Friday, June 09, 2006

History of Washington

Whew! Blogger's been down for such a long time. It felt really strange not to blog for five days. Over the course of the last few months I have definitely gotten used to doing a little writing every few days.

Here at school we are all trying to wrap our minds around the new curriculum we are supposed to teach in 7th grade next year. The state has decreed that we must radically change our focus, so we are trying to become experts in our new areas of study. Instead of modern geography of Washington State and Asia (I know, odd pairing, go figure) with a little history, we are now supposed to teach the history of the world from 600-1600 plus Washington history to the present. Oh yes, and we are not supposed to include North American history EXCEPT for Washington. We have given up trying to understand their logic. We find it is easier just to nod and smile because complaints get you exactly no where.

As if all this were not enough, we recently discovered that the district miscalculated a little when it built the most recent school, and we are now in a major budget crunch. The end result is budget cuts across the board and that means most of our planning time has disappeared. We are now supposed to plan a year's worth of new curriculum in, get this, THREE HOURS! In reality it will take dozens upon dozens of hours to get the job done, so we will just have to do the work for free. Fortunately teachers are used to doing lots of unpaid overtime, so it won't be that much of a shock. We're not trying to play the martyrs here; that is simply the way things are.

But I digress. The point I was trying to reach before I got off on my little pity party was a really good book. I have this silly belief that teachers should be experts in the areas they are teaching, so I've been looking around for books to help us "bone up" (insert rude joke here if you like) on the subjects. In my searching I came across The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History by Carlos Arnoldo Schwantes. This is a book I read for a college class and it really is a great way to become familiar with local history. Suddenly all the street names have meaning, and you can understand why the I-90 is built that way. It also recounts the story of the native peoples, the history of nuclear energy in our area, and the forest policy that is still used in the state forests. In short, if you want to understand the region, this book is a very good choice. Of course it is over 400 pages long, but we're all grown ups who can handle that right? Well, maybe not R, who claims he can't read, but certainly everyone else ;)

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