"I think we need to consider the role of teachers in the classroom," she replies in a soft voice. "We are headed toward a teacherless classroom and must be guided by this fact." A teacherless classroom? I look around the table and hope one of the esteemed guests will ask her to clarify or possibly expand upon her statement. Instead, the guests just nod their heads in agreement.
The strange little man interrupts. "I agree. Technology is making the traditional classroom teacher less relevant-possibly obsolete. Soon students will be learning at home from online classes on their laptops." I silently question who will be teaching the online classes.
The Harvard professor tugs at his chin with his right thumb and index finger and compliments the senator. "In the future," he says, "students will be learning at home using their computers. School buildings and classrooms will not be the primary learning environment." Really? Could any sane person envision millions of school children staying home and learning a full curriculum online? I foresee a stay-at-home mom or dad spending most of the day trying to keep their children away from Facebook.
Where do I begin? I spent the last thirty minutes listening to a group of arrogant and condescending non educators disrespect my colleagues and profession. I listened to a group of disingenuous people whose own self-interests guide their policies rather than the interests of children. I listened to a cabal of people who sit on national education committees that will have a profound impact on classroom teaching practices. And I heard nothing of value.
"I'm thinking about the current health care debate, "I said. "And I am wondering if I will be asked to sit on a national committee charged with the task of creating a core curriculum of medical procedures to be used in hospital emergency rooms."
The strange little man cocks his head and, suddenly, the fly on the wall has everyone's attention.
"I realize that most people would think I am unqualified to sit on such a committee because I am not a doctor, I have never worked in an emergency room, and I have never treated a single patient. So what? Today I have listened to people who are not teachers, have never worked in a classroom, and have never taught a single student tell me how to teach."
An uneasy silence cloaks the table. The governor from the South looks at his watch, the governor from the North bows his head, the governor from the Midwest stirs his coffee, the diminutive senator stares at me, and the strange little man grabs another strawberry. One by one the lunch guests leave the table.
I return to being a fly on a wall at a table.
I wonder how many other teachers have been treated in such a manner.
The Pyrenean ibex, a form of wild mountain goat, was officially declared extinct in 2000 when the last-known animal of its kind was found dead in northern Spain.
Shortly before its death, scientists preserved skin samples of the goat, a subspecies of the Spanish ibex that live in mountain ranges across the country, in liquid nitrogen.
Using DNA taken from these skin samples, the scientists were able to replace the genetic material in eggs from domestic goats, to clone a female Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo as they are known. It is the first time an extinct animal has been cloned.
Sadly, the newborn ibex kid died shortly after birth due to physical defects in its lungs. Other cloned animals, including sheep, have been born with similar lung defects.
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