Answers and questions

Questions are the raw stuff of education. It behooves us to understand them and how they work. The general assumption is that a question is subordinate to its answer. A question by nature seeks an answer, after all: that’s its point. But the relation is not so simple. The value of a question is not… Continue reading Answers and questions

Learning to Speak in Your Own Voice

Pupil writing at a school in Ghana [Amuzujoe, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

In elementary school, the questions and answers are frequently simple: What is the capital of Washington? Olympia! What kind of triangle is this? Isosceles! What is the sum of 1/3 + 1/5? 8/15! In cases like these, the teacher has provided the answers or the calculation method. Your job is to repeat back what you… Continue reading Learning to Speak in Your Own Voice

Exploring the Unknown

Heart Map Oronce Fine 1534

The Untold Story of Exploration This is a book by Lowell Thomas, published in 1937. Its various chapters outline the stories of explorers who are not the most widely known. One chapter traces the career of Ulrich Schmiedel von Straubing (aka Ulrico Schmidl) who accompanied the Spanish expedition headed by Pedro de Mendoza to South… Continue reading Exploring the Unknown

KFO, Time Traveler

Mosaic depicting Roman hunting party and banquet from Late Roman Villa in Sicily

I have had a recurring fantasy that I am transported through time and space and find myself in what appears to be ancient Rome (or some other town in Roman Italy). My first thought is “How cool is this! I have so much to learn here and I can tell them about world geography, technology,… Continue reading KFO, Time Traveler

In Search of Truth

It is with sincere sorrow that I note the passing of John Polkinghorne, on Tuesday last, March 9.  Many years ago, when I was first putting together the  Scholars Online Natural Science course, I ran across a discussion of the possible relationships of science and religion. The author broke them down into four options: irreconcilable… Continue reading In Search of Truth

Pondering the Past

Harappan site - Wikipedia Commons (

Several years ago, we replaced the roof of our house. Among other improvements and repairs, we rebuilt the red-brick chimney stack, since most of the stack had yielded to moss eating into the mortar, and some of the bricks themselves had chipped into pieces, though the house was only about forty-five years old. Segue to… Continue reading Pondering the Past

Models and Heroes

Our movies and literature are full of heroes these days. They often have superpowers that lift them out of the ordinary mold, and their challenges are equally out of the ordinary, with circumstances or cosmic karma pitting them against world-destroying  cosmic evils. It’s all very exciting, but it isn’t very useful when what I really… Continue reading Models and Heroes