Category Archives: Education

What We Used to Know

bon amiKids today learn very differently from the way they used to learn.

Bon Ami – a cleaning powder that’s been around for a long time has used the logo of a chick with the caption, “Hasn’t scratched yet.” Kids today have no correlation to that motto.

While they have the Internet, standards of learning and smartphones, maybe grandma and grandpa’s education had its own benefits.

Sex education wasn’t taught in school – there was no need. Kids grew up seeing horses, cows and dogs having sex and giving birth. Barn cats, who kept the mice under control had a short life span, but lots of kittens to replace them. Seeing newborn kittens or puppies before their eyes were open was routine, but always exciting.

Similarly, death was a normal part of life. Not all kittens and puppies survived and the older animals eventually died. Grandpa expected to die in his own bed, surrounded by family, then placed in a coffin which was kept in the family parlor for the requisite 3 days. He may have even been buried right there on the family farm.

With no supermarkets, there was no illusion that meat magically grew in plastic wrapped Styrofoam trays. It was understood that the first step in preparing a chicken dish was to kill a chicken. Similarly, if the pig or cow lovingly raised for the state fair received a blue ribbon, it was quickly followed by becoming an entrée.

Knowledge isn’t wisdom and wisdom isn’t knowledge, but there is some sort of association. Maybe learning things that are more down to earth helps to eventually develop wisdom.

If that’s so, today’s kids haven’t scratched yet.

Back to School

Katie

My daughter and I just got back from the store after buying all those things (or at least almost all) that she needs for school.

I’ve gotten used to most of the changes:

The fact that stationery supplies for an 8th grader cost as much as a college credit hour cost me in the 1960s

Getting the list of supplies electronically before school even starts

Daughters need to be wearing the right outfit in order to shop – even for school supplies

What I haven’t gotten used to is that my youngest is headed into 8th grade; her slightly older brother will be driving to school; and that her older-older brother has orders to New England.

These are just kids – MY KIDS, for crying out loud. They’re not supposed to be so grown.

 

Maybe You Can Never Go Back – But You Can Visit

Harry Dinkle  The World's Greatest Band Director Tom Batiuk

Harry Dinkle
The World’s Greatest Band Director
Tom Batiuk

 

 

I recently returned from a trip to Toledo, OH, which is where I grew up. Last Saturday night there was a ceremony to induct people into my high school’s Music Hall of Fame. Yes, we have a Music Hall of Fame.

Back in the day, we had an absolutely awesome marching band and the glee club did top notch musicals along with the orchestra. Being a Catholic school, the uniforms, the instruments and all the accoutrement were supplied through fund raisers managed by the band parents. At least once a year we put on our uniforms without picking up instruments and sold band candy outside local stores, factories, or whatever. The uniforms had an overlay for marching, but could also be worn with white shirt and necktie as a concert band uniform. Large instruments, such as bassoons and sousaphones, were courtesy of the band parents’ efforts.

The music department was so good that when the school got a new principal, he decided that he was going to “put the music department in its place.”

If that place was oblivion, he succeeded 45 years ago.

The banquet hall was packed; I’m guessing there were 500 or so from all over the US. The current school president told the assembled multitude that he was committed to “getting our music department back.”

I hope so. Music is not only an art, but also a powerful tool for brain development.

I’m going to check back and see if it really happens.

The Cost of Heroes

Walt Disney's  Gyro Gearloose

Walt Disney’s
Gyro Gearloose

When I was a kid, there were certain comic book characters that I favored – Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, and Gyro Gearloose (from the Donald Duck comics). Why? They all were inventors. Batman created all those great tools that fit into his utility belt. Spiderman proclaimed his web shooter “worthy of a Science Major” (pretty impressive to a guy in grade school). Iron Man – well back in those days Tony Stark figured out how to actually magnify power using (ready for this) A TRANSISTOR! Gyro Gearloose? He could invent the most amazing things, since Disney characters were unfettered by physics, math or any of the other hard sciences.

So, why do I bring this up? First, I’ve never invented anything – but I love to tinker. So, instead of drinking beer, sitting in my recliner, and watch sports on TV, I sip wine and try to get my computer to talk to my radio; my radio to talk to a peripheral device; my weather station to talk to the internet; and all my other inanimate object to talk to other inanimate objects.

Like a 3,000 piece puzzle, it takes a while to get all the pieces to fit.

Maybe I’d be better off watching the quarterback hit the puck up a line-drive to center field right past the keeper for a hat trick.

20 July 1969

Plaque on Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

Plaque on Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

I had just graduated from high school. Viet Nam dominated the news, especially for young men approaching their 18th birthday.

But in the midst of it all, we answered the challenge of President John F. Kennedy to make it to the moon and back within the decade of the 1960s.

Wow!

The lunar module detached from the command module and descended to the moon’s surface. Neil Armstrong prepared to land on the moon using an approach chart just like pilots would use here on earth. However, since no one had been to the moon before, the detailed chart was based on photographs and estimates. As he got closer, he realized that the intended landing site was not safe. Unlike on earth, he could not merely go around and make a second attempt – there was not enough fuel. Well trained, disciplined and determined, he coaxed every bit of lift out of the spacecraft and brought the Eagle to a safe landing.

When I saw that even I, a soon to be befuddled college freshman, knew – I KNEW – anything was possible.

Forty-five years later, I still know it’s true.

Do you?

 

Recycling with a Vengeance

recycle

I recycle. I even had to buy a second 50 gallon recycling bin from the city because I often had more than would fit in a single can.

I compost. Even though my garden was a disaster for the past two year and I gave up gardening, I still have the happiest, healthiest earthworms in the entire neighborhood.

It only makes sense, therefore, that I do the same with words. English has an impressive vocabulary – more than many other languages. However, there are words that have left common usage – some of which I believe, by gum, should be recycled.

All definitions courtesy of http://dictionary.reference.com/

Kerfuffle: ker·fuf·fle [ker-fuhf-uhl] noun Chiefly British Informal. a fuss; commotion.

Whither: whith·er [hwith-er, with-]

adverb

  1. to what place? where?
  2. to what end, point, action, or the like? to what?

conjunction

  1. to which place.
  2. to whatever place.

Methinks: me·thinks [mi-thingks] verb (impersonal), past me·thought. Archaic. it seems to me.

So as my grandson says, “Dude, this is awesome!” I now can respond with, “From whither comes this kerfuffle? Methinks it is unseemly!”

(Snuck one more in on you, didn’t I?)

Philosopher at Large

plato

I’ve decided that I am a philosopher – a student and lover of wisdom. Knowledge is good; wisdom is best.

As near as I can tell, there are no formal requirements or boards required to certify one as a philosopher. It’s kind of like the meteorologists on your local TV station; if they have the remote to control for the weather images against the green screen, they are a meteorologist. I green screen, therefore I meteorology.

Now, I understand that there are certified intellectuals of higher education who are experts in the field of philosophy. Tom Lehrer aptly referred to them as “ivy covered professors in ivy covered halls.” I refer to them as “philosophologists.”

Philosopholgists get tenured positions to ask questions, such as “What did Plato mean when he said, “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws”?

Philosophers respond with, “Interesting thought; how can we do we know that Plato expressed that thought? What does the statement mean, and how should civilized society respond?”

So – as a duly self-appointed and qualified-because-I-said-so philosopher I recommend you heed my words. Otherwise I shall be forced to walk with a lamp in daylight to search for an honest man, or run naked through the streets screaming, “Eureka!” Trust me – you want to avoid that at any cost!

Today’s philosophical thought: “Love one another.”

Got it? Good!