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Now That All Else Has Failed, Ask Your Teacher

 Now That All Else Has Failed , Ask Your Teacher       I have been personally subjected to and persecuted by a rather large number of educational revolutions devised by experts to provide solutions to problems the experts themselves discovered or even created.  The very first was in elementary school in the early 60’s when we were subjected to “New Math” because if we didn’t improve our national test scores the Russians would establish world dominance through Sputnik and the race to space that would end The American Way as we knew it.  It was quickly obvious to us that our teacher was rather confused about the entire process but dutifully tried her best to implement those processes and teaching methodologies to the extent she understood them, and she managed to struggle through the year without actually crying in front of us.  We eventually overcame our fear and loathing of math through years of intensive remedial efforts by junior high and high school teachers, and learned to trust tr

Freedom to Dehyphenate

       Once I was hyphenated.  It was all the rage back in the 70’s, along with using only the letter of your first name followed by the other two.  J. Snuffy Smith, for example, sounded much more sophisticated and presumptuous that simply James Smith, and we were convinced that German - American and Irish - American and African - American or Cuban - American or whatever - American added an air of aristocracy to our mundane American lives that belied our untraceably mixed racial identities and multi- geographic heredity.  In other words, we are all here in America now and our past did not follow narrow genealogical paths to result in us.  None of us has ancestors of just one color, type, race or only one geographic area. The people that came before us traveled the seas and the deserts and the mountains and really didn’t have time to worry much about genealogy or hyphenation when they were mostly concerned with basic stuff like food and not getting eaten by a shark or a grizzly bear.  

Wokeness and The Beaver

  Wokeness and The Beaver      I’m pretty sure it all started with Theodore Cleaver. Many of you might not be familiar with the name, but at one time he was the cat’s meow.  In the early 1960’s Leave It To Beaver was a hit TV show that a lot of America, to their unknown detriment, watched almost religiously.   Every week a new episode about a cute little kid named Theodore - his nickname was Beaver - got into trouble and was rescued by his parents, June and Ward Cleaver.  Beaver would do really stupid stuff like order an accordian from a magazine ad and try to hide it from his parents when the bill came in the mail, or give his alcoholic uncle a bottle of bourbon from his Dad’s cabinet without asking his parents or feed a neighbor’s cat and try to hide it in his room. Nothing that really stretched the imagination too much, but usually things that most kids (like me and my brothers) might have thought of but never followed through on because we would be scared to death of our Dad’s reac

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

       I’ve mentioned before that I don’t watch news shows.  In 1974 I found myself yelling - rather loudly - at a 19 inch black and white TV with Richard Nixon on the screen. A little while later, rather ashamed of raising my blood pressure and having the neighbors knocking on the door to make sure everything was alright, I decided that the TV show had done exactly what it was designed to do; manipulate me into being upset about something, reacting poorly and repeating the cycle endlessly as they moved on the next day to another crisis.  The crises never seem to last more than a few days until they’re forgotten, replaced by others, or maybe several more, usually followed by opinions on what or who caused the latest brouhaha and how we should react and, of course, several opinions as to what a terrible crisis this event is. No solution is ever applied and the outrage is rapidly followed with another incident in rather short order.  In a rare moment of personal clarity, I saw a progress

Make A Joyful Noise

       I went to Ole Miss to learn to be a band director, but there were some things they didn’t teach me and quite a few things I thought I knew until I found out I didn’t. We did learn how to teach the fundamentals of hand position and mouth formation and care for most instruments, but for some reason the fact that we would be teaching 11 year olds and not each other evaded me until I was confronted with them.  In addition, exactly how to gently steer 6th graders toward tuba or French horn when every girl wanted to play the flute or clarinet and every boy wanted to play drums or trumpet was an art that is only acquired, if at all, through trial and error. Mostly error. There were a couple of other things about being Mr. Music in a small town I wasn’t prepared for.  Strangely enough, church was one of those things.      Most small towns in the South have more than their share of churches and denominations. Denominations are people’s interpretations of what God said coupled with their

Decoration Day Memorial

       Here in Columbus GA, one of the places that claims the founding of the Memorial Day (Decoration Day) tradition, I can sit on my porch in the evenings and listen to what my neighbors call “the sound of freedom” as the tanks and guns practice at the firing ranges at Ft. Benning just a few miles south.  The really big guns like the 120mm cannon on the M1A2 tanks and some of the larger field pieces sound like thunder heading our way, and the army does a credible job of weather prediction by firing on the ranges just before a rain to limit the possibility of fires in the pine forests around the base.  Some people complain about the noise, and I’ll admit it does rattle our windows from time to time, but when I remember they are training to protect us from enemies “domestic and foreign” I find the sounds strangely comforting knowing they will be better prepared for having gone through the experience. Columbus is a town of veterans, and it’s pretty much impossible to go into a store or

Forward Into The Past

       When I was in high school I didn’t care much for history unless it was about battles or airplanes.  I was pretty sure there was nothing cooler than a WWII airplane, and I must have put together a couple of hundred of the plastic model plane kits. Maybe it was the glue.  Now that I am a little older I find myself voluntarily reading history and biographies of famous and infamous people from many countries and eras. It might be that I appreciate it more because I have a larger life sample to provide referential experiences, or maybe I just appreciate discovering that even the best heroes have a bad day or a bad idea or even a bad year sometimes, and that none of us are good all the time.  That’s rather comforting in an odd sort of way. We can pretend history didn’t happen but that’s like hiding under the covers when you think there’s a monster in your room.  Sooner or later whatever you are afraid of has to be confronted or it will be there again the next night - and every success