my possessions to compensate for a deficient sense of self worth.

3. Minutes to everything

Two minutes to the on ramp and convenience store, or to the metal and glass recycling sorter services? Five hundred minutes to a grocery store or the nearest school? Really, that’s not even useful information.

2. One of a Kind

That’s just way too open to interpretation. It fits the underground concrete bunker, the condo designed for boarding stray cats, and the converted lunatic asylum.

1. Well appointed

Not because it isn’t a good, useful expression that replaces a longer one, but because I had to look it up to make sure it didn’t mean “fancy enough for doctors and lawyers to entertain in.”

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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New classroom setup and projects

Still living the privilege of working with fine professionals who are also amiable and fun, and serving students particularly willing to learn and unusually respectful to us and one another. Still wondering if it’s a long term calling, or a place on the road toward working more with at risk youth. Still working hard to teach five different subjects and thankful for ample planning time. I have my new classroom painted (covered the institutional pasty yellow with sky blue to counter the lack of windows), chairs, projector, and whiteboards set up. It’s so much easier to teach in one room all day, no more carrying laptop, text, and paperwork back and forth.

Students are really getting the hang of things, incidences of failure to hand in assignments are falling, people are doing corrections to bombed quizzes or homework they didn’t understand. They are grasping the connection between practice, participation, perseverance, and success (mostly reflected by grades, in the math classes). If I have the same students for a second math next year, they should be able to roll with my system pretty well, as I will have  tweaked it to align with what they need to accomplish and what is practical in the time given. I hope that all the quieter students who need help will realize I’m eager to give it, and that extra tutoring is worth the time spent.

In environmental science, we’re getting into an experimental design on decomposition. In the process of learning how to properly design a controlled experiment, I plan to cover the cycling of matter, the chemistry and biology of decomposition, municipal solid waste management, and the effects of solid waste on the environment. Also connecting soon with a study of current waste production at school and home, and problem solving around that. I started too late last year to do much at the other school, but even the “reluctant learners” there were pretty enthusiastic about cutting down on waste, and all but two took turns at weighing bags of garbage. I’m thinking it would be interesting to post the daily and weekly amount of the different types of waste we generate to raise awareness first. I’m sure the students will have good ideas.

In biology, I decided that we were getting seriously bogged down in the chapter about the nature of Homo sapiens, so I skipped forward to look at the essential characteristics of all living things. I gave a project borrowed from last year’s colleagues and adapted it. After choosing a species of organism (from an assigned category) and researching it, the students are to create posters illustrating and explaining how their species show evidence of each essential characteristic. They can use any reasonable list of characteristics, and since the list in the text specifically names evolution in terms of common ancestry and species evolving into other species, I gave the option of focusing on shorter term evolution within populations as they adapt to changing environmental conditions. Nods all around.

I think the common ancestry idea is pushed a little too heavily, anyway, without even offering a definition of “species,” so Bible believers just assume it’s the same as the biblical “kinds’ (Hebrew min), which they are taught were created distinct by God and don’t morph into one another. Sure would be interesting to go into a discussion of that with the Hebrew text and commentaries and all, but, oh, no, not in public school! I really think the teaching of evolution should start with the evidence right in front of us not the overarching theory that took years to emerge once Darwin and Wallace got to thinking about their findings. Darwin was certainly bothered by it all, and I’m sure had a real conflict between his desire for intellectual honesty and his traditional biblical teachings. As it was for Darwin, evolutionary theory is a great candidate for inquiry based learning, but in the text, which is usually so oriented that way, the end findings are stated up front before fossils, or Darwin, or comparative embryology, or DNA, are even mentioned.

I’m looking forward to seeing the visuals some of these artistically talented/practices students will create. Now that we have lots of wall space of our very own, they’ll be a nice addition to the decor. When I saw the other teachers punching staples through the expensive vinyl wallpaper, I knew it would be okay to cover the place with posters and bulletin boards. I even put up the evolutionary tree of life poster, reminding myself that I need not, should not, feel apologetic about it. And hoping that if anyone does object, they will come directly to me and have a conversation. The principal has alluded to the fact that he would always advise that if parents have issues, and that he has my back as to teaching public school biology.

To tell the truth, from our school website, you’d never know it is a public and not a Christian school. I wondered if I should mention the presence of two very obvious Christian signage items on the front page of our website, but being new, I don’t want to be the one who tries to scratch the Christian image–I would probably get surprised stares from all but maybe one of the staff, and rumors might get about to the parents that I was anti-Christian. Still, I do think we should make it known that the school is a public school and welcomes all homeschooling families. The name even sounds private school-ish. I wonder how the non-religious students are feeling (if, indeed there are any decidedly non-religious, or even less theologically conservative).

 

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2016 in Education

 

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Faith and Science

I had to decompress today with a few colleagues, after the two strange biology classes I had. Same students, attentive and courteous, but we approached, a little too close for comfort, the idea that humans and chimps could be related. The question was (how could I be so naive?), What do you think humans and chimpanzees share so many similarities? They were to talk in groups and all they came up with was variations on because God made them that way. Either God made them that way, period, or God gave them some of the same characteristics because they were good adaptations for a similar lifestyle. One boy did offer the possibility that they might have a common ancestor, so I added that to their ideas. No one thought of genetics, but when I mentioned that genetically the two species are very similar, there was a pause, and “that doesn’t prove anything, though.”

I feel like these are just ordinary, evidence-based ideas, and that I don’t need, in fact should not–in the name of providing a science education–avoid them or couch them n creationist terms. Plus there’s so much that could be discussed about the reasons for the religious reservations there are to seeing connections between species, and especially to seemingly undermine the special status of humans in creation in any way. But I don’t think I’m really supposed to bring up what I know about biblical teaching on creation or how there need not be such a sense of threat at all. I wish I could talk with the parents away from the school, tell them I believe in God, have great respect for the Hebrew Bible, and can read it pretty well in the original. We have an entire library of commentaries (in storage), and are not godless pagans. The reason I thought God was so awesome as a kid was because of the wonderful things made by the Creator, and how much great design I recognize in both the big picture and fine detail. The theologians call this “general revelation,” which is available to all (as opposed to “special revelation,” available only to those to whom it revealed throughout history).

Instead, I fell I am coming across as anti-religion. I want to counter that, subtly but somehow, but it might not be possible. Can I direct those who are interested to sources from within the Christian community that have a more evidence-based view of biology, and a more literary, this-is-not-a-science-text view of the Bible? Maybe the best approach is, if it seems like there are barriers to learning growing, or that it seems to families that I am not respecting their majority culture, to ask questions. I could even offer the option that they research any biology and science-related passages in the Bible, and see how it relates to scientific evidence. Which passages of Genesis, for example, run parallel to science’s view on the origins of the planet and its life, and which seem to run contrary? How have theologians tried to work this out?

But time is short, and they still have to learn about cellular processes, ecology, homeostasis, inheritance, and physiology. But first we have to get through the evolution chapter with some semblance of integrity and harmony.

Here’s the piece I wrote to try to address parents on the issue:

In several of our discussions in biology class, it has come up that a majority of students in the classes consider faith in God, belief in the soul, and the special status of the humans species as very important. This was in the context of a discussion about how humans are unique, and the characteristics they share with other primates, based on their observations. The way I addressed this is to say that there are different ways of knowing, some accessible and testable by science, and others not, but known or believed very deeply in other ways.

Sometimes the scientific evidence presented in class may conflict with religious views of students and/or parents, and I am very aware of the need to be mindful of my role as public school teacher delegated by this community. Off and on I’ve had good conversations about this with parents, staff, and others as I work out the best way to proceed. I have really appreciated the opportunity to better understand views of both students and parents here in the area. I have also appreciated the openness of both to learn and converse in a respectful and thoughtful way.

Okay, so I’m in ——-, and I knew what I was getting into when I took on this job. I homeschooled my own four children for many of the same reasons our ——– families do, and have had reservations about the way a public school must by law provide a religion-free education, and so, by default, appear to communicate a low value for faith perspectives, while trying to respect all citizens’ religious, or non-religious, views.

In science classes, I must refrain from engaging in teaching even about religion, although it is permissible by law in social studies or history classes. The ACLU’s interpretation of the law is that “[I] may present only genuinely scientific critiques of, or evidence for, any explanation of life on earth, but not religious critiques (beliefs unverifiable by scientific methodology). Schools may not refuse to teach evolutionary theory in order to avoid giving offense to religion nor may they circumvent these rules by labeling as science an article of religious faith. Public schools must not teach as scientific fact or theory any religious doctrine, including “creationism,” although any genuinely scientific evidence for or against any explanation of life may be taught. Just as they may neither advance nor inhibit any religious doctrine, teachers should not ridicule, for example, a student’s religious explanation for life on earth.”

This respect for the law about my duty as a public school teacher has made me reluctant to directly address any of the faith-based views I have encountered in class. On the other hand, discussing the apparent conflict between religious and scientific views is very interesting to me personally. I also wish I could provide resources that could help families to understand the ways in which scientific scholars of the Judeo-Christian faith have tackled these areas of conflict. But once again, I hesitate due to the constraints of the law. I also realize that other than asking questions to help students develop their own thinking as related to biology, it’s not my role to address about religious views about science.

I will be teaching evolutionary theory in the next month or so. This will include presenting the scientific evidence that has accumulated from many sources for the theory of common ancestry, as well as teaching about the biochemical drivers of evolution on short, medium, and long time scales. I will do my best to continue to nurture a respectful forum for discussion and individual interpretive work (in writing and projects), where that can lead to a greater understanding of high school level biology. I appreciate parents’ and students’ patience as we go through this sometimes uncomfortable process.

I also want to communicate here some of the things I have said in class about the value and limits of science. I have said that science is a great tool and way of knowing, but that there are other ways of knowing and being sure of things. Science attempts to be objective and relies on evidence–lots of it, to develop theories. I point out that although a theory, as the term is used in science, is well supported by evidence, all theories are subject to testing, revision, and falsification if there is enough contradictory evidence. No theory ought to be spoken of as “true” or “proven” in science. Science is also not useful for verifying or disproving any type of knowledge for which observable or measurable evidence cannot be gathered, and so can never be used to disprove, for example, ideas about God, or whether there is a divine force behind both evolution and the day-to-day life of molecules and cells.

The only area I see a direct conflict between faith and science is in the view that the Bible, Hebrew or Greek testaments, are sources of reliable, sufficient empirical evidence to counter scientific views about the age and history of the Earth. I cannot present the young Earth view as a viable alternative theory, simply because there isn’t enough evidence for it. That said, there are many alternative faith-based ways to view biblical teaching relating to creation, and there are good books, lectures, and websites that offer guidance for those who want to inquire. I hope that students in conflict will seek these out rather than either simply refusing to consider scientific evidence on the one hand, or, on the other hand, doubting their faith because they believe it is incompatible with scientific evidence. Mostly, I hope that they will gain an appreciation of how amazing, intricate, and interesting the world of living things is, and as much knowledge about how it works as possible.

 

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Religion & Spirituality

 

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How to Not Starve class

Fridays at my school we teach a series of classes on whatever we and the students, just the K through 8, think is interesting, running them for a semester. My classes are Drawing from Nature, How to Not Starve (wild edibles), Photographing Nature, and Food Science. The most fun, and most work, has been How to Not Starve. I knew there was a lot to eat in the Pacific Northwest landscape and shoreline, even this time of year, and I’m learning even more. Because I’m so busy with my academic classes (high school) the rest of the week, I tend to throw plans together for Friday the day before, and sometimes as dusk is falling, so I have to go out with a headlamp to get samples.

The first day we brainstormed situations where a knowledge of wild edibles would be useful, talked about the basics of survival nutrition, and sampled wild salad greens–dandelion, shotweed, chickweed, clover, rye grass, and a few others. The second day the students did some online research, we talked about the nutritional benefits of tea, and we had mint, raspberry leaf and chamomile. I had happened on a freshly car0killed squirrel the day before, which I brought out to illustrate the idea of using wild animals for a protein source. I also gave them Korean dogwood fruit, there being several heavy-laden trees in the school landscape, rose hips, hawthorn haws, and Oregon grape. For variety I also made collards with onions and garlic, and applesauce from substandard apples. I found a cool YouTube site (link to Wild Edibles Season 1 here) that I played portions of while cooking.

This is the class of all those I teach that has the potential of being the most useful. It really could be that these twenty kids might need to find stuff to eat one day, the Big One having struck, and his and other supplies having run low. In the meantime, the students are pretty adventurous and enthusiastic, and I hear have been bringing weeds to their home cooks and requesting to go out to the fields to gather leaves for tea. Now they know that although some of those berries may not taste great on their own, if they mix them with a little apple or honey or rhubarb they can be very tasty, as well as highly nutritious. They know to chew a little more or boil up the tougher greens, and when all else fails, eat hawthorn leaves.

Last class I asked why they thought there were so little wild edibles allowed to grow around town. Then we discussed the meaning of “weed,” which I hope will narrow down for them, as they now have a greater value for those they know can be food.

This weekend I made dandelion coffee, which was delicious, and I’ll be doing that next, step by step, first digging with whatever we can find, then washing, then roasting, grinding, and pressing. We’ll have moved to our new rented building by then, and it’ll be interesting to scout out the much larger grounds to see what we can glean, and find out if the owners might allow us to cordon off a little area to allow to grow wild, and/or create a wild edibles demo garden.

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2016 in Education

 

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But I didn’t ask them, Do chimps have souls?

I’m still on the fence about whether I could be content teaching at this school for the long term. Still not sure if helping open up a certain percentage of minds to valuing scientific methods and evidenced based conclusions is important enough, compared to maybe working with marginalized students.

My biology classes are in the midst a unit for which a key question is “What makes humans unique?” I had the students watch “Among the Wild Chimpanzees,” about the work of Jane Goodall, and gave reflection questions as homework. Back in class, I asked them to share their answers to the last question, “Has watching this film changed your views about the uniqueness of humans or our relationship with other animals in any way?” I expected a few different responses, but instead, got a resounding, “No!” from a chorus of voices, accompanied by smiles of what looked a little like triumph, though more impish than defiant. I was actually taken aback, and said, “That’s okay.! You don’t have to.” They are definitely on their guard, those conservative Christian youth, in case I might relativize their truth in some way.

In the prior small group discussion in which students were challenged to come to consensus about what makes humans unique, and then to narrow these things down to what was scientifically testable and verifiable, it came out that there was a strong consensus that humans have a soul. I said, okay, the fact that you all believe that is because you live in a community full of families that have brought you up that way. I asked what it might be like for someone who publicly declared that they disagreed. They started a bit at that idea. So, I said, you believe that, you know that, as have most people from all over the world, in various ways, for thousands of years. But the reason you know it is outside of the tools of science, in a different way of knowing. This type of knowledge is not discoverable by science.

The idea here is that humans are unique in their ability to use symbolic language, pass on cultural traditions, and develop complex technologies, and in an extended childhood through rites of passage, but that they also share lots of characteristics with other animals, especially chimps. They all saw how the chimps use intelligence to solve problems, made and used tools, educated their young, and maintained close emotional bonds with members of the community. They also made war and sometimes engaged in cannibalism and other kinds of nastiness not generally acceptable in the community, but also present in human society. I sent them home this time with the question, WHY do you think we have so much in common with chimps? Most of the students (maybe all) believe, that scientists will tell them that humans descended from apes, and that’s not okay. Will they say really, we aren’t similar to chimps, it only looks that way because of scientists’ bias? Or that God created the chimps the way they are just like he created us the way we are?

And so then we’ll move on to interpretations of human culture, to the way human communities foster children through a long childhood, and then, all bets are off as we move to identifying the characteristics of all living things, and then evolution and Earth’s history, both hot potato topics. Stay tuned.

 

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2016 in Education, Religion & Spirituality

 

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Notes on the new teaching job at the end of the first month

It’s past my bedtime, but I dare say tomorrow I’ll get up past my waking time. I’m tired, looking forward to extra rest, but in general I’ve been getting recharged by teaching. Moving a little more away from that edge where one can barely plan one day at a time except on long weekends and holidays. Last year’s work on biology and environmental science have provided a bank of materials I like to go with major topics in bio. In the case of environmental science, which I patched together into a hodgepodge of a course last year, I can see the long view and how things ought to fit together. Plus the three different math classes seem to be going pretty well and the students like the pace (though apparently the science homework has been too heavy). I guess I like teaching math after all.

Really like the people I work with. I share my desk room (teach in a different one) with a fellow who was a lawyer before this and has a small farm, He plays electric guitar and brings his acoustic to play after school with anyone who wants to, including a few students who drop by to learn a few things. The other teacher down the hall was in a band, maybe more than one, in Australia, and brings his “axe”(just learned that term from my office mate) down for a jam. I’ve only participated once so far, but now I keep my acoustic on site and once I feel a little less behind after school, will pick up some tunes again. We all know a bunch of the same folk and rock, and lawyer farmer is going to bring in some bluegrass & roots, while I hope to learn the science and history songs the Aussie has written over the years a a teacher.

The other high school teacher is super supportive and positive, and is the lead teacher and a principal in training. Then there’s the crazy middle school teacher everyone loves best of all, because he yells at them, acts all gruff, does track and field, and doesn’t always follow protocol. They see through him pretty quick. He said teaching was life-changing for him. Started with coaching football, then when he applied to work in the school district he grew up in, a complete rascal all the way, they said they’d hire him on condition he never pulled any of those kind of stunts again. The other teacher said he went back and apologized to all his former middle school teachers after he started working. The other day I overheard him shout, “I’m going to make you write ’till your fingers bleed! Mwahaha!!!” Incredibly high energy too, says he’s always been kind of ADHD.

The principal is just very kind and supportive, humble as he climbs his own huge learning curve, and and also effective at what he does, so has earned the staff’s respect.

Parent volunteers have been great, too—one who has this huge nurturing gift, who I can tell is energized by reaching out in genuine ways to inquire about and bolster the state of our souls. Another was the one from Nova Scotia I met early on, though I haven’t seen her much. The three office staff are very hard working and efficient, though kind of in a different circle.

Getting to know the students has been slow but steady–twice a week and packed with content, have to figure out a better rhythm for the science classes. I’m realizing that the students know very little about the environmental systems of the Earth–didn’t know what the atmosphere was, for example, and I’m pretty sure an in depth look at climate change has been outside the purview of their homeschool education. So I’m looking forward to opening that and many other doors.

Speaking of doors, I’ve already opened the door into learning about evolution, and have had several conversations with one parent of two of my students about how I plan to teach on it, starting before classes even got started. Others are quietly buzzing around the periphery, so I much prefer her direct approach. There seemed to be a feeling that such parents are overly involved, but it sure beats the sudden and unexplained exit of a family over unknown concerns, which I’m told happens a few times every year. I invited this mom to come listen to the classes where I teach on Darwin’s ideas, though I said evolution is a thread throughout the whole year.

I’m excited to bring what I have to the table, or whiteboard, but I had to remind myself to take it slow–both for my own need to do only so many new or big or in depth things at a time in my first year her, and to keep from shaking anything up before I’ve established myself as a person who has a solid understanding of science, math, and high school students, as well as an appreciation of and respect for parents’ role as their kids’ primary educators. Like I told one mom when we were speaking about her son, who has communication problems yet to be filly diagnosed, she is the boss, and if teachers don’t get him or lay on too much work without enough support, she should protect him from that and let him learn from a space of peace, not stress and unreasonable expectations. As a high achiever herself, she seemed to need that reminder that school work was the servant, not the master.

Homeschool parents talk to each other a lot. I hope to send the word and have it spread that they can bring up concerns and issues and I will not be offended or feel interfered with, that I see myself as their delegated stand-in teacher of certain subjects. Also that I regard my role as a public school teacher as one from which I teach science from a scientific standpoint and do not plan to avoid any important aspect of well established scientific theory or practice, whether or not it seems to conflict with conservative religious views. Finally, that my main agenda as a teacher is the same as that of anyone of the Judeo-Christian tradition and many another tradition, to be a blessing to the people I serve.

 

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2016 in Education

 

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