October 10th, 2014

What Is Learning?

The principal at one of my children's schools sends out a little newsletter once a week via email, talking about what the various grades have been doing. It's a nice thing. I hope he continues. However, I do have one observation to make about what he had to say about my son's grade's activities:

"Also, the crayfish have arrived. While we haven’t actually
begun learning about the crayfish, we have been enjoying watching them in
their new habitat in each classroom."

In case you're having difficulty spotting my Issue, I'll point it out. The crayfish are in the classroom. The children are watching the crayfish in their habitat in the classroom. Yet the presumption is (probably because the unit or units on the crayfish have not officially begun) "we haven't actually begun learning about the crayfish".

Oh, but they have. And in the best possible way. As principal of an elementary school, it's a little sad that he either can't communicate that clearly ("what I meant was") -- or worse, hasn't grasped that ("But they really haven't learned until it has been explained to them!"). I don't know which is the problem. I sure hope it is the former, but I fear it is the latter.

_The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword_, Jack Campbell

Mixed reviews for this so far over on Amazon, but not very many.

I guess the first thing I would say is, don't start with this book. The first series was _The Lost Fleet_, and then there was _The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier_, and then there is _The Lost Stars_, and this is by no means the first entry in that series. This series is told from the point of view (mostly) of ex-Syndics now forming the independent system at Midway (maybe soon to be rebranded "Phoenix"). A few of the events in this book were mentioned from the perspective of Geary in one of the other series (please don't pin me down on this). There is at least one error in this book, in which Drakon is meant and Geary is named. Oops!

Some communications loops are finally closed in this book: Gwen finds out about Morgan and Malin's relationship and what happened between Morgan and Drakon to cause Morgan to be On the Outs. This is actually really good. I don't like it when people who are supposed to be working together closely don't communicate important stuff and it causes problems. I think people who are supposed to be working together closely should communicate important stuff and have _that_ cause problems. Better story telling all around.

Because someone goes missing (presumably permanently, but given the person she is based on, I wouldn't bet too much on it, any more than Drakon is willing to) in the battles at Ulindi, Drakon needs a new assistant and he picks one out -- at Ulindi, natch. Maybe that's her on the cover of the book?

Gwen gets a real Eva Peron moment, which is kinda cool. And Togo disappears. So _that's_ interesting.

Lots of nice moments, a clear depiction of how Drakon and Iceni's moral cores are fighting through lifetimes of conditioning to try to figure out how to find security for themselves and others. Very much a series entry, however.