Tag Archive | going back to school

A “Holiday” Weekend

Labor Day. A day when those who labor take the day off. A celebration of the American worker. Interesting concept, huh?

The first Labor Day was held on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City. Its origin stems from the desire of the Central Labor Union to create a holiday for workers. It became a federal holiday in 1894.

So that’s the story of how Labor Day came to be. I couldn’t resist digging up the historical aspect of this holiday, but I think most of us see this three-day weekend as something else. Some people believe Labor Day is the last hurrah of the summer. A time for a final picnic and day at the beach. Some recognize it as the signal autumn has begun. Kids go back to school. Women don’t wear white clothing any more — unless,  of course, they decide to get married after Labor Day. Leaves start turning colors and we start thinking about comfort food. You get the drift.

I don’t think most people even think about the holiday as it originated. We no longer have parades to celebrate the day. People love the three-day weekend, even though they know when they return to work on Tuesday, they’ll need to stay late for the next four days to meet their deadlines.

So Happy Labor Day everyone. Have some fun!

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APPLE PIE AND STRUDEL GIRLS – BOOK 5 (CONTINUED)

Chapter 20

Lacrosse, Wisconsin-October—The girls at the Autolite plant received orders to go to the cafeteria after their shift to attend a special presentation. Everyone was tired and hot after working their ten-hour shift. The last thing they wanted to do was sit at a meeting. But management made attendance mandatory, so if they wanted to be paid, they needed to attend.

Donna Jean and her co-workers sat in the front row, as the president of the company stood at the microphone. He tapped the device three times and said, “Testing, testing.” His voice reverberated through the cafeteria. “Ladies, please take a seat.” At the far end of the room women dashed to find an unoccupied folding chair. When their whispering ceased, the president cleared his throat. “Ladies, today we are lucky to listen to Mrs. Alleta Sullivan from Waterloo, Iowa. Won’t you please give her a warm welcome?”

A stout middle-age woman with a broad face and deep crow’s feet around her eyes stood up and walked to the microphone. She stood about five foot two and wore a conservative navy blue suit with white piping around the collar. A dark blue pill-box hat rested on her forehead. She wore no stockings and sensible flat black shoes. A white carnation corsage was pinned on her lapel.

The dowdy looking woman held the microphone stand for moral support as she spoke in a meek voice.  “Ladies, I’m here today to tell you about my sons. Perhaps you read about them in the newspapers.” She cleared her throat. “All five of my sons enlisted together at the naval office on Jan 3, 1942 after their childhood friend died on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. My youngest son, Albert, was a father already, and he didn’t need to enlist, but he believed he should accompany his four brothers into war.  His pregnant wife begged Albert not to go off to war with his brothers. But he went anyway.”

Donna leaned over to her workmate and whispered. “My friend Rosie is going through the same thing.”

Mrs. Sullivan continued with her story. “But when Katherine Mary studied Albert’s face, she couldn’t say “no” to him. She and her little boy Jimmy moved in with my husband and me after all five boys enlisted. They insisted they be allowed to serve on the same ship and fortunately or unfortunately, the U. S. Navy honored their request.”

As her voice grew stronger, the audience leaned in.

“One night, I went to bed as usual. I found it hard to sleep even though I couldn’t keep my eyes opened when I sat on my chair in our living room. When I did fall asleep, a nightmare scared me half to death. I saw my sons reaching out for me.  Like any mother, I yearned to help them. Their voices called to me, “Mother, help me!” I woke soaked in sweat because the dream disturbed me so much. I jumped out of bed and got down on my knees. I prayed for all of my boys and asked to never experience such a nightmare again.

Mrs. Sullivan drew in a deep breath. “A week after my bad night while we ate breakfast, someone knocked on our door.   My husband, Katherine Mary, Jimmy, and I gathered in the living room in our bathrobes and slippers to listen to a Navy commander say: “The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your sons, Albert, Francis, George, Joseph and Madison Sullivan are missing in action in the South Pacific.”

My sons served on the USS Juneau. The Japanese bombed the ship, while it sailed to bring badly needed supplies to the Marines on Guadalcanal. The ship sank the same night of my dream.”

Donna gasped. The rest of the audience sat in dead silence.

Mrs. Sullivan continued. “I hope none of you ever experience officers coming to your door. I hope you never hear those awful words of your son or husband being killed. I hope you never feel the overwhelming sadness which makes your knees buckle as you feel the life drain out of you. My grief paralyzed me. My world changed with the words spoken by those navy men that morning. My sons died. Everything I ever lived for vanished with an enemy bomb. I wanted to die to tend to my sons.”

“My sorrow paralyzed me. I couldn’t do anything for weeks. I didn’t get out of bed a lot of days. I didn’t eat. I didn’t even care if I combed my hair. My grief blinded me. I should have been a source of my daughter-in-law Katherine who suffered as much as I did. But I wallowed in my own self pity and didn’t reach out to anyone.  My husband Thomas took care of both of us. Finally, one day he held my hand and said, ‘Alleta, the boys wouldn’t want you to go on like this any longer.’ He spoke the truth.  My boys filled my life with love – and, of course, they also got into plenty of mischief–I guess that goes with being boys.” Mrs. Sullivan chuckled at her joke and then she turned serious. “I’m proud to say they never forgot a Mother’s Day or my birthday, and I realize all of them loved me. Now, when I look at my grandson Jimmy, I recognize his father Albert’s eyes. Jimmy needs me more than ever since he will grow up without a father.”

“After my husband opened my heart, God touched me. He put the thought in my head that I needed to continue the fight my sons started. That’s why I’m here today – talking to all of you.”

“Besides encouraging you all to buy war bonds, I want you to thank you all  for coming to work everyday. As you run lathes and punch presses, you provide the equipment our boys need. On top of that you keep your babies safe and put up with all the rationing. You all are deeply appreciated even though most people don’t say so. The hard work that goes unnoticed, and the lonely nights you endure, is appreciated by mothers like me. All of you who volunteer for the Red Cross, you are deeply appreciated.”

“You’re all doing important work. You may not be sweating in the jungles of the South Pacific, but you sweat here in the factories. You work hard to do everything in our power to increase efficiency and productivity to keep our boys going. Their missions and sacrifices will save our way of life.” Mrs. Sullivan took a sip of water from the glass on the podium. “I want to personally thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your service.”

“My son George wrote in one letter, ‘We brothers make a great team together. We can’t be beat.'” Mrs. Sullivan’s voice quavered. “My boys made a good team to the end, and you are a good team as well. When you think the world is ending, keep your chins up and support one another. We need to band together as our country and your men fight this terrible war. Your efforts are as important as every man in battle. You are our protecting the front lines at home.”

Mrs. Sullivan held the audience in her hand. She invaded the girls’ hearts as if she spoke personally to each one of them.  “God bless all of you for your fine work.” She stepped back from the microphone, and the entire cafeteria erupted in applause. One after another, the girls stood on their feet and cheered for Mrs. Sullivan. Tears rolled down cheeks as the little woman took her place under a banner with five gold stars – one for every son who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

Chapter 21

Budapest, Hungary-November—A year had passed since Heidi and the children knocked on Rabbi Weissman’s door. Under his roof the children found happiness again and were free to get into mischief like children. Little Jacob learned to walk and chattered like a baby bird. David kept busy reading every book in the Rabbi’s library, and Ruthie practiced her ballet steps under Heidi’s instruction. Best of all, they played with Gavriella and the Rabbi’s five children.

Staying at with the Rabbi and Gavriella showed Heidi the fear and desperation of Jewish families. Families from every country in Europe drifted through the Rabbi’s home searching for a long-term answer to Hitler’s “final solution.” Many planned to seek asylum in Palestine, but such trips proved to be risky and expensive. Heidi wondered just how long she and the children would be safe with the Rabbi. If Hitler’s march through Europe was any indication of what was to come to Hungary, she would need an exit plan ready.

One day Heidi approached the Rabbi studying in his office. “Rabbi? I need to speak with you. Is now a good time?”

“He looked up from his text and smiled. “Heidi, please come in. Tell me what is troubling you.”

“I am concerned, Rabbi. What will we do if the Germans should overtake us?”

“Why do you trouble yourself with such things, Heidi? You are like a daughter and your children are like my own grandchildren. Do not worry. My people will take care of all of you.”

“But I think the children might be safer if I left with them? Let’s face the facts, Rabbi, everything is more restrictive and food rations are more stringent. We are a burden on you.”

“You are no such thing!” The Rabbi’s closed his book and stood up. “I promise you Heidi, you will not go hungry here. If danger rears its ugly head, I will take the necessary action. You are safe, child. I do have a plan for you.”

Heidi smiled, but she pursued her line of thought. “Wonder if all the Jewish people in Budapest are rounded up and sent to the camps like Poland and other places? The Nazis would take all of us and throw us onto the trains. I must keep my promise to Dora to protect the children.” Tears welled in her eyes. “The children will fare better if we leave.”

The Rabbi stood and gazed at the girl. “No. I do not want you to leave! A young girl like you traveling alone with three small children would be quite perilous.”

“But I am German, Rabbi. I speak with the right dialect. I can get them through to Switzerland where we will all be safe.”

“Heidi. Listen. A woman traveling without a man, especially in war is an easy target, my child.” The Rabbi spoke with concern in his voice. “You might be overpowered, beaten, raped or killed. I really wish you would not dwell on this subject.”

“How can I not?” Heidi paused. “What man who would go with me?”

The rabbi pulled at his long salt-and-pepper colored beard as he considered her question. “Right now, the Hungarian government will not deport any Jews from Budapest. Eichman made an agreement with my organization.”

“And you think the agreement will last?” Heidi thought the Rabbi deluded himself to think a Nazi like Eichman could be a man of his word.

“For right now? Yes. In the future, no one can predict.  So, I pray to God. He will keep me apprised of what I need to do and when I need to take action.”

“I pray, too, Rabbi-every night that God will protect the children. They deserve a chance to grow up.”

“Yes, Heidi.” The Rabbi smiled. “And so do you.”

 

 

Chance Encounters

City scape 002Yeah, I know. You’ve all seen this painting before, and I truly am not bragging by any means, but I included it because it’s central to today’s post.

I took this abstract Cityscape to Michaels  craft store to have a custom frame made for it. A sweet young clerk waited on me and put up with me taking over half of the framing samples off the wall to put them on the corners of my painting. One thing that aided both of us was a software program that actually took my frame selections around a photo of my painting, so I could see what the finished product would look like. In twenty to thirty minutes, I made my decision, plus I almost stayed within my budget!

Breille asked me how I spelled my last name, so to make things easier for her, I pulled out one of my business cards. (I went to Vistaprint and designed a card that has pictures of my novels on the back side.) A business card is the cheapest advertising you can have for yourself–so if you don’t have one, it’s a good investment. Breille was impressed by my prolific collection of historical fiction, and it turned out she is a student at my Alma Mater. Of course, we spent a few more minutes talking about her present experience with her classes and professors.

Because my graduation was almost twenty-five years ago, most of my professors are either dead or retired, so I didn’t know any of the instructors she mentioned. I don’t even know if the Communication and English programs are the same as what I completed. You know, time changes all.  Yada Yada Yada.

Breille wants to become a media journalist, so I asked her if the University offered this type of major within the Communication, and she didn’t know. I asked her if her adviser was helping her, and she said no.

I encouraged her to find an adviser who would work with her, and then I shared my experience with my adviser and how she helped me achieve the goals I wanted. In the English department, a business writing major wasn’t offered, but through eighteen credits of internship, my adviser helped me graduate with a professional portfolio I could show potential employers once my sheepskin hung on the wall. The caveat was I graduated with a year of practical experience because I became a member of a professional writing team with a Fortune 500 Communication company.

Breille’s eyes lit up as I told her what I had done, and I encourage her she could get what she wanted, too. All she had to do was see the goal and work toward it with everything inside of her. I truly believe if you want to achieve you can.

The best part of this story is I left the store with a gift. Breille told me, “Meeting you made my day, Barbara.”

I love chance encounters like this one because perhaps something I did or said might make a difference for someone else. You never will realize the future affect of your actions or words because these moments are the cliff- hanger of life. The most important thing, though,  is connecting with another person in a special way for a few special moments.

Oh, and by the way, Breille made my day, too.

Student Teachers

Tormented writerEarlier in the year, I gave my class a Mastery Test to see what areas they need the most help. After careful consideration, I decided to give them all a taste of their own student medicine and make them the teachers of one of the sections.

At first they were all okay with the idea, after all, how hard could teaching be? All a person had to do was stand in front of the class for a few minutes and write on the board. The class was divided into four groups and given class time to plan their approach to teaching their subject.

Last night was guinea pig night. The first group was up. I sat in the back of the room and tried to help them get through the embarrassment of teaching something they really didn’t take the time to understand; consequently, they totally confused the rest of the class. There was a lot of blank faces in the “audience” and perplexed faces on the four students trying to impart their lack of knowledge.

I think the experiment was a success. The team learned teaching isn’t as easy as they thought, especially when the class asked me to reinforce the ideas that the team was trying to “teach.” Hopefully, Group #3 who are up next in November will learn from the guinea pigs and do a better job of preparation.

I had hoped having the students “teach” would make them at least look at the book and try to understand the material. I’m really concerned that so many of the young students really don’t seem to give a rip about anything. Every class, I try to get them excited about the world around them, but there seems to be no curiosity.

I feel sorry for them that they don’t seem to find joy in learning new things. I understand basic grammar and sentence structure  is boring, but with creative assignments like having a chance to teach the class and have the ability to do it the way they chose would get their juices flowing. Instead, they crawled through the chapter and didn’t present anything fun or stimulating.

Oh well, we’ll see what the other groups do as the dog days of the semester crawl on. Hopefully, we’ll find one teacher in the masses. I hope the profession isn’t a lost art.

The First of Many Days

bookwormWe’ve turned over a page of the calendar over the weekend, bringing us to September–my favorite month of the year. The weather is warm, but not hot, the mums start blooming, and school starts again.

For the past three summers, I have taught writing part-time at the community college, which was followed by a two-week hiatus before the next semester began. Tomorrow I will meet a new crop of recruits. A new chance to inspire a another group to learn the basics of English grammar and writing.

Even though I’ve taught this same class a half dozen times, each first day of school is filled with apprehension for me. Will I have chemistry with my students, or will they stare at me with glassed-over eyes? Will they see me as a vibrant teacher or some old babe who is making them sit for two hours to plow through the dry subjects of parts of speech. Will the new things I have planned flop or fly? Will I get lucky and impress upon a few students that writing is a fun, creative outlet or will I have to fail over half of them for lack of interest? I ask myself the same questions every time I step in front of a new class.

I’m just happy that we are introduced to each other at such a pleasant time of the year. For some reason, the Fall Semester signals a time to let the fun of summer go and begin work again. It’s been ingrained in us since we were five and toddled off to kindergarten. I only hope my adults students will carry that same excitement I remember when I went back to school every Fall. It would make everything so much easier for all of us.

Epilogue and Prologue of a New School Session

downloadThe unofficial end to summer is only days away, but the weather is protesting this premature ending. It will be close to 90 again today. For a northerner, this is not exactly the climate we signed up for. So, while many other people prepare their last hurrahs for the end of summer, I will be home in the air conditioning preparing my syllabus and waiting for my letter of employment to be sent to my “in” box.

The college “powers that be” decided they would jump into the 21st century and use the internet to broadcast this most important document to all adjunct teachers. The document was supposed to come yesterday, but if I know technology, it will probably show up sometime next week. The delay will be caused by unexpected bugs and the necessary training the administration staff needs to complete their end of this process. It should go smoothly–in a couple of years, that is.

Why is it everything that is supposed to make your life easier never really does? It’s been my experience that such changes are painful at first. It seems no one has the empirical knowledge to take into account all of the variables that need to be considered and then compensate for them. It isn’t until the program crashes a few times before the pesty computer gremlins are rooted out before the programmers get the results everyone is expecting. In the meantime, everyone sweats the deadline and fears they won’t get paid because of some computer glitch.

Last Saturday all adjunct teachers attended an “In Service” training session to get the latest greatest news and developments on campus. This automated LOE (letter of employment) was one of the things presented to us. When the IT guru said the service wasn’t quite ready, I groaned. You see, I’ve worked with technology people for years in web development, and I learned the nuances of the trade. If I had been in charge of this project, I would have had a stack of paper LOEs in the wings for back-up. Everyone would sign their John Hancock’s on the paper in case the automated system fell on its butt. Yeah. But that’s just me.

So, over the weekend, I will be preparing my lesson plans, syllabus, and other new things I want to try in my class this fall, while the computer gods make the technology folks nuts with their tricks. We’ll just have to wait and see who wins the battle.

Putting Writing & Work Together

writingHave you ever noticed students don’t seem to think “work” and “writing” belong together? They believe they can sit down with pencil and paper, or with their hands on the keyboard in front of a computer screen and turn out a work of art–the first try.

Throughout the summer, I’ve tried to explain to them that writing is not unlike a sculpturer who chips and chisels away at a granite stone until he reveals the shape he desires. Writing can also be compared to a painter who has a blank canvas and slaps on shade after shade of pigment until his or her painting comes alive. It’s the same with writing. It’s hard work. It’s a process.

Today I’m giving a practice exam so when my students take their final, they won’t freak out. Test anxiety seems to be high in my class. I have more confidence in them than they have in themselves. One problem is, they over-think their answers.

Since the first day of class,16 out of 20 students have diligently dragged themselves out of bed to attend class, and I showed them they have actually learned something. I proved to them they have grasped spotting grammatical errors with a proof reading exercise we did in class on Monday.

My goal is to inspire them so they can go on and be successful. I also want them to find that inner creative streak. Their creativity might not show up in the arts–it might raise its beautiful head in accounting, computer science, horticulture or even mechanics. I’ve given them permission (some people also seem to need this) to think creatively to ask “why?”

So as our class draws to an end, if they aren’t yet in touch with their inner two-year old, then perhaps more than half of them will pass the final.

Raising the Curiosity Quotient

bookwormAs we turn the page of the calendar to August, again all thoughts turn to school supplies—or so the ads on television make us want to believe. I swear you don’t even need a calendar any more because you can gauge the time of the year by what ads you endure on the “tube.”

I find it ironic these ads appear when my writing class is winding down. We have this upcoming week of classes and then a final the next week. On the 19th of August, my students will know if the work they did with me is worthy of passing onto the next class or whether they will have to repeat the course with a different instructor.

In three more weeks, the Fall semester will begin. I’m assigned to teach the same prep writing class, but at a campus ten minutes from my home, which will make any impending winter weather no threat. The educational cycle will repeat. Some students will excel, others will not. Some students will be inspired; others will sit like lumps waiting for me to pour the necessary information into their heads with little effort on their part. And like my class now, some will pass and others will not. And so it goes.

After teaching for two years, I have learned a lot. One thing is the curiosity level of most student is almost non-existent. If I can influence one thing in their lives, this would be it. I’d like to get them to wonder about the world around them and ask why are things the way they are, and what can they do to change them.  Most young people I’ve met seem to have no zest to learn or to ask questions about matters that affect them. Has their world made them so apathetic and discouraged at such a young age?

So as this semester ends and the next begins, I will spend the following sixteen weeks to try to turn on some little part of my students to show them learning is fun. I will try to open their eyes to see education is the key to unlock the doors of the future.  It’s a tough job, but I’m up for the task. My hope is at least one young mind will be switched on to have the curiosity toask “why,”  the persistence to get an answer, and the courage to fix what is broken,

Testing and Learning–Are They The Same?

failure-successMy writing class had another test last week and as usual, I put off grading them until Sunday afternoon. I don’t like tests myself, and I hate the results I see when I have to grade them. Like most other tests, I was disappointed in the outcome. The highest mark was 85. Five students out of fifteen passed. The rest did horribly.  Everything on the test was in their books. There was no surprises. I cautioned them, “this will be on the test,” as we went through the material together. When asked, they say the test was fair, so, why the high rate of failure?

Students say they want to pass, but I think at this point it’s just lip service. Most of them are in class everyday, but somewhere along the line there is a disconnect. They tell me they love coming to class because I’m their favorite teacher, but yet, I get these kinds of results on my “fair” tests. I wish I didn’t have to give tests to measure their progress at all, but there is really no other way to make sure if they are learning what I am teaching.

These adult novice students have a lot of stresses in their lives with family responsibilities and full-time jobs. Many of them are single parents;  all of them have seen hard times or are living them.  I understand that, but right now, their world is too narrow to see the bigger picture. What these students haven’t learned yet is this:  Everyone who wants to improve must sacrifice on many levels.  I think this is where the disconnect is happening. They are too early in the educational process to realize if their desire is to graduate, they must move their education to the top spot in their priorities.

Twenty-five years ago I learned this the hard way, too. In fact, I always share with all of my classes that I have gone through what they are experiencing now. I was an adult student with full-time school, job, and children, but as I got deeper into the educational challenges of my curriculum, I realized I wasn’t super woman who could do it all. I had to make a choice. Did I want a degree bad enough to make changes in my life?  Those changes involved other unwilling participants who were involved in my life, and needless to say, they weren’t happy about what was going on. They had lost their personal slave who did everything for them.

Now I’m on the other side of the hill–teaching. I do my best to reach out to my students and warn them of the upcoming potholes they will deal with on their journey. But like so many other travelers, they want to blaze their own trail and will eventually fall into the hazards I tried to point out.  My biggest dream is they will take away something more than grammar and writing lessons as they go forward.

Only the believers will succeed, and their sacrifices will be many, so any adult student who walks across the stage on graduation night to accept his or her diploma has my love and respect. They deserve it.

Building Vocabulary, Word by Word

colorful libraryDon’t you just love how things in this world all work together? We have to separate knowledge into different departments in school to make subjects manageable, but if you’re smart enough and take enough classes, you’ll realize that what you learn in a film class affects literature and what you study in an English lit class is mirrored in history. So on and so on.

With that in mind, yesterday, in my writing class I gave a different kind of spelling test. It wasn’t a “normal” spelling test–a list of words to memorize or even better, to sound out to help them increase their vocabularies and make them cognizant of tricky spellings.   The words came from an assigned reading about a day in the life of an ER nurse. At the bottom of the pages in the reading, the unusual words and their meanings were pulled from the text and defined. All the class had to do was read the lesson and pay attention to the footnotes.

Yesterday, the test was given. SURPRISE, SURPRISE! All but one student failed. I proved my point.

This demonstration showed them that reading and writing work together in many different ways, and one of the most important ways is to expand one’s vocabulary. I asked them what they did when they came across a word they didn’t understand. One student said, “Look it up,” of course this is the apple-polisher in the group. Another honest student said, “Skip it and go on.”

Now granted, in common vernacular we don’t use words like cacophony, bane, or palpable too often, but in order to get the most out of the reading a person can just stumble over such words and go on. Their first instinct should have been to head for the nearest dictionary. If they had taken the time to look up the word, their memories would file away another tool in their word arsenal to use later on. They would have accomplished a goal and increased their vocabularies by one more word. My students are adults, but somewhere along the line, they haven’t been taught such a wise idea, or they have become apathetic and don’t care. In either case, they are cheating themselves from growing.

Once again, I attempted to throw another plate of imaginative spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. In this case, I can only hope some of my class will learn from my little practical demonstration. After all, it would be nice to know one other person who knows what cacophony means.

P. S. I didn’t grade the test.

Fallout From “Freshly Pressed”

festival_of_books1Since I was “Freshly Pressed” a week ago, so much has happened. It’s thrilling to receive such a terrific honor, but the best part has been all the great teachers and students who have responded to the post with their own experiences. One fellow adjunct instructor wrote a brilliant line I want to share with you. Listen to this: Education is about exploration, not memorization. I love it!

How true it is. Memorizing something is only good for something specific. I’ m thankful I learned the “Times Tables” in third grade, and I still remember being so proud when I got to the “9’s” — little did I realize I already knew all the “9 times 1 through 9.” Dah. But at the time, it was a proud accomplishment which I use to this day.

I also memorized the little jingle about the months of the year. “Thirty days hath September, April, June and November. All the rest have 31, except February with 28 in leap year when you add one.”  I’m sure you can conjure up some little ditties you learned  helped you remember things you didn’t have to think about often.

We also had to memorize battle dates of the Revolutionary and Civil wars. How boring. That information stayed in my head just long enough to ace the test and then it was gone!

Wouldn’t have been wonderful to have learned history through the experiences of the people who lived it. Like a teacher who came into class one day dressed like a frontiersman or a woman with a spinning wheel and a butter churn? I would have loved history if I had a teacher who would have taught the subject by turning us on to how people lived. Wouldn’t have been a hoot to have a Confederate or Union soldier show up one day and argue their different points of view. What would it have been like to try a hard-tack cracker, which was the food the soldiers carried with them when nothing else was available? Or how about hearing from a person who brought a picnic lunch to watch a battle unfold in front of them like entertainment. Let them tell you about how they ran away when the reality of the noise of the cannons shook the earth and made huge holes in the ground and mud flew into the air. Let them tell of the cries of the wounded and the screams of amputations without anesthesia.

Assignments could also be so creative. How about writing a journal from one of the drummer boys’ or junior officers’ perspectives? Assignments like this would spur students into the libraries to read about such accounts and fire up their imaginations to think about life in a different time period that proved to be so integral to who Americans nowadays.

Learning has become lazy for so many students, but sometimes I think teaching has become so, too, not because teachers don’t want to teach but because so much of their time is wasted on administration or it is taken up with discipline issue which should begin handled at home Teachers in my day were respected  and if you got into trouble at school, you would pay the consequences at home.

I have lots of ideas, but no real authority or even education to make such changes come about. I just know what kinds of things would send me to the library to know more. I’m simply a person who never thought she wanted to teach, but discovered how much I loved being in front of a class to encourage blank faces into inquisitive minds who want to know more. What a quest!