Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to School

Those three words are starting to appear again in stores and in the media. And for lots of people like me, that means preparing lesson plans, setting up assignments and rubrics, and adjusting my “laid back” summer schedule. It’s hard to believe that almost a half-century has passed since I entered kindergarten. So much has changed. I’ve changed, schools have changed, and the world in general has changed.

I suppose it’s obvious that things are going to change in fifty years. That’s normal. The gingham dress and saddle shoes I wore to school on the first day my grandma walked me to school would look out of place now. And the squeaky black chalkboards have been replaced with gleaming white boards. Movies back then were watched by loading a big contraption called a movie projector. More often we watched filmstrips, showing one picture at a time. And we listened to music recorded on these large black disks called records.

Some changes are not so good. I remember when school doors were not locked against predators. I remember when knives in school were simply there to cut cakes for birthday parties. And I remember when the person with the most authority in the classroom was the teacher.

But many things are the same. Smiling, eager faces, laughter, and youthful optimism will abound. Freshly scrubbed floors, colorful bulletin boards, and dedicated professionals will greet my grandkids on their first day. And young minds will be opened to a world of wonderful mysteries. I’ve read a lot of essays about what’s good and what’s bad about our schools. But I especially like a quote by William Butler Yeats: “Education is not filling a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

It’s everyone’s job to ensure that the fire keeps burning bright.

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Last week I took pictures of some of the quilts I made and described in my “Crazy Quilt” post on July 6. Here’s one, all put together and tied by the ladies at Fairhaven Ministries, ready to send to someone who needs a little warmth.


  1. Oh the quilt is beautiful. I don't know where you find the time.

    I love the then and now comparisons in your article. It would be easy to dwell on what's wrong with today's civilization and how it affects even school days. But it's better to remember that some things are the same, and that eagerness to learn and dedication to teach are an unbeatable combination.

    Happy teaching!
    ~ Stephanie

  2. I can just imagine you in your gingham dress and saddle shoes! Hope your first week has been going well!