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Friday, November 12, 2021

The boy brave enough to cry is the hero


English teachers teach "Points Of View".

I'm old enough to remember teachers who regularly hit their students. I remember things today's children would not believe.

 An old friend from Grammar School reached out on Facebook, we picked up right where we left off. He said do you remember 5th grade lining up outside school? Our teachers kept us in line until the bell rang. Remember that cruel old Bastard Mr. M? He would tell us boys to toughen up, prepare our arms, and he would punch us. He would hit our arm with all his might. Say don't you dare cry?  

He said he hated every day on that line, but one day. He said I remember that day. He hit me, and I cried; he called me a baby? Everyone laughed, but you called him a F---ing Bastard. And said, how about we all hit you. You put your arm around me and said to his face your not a teacher. You are just evil....then you put your arm out and said, gets your rocks off, Sir. Then all the boys put their arms out... You were brave enough to stand up to him. 

Jesse, strange as it may seem, that day is my only good school day. I read your posts about teaching regularly, never liked any of my elementary school teachers. However, I find great comfort in knowing you are not him. I think I would have enjoyed going to school with teachers like you. 

Finally, he said, remember that day? It ended the punching of arms. That day ended that sicko, and his punching. You did that. 

I said I did that for my brothers. Brothers who deserved real teachers. Besides, you did what we all wanted to do every day. We just didn't have the guts to cry. In my eyes David, you are the hero that ended the punching. You opened our eyes, and every kid and teacher saw him for what he was. Not a teacher, but a bully. 

I have set an empathy compass setting for my teaching. In some ways, Mr. M inspired me to not become another evil bully like him. 

Glad we connected again, and from where I stand, you were the hero who ended the punching,            Jesse, still a kid from the neighborhood

If you want to listen to the tune I listened on my walk in the rain this morning its "No Hard Feeling" by the Avett Brothers. > <

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

My First Professor Had a 6th grade education

Not all teachers teach in classrooms
Nearly 800 pages of Miguel Cervantes and one old man taught me there is more to a book than words and pictures. 

Foolish CEOs, Ed Reformers, and Policymakers dismiss sustained reading in our schools in favor of pacing guides to speed learning up.
If our children are not taught that digging into a book requires stamina and great patience?
How will they fall in love with books? 
Who will teach them that books hold more than words and pictures?
Who will transform them from their ABCs to lifelong readers?

Cervantes calls us.
" Life as it is. I've lived for over 40 years, and I've seen life as it is. Pain. Misery. Cruelty beyond belief. I've heard all the voices of God's noblest creature. Moans from bundles of filth in the street. In Don Quixote, we find the Man of La Mancha, that believer in impossible dreams.
I've been a soldier and a slave. I've seen my comrades fall in battle or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I've held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no brave last words, only their eyes, filled with confusion, questioning "Why?" I do not think they were asking why they were dying, but why they had ever lived."

Hear Alonso Quijano asking us to join him on a mad quest
 "When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness To surrender dreams - -this may be madness; to seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness! And maddest of all - to see life as it is and not as it should be!"

I read Miguel Cervantes's Don QuixoteMan of La Mancha with my Grandfather. It took ages, many visits, and it is still one of my most glorious adventures.
He did not think me too young, he did not treat me as a child, he read, I read, we laugh, and in the end, we even shed some beautiful tears.
We stood proud when they could not burn his books of chivalry. Hours and hours, days and days with that Man of La Mancha shaped me into a believer of impossible dreams. Him with his coffee and me with my hot cocoa sitting in his big old sitting room chair, now those times are my lottery. He was my first real professor, that old World War I veteran with only an elementary school education. 

Listen, teachers, parents,  and policymakers?
"I shall impersonate a man. His name is Alonso Quijana, a country squire no longer young.
Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn till night and often through the night and morn again, and all he reads oppresses him; fills him with indignation at man's murderous ways toward man.
He ponders the problem of how to make better a world where evil brings profit and virtue none at all; where fraud and deceit are mingled with truth and sincerity.
He broods and broods and broods and broods and finally his brains dry up.
He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined To become a knight-errant, and sally forth into the world in search of adventures; to mount a crusade; to raise up the weak and those in need. No longer will he be plain Alonso Quijana, but a dauntless knight known as Don Quixote de La Mancha." 

Grandad, I remain your namesake grandson, and forever a Dauntless Knight of de La Mancha,

Little Jesse
AKA Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
CCSU Literacy Center Director 

If you want to listen to the tune that inspired my morning walk today? Its "The Impossible Dream"

"This is my Quest to follow that star, 
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far, 

To fight for the right 
Without question or pause, 
To be willing to march into hell 
For a heavenly cause! 
And I know, if I'll only be true 
To this glorious Quest, 
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm 
When I'm laid to my rest."