|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
My son, Chuck, hates school. There really isn't any other way to say it; he hated school the first day he walked in the doors and he will hate it the day he finally walks out of them. That isn't to say that he hates learning, because he does not. He just doesn't like the way the public education system goes about it.
Personally, I liked school and if I had my way, I'd go to school to study one thing or another for the rest of my life. I don't disagree with Chuck regarding the failings of public schools, I just managed to make it work for me. I guess I just adapted better. I did extremely well in school, although I found some subjects more difficult than others. I was not a huge math brainiac and had to work at it. I struggled with higher math until I got a friend of my older brother's who was a math wiz to tutor me. I discovered that my problems with math were due more to the way it was taught than my inability to understand it. When my teachers explained things to me they tended to make it more confusing than it was to begin with. When Howard explained it it became blissfully clear. I think that a lot of young people have math issues because the way we teach it makes it frightening and alien. Once I got into calculus I liked math a lot more for some reason, although most people didn't agree with me. As an adult I love math, although I still have to work harder at it. I owe it all to Howard.
English was a subject I loved and I was really good at it. I was a voracious reader and fell in love with words at a young age, so English was duck soup for me. I even liked grammar, believe it or not. I had a wonderful teacher who told me that words were the bricks of language and grammar was the mortar that held them together. I liked that metaphor then and I still do now. She was a very proper lady who seemed somewhat distant and was heartily disliked by almost every one of my peers. I loved her. She taught an Advanced Prep Shakespeare class I took and we seriously bounded over the Bard. Most of her students didn't get Shakespeare and didn't particularly like it so I imagine she was as happy to have me in her class as I was to be in it. When I was 15, I spent an entire summer reading everything he ever wrote and did so again over subsequent years. My mother introduced us to Shakespeare when we were little and we liked the plays so much that my brothers and I would put on performances of our favorite bits for our parents. Julius Caesar was our numero uno inspiration and I coached my younger brother for hours until he could recite Marc Antony's speech at Caesar's funeral like a pro.
Science was a little problematic due to the math angle, but I have always found it fascinating and even more so now. I wasn't crazy about slicing up dead amphibians or infant pigs, but I dealt with it. I am not as interested in biology as I am physics or chemistry. I felt cheated when I took chemistry because my teacher was going through a divorce and had acquired a stomach ulcer because of it, which made him less than inspiring as a educator and made the class somewhat awkward. He spent a lot of the semester either tearing up pitifully or drinking buttermilk out of a beaker. Weird.
History was my best and favorite subject and still is. I absolutely adore history and always will. I am particularly fond of ancient history and I have spent many hours pouring over books on ancient Greece and Rome. People are often surprised at my enthusiasm for military history because I am really such an ardent pacifist. I always tell them that the history of humanity is pretty much a history of warfare, which is a little depressing if you think about it, but there you are. Realistically, you can't expect to pursue knowledge of one without delving pretty seriously into the other. Consequently, I know an awful lot about weapons, tactics, strategy, and war machines that people find surprising. Ask me about trebuchets sometime, we built one once when we were kids and hurled apples over the neighbor's fence.
I did have a little trouble in History memorizing dates, but who doesn't? I developed a method based upon the old, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”, thing. When I had to remember a date I would create a little rhyme that helped me to recall the date. To remember the date of the Norman invasion I created, “Back in the Fall of 1066, William gave the Brits some kicks.” For the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic I had:
“Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49BC.
He justified this act upon,
The fact that he was he.”
Not great literature, but it got the job done. I remembered dates to go with the destiny changing events I never had any trouble at all remembering. It worked. And there, in a nutshell, is what educating is be all about. The end is to learn, the means should be whatever works.