Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Heart Failure and an Education.

'Tis a new day! Sorry to have left you all for a while but I had a heart failure last week resulting in a Pulmonary Edema. Basically what that means is that the heart got fluid in it and could not pump efficiently which resulted in the lungs filling up with fluids. Without oxygen we humans don't do too well. That is the short version and I'm sticking to it. Besides I don't remember the long version--they put me out.

I spent several days in the hospital and was suitably impressed with all the technology that they had at hand--much of which they stuck into me, including directly into the heart. Amazing stuff. But I was also very interested in the levels of nursing staff, from student interns to the RNs. "Where did you get your training?" "Why did you want to become a nurse?" It is hard to keep an old professor down somedays. But I am home once again with my cat sleeping next to me on my desk near my computer. One thing that I noticed during the past several days at the hospital was the degree of concern that nurses have for the patients. I sense the same characteristics that I find in teachers. One career has a NEED to take care of another individual--they have to do it. While the other career has a NEED to teach another individual. Again, they have to do it. I wish I could figure out a way to describe this need and how to measure it. I hope some of you can help me out here.

But this is truly a blog about teachers and teaching. While I've been incapacitated much has happened. It appears the present day White House administration is going to resend the "No Child Left Behind" policy. Yes! I have been against this policy since its inception. I've never understood the reasoning behind this educational policy--it never made sense to me. But in the hospital I started reading Professor Diane Ravitch's The Death And Life of the Great American School system. How testing and choice are undermining education. (an aside: I am very much in love with my Kindle--what a work of art in technology. More about this in another blog) Perhaps I will finally understand what the intent of that educational policy was about. I already know why it didn't work. If you haven't already read Linda Perlstein's Tested. One American school struggles to make the grade. This is an excellent book from a non-educator who looked at what the "No Child Left Behind" policy achieved in one school. Very well done and very well written. Perlstein was my answer to Ravitch's early position on testing.

I haven't heard yet what the present day White House will suggest as a policy for the future. Maybe they have already announced it but I haven't come across it as yet. Perhaps some of you can help me out. But the dismantling of the old federal policy is great news. I am overjoyed.

More good news. I read that the Bill Gates foundation has surveyed 40,000 teachers to ascertain what they think we should do to improve education. If you have been a constant reader of this blog you will know that I have been totally frustrated in understanding why if there is a banking problem we ask all the top leaders from banks to join in on the solution. If there is a medical crises we have the medical professionals from nurses to doctors to pharmacies suggest some answers. But when there appears to be an educational conundrum we bring in business executives, religious leaders and politicians to suggest changes in education. Very baffling to me. But it appears that the Gates foundation has surveyed a number of teachers as to what do they think. I am so delighted. As soon as I find out what some of the data to that survey reveal I will attempt to share them with you.

My heart runneth over with the good news. Maybe it's the latest medication that I have to take but in any event, I am happy for a change.

One of the things that I noticed in the hospital was that all of the building is designed to facilitate the care of the patient. Doors are wide, lighting is designed not to get into the eyes of the patient but to assist the nurse or doctor, beds that inflate to help you roll over--the list is endless. And as I lay there in my hospital bed I wondered what it would be to teach in a school designed for learners. You will hear about this from me in the future.

A slight twist in my closing. Many, many thanks to all the doctors, nurses and staff that took care of me during the past several days. I am deeply indebted to you all. And especially to Jennifer, my student nurse. We both learned a lot, didn't we?


  1. Thank goodness you're okay! It doesn't surprise me that you were distracting the medical staff with questions. I look forward to your reflections... but take time for your recuperation.

  2. Les - I enjoyed your posting today, so glad you are feeling better and back at home. I appreciated your thoughts on NEED with teachers and nurses. Have you read Ruskin's "Unto This Last?" In it he talks about the 5 great professions, and how each has the one thing they would die for. "For truly, one who does not know when to die, does not know how to live." I would argue your comment is about Nurses and Teachers knowing what their one conviction is - the one thing they would sacrifice all to do. To teach, to heal, etc.

    Anyway, just my thoughts =)

    Josh (off cascadia)

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