"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Lifetime of Elementary Schools -- Part 1

Earlier this May I went to Chicago. While I was there I took a side trip to visit my old neighborhood...I took some pictures.

Here's a picture of the first elementary school I worked in...this one as a student. I attended Philip Rogers School (1953-1962) from Kindergarten through Eighth grade (the first few years, K through 2, I think, were in portables since there were too many of us for the "main building").

What do I remember about this school? I remember...
  • ...Dr. Benjamin Elkin, the principal, who moonlighted as a children's author. He would read his new books to us. Years later while teaching, I found two of his books. I hadn't remembered them from when I was in school, but I eagerly shared them with my students. They were The 6 Foolish Fishermen and Lucky and the Giant. His 1957 book, Gillespie and the Guards was a Caldecott Honor Book.
  • ...going to the office to talk to Dr. Elkin for a variety of misbehaviors...one particular time the visit included my mother. It was not fun.
  • ...accidentally walking into the male teacher's rest room. I had not been in the building long (it was the beginning of the year that we moved from the portables to the main building). One of the teachers was walking out as I was walking in...and reprimanded me. To his credit, he did ask me how long I had been at this school...and didn't cause any permanent damage.
  • ...being in Art class when we heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot. I was impressed with our teacher's response. How do you tell a group of 8th graders that the president was dead? He stood in front of the class, trying to control his emotions and told us. He was patient as we responded with silence. I don't remember the rest of that day...maybe we went home.
  • ...listening to our music teacher spout political rhetoric. I also remember thinking he was a bit off-kilter. 
  • ...being academically lost most of the time...first because I needed glasses...and second (which I didn't realize for another 35 years) because ADD kept me from focusing. Back then it was called "Minimal Brain Dysfunction." I don't remember being treated for it in any way, other than being told 1) try harder and 2) you can do so much better. Years later, when I was learning about ADHD as a teacher I talked to my mother about my problems in school. She told me about the diagnosis of Minimal Brain Dysfunction and everything fell into place.
  • ...dragging a tenor sax the four blocks to school every day and wondering why I chose such a heavy instrument to learn in band. Then I remember switching to clarinet.
  • ...Mrs. Gilbert reading aloud to us every day. When people ask me the most important thing I remember about my elementary school...this is it. I especially remember the day she finished Charlotte's Web. 
I don't remember...
  • ...taking standardized tests.
If you ask most people what they remember about their elementary school years I would guess that they would answer with stories about teachers, friends, activities. Those are the important things.


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