Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tomorrow is a red letter day for us - it's our 57th anniversary! 57 years of love, companionship, good friendship, and all the best that one could expect. I have been so very fortunate in having Katharine by my side for all of these years. And our three children(!) now in their 40's and 50's!
Wow - what else can I say!

In following up with my thoughts on learning and teaching, I will include here another one or two of my poems, to be read following the previous ones. I hope you're following me here! One never knows, without feedback, does one?

ROLES

Teacher, student, counselor, principal;
Parent, child; freak, jock, bookworm,
Fool, star, leader, follower; all roles.
All words - labels for more boxes
That divide, create contention, interfere
with growth, with living.

Why must they be? Is there a law,
A rule, that dictates their ever-
Present intrusion? Perhaps. A part
Of the game? Is this the only game
In town? You'd think so, to hear
The protests when the roles break down!

Some must teach, so that others may learn,
And someone oversee the lot, to -
What? See that each box, each label, and
Each puzzle remains properly in its spot?
Can anyone teach? Should we closely
Examine this role, and all the others?

Clearly determine if the roles are functional,
Practical, nonsensical? So, what if we
Do, what then? It's still the same old game,
Kept going by the winners, constantly
Reinforced - and the critic put aside
As visionary, revolutionary, or dangerous.

RULES

I guess it's necessary to have some rules;
Otherwise, who would know what's possible.
Or not allowed, in everyday social situations,
In the best ordered classroom or school.
But, it's beyond comprehension what sometimes
Occurs in the name of 'rule making.'

Sometimes it seems as though it's "get even time".
For all the supposed insults that have occurred. At
other times, it takes on the character of
Righteous indignation - the students soon
Become mere objects of decrees. And, oh, so
Often, it's "Band-Aid" time; the rules
Don't seem to work, and in the absence of
Philosophy, or the simplest principles
Of learning, new rules are made to make the old ones
Work.

What's missing is respect, that simple
Idea that under-pins all true relationships;
Upon which trust is built; an atmosphere of
Understanding and cooperation within which the
Enterprise can go forth.
Oh, sure, it's difficult to work this way;
It takes time, effort, and patience. But
We're in the learning business! If not,
Then perhaps the rest makes sense (although
I doubt it very much!). It's hardly possible to
Enforce respect, but when willing to
Tender it to others, it's usually returned,
Often in surprising and rewarding ways.
But, most importantly, it results in a whole
New way of seeing one's self, and of being
Whole, with others, truly a person working
With persons in the most truly loving
And growing ways - and isn't that what's supposed
To be going on?

Oh, as for discipline: there is that, isn't
There! There's news that's good!
Discipline can mean other than imposed
Limits, punishments. It can be, instead, Discipleship -
a following not slavish, not
Unthinking, but responding to the best that
Is called forth in each of us.

Of course, the key is self-respect - that's understood;
What many of the young have not yet had
Nurtured. So it must be gently urged along, with
Patience, and with respect from
All the rest of us. Else, fill up the detention
Halls, and buy another case of
Pink slips!
So, we make progress in the examination of secondary education in 1987. How much has changed now, I don't know. But I think it's still valid for the most part. I hope not, but I'm afraid so, from what I hear from former colleagues.
Think about it, and enjoy.
Bob

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