Education is hanging around until youve caught on.
- Robert Frost
As another school year ends, local parents may ask: Are the schools in Columbia County as good as they say they are? Are we, and our children, getting our education moneys worth?
No school system is perfect, but if there are regrets for choosing to educate children in this county rather than in other locations nearby, they are mild and few. Columbia County schools continue to accrue high marks. Then again, as we often hear, where we live or the quality of the schools we attend is only part of the education story.
Robert Fulghum stunned the literary world nearly 20 years ago with his bestseller, All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Principles like sharing toys, cleaning up your mess, and putting things away, he wrote, were lessons learned early that have guided him ever since.
Naturally, when new - and profitable - ideas fall on public ears, spin-offs hit the marketplace, too. So when I received this Fulghum imitation a short time ago, I wanted to share my new educational toy. From the pen of Frank Brothers, published by Portal Publications, Ltd, here is, All I need to know about life I learned from a cow:
Theres always a lot at steak.
Chew your food at least 200 times before swallowing.
Dont be just one of the herd.
Dont be bossy.
Graze your way to the top.
Its butter to have milked and churned than never to have milked at all.
Im not clever enough to come up with anything close to a Fulghum/Brothers creation, and I dont mean to use their humor to downgrade the education process in the least. But these gentlemen have made me think about some of the lessons I, too, have learned from unlikely teachers, and outside of school.
My son was 5 the year our neighborhood service station gave away small, green goblets with every tank of gas. Though I should have given my clumsy lad a plastic cup, one day I gave in to his plea to use the new glass we had just brought home. He had hardly reached the den, however, before he dropped and spilled his drink and broke the glass.
I can still hear myself scolding him for making a mess - and the sobbing reply that melted a mothers heart: It was such a pretty glass.
The lesson: Fractured feelings are a lot more important than broken things.
That wasnt the first time this child was the teacher and I the student. A couple of years earlier, whenever he and his older brother started playing their favorite game the older one would yell, First! followed by the little ones enthusiastic, Thecond! It never entered his head that when there are only two players, thecond means last. He needed no coach to tell him it mattered not that he won or lost, but just that he could play the game.
The other son, with more learning potential than he ever exhibited in school, failed English in the fourth grade. How, I sputtered, could he fail a subject hed always aced.
I didnt pass in my notebook.
And why didnt you?
Why write down what I already know?
I wondered who the failure was after that: the child, the one-size-fits-all teacher, or the parent who once thought report cards were the only measure of educational success.
Sometimes it takes a while to absorb those kindergarten principles, to learn from other creatures and children, or to reach the level of this anonymous graduate: Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local free-lance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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