February 2016

4 articles in February 2016

“I have no clue what I did with my glasses.”
That is what my friend, Hank, told me as he began his story. Hank and his family had just watched the Patriots lose their last game of the season. At first I didn’t see how a little absent mindedness could bother anyone. However, when I saw how upset and nervous he was, I had to listen to the rest of his tale.

“For the past decade or so I have always put my glasses on the end table, by my chair in the living room. It is a habit I have and I do it without thinking. Then, one morning I reached for my glasses and they weren’t there. I spent the entire day looking for them and wondering what could have happened to them.”

It was obvious he was not bothered by the loss of his glasses but was stressed by the fact that his glasses had seemingly disappeared. He told me he asked his wife, Stacey, if she could think of anywhere his glasses might be and she told him what he already knew. Wives are very good at stating the obvious!

As he told me his story I began to wonder where lost things go. I have also lost many items and have no idea where they went. I lost a pair of sunglasses last year. They disappeared out of the small drawer by the door that opened into our garage.

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Webster defines experience as being: “The actual living through an event or events, the skill or knowledge gained by actually doing a thing and something that one has actually done or lived through.’

The Portsmouth Herald published a column on February 3, 2016, entitled, “Portsmouth schools to incent teacher retirements. To quote the article: “ The City Council unanimously approved a proposal by the School Board to offer teachers a retirement incentive package this year.” The City Manager explains the purpose for the incentive is to achieve savings without compromising education.

Does he really believe this? Do people who are responsible for the education for the children of their community think experience has no value? City Manager Bohenko adds: “The savings would be achieved by replacing employees at the top of the pay scale with new employees who would be paid at a lower rate.”

I wonder if he understands that the purpose of a pay scale is to provide incentive for teachers to stay at the school. It is important to have teachers understand how to work with young men and women. The art of teaching can’t come from taking classes and earning high degrees in a graduate school setting.

The University of New Hampshire has an interesting concept. There is no undergraduate education degree program. Students earn a degree in a specific discipline during their under-graduate career. I agree with this concept. Then they take an advanced program at the university to earn their master’s degree in education.

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Not long ago everyone was excited about Disney’s new movie “Tomorrowland”. The movie concerned bright, optimistic teens bursting with scientific curiosity.

It also centered on other children jaded by disillusionment about what they thought the world should be. This basically defines what my classroom has been like for the past three decades. I am retiring this year with the knowledge I did the best I could do to astonish my students about the wonders of science. I tell them science is not magic but magic is definitely science.

For my entire career I’ve taught young adults. These were usually juniors or seniors getting ready for their futures. I sometimes wish I had my shot at younger students who were just discovering how much fun learning can and should be.

Working at a school that contains students from 6th grade to their senior year, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many classrooms demonstrating my passion for science and how they could easily enter into its world. I am especially proud of the times I invite 6th grade students into my chemistry class. I tell them that if they work hard they would one day join the ranks of these motivated and talented young men and women they are working with now. It is interesting that every one of them remember this time when they reach the age they can join my class. Continue Reading →

Ccaroline and Sinead were sitting scrunched up in the cupboard under the stairs. A lighted candle, wobbling on a box, threw more shadows than light around them. On the outside of the door a notice said: WALLACE AND REILLY: DETECTIVES. STAY AWAY.

But Catherine leaned against the door, listening to the muffled voices inside.
“What’s the use of being detectives if we have nothing to detect,” grumbled Sinead. She felt that a week was long enough to be a detective without cases. Caroline sat frowning, thinking it over.
“Well,” she decided at last, “if people won’t bring cases to us to solve, we’ll have to go out and find them ourselves.”

There was another long silence and Catherine grew so tired of waiting that she leaned too heavily against the door and it creaked.
“Go away, Catherine!” called Caroline crossly.

Catherine stepped back a bit and waited. The voices started up again and she leaned closer.
“I heard Mammy talking about that house outside town you know, the one where no one lives – “, Caroline was saying.
“What about it?” asked Sinead, shifting to try to make herself more comfortable and almost knocking the candle off the box. The shadows leaped around the cupboard.
Caroline grabbed the candle and hot wax splashed from it. She yelped and flapped her burning hand.

“Can’t you be more careful? What do you want to go jumping around for?”
“There’s no room,” grumbled Sinead. “I’ve got pins and needles all over me from sitting like this. This is an awful place for an office.”
“Can you get a better place?”
Sinead sighed and rubbed her leg. Continue Reading →