Mrs. Bower, Mrs. Van BusKirk, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Weaver, Mr Snyder, Mr. Bowen and Miss Wheaton.
Those names mean nothing to you, but I will never forget them because they shaped my life. I guess in today’s jargon you could say they made me privileged.
Those individuals were my teachers in the 1950s. They taught me reading, writing, arithmetic, history and believe it or not, mechanical drawing – which I took with the same teacher from 7th grade through high school.
Except for reading and mechanical drawing, I was a very average student. But no matter, these teachers gave me the basic tools I needed. The value they created was well beyond anything I learned in nine years of college at night- which was a joke.
Mrs. Bower, a 6th grade teacher, volunteered to start class an hour early for anyone who wanted to learn a little German. Mr. Sherman was a giant of a black man who never gave up on us. Mr Snyder was able to make simple bookkeeping tolerable. Each of them had qualities I can recall after sixty years. Mr Weaver had the patience of a saint as we labored over detailed drawings. I still have some of the equipment I used in those days.
I think back to those days and I have to laugh. In 2021 we argue over the fairness of standardized and proficiency testing of children. We make excuses for children who “don’t test well.” We ignore low, in some cases, pathetic proficiency test scores. We have excuses for everything. Free college is necessary to get ahead we are told, while many high school graduates are unprepared for college.
College isn’t the magic solution. Having a sound foundation in the basic skills – including in history- is.