Wisdom of the Young


My co-stars on the storytelling CDs . . .  Brianna, Hannah, and Josh. ❤

In The King and I, Anna sings, “by your pupils you’ll be taught.”  There is so much to learn from their young, fresh outlook on life.

Jillian once, when she was very small and I complimented her on a great hint for some kitchen chore, “I don’t know it all, but I know some things.”  These days, she’s my go-to person on technology questions.

My alderman’s daughter, at a neighborhood picnic, laughed at the adults’ discussion of exercise.  “I don’t exercise,” she explained.  “I PLAY” . . . and she ran over to the swings.  Healthy attitudes . . .

 Joy once encouraged me, “Run, Aunt Mary.  It’s FUN!”

photo of my mom with Joy . . .  >Mom and Joy (3)033

They have so much to teach us, even as they are learning new things every day.

 There comes the day when spelling won’t work as secret code . . . “Shall we stop for i-c-e-” ICE CREAM!!!!!   “Want to go to the z-o-o?” YES!! ZOO!!!

The lessons of childhood continue to mold the adult.  I loved when my high school students would pick up on the Reading Rainbow song and join in, “Take a look, it’s in a book . . .”

I used to give students extra credit for finding errors in published sources and then correcting them, and they found plenty.

I also gave credit when they showed me a new perspective on something, even sometimes on things I had read fifty times.

After a really serious vandalism incident at our high school, a student made me feel a little ashamed of my own punitive thoughts when she said, “If they had parents as good as mine, they’d never have done anything like this. — Empathy, understanding . . .

 . . . and then there was a student I didn’t even know, who when he heard me complaining that a mandatory inservice would take up half the weekend, “Half a weekend is better than none.”  Perspective.

While I do have the bumper sticker “Don’t Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Good Story,” I believe in using the teachable moments in fiction and sharing good values in my stories.

Mr. Fox is a story full of important lessons on courage and caution, and it helped my sophomores understand Pushkin’s “The Bridegroom.”  I first told the story when my Dan Keding CD stopped playing right in the middle and my students insisted I finish it.  Then, darling scholars, when I got a new CD and a new player and played it again for them, they sweetly told me they liked mine better . . .

My ESOL students ably critiqued my telling of La Llorona one year.

Dan’s “Two Warriors” story ends with “You can’t hate a man once you know his story.”  Often when we know what’s going on in a person’s life, we are much more able to help.  I often said of difficult students, once I knew their background, that I might have acted out even more if it had been I.

A teaching colleague whose wife got a raise was a bit surprised when I remarked on how well he was dealing with her earning much more than he was.  I was glad to see that vestige of the ’70s mentality gone, and perhaps it was never an issue for intelligent and reasonable men.  He then polled his students, who all agreed that more money in a family is good, no matter who brings it in.

It’s amazing that the things former students remember are not always the lessons we plan, but are more often the moments of kindness, the lessons in grace . . . and it goes both ways.  When my mother was very ill, my students shared cards, prayers, Chicken Soup books, and kept me going through it all, and when I thanked on student, she said, “Remember last year when I needed help?  Well, now it’s your turn.”

On a lighter note, one day I reached high to write something on the board and felt the underarm seam of my blouse RIIIPPPP.  A student immediately defused my embarrassment by asking, “If you are going to throw that away, could I have it for my mother’s fabric art?”  Silver linings everywhere . . .

Like my friend’s daughter, I think perhaps we should just play.