When you are my age--not quite ancient--you have had a variety of previous lives. Some quite forgettable, some equally memorable but most just the stuff of which our years are made. Somehow during that time we progress from infant, to child, to adolescent, to young adult, to mid-life and beyond.
In one of my lives I was an educator and, I like to think, a good one. I began in junior high school (this was before the transition to middle schools) where I taught English and for a brief period, social studies. Classes were strictly divided by ability--high, medium and low; although in an effort to fool the kids and parents, they were called x, y, z. Interestingly, these levels usually differed in color.
Classes ran about 40 or so; desks were in straight lines from front to back; the worse rule infraction was an occasional gum chewer; seldom was a student "sent" to the office; parents arrived in droves for open house and much learning was rote. Yes, this was a long, long time ago, for sure.
I arrived on the cusp of change and so soon my classes sat in semi-circles; students were allowed to dialogue which introduced noise; rote, except for spelling, gave way to inquiry and debate; personal interpretation of what the author may have meant overshadowed multiple-choice. We began to teach our kids to think independently, creatively. They even were allowed to do the unthinkable--question the teacher.
One of the areas with which I met success was helping students learn how to write--well. This was before the days of "random" writing where kids learned to write in the absence of learning structure, sentence variation, grammar or anything else that might restrict creativity. In my mind, these were the lost years of instruction as witnessed today by the number of "grown-ups" who have difficulty creating the written word. Bizarrely, at this career point, I was an administrator and so was tasked with making certain that teachers taught this free-thought writing approach.
It is totally possible and a reasonable expectation that students write well structurally and still be creative and mesmerizing--a la the great writers. Fortunately, the pendulum has swung some and teachers now focus on creativity and style. Unfortunately, many of these teachers are a product of the "lost years" and so are having to do some catch up themselves. This is not a huge problem as all that I knew about writing and the teaching of writing I learned as I taught.
Anyway, all of the above is lead-in to my current failure.... Casey. He has no interest in my stored wisdom as he writes for his English class. He clearly labors under the thought that I can't possibly understand what he and his teacher know. Having thrown at him the totally logical thought that we pay for his Italian and algebra tutors, but that he has a free English tutor, you would think he would be thankful. No! He turns his back.
In a way it is simpler; I can just turn him over to Mr. Silvestri and not worry --forget that my very insightful input might help his grade--no matter. Yes, life gets easier sometimes if you just let go.
It has been said: "I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown."
The hometown is right here.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.