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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." 

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