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Years ago, a fellow English department member told me each time she walked past my room and heard me leading a discussion, she wished she could teach the way I do. I was flattered, of course, but also surprised. I had been secretly admiring her quiet, reassuring manner and well-ordered curriculum. Fortunately, neither of us was told we had no choice but to emulate the other.
The phrase “best practice” is analogous to “one sizes fits all.” The truth is that all of us have different attributes and liabilities, and whether we are choosing a new bathing suit or developing a lesson plan, we want to accentuate the positive.
No one doubts that students have different learning styles. Why not apply the same reasoning to successful teaching? Ted Kolderie’s Aug. 10 Opinion Exchange article makes a persuasive case for a multifaceted approach to addressing the performance gap that includes teacher creativity and experimentation. I suggest while this is underway, administrators develop a nuanced method of teacher evaluation that recognizes successful instruction’s salient characteristics. Welcoming experimentation will accomplish nothing if when it succeeds it is assessed with an extra-small “one size fits all” evaluation tool.
Stephen Harlan-Marks, Robbinsdale
A pretty tough thing to fix with counseling
The Star Tribune is to be applauded for its article on the difficult issue of soldiers suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder called “moral injury,” brought on by serving in war (“War’s badge of pain,” Aug. 10). Despite the U.S. military’s constant drilling that soldiers are fighting an inhumane “enemy,” many combatants have irreconcilable doubts about why and who they are fighting.
While the article stresses that the military acknowledges the anguish that moral injury inflicts on many soldiers, it tries to rationalize their conscionable guilt as just being part of war.
A slightly broader definition of “moral injury” is offered by others, including Gregg Brekke in an April 2014 Sojourners magazine article (“Wounded Souls”): “A soldier’s overwhelming sense of shame and guilt associated with military actions perpetrated or observed on the local population” (e.g., killing civilians, destroying much of the country).
It is this larger moral doubt regarding the overall purpose of a U.S. military invasion — and all the death and destruction that comes with it — that is not so easily mitigated through counseling.
Bill Adamski, Minneapolis
A July 27 letter faulted Star Tribune columnist Dennis Anderson for failing to obey restrictions regarding the size of groups in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Anderson replies that his two-canoe, four-person group and another two-canoe, six-person group mentioned in his July 20 column entered the wilderness separately on separate permits. They portaged and paddled at different times, per area rules, and fished reasonably apart from one another.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.