Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My School of Learning

The mind is not a vessel that needs filling but wood that needs igniting -- Plutarch

         Four plus years out of the educational setting, and I still can't shake the "teacher thoughts."  Not that I want to go back or should go back, the quotes and thoughts I shared with kids everyday still stay with me.  Each morning for 32 years -- without fail, I wrote a quotation on the board.  My initial "fresh out of college, eager to ignite minds" purpose rarely achieved the "ah-ha moments" I expected my passion-impaired charges to grasp and hold dear. But, I persevered. Everyday a new bit of wisdom was plastered up there for all to see and share.  Dutifully they wrote. Silently they sat for 5-10 minutes while I performed the required first of class duties of taking attendance, picking up homework, and passing out graded work. Of course there were years of variation to place the writing at the end of the hour so I could also share in the writing time, but much of the time was to secretly prepare for the next storm of students.
         So what did they learn from my daily quotations? I hope more than I am presenting here, but I really will never know.  I do know I learned a great deal:
 #1 There are a lot of wise quotations out there. The sea is endless.
                 (As a matter of fact I never ran across this one posted above)
 #2 Different perspectives of something said is as varied
                   as the number who hear it.
 #3 hmm,....do I have a #3?
           Probably not, but I do ponder on Plutarch's words. I agree that I could not pry open the Richard Craniums and pour in the knowledge. I had to try to give a spark and hope that someone's perspective allowed a bit of a firestorm in his pursuit of learning.  But on the other hand, mighty Plutarch, once ignited and a grand bonfire of knowledge is before our eyes - what is left but ashes?
      So, I will probably lean toward another quotation when it comes to "lighting up someone's mind"
The one I favor was originally Thomas Jefferson's but picked up in different forms as I have here:

         Using your candle to light someone else's, 
doesn't take away your own light, 
but adds to the brightness of the room.

              As least on this blog, my world is definitely brighter when I hear from you discovering new life for yourself  in my words.  It's a lesson I hold dear.  
Thanks for being here.


  1. "Of all the things I've lost in life, I miss my mind the most." Just one of those days. As I read your post this morning and look at my day - the people, the places, the things - there is some relief, no matter how sorry I might be feeling for myself. I can't control one child's illness, the economy, my husband's mood, his lack of exercise or my ungrateful and devious daughter-in-law. Twit. Breathe and let go. Let go and Let God. Breathe and don't choke on my own benevolence. Breathe, ask myself: "How important is it anyway?" Breathe and reclaim my mind, my peace of mind. "I may not be much but I'm all I think about!" I can take it all so seriously. All is well. Thank God for chocolate!

  2. Yesterday, I smiled when I read about your efforts at inspiring the kids. I wonder if Plutarch would have, like some, referred to Charlie Brown as a "blockhead" with his head full of wood, burdened with potential. When I was in high school, we read Canterbury Tales. Each day, someone would sneak into the room before the teacher and write on the blackboard the newest funny phrase gleaned from the day's assignment. The other day I was going through boxes of kid's schoolwork from over 20 years ago. I found journals from junior high English classes with many quotes and diaries that devoted teachers had gone to a lot of trouble to present ideas to get the students off and running. Believe me, you wonderful people who inspire others aren't forgotten!

  3. Again, this is a really great post. I think of Thomas Jefferson's quote like a recipe. Sometimes, we might hate to share a recipe because it could take away our opportunity to shine but then we add a warm and fuzzy for others and their homes and occasions. Invariably, we usually get credit for the recipe by the next cook. We are making a difference by sharing the joy. Still thinking about your mother's Lemon Meringue Pie. I live in a humid climate and mine can always taste like meringue jerky. I am a little embarrassed about the daughter-in-law comment from yesterday. This is such a positive and fun blog. There is a reason these things are called "dirty laundry". Heaven only knows how I am viewed! I probably don't want to know. Spiritual sandpaper always give me a reason to look at myself and improve. Time for some frozen chocolate before I think any further. (Thought freezing it would deter me once in a while. Nope.)

  4. Of course, we can never really know how much we affect another person's learning - what they enjoy - what they retain. They will remember that you were there, that you took time to make their day special and that you cared about their learning. They'll remember you valued them and how much you loved learning and literature - not to mention predicate nominatives!

  5. You can feel bad about your DIL comment and I will feel the same about this. It is an ol teacher to teacher reference to students unwilling to learn. What is a nickname for Richard and another word for cranium? Not so nice.

  6. Very cute, little Richard...

  7. This is humbling to read. People can relate to it, I am sure. One of the most insidious things I see, within my small community, is character assassination. While there are those who might say, "Just rise above it. Let it roll off your back. They don't pay your bills," it still hurts. I believe it also hurts to be the perpetrator. Unless a person has no conscience, they feel at the very least, uncomfortable after their deed. Gossip is seductive and it's hard to break the habit. Certainly, I've known people are aware and feel it's their duty to share. I know a person who believes, "It's not gossip, if it's true." Like you say, the change begin with us. I am amazed that anyone would be shocked at the world situations when families can't even get along. Great post.


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Blessings to you,