Tag: teacher

Growing Your Vocabulary

⚽ It is well known that writers make grammatical “mistakes”.  It happens to us all, regardless of our efforts not to.  For centuries, we have searched for a gender neutral missing third-person pronoun. that could be used in place of he or she when gender is unknown or irrelevant.  Grammarians have always insisted that it is plural, but more and more it has become accepted to use “they” as a substitute for the singular he/she.  Personally, I have used it in that way for several years, knowing it was plural, but ignoring my college English teacher’s admonishment against doing so.  I believe that most of us can find instances in our life where we ignored accepted practices and discovered later that what we did previously had become outdated.  For example, most people believe that it is better to read a book than listen to an audiobook, but today it is a fact that more people listen to audiobooks.  In the past, most people kept up with what was happening in the world by reading newspapers and today most people get their news online.  Now, most of us file our taxes electronically, whereas in the past we used paper forms and struggled with tax codes.  Yup, times have changed, and we need to change with it.  I now feel comfortable using “they”.  Times have changed!     

⚽ “Now that I’m old, my teachers are the young”… Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America.  He died in 1963 at age 88, and he was known for his depiction of rural life.  How odd it is that back then (‘40s &’50s) he thought adults could learn from the young, because I grew up during that time and adults, in my experience, paid little heed to the young.  I’m not saying we weren’t loved, but that we had very little influence on adults.  I do think the current generation of adults are influenced by the young.  We have high school students lobbying for gun control laws, Greta Thunberg (age 15) of Sweden is lobbying in behalf of climate control All Over the World and as I watch the evening news, I see young people trying to make their voices heard everywhere.  The Democrats currently have a relatively young gay man (Pete Buttigieg, age 38) running for their party’s presidential nomination.  John F. Kennedy was our youngest president at age 43. You must be at least 35 years of age to run for that office.

So, yeah, I think young people influence us, and in more ways than we think.  While in my twenties I cursed often, influenced by coworkers, but believing I could avoid those words at home around my two young children.  Well, it eventually happened at home and seeing the bewildered look on my 6-year-old daughter’s face, convinced me to change my ways.  I never had that kind of influence on my dad 😊.  An old Swedish Proverb says, “Being young is a fault that improves daily”. 

⚽ My wife and I went to her post-op (post operation) visit with her surgeon two weeks after her operation on January 21st to reattach her colon & small intestine.  I asked him at what point could we feel safe about the reattachment not leaking and he replied, “Very rarely at this stage does that happen, I would say once in a blue moon”.  I know that a “Blue Moon” is two full moons within one month and it only happens every 2-3 years (It happens again on October 31). That made us feel a lot better because the elephant in the room was whether this could go south quickly and without any advance notice?   Later, while pondering his “Blue Moon” statement, I wondered about other colloquialisms.  As a kid, I was told, “You can wait until the cows come home”, meaning wait until it happens and that may take a while.  If Mom wanted to get something done quickly, she would tell me to “juice it up a little”.  She would also admonish me when I was in trouble, “You’re in a pickle now”.  That normally meant she was going to tell Dad of my offense when he got home from the coal mines and he was going to give me a “whuppin”.  I recall one time that my brother and I got into some mischief and she waited until we all sat down at the supper table and told him.   He firmly informed us that after we finished our meal, he would take us to the bathroom for a whipping (that’s always where the dastardly deed was done).  We ate every morsel of food on the table and that amused my father so much that he broke out in laughter and the lashing was avoided.  He was never very good at whipping my brother and I, seems he just didn’t have the heart to do it.  I can only recall him doing that twice in my life and I deserved both. 

To clear up the “Supper” thing; in the mountains of Virginia when I was a youth, we ate breakfast, dinner (lunch) and supper (dinner).  We carried our groceries in a “poke” (bag) and bought bottles of “pop” (sodas).  If you were afraid to fight another kid, you “chickened out”.  I kinda miss hearing those old expressions, but when I go back home every summer, those words are like music to my ears, reminding me of the kid I was all those long years ago, and how much I love the people that still use them.  If I had to draw a picture of my hometown, it would have to be drawn on my heart.    

⚽ Students are over 4 times more likely to drop out of school if they are unable to read proficiently by the 3rd grade.  I ran across that fact a few days ago and was dumfounded.  I know that by the time I was in the 3rd grade I had a stack of comic books that were waist high.  Our little two room grade school didn’t have a library, so the only reading material available were comic books.  If I came across something I couldn’t pronounce, or understand, I went running to my mother with my index finger firmly glued to the offending word.  By age 9 (1950), I felt I had mastered the art of reading😊.  I recall that in one comic book the person was watching TV, and I wondered “what in the heck is a TV”?  I also remember reading Dick Tracy in the Sunday Comics and being amazed when he would talk to someone far away by speaking into his watch.  It took about seventy years for that to happen.  With all the opportunities to read now, it’s inconceivable that our young children cannot read well.  I do believe the ability to read is a cornerstone for success in life.   I have only known three people that were illiterate.  One was very successful, one lived comfortably, and the other one depended on her husband for her livelihood.  I believe it is important to stress the importance of an education to our young people. Likely, today’s environment demands a college education to live a fulfilling life, but it is not impossible to make a good living minus a college degree.  It just makes it infinitely harder to accomplish.  

How do we help our young people get their education without incurring a mountain of debt?  Well, immediately after WWII, we allowed all ex-servicemen to attend 4 years of college under the GI Bill for free.  That investment in America’s future paid dividends, so why can’t we do something similar now?  Allow each high school graduate the opportunity to get 4 years of college for 2 years of community service in their chosen field immediately afterwards.  Failing to do so would require repayment of the cost of their education.  Also, if the student dropped out of college before completion, they would have to repay their educational cost to that point.  I’m confident the law would have to be more complex than what I’ve described, but smarter people could surely come up with a viable plan. 

Alice James said, “I wonder whether if I’d had an education I should have been more or less a fool than I am,”.  You know, I sometimes wonder that same thing! 😊    

Who Are We?

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare

⚽I happened upon that quote recently, and I think the Bard of Avon is on to something.  He has probably given us more quotes than anyone else in history, if we exclude President Trump😊.  I went thru the majority of my life believing I had not reached my full potential, that something was going to happen that would require all my energy, and I was going to have a major impact on, either the company I worked for, or the people around me.  That never quite worked out for me, but I have had a productive and rewarding life, not achieving my full potential, but twisting as much happiness from it as possible.  I think the Bard is asking us to do great things, but a great thing in my opinion is a collection of many small things done right.  If I’m driving down the road in a Porsche and pass someone on the road that needs help and I ignore their plight, have I reached my full potential as a human being?  If your neighbor needs help but won’t ask, are you reaching your full potential by offering to help without being asked?  There are many ways to achieve excellence in life, and it doesn’t have to be necessarily job related, it can be what you are as a person.  I can easily tell you the most successful businessman I have known, but I cannot tell you how successful he was as a human being or how much he is loved by those in his personal life.  And I’ll bet if I asked him which was more important all the money he has in the bank, or his family and friends, he would say family and friends.  

Albert Einstein said it so eloquently, ““Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”   Now that’s a horse I can ride!    

⚽ My wife amuses me often, and in the most innocuous ways.  She is averse to change and when that happens in our home, she becomes annoyed with me.  I recently replaced all the land phones in our home (4) with a new Panasonic KX-TGF572.  It is cordless and links to our two cell phones and downloads all my contacts from my cellphone for us to use.  It announces the name of the person calling, if listed in my contacts, so practically, everyone we know gets announced.  It has nine speed dials, so the nine people we call most are easily accessed by pushing one number and holding it for two seconds. To get any messages left, you push “Menu”, #323.  Now that bothers her.  With our old system, you simply pushed the “Play” button.  That bothers her a lot.  Never mind that it has all these other handsome features, that one little disappointment sours her attitude towards it.  A few years ago, I bought her a robot vacuum, which we named “Fred”, and I start it on Tuesday’s while she’s out grocery shopping.  By the time she gets home, Fred has finished his vacuuming and returned home to his charger, awaiting his turn again next week.  I think old Fred is a great addition to our family, he doesn’t have to be fed, nor clothed, and is perfectly satisfied with his role in our household.  But, there’s a reason why I turn him loose on Tuesdays and that’s because my wife is not home, because if she is, Fred gets a barrage of criticism, i.e., he moved a chair slightly, something fell over, etc. 

I believe it’s sorta like when she was replaced as the Navigator on our trips by our GPS.  She still gripes about that thing, although, it gets us to places that we would have a difficult time finding with a map.  I plan on making our next vehicle purchase an autonomous (self-driving) one, and I don’t think I will be disturbed because I have been replaced as the driver.  I can just imagine us getting in our car in our small town on the east coast and saying to it, “Take us to John & Philly’s house in Thousand Oaks, CA”, and off we go without  having to touch the steering wheel.  Then, I will get to enjoy the beautiful scenery that flows by outside just like my wife does now. H. Jackson Brown, Jr., said, “Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.”   Now that dog will hunt!

⚽  A few weeks ago, I was watching my granddaughter (Robin) on a Facebook video and she was describing her first grocery pickup at Walmart.  She ordered her groceries over the phone and drove there, they were waiting at the curb, and the attendant loaded them into the back of her van.  She was so excited that her voice increased two octaves.  As I watched that video, my thoughts drifted back to my teenage years in the 1950s when our local independent grocery store would take call-in orders, fill them, put the cost on your credit tab, and delivered them to your home.  You were expected to pay off your tab on payday, some did, and some didn’t.  I remember my parents owing our local grocer $1300 ($9,000 today) and I was ashamed to go to his store with my mother’s grocery list.  He never blamed me for non-payment, but I was, nevertheless, humiliated, because our family could not pay him.  I am unaware of how my father resolved that issue, but many more issues followed us as I slowly marched towards adulthood. 

Today, my wife and I put everything we buy on our credit card and pay it off monthly.  Heck, even the soda machines take credit cards.  I always carry some cash in my wallet, but I very seldom use it.  I guess what I’m getting at is some things that seem new and exciting to our younger generation is actually a very old concept.  I often wonder if we’ll ever get back to wearing our shirt collars turned up or cuffed jeans and flattop haircuts?  Do I yearn for the good old days?  Not really, because then I would have to give up the life I enjoy today, and I’m not willing to do that.  But it does give me pleasure to remember them. 

Someone once said, “What is hard to bear, is sweet to remember”.  I sorta think that’s true.

⚽ I received a phone call from an old high school classmate (Wayne) the other night and he just wanted to talk about the missive I wrote, “Teachers Make Excellent Friends”.  He enjoyed the article because he was a teacher for most of his life and, perhaps, it made him feel good that he had impacted so many lives.  He still lives within a few miles of where he grew up and enjoys his life immensely.  I can always tell because of the secret smile in his voice.  The one thing that he knows that maybe some of us just suspect, is that home is the place where our life story begins.  And, he has chosen to remain close to that special place in his life.  Most of his classmates, including me, left the place we still call “Home” for other places.  I still enjoy going back there every summer and visiting my family and friends, but I live eight hours away and time goes by so quickly.  And, I know the bottle is forever draining, because each trip back reveals that someone from my past has transitioned to the other side. 

Ok, getting back to my friend’s phone call.  He told me that when we were in last summer, he drove by where we usually stay (my cousin Harold/Willis) and was unable to discern if we were there, not willing to just barge in.  Oddly, we had driven past his home and, not seeing any vehicles, assumed they were out of town.  Normally, I would take out my cellphone and call, but back home you’ll be lucky to get a signal.  Back there your cellphone is just a camera.  You can go across the mountain to Richlands and your phone works well, but in Buchanan County the mountains are high, and the valleys are deep, all the women are smart and pretty and all the men are strong and handsome.  I guess that kinda makes up for not having a cellphone signal. 

When I go home this summer, my friend is on my “Visit” list.  An old Czech Proverb says, “Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends”.  Amen to that!    

Guest Blog

    No posts found in this category