Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Minor Musing About The Survival Of The Letter C

I have been worried about the letter C for the past few years. It has all but disappeared from my grade book. The letters A, B, and D now fight to dominate. Many students now fear C in the same way they fear F. Coincidentally, those students who do not fear F seem quite fond of C, but they are a distinct minority.

A few weeks ago, I made a journey into the prepper wing of the internet. It's filled with interesting folks. I plan to go back to visit a few times this summer. While there, I discovered that the letter C has made a stand to help humans survive. Dave Canterbury who operates the Pathfinder Store and School uses the letter C to indicate the 10 elements he deems necessary for survival: cutting tool, combustion, cover, container, cordage, candle, cotton, compass, cargo tape, and canvas needle. I was reassured. If the letter C can help humans survive; it should be able to survive as well.

A couple of days ago, I found that the letter C has apparently branched out. Lifehacker.com had a post that indicated that there are 7 Cs for effective communication: Clear, Concise, Concrete, Correct, Coherent, Complete, and Courteous. I try to practice these in each post. Like Animal Farm's Boxer, I will work harder.

Yesterday, I discovered that C is not only surviving and communicating; it's taking a new role in the classroom. I sat through an in-service about the new American Literature textbook that we will start using. The presenter, an earnest young woman, took 6 Cs from William McBride, Ph.D to explain to us how to engage our students: Choice, Connection, Connection, Challenge/Competition, Communication, and Commotion. I will note that my favorite educational Cs, Content and Curiosity, are absent from this list, and I would prefer Context be separate from Connection. We live in the Common Core era, however, and I am undoubtedly a dinosaur headed for extinction.

It's good to see that C has found a career beyond the grade book. Ironically, it's as an alliterative mnemonic tool at a time when many such tools seem to have fallen out of fashion. Even more ironically, C is being used creatively at a time when conformity seems to be de rigueur. Over the next few years, I hope I'll be able to adapt as well as the letter C has. If I can't, I hope I can remember Canterbury's 10 Cs of survival. I may need them.

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