Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Becoming a better teacher: November 8, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
First off, beware of the cactus fruit! I don't know if they're the same as Fichi d'India, but the ones here are filled with seeds and would have to be mixed with something to be edible (though perhaps it's only my taste).
For the recipe for Cincinnati Chili with lentils instead of meat, you can buy dried lentils (here in Italy) at the supermarket. They're really cheap - I actually bought a kilo for 99 cents today (about 50 American cents a pound). They're a dried legume, and they store forever. To cook them (how I did), you take them out and let them soak for a few hours (or overnight). Then you change the water and boil them for a while. Then I blended them all up. Here in Italy they have these little hand-blenders - it's a long stick-like object with a blade at the end that spins. Then I added all the other ingredients - chopped onions (2?), and all the spices. I didn't keep perfect track, since it was without the original recipe. It made a lot more than 2 pounds of meat would have. The only concern is that you have to make sure that it is liquid enough - there is no oil in it at all! Remember making it with 90% lean beef? This has no oil whatsoever... I think once I added olive oil because I was afraid the other missionaries would complain. Just add equivalent portions of the ingredients until it tastes right, and then maybe a little more. The lentils somehow absorb the flavors more than meat does. If there isn't enough juice it is a bit dry (that's a really profound observation); the flavor is really good, though. I just started with lentils in the place of meat and then added spices when I realized that my pot was full (literally) of lentils. I remember hearing that 1 kilo turns into 4 or 5 when cooked (that's a change from 80% ground beef - that goes from a kilo to .8 when cooked. You may end up with 5 or 6 times as much from the same dry weight...) Good luck! I used lentils because they were the cheapest and easiest to cook (dried beans take longer) and they had the right color (almost). If there is an alternative that is closer in flavor, let me know!
This week I've been trying to determine how to be a better teacher. It began with concern for my companion (that is struggling with the language a bit) and also wanting to know how to improve in his regards. So, I've been trying to determine the needs of teaching and the best way to teach (whether it be a language or any other thing). What I got was an exploded mind, filled with ideas about objective evaluation, coginitive instruction, and creative development. I think I may do some serious thinking when I find the time (never)... about the teaching method and how to better teach and evaluate students' progress. I did learn/realize something very interesting this morning studying; The Lord will judge us all individually, but He will judge us from a perfectly objective point of view (translation for objective: He will not bend the rules nor enforce them beyond their bounds - He is not partial in any way). He does not judge us subjectively. And if the Lord does not judge us subjectively, what right do we have to judge others subjectively? Sorry, but I may use some big words (those were the ones that fit in my head). We are taught many different types of knowledge here on the Earth - cognitive knowledge (1+1=2, the sky is blue because...), moral knowledge (another deeper topic), and then each have creative abilities and talents that, based upon the development of cognitive skills, we are more or less able to use to express ourselves. For example: When I take a creative writing class, I not only place myself in an environment where I can create without subjective evaluation, but I also learn the cognitive skills required to better express my creativity. Example: I learn grammar. I also learn how grammar affects the reader's attitude in writing. Good grammar and poor grammar have different effects, and because I have a knowledge of them, I can now choose for myself according to my creativity whichever fits. Before, when I did not understand grammar (or any other cognitive principle used in creative expression), I was constrained to use unrefined skills to create my masterpieces. In a gospel setting, this is much of what missionary work is - teaching the cognitive skills of determining right and wrong, and then letting people actually create their lives instead of being constrained by their surroundings. It's incredible - this is why the truth makes you free! - because it gives you the opportunity to choose and know the consequences!
For those of you who didn't want to read the above paragraph, hopefully this one will be better. I also realized the importance of having goals in educational settings. Every task in life requires certain knowledge, whether it uses only cognitive understanding or a mix of creativity and cognition. Example: Praying in Italian requires a simple knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Learning the individual skills without seeing the end becomes quickly tedious (has anyone ever taken a math class where you seem to learn something absolutely worthless?), whereas learning with a goal in mind from the beginning makes it possible for learners to apply cognitive skills even while you explain them. That is why it's so important for missionaries to teach toward their commitments! That is why teachers must always help their students have short-term goals - abilities that they will acquire through the acquisition of knowledge that they prior did not possess. Sorry if I've lost you - it was something that suddenly helped me realize why we teach the way we do, and also the importance of it.
I know this Church is true! I know that Jesus is the Christ, and I know that the Lord's Hand is here, among us. I simply know that if we do our part, the Lord will teach us. He is the master teacher, and He knows our needs and will teach us according to our understanding. I love you all - may we work together in this great work!
Anziano Peterson

No comments:

Post a Comment

Custom Search