The Touchstone

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The Touchstone

Richard Mitchley Narrator. Douglas is not the sort of boy to panic--until he meets a native of the planet Vanghar, whose arm has dropped off. Kai is being hunted by the Guardians of the Federation, and needs Douglas's help. But Douglas doesn't exactly know what to do with an armless, fugitive alien. That is, until he sees the Touchstone Get A Copy.

The Touchstone

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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 08, Edoardo Albert rated it it was amazing. Go on ask me a question. Any question. You know you want to. It can be anything, anything at all, and I'll tell you the answer. Which stocks to buy, who will win the league, how to build a destructor death ray shooting pink plasm. All you have to do is ask, and I'll tell you the answer. I reckon I'd like to be able to do that - but then, I'm the sort of person who likes quizzes.

My dream job would be as the Chaser on The Chase which, if you don't know it, is a daytime quiz programme where a team Go on ask me a question. My dream job would be as the Chaser on The Chase which, if you don't know it, is a daytime quiz programme where a team of four attempt to escape the Chaser, a professional quizzer, as the Chaser hunts them down: each time the contestants get a question wrong and the Chaser gets it right, he draws closer.

Sadly, I don't even know enough to be the Chaser, let alone the Touchstone. Because the Touchstone really can answer any question you ask it.

Any question at all. Including the one about how to make a destructor death ray shooting pink plasma. So, perhaps not the sort of thing you want to give to just anyone. Quite right. But, the question is, who should you give it to? The Guardians?

The Touchstone - Wikipedia

They are, in fact, the Guardians of the Galaxy, only this version does not feature talking raccoons and ambulant trees but rather a somewhat ruffled civil servant. Now, this is the first of Andrew Norriss's books where I don't think I agree with the answer. I'm not sure any institution could guard such knowledge since the knowledge would, in the end, corrupt the institution, leading the, in this case, Guardians, to see themselves as more important than that which they're guarding, ie.

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It's what happens to institutional bureaucracies over time. I'd much rather have Douglas, our year-old hero, in charge of the Touchstone than the Guardians. I sort of think I'd even prefer the gung ho adventuress who gives him the Touchstone to have it. But then, there is one question that will answer with surety what your attitude to the Touchstone would be, and it's the same question that was posed to Achilles: to have a long and happy life, or a short and glorious one. When I was fourteen, I posed that question to my classmates and, to my surprise, received a unanimous reply: long and happy.

I was the only one, at the time, who wanted glory and fame. I suspect that was because, to that point, I'd never really been unhappy, and, when you're 14, the prospect of dying at 28 seems just as dim and distant as dying at The Touchstone is for those who want a long and happy life and, as I've got older, I have come to appreciate that much, much more.

But, in our increasingly safety conscious world, I fear we lose something by giving no avenue for the young glory hunter: in previous ages he could sail off to strange lands, now there's no such opportunity.

About The Touchstone

Throw it into the sea. Pick up the next pebble. He never gave up. He kept trying until one day—a rather ordinary day—he picked up a pebble, and it was warm. Then, out of habit, he threw it into the sea. What does this story have to do with teaching mathematics?

In this time of pacing guides, implementation of new rigorous standards, high-stakes assessments, and teacher evaluation protocols, it is easy to become overwhelmed by routines over which we have no control and to lose focus on the touchstones—the students whom we teach. We prepare lessons.

We attend meetings. We read articles. We might participate in a study group or another professional growth activity.

The Touchstone

All of these activities are important to being prepared to teach mathematics. However, if we lose sight of the significance of our daily instructional practices and the impact that they have on the accomplishments of each student, these habits serve little purpose. Like the young man in the story, we can become so wrapped up in our day-to-day routines that we forget what our focus must be. We cannot become complacent about helping our students develop a deep understanding of the mathematics that they are learning.

It is easy to fall into the habit of teaching—to go through the motions of teaching without thought.