Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Sick Day

I'm home sick today, hoping that one good day of rest will stave off the bronchitis or laryngitis that I've seen develop in colleagues from this same nasty bug. I'm getting impatient for a return of energy, but I did manage to feed the washing machine today, knit a bit, and even walk up to the mailbox. Still, in between coughing, I'm napping for surprisingly long and frequent periods.

Enough of the boring health report, though. Instead, a few odds and ends.
1. On the weekend, I finished reading Judith Williams' Clam Gardens: Aboriginal Mariculture on Canada's West Coast. It's a fascinating account of the inability of white observers to accept the evidence that First Nations people have "farmed" clams for perhaps thousands of years. Even after researcher Dr. John Harper documented kilometres of rock walls that had been built up over centuries to enhance clam growth, bureaucrats and other academics alike were very slow to acknowledge this manifestation of pre-contact mariculture. Language differences, cultural barriers, and perhaps most importantly, political interests favoured looking the other way for the several days a year that tides are low enough for these walls to be recognized for what they are. One of the themes I structure my West Coast Literature course around is the notion of mapping, and this case is an exemplary one for its evidence that we don't see (and thus record) what we don't know to look for OR what we're not motivated to look for.

2. I saw an Anna's hummingbird today pausing briefly at the blossoms of my Arbutus uneda. We're so fortunate here to have these brilliant little birds stay over the winter, but I don't often spot them in these colder months.

3. The photo above shows the progress I've made on my latest Tulip Cardigan. It also testifies to why one shouldn't knit when brain-impaired due to a cold: I puzzled about why the body was so much shorter than the pattern suggested it should be by the time I got to the end of the stripe sequence, but shrugged and simply added more rows of the seed-stitch hem. Only when I was casting off the sleeve hem today did I get that flash of memory (from the last time I knit this very pattern) -- I was supposed to repeat the stripe sequence until I got to the desired length. A better person than I would undoubtedly have frogged the i-cord edging, the seed-stitch trim before that, and then added at least another two colours to body and sleeves both. But I really, really want to cross this one off my list, so I'm counting on that extra hem length and on blocking the heck out of it. As long as it will fit 'round the baby, mom can think of it as a cropped sweater, no? Actually, I don't think there will be too much discrepancy, and you won't tell, will you?

4. And finally, this little tidbit that I'd copied into a potential post weeks ago and then left dormant. It's from Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill's Discussion as a way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms which I've gradually been working my way through. I like it because it succinctly articulates my efforts to destabilize, really, students' positions. Perhaps the opposite of what many of them think that I should be doing -- they'd like me to be delivering units of authoritative, reassuring information, intellectual capital for their banks, deposits in the c.v. Instead, I hope, with Brookfield and Preskill, that:
Being exposed to different perspectives helps students develop a general tentativeness toward their own (and others') intellectual claims. They come to realize that there is rarely a single, unassailable interpretation of an issue or problem but rather a range of sustainable views, each of which may hold a legitimate claim on at least some participants. This is not to say that all interpretations are equally valid. It is only to aver that coming to hold a relatively secure opinion that may be effectively defended against other views usually results from hearing out and analyzing the diversity of viable perspectives that are available in the whole group. (22-23 coloured emphasis is mine)
Note that the approach doesn't aim to leave the students destabilized but instead wants their "relatively secure opinions" to be arrived at after "analyzing [a] diversity of viable perspectives."

5. And finally, something that might make you laugh given my occasional pretensions at knowing anything at all about style: I'm going to throw my knee-length down parka on over my pjs, jam a hat over my bad-hair-day hair, put on whatever boots are by the door, and try a little bit of a walk with the dog. One of the beauties of this island is that I won't even raise an eyebrow on anyone who sees me.


  1. Isn't it nice to have a dog. They don't care what you wear in public when they're with you. They're also a good excuse to get out for some fresh air even if you're not feeling up to it. Hope you off day
    has helped you feel better

  2. True, Hilary, so different from kids, who are ready to be embarrassed by parents at the drop of a hat (or they want us to drop the embarrassing hat?!)

  3. A better person? Oh please -- it's a pretty little cropped sweater. And you added special design features.

    I hope you are on the road to recovery. Take care and feel better.

  4. Thanks, Wendy, Deja, and Gina. I am starting to feel better.

  5. Ditto the "get well soon"
    As regards education, I spend my whole life trying to get students to understand that there is no wrong or right in Art,It is all a matter of personal interpretation. So much assesment is subjective, It is much more important to learn HOW to aquire knowledge than to just be given the knowledge. That is why I hate the English education system its all about targets and grades, the child gets lost in a sea of figures and paperwork, its like trying to measure a piece of string, pointless.

  6. Alison: We're absolutely on the same page here!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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