The daily musings of a substitute teacher in East Central Illinois.

Personal Education

Today I was without work, again. I am not actually shocked by this. If anything, I am shocked how often I have had work over the past couple of months, and I am incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities to substitute for other teachers.

So, what did I do today? I tried to sleep in, in a vain attempt to regain the sleep I lost over the weekend. Unfortunately, my internal body clock decided that 7 am was late enough, and so I didn’t really sleep in (unless you consider an extra half hour to qualify–I don’t). When I finally realised that I would have to get up, I took some time to update personal financial information on the computer (something that is not particularly exciting but quite useful to track) and did laundry. I also cleaned up parts of the kitchen and straightened the living room.

In the latter part of the morning I watched a movie with my wife. Today’s feature was “The Cutting Edge” which is probably one of my favourite sports-themed movies of all time. I also caught up on blogs and did some reading.

This last bit was what I want to focus on today. I make no secret of my passion for reading. Since at least the fourth grade, I have been that guy who is not only always in the middle of a book, I am also the guy who is always carrying his book around with him. I had been reading a lot of fiction lately and decided to delve into some nonfiction for a change. After reading a very interesting anthology on pedagogical skills and methods, I started “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies” by Jared Diamond. I had never heard of him before, which is kind of ironic, as it turns out that the book I had grabbed off of my shelf as a potential read was “The Third Chimpanzee”, another one of his books that a friend had recently bequeathed to me. “Guns, Germs, and Steel” attempts to answer one of the great questions of modern society: why was it that Europeans conquered the Americas and not the other way around?

Even though I am still in the early part of this book, I am learning a lot and enjoying the writing style of Dr. Diamond. I am particularly impressed by his skill at taking a collection of (what I think of as) incredibly dull dry topics (such as ethnogeography, archaeology, radiocarbon dating, and evolutionary geography) and make them vibrant and interesting to the layperson. I am glad I decided to engage with nonfiction for a while. Even though it is taking me longer to read, I am learning and I am enjoying the mental challenge of adjusting my view of the world with this new information. Also, I am inspired by Dr. Diamond’s attempt to make something interesting, no matter how non-interesting it may seem. This is an important skill for all educators, and one that I hope to develop as I progress as a teacher.

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