Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Topic: Homework

10-second review: Horror story about the editor’s experience of not completing his homework and at the mercy of two nuns—his teacher and his principal.

Title: “From the Editor.” Ken Lindblom. English Journal (November 2008), 11-13. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Nuns, who appeared to be monsters to the writer, threaten to call his parents for not completing his homework—Catholic parents who hit you harder at home when you were hit by the nun at school

Comment: First, I’m a big believer in spending time in class having students start their homework. If the homework has a purpose (???) and is challenging (???), the students have the opportunity to ask questions and to clarify the directions. Once started, students are more likely to finish. Especially important, is helping students plan long-term projects like research papers.

Second, I’m becoming tired of Catholics retelling horror stories about their experiences with unfeeling nuns and their iron discipline. I spent eight years in a Catholic elementary school and the nuns who taught me were people who were skilled teachers, with a desire for their students to learn under conditions (40+ children per class) that were difficult.

The nun I feared most in the fourth grade was both kind and helpful when dealing with me individually. She taught us our math facts so well that today I can add, subtract, multiply and divide more quickly than most people. She also read books aloud to us and we sat on the edge of our seats while she did so. We used to beg her to keep reading—which she almost never did, because she had other things to teach us. Her name was Sister Mary Rupert, and I will never forget her.

Until sixth grade, I never had any confidence in myself and then Sister Mary George gave me that confidence. She was an excellent teacher who made her lessons interesting, and she helped me learn how to be responsible by making me an altar boy, an honor at that time. I will never forget her either.

I will never forget all of the wonderful, respectful women who were nuns in grades 1 through 8, and gave me the foundation that made me as successful as I could be. RayS.

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