Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

Some thoughts while I'm studying for the English Language Arts portion of my teacher certification exam on Saturday:

First, I need to clarify some concepts, and blogging might be a good way to do it.

Second, I'm worried, because in addition to things I actually don't know in the material, I've come across some really screaming errors, including outright, verifiable errors of fact or premise* as well as contradictions to what the lessons had presented before.  Then (more germane to this essay) there are what I would strongly argue to be errors in interpretation.  The unknown curriculum author will draw a conclusion, or a review question will be posed, and the "correct" answer drives me to say-- no, often to scream-- "That's not what it's saying at all!!  Are you out of your mind!?"  So what am I supposed to do on the test?  Shall I, all sheeplike, reflect the misinterpretations presented in the practice material?  Or shall I answer as I truly think best, trusting that it's better to be hung for a wolf as for a sheep, and the makers of the real exam aren't the same folks who came up with the practice material anyway?

But, I reflect, maybe some of the disagreement is arising because I don't yet understand the principles that underlie some of these questions or their answers.  I'm willing to admit that might be the case.  So, rather than taking notes in my illegible handwriting and being unable to locate the right spot afterwards, I thought I'd do my musing here.  That way I can get my thought processes clear in my own mind, and know where to find my "notes" hereafter.
*One of the first I tripped over was on a review question dealing with Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."  It asked why he used negatives in a certain place-- e.g., "It is no security . . . this is no evidence . . . that the next step will not be into another world."  All four of the multiple choice options were weak, but I picked the one that said something like, "He wants his audience to be afraid."  But nooooo!  The favored answer was that he did it to make people pay closer attention, the answer explanation being that Rev. Edwards used deliberately convoluted language to force "the reader" to "go back" to untangle his line of thought!  Hellsbells, you idiot, this is a sermon we're dealing with.  It was preached!!!  Many times!!!  Orally!  No preacher wants his hearers to get all involved in what he just said such that they don't catch what he's saying now!  Obviously, the quiz maker hasn't the least clue about it.  The correct answer should have been that Edwards, by asserting the negative, is implicitly bringing up the correlative erroneous affirmative, which he wishes to undermine and destroy.  He did it, I do it, all good preachers do it.  You have to disabuse folks of their erroneous assumptions!   Break down those strongholds and bring in the truth instead!
Thank you.  Let us pray.

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