Thursday, August 1, 2013

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world...."

"Instead of teaching, I told stories.
 Anything to keep them quiet and in their seats.
 They thought I was teaching.
 I thought I was teaching.
 I was learning.  
― Frank McCourt, Teacher Man     
Close your eyes for a moment and recall  your favorite school memory. Be sure to envision the year,  your age, grade, your hairstyle, your art smock, the smell of Play-Doh drying on your finger tips and the enchanting sparkle of glitter shimmering atop a tiny table. Imagine the little girl or boy you had a secret crush on or the mischievous" bad apple" who would giggle mercilessly tugging at your ponytail. Who was the teacher you adored? Every one has a beloved instructor whose impression has burned deep into their soul. Think of them now and  be reminded how their influence is never truly lost. A teacher is still with you when you read, write, add, subtract, sing, dance or recite a poem. Every time I tie my shoelaces I'm reminded of my sister Laurie, now a teacher lovingly praised by her former students and parents. Patiently, one summer afternoon when I was three years old we sat on a blanket under a tree in the backyard. She was determined to teach me how to make loops and bows. And so it goes. Growing up both of my sisters taught me how to read and write while we played imaginary schoolhouse. What child hasn't sat backwards on a toilet seat and pretended it was their teacher desk? My sister Les earned her degree in Elementary Education and in my twenties I attempted the profession as an aide and substitute. It takes a special kind of personality to be an effective educator. Memorable instructors are sugar coated with mysterious magic, drink golden sunshine and bathe in rainbow light beams. Unfortunately, they are often surrounded by a world of cynical curmudgeons who hide under their troll bridges. Good teachers are generously sprinkled with a charming pixie dust and ride spirited singing unicorns each morning to care for  their class. The best teachers believe in destiny, discipline, fate and fairy tales and they believe in YOU. Their lessons are forever tattooed on your brain, the ever lasting finger paint of kindness and inspiration. Some educators secretly have the words..."I do this for the money said No Teacher Ever." inked on their inner arms by Crayola Washable Markers. 
  Believe it or not many schools started classes a week ago in July. When I was in school we began after Labor Day or officially the day after the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. The hours leading up to the first day of school were either intensely exciting or made you want to violently vomit. Either way you got to show off your brand new shoes. After hours of debating and throwing temper tantrums in the aisle of Kmart you smugly carried your carefully chosen lunchbox and thermos to check out. A lunchbox identified a child's social status like a smartphone or tablet does today. Happy Days and the Fonze?  Cool. Hardy Boys? Not cool. Dukes of Hazzard? Cool. Evil Knievel. Not cool. Charlie's Angels? Cool. Holly Hobbie?  Way not cool. You had to purchase new notebooks with adorable puppies and kittens on the cover, No.2 pencils, pencil coffin box, safety scissors that only crumpled paper, mini pack of Kleenex tissues, a plastic ruler you used as an airplane propeller, a protractor you busted trying to wedge your desk lid open and gigantic pink block erasers you would tear to bits and hurl at a classmates head. Spoiled, you may have demanded high quality Elmer's Glue and not the generic second rate tacky glue stick for heavens sake. Of course the Coupe De Ville of all sacred school supplies was the Crayola Crayon 72 pack. This was the two tiered box royale that featured fancy fresh color names like lemon yellow, carnation pink, burnt sienna and hot magenta. Crayola's were what an avid coloring book lover craved all year.

Even more important than our school supply stash was our teachers, rulers of a child's universe for nine months. Our teachers were the Captain, O Captains of the Class and the Kings and Queens of our curriculum.  From kindergarten to seventh grade and from high school to Hogwarts teachers guided our existence. 
Earlier I asked you to reflect on teachers past. What if you had the ability to choose your own teachers? Would you learn reading with Veronica Vaugh ? Would you debate sociology with Mr. Mark Thackeray? Would Gabe Kotter teach you American History or would Coach Eric Taylor prepare you for football under the Friday night lights? Now pretend you are the principal of your own school and you need to hire staff. Which teachers real or imagined would you choose?  Below is the link to an article I created after contemplating that question and choosing my favorite cinema instructors. Spoiler alert: The movie featuring my all time favorite teacher still inspires my YAWP.

A special Happy Birthday wish to Lorraine, August 6th!

No comments:

Post a Comment