Posts Tagged With: Elementary school

What Are You Reading?

My Mark Twain collection

Someone else’s Mark Twain collection. Sigh. I’m a bit jealous.  (Photo credit: terryballard)

Here’s another elementary school find, lovingly posted above the library doors. Being the book addict that I am you can understand my liking for this quote.

“The man who does not read good books

has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

– Mark Twain

Of course, Mark Twain would say something like this since he was an author, a brilliant humorist, a curmudgeon and a bit egocentric.

American writer Mark Twain (1835-1910) in 1909

The author, Mr. Twain, looking grouchier than usual for this photo, probably because he had nothing good to read that day.

I’m always a little taken aback, speechless actually, when someone tells me they don’t read books. The reason has never been that they can’t read. It’s that they have no interest in reading.

I stand there, mouth hanging open as if they’ve just transformed into an alien life form as I watched. How can one not read books? That’s like saying you don’t breathe oxygen, or eat food, or that you’ve given up sleep! At least it is for me.

Torture for me would be to put me somewhere with nothing, and I mean nothing, to read. I can entertain myself, if I have to, with the back of a cereal box, product labels, a newspaper, recipes, lists, rules, captions, advertisements. I just need words to read!! I can’t go very long without them.

But I prefer a good book. Literature. Thought provoking, inspired, well written. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before in past blog posts, at least a dozen times or more. For which I apologize. I’m a little obsessed. I’m sorry.

Lately I’ve been reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” which is eye-opening and surprising and wonderful and sad all in one. I’ve got a list of lighthearted novels to pick from after that. I need something to lift my spirits, make me laugh and shine some light into the darkness. After that I’m thinking of tackling “Don Quixote,” but I’m not sure. That may have to wait until summer.

Are you reading anything good?

Care to share with me?  Fiction or non-fiction. I’m always looking for my next good read!

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Lessons Learned in a Second Grade Classroom

If you don’t have a child in elementary school, you might have forgotten the sights, sounds and smells of school. Children come at a person with speed, wit, surprising widsom, lack of logic, silliness, lack of attention, a trainload of baggage from home and growly tummies.

If you’ve forgotten the sensation of being a kid, visit an elementary school. Sure, you’ll have to get permission, and convince them that you aren’t a scary, stalker type person, but the hassle could be worth your time in the memories it evokes, if for nothing else.

The following two photos are from an actual second grade classroom.

Five basic rules for two different concepts. Nothing major or groundbreaking.

But definitely missing in society on an all too frequent basis.

photo-13 copyI know grown adults who don’t get these concepts.

photo-11 copy 2I know teenagers who have yet to learn these basics.

I don’t always 100% of the time follow these rules, but I am aware of them and try to be a good listener and a good speaker. Sure I fall short at times.

Seems like common sense. But often what passes as common sense is simply something we learned as young children, as second graders, as tots at mom’s knee, out in the yard from pops, while shucking corn with Grandma.

I could be wrong, but I think second grade teachers know more about real life than most of us give them credit for.

Makes sense to me.

 

Categories: Communication, People | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little House in the Big World: It’s Not Laura’s Prairie Anymore

We moved when I was in second grade, over Christmas break.  This meant starting at a new elementary school in the middle of the year.  My world suddenly got bigger.  Instead of walking to school, I rode the bus. Instead of a traditional classroom I was in a shared classroom with multiple second grade classes sharing space barely divided by moveable walls, and small reading nooks.  The classes were on a staggered schedule, with different start and end times for various groups in the same grade.

I was one overwhelmed kid in that arena. I nearly missed the bus home the first day at that new school. Too much noise, too much input, too many kids, too much to keep track of.

Add in the fact that we hadn’t yet discovered that I needed eye glasses.  That made this new noisy world fuzzy at about five feet away in any direction.

Charles & Caroline Ingalls

Charles & Caroline Ingalls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one thing I remember focusing in on very clearly was story time.  The teacher was reading “Little House in the Big Woods,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Mesmerized within the first paragraph or two, I sat entranced, absorbing every word. I lived for those few precious pages our teacher read to us each day.  I was so spellbound that I started reading these fourth grade level books as soon as I could talk the librarian into letting me check one out.

I loved the world Laura inhabited. Even the difficult things she dealt with didn’t deter my desire to live her life in the wild countryside.  It was a small, manageable world with daily adventures and the perils of nature and society ever-present.

Fast forward a few decades or more.

I am not naïve and brainless. I don’t spend my time watching reality TV or sitcoms. I consider myself informed, well-read, educated, literate, book smart, experienced in the school of hard knocks. I’ve lived through more than a few things, survived a few close calls, I know what real life dishes out. I’m no second grader, not any more.

Since I started blogging, my reading and learning has expanded.  It’s as if, once again, I’ve been transported to a new school, with a new curriculum, in a world that never sleeps. I’ve read blogs from all over the world, learned about things I never dreamed existed, followed the rants and responses to topics that amaze and fascinate me. CNN, BBC, NBC, PBS et al have nothing on bloggers and writers and their ability to inform, entertain, enlighten and share and touch raw nerves.

Here’s the thing.  Instead of a lovely, manageable novel or two of a tiny world, I’ve stumbled upon the entire planet. At least it seems like it.  Suddenly I am feeling guilty for the life of ease I live as I realize someone in Pakistan or Ghana or Croatia is reading my words, my life, my wonderland.  I marvel at the audacity of Americans to think they are the center of the Universe and somehow qualified to make decisions for the rest of the planet. I am breathless as I learn of tiny countries and the families and people that live day-to-day, hand to mouth, oblivious to the worries I think are important. The foundational ideas that make me who I am have developed a few hairline fissures as I’ve tried to balance other world views on the same ground.  The ridiculous and the sublime compete for my time and brainpower.

Superman logo

Superman logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hover between two desires. I want to go back to having no eyeglasses, the world a vague and fuzzy place like it was four months ago. And I want to miraculously have laser vision, a flying cape and super powers, endless resources, time and energy to save, help, lift, care for and make an impact.

There I am thinking I have something to contribute having barely skimmed the surface of information.  Silly me.

I want to go back to focusing on my tiny family of six, or my expanded family of sisters and brothers and parents, or even my extended family with cousins and aunts and uncles. I want the ease of worrying over people in my small community and trying to find time for a few friends who need a listening ear or a friendly face.

I barely manage to work, fix dinner, do laundry and keep the house clean. Occasionally I’m able to help out a friend, call a sibling, touch base with someone I feel a responsibility toward.  If I gave up sleep I still couldn’t care for all the people in my life I want to care for, love, share with and spend time around.  How can I possibly do anything with all this new information, this new sense of weight, responsibility and worry I have for the rest of the world?

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The genie can’t be stuffed back into the bottle.  And, unfortunately, I can’t make a wish and have phenomenal cosmic powers.

Here is one itty bitty woman with tiny resources, 24 hours in my day, with a new weight trying to settle in on my shoulders.

Part of me wants to disconnect from the internet, move to a distant, isolated tract of land and simply live a small quiet life.  But I can’t.  Even if I could, I couldn’t.

I’ve heard the stories, I know they’re out there. Reality is too real. I am lost and probably about to miss the bus again.

A good book isn’t going to give me a grip on anything at this point.  Maybe I just need to step back, clean off my glasses and try to pull things in to focus.

Categories: The World, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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