The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Let’s Start Acting!

How long has it been for us to be in danger from the virus?  I think it feels like a year, but it has been less than six months. Danger has spread across the country and around the world, but we haven’t learned how to beat the virus.  I think we need more information than the daily news reports about the number of people who have died.  If some areas are more dangerous than others, we also need to know which ones they are.  How should we act in such places, and is there any protection there for us ?

There are many questions that need to be answered for our safety.  Do we need to wear masks outside our homes every day or just stay inside?  I think we should adjust to reality, even though it stinks. We don’t have a better choice. We need lightweight materials like the ones workers use for safety.  Although I can’t name them, I see them in pictures.  How expensive are they, and how long do they last?  I don’t know the answers, but I think we should look into them and find out.

I think we already need lightweight materials like the ones workers use for safety?  Although I can’t name them, I have seen them in pictures. How expensive are they, and how long will they last?  I don’t know the answers, but I think we should look for them and find out.

Clearly I am not an expert, but I believe there are good things we can buy for reasonable prices and use well.  Please let me know if you think I’m wrong.

Many smart people have good ideas about the things I mentioned. It looks like the virus is here to stay and so are we.  Our experts should be looking into the affordable things we need, and also making them available. Since the virus will be here for a long time, we must make sure that we and our children will also be safe forever.

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Schools Need More Vigor Than Rigor

Although my years in the classroom are long past, I am still a cranky English teacher who bristles at some of the words that have crept into our language. I never tack “ly” onto number words, or say “myself” when I mean “me.” I won’t use “access” or “impact” as verbs because I consider them to be only nouns. I remain quiet when others commit grammatical transgressions.  But there is one word I dislike intensely when it’s used in connection with education, and that word is “rigor”.

One part of my reaction to the word “rigor” is emotional, because I often hear it paired with “mortis’. The other part is logical, stemming from the  meanings of rigor, harshness, severity, strictness and inflexibility.  None of those things are what I want for students, and although I cant believe  politicians, scholars and media commentators really want them either,  I still reproach them for using  wrong words and concepts to characterize education excellence.

Rigor has been used recently to promote the idea that American students need advanced courses, complex texts, and longer school days in order to be ready for college. But so far, rigorous practices under the federal “No Child Left Behind” act”, the “Common Core Standards”, and the school reform plans havent raised test scores or improved the graduation rates.

Since I think it’s time for a better word and concept to drive American education, I recommend “vigor”, which my dictionary says means physical force, healthy growth, or greater energy. And my mental association is to the Latin-based words related to life. How much better our schools would be if they had classroom activities throbbing with energy and growth

Although schools have walls, there should be no separation of students from vigorous learning. To learn they need experience with knowledge from multiple sources rather than just textbooks, but they also need to talk with people of different ages and backgrounds, learn traditional school skills, and taste the skills of farmers, craftsmen, athletes, and business managers.

Instead of aiming for higher test scores, schools should give more attention to what students have been taught. All grade level schools should encourage students to demonstrate their learning, which is serving meals in school lunchrooms, checking out books in the school library, organizing playground games, making items to sell in stores, planting vegetables in school gardens, painting murals in school halls, or adopting a nearby road. Schools should also encourage students to write poetry, post political cartoons,  and work with adults on community projects.

As a result of the vigor those activities represent, there will come intellectual intensity, precision, alertness, expertise and integrity that the critics of education call for. Those habits of mind, body, and spirit are the true heart of education excellence. When education has ben well taught, it also becomes the hart of life, while rigor remains to be the sign of early death.


How Should We Deal With the Virus Now?

When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was to turn on the television and watch people in bathingsuits head toward the beach. Most of them looked like they were having fun, but others with masks over there faces seemed to be wandering without any goal.

Later I watched people outside my home and many seemed confident that the virus was no longer dangerous. Most of them were not wearing masks anymore, but I’m with people who choose safety over freedom.

The only information we get about the virus comes from television and I find it very helpful.  If I have learned anything about the coronavirus pandemic it’s that we should pay attention to scientists and follow there suggestions. But because television has many different speakers I’m not sure who to follow. We need good advice about when and where it’s safe to be outside.  If any of you can suggest good speakers, I wan’t to hear abought them. I have already heard and seen too much foolishness and its bad results

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My Complaints Today

Today I would like to get your opinions on an important matter.  Most of us here at the Watermark are growing old, but we are still healthy.  We can walk, talk, behave and even help our friends when they need us. But right now we have a serous problem.

For many weeks we have ben confined inside our apartments were we are not exposed to the virus that has killed many people.  So far, I5 people living here have died, and as a result our managers set strong rules that will keep the rest of us safe.

Although we understand and respect those rules we are not happy being confined inside our apartments.  Although we can eat our meals and receve all the important items sent to us,  we can’t  mix with other people. As the result, I now look bad, make mistakes everyday, and forget to do the things I should be doing, like taking my health pills on time. Before I was confined in my apartment I was able to do my daily tasks, spell words correctly, and remember where to put my clothes. But know every day is difficult for me and everyone else living in there apartments.  Although I have not ben destroyed by my mistakes,  I have ben strongly irritated by them.  My fears are not abought what is happening know, but abought what we will be able to do once we are free again.

Please don’t pity me know, I will survive. Just suggest things I could do to feel better.

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Teaching Children at Home

Many years ago I was a teacher in a public school where students were placed in groups because they had different abilities. But now teaching children by telephones has become necessary in many places because it is dangerous for them to go outside to school. Keeping students at home may be good for there health, but does it help there learning?

Yesterday, when I met a teacher friend she praised the current practice of teaching students at home because it isn’t dangerous, but walking to school is. That new way of teaching keeps students together, but it also means that there different abilities are not considered.

When I was a teacher we separated students into ability groups for reading because it  helped them to learn well. Moving a child from one group to another as needed was common in schools back then, and it didn’t bother children or their parents.

So how should reading be taught now when children are at home and teachers are in school unable to teach different lessons at the same time?  Just remember that now is a hard time for teachers, but a blessing for kids and there parents. In the future there will be more hard work and safety for every one once more.

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