File puptcrit/puptcrit.0606, message 213

Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2006 22:02:13 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] EDUCATION

I am a product of public elementary and high school. At age 5 we lived 
in a small city and I got to see kindergaden on the visiting day of the 
year before I would have attended. I had never seen so many art 
supplies, toys and games in one room. I looked forward to attending.

But we moved to a rural area that had no kindergarden at all. At age 6 
I attended a one room country school. Myrtle Overson, my 40 something, 
unmarried, teacher had two years of college and a teacher's license. 
She managed a classroom of students aged 6 through 18 better than any 
educator I have known sinse. Most of my time was spent at my desk while 
the older kids were up front in their basic 3R  classes, so at age 6 I 
got a preview of grades 2 through 8, and knew those materials long 
before it was formally taught to me.

Our "library" was a couple of book shelves at the back of the room. We 
were free to use the books anytime we wanted. Art and music classes 
were broadcast from the state capital via the radio once a week. Myrtle 
played piano and we all sang every day. Myrtle cast me in my first play 
before I had ever seen a play performed and when, at age 8 I asked if I 
could write and direct my own play, Myrtle said, of course.

We were in an agricultural area, and part of each year we were joined 
by migrant worker kids, some with very little english language 
experience. So integration seemed a  very usual part of life. Myrtle 
never advanced someone unless they achieved their learning and so some 
of the less academically inclined were 18 years old. We all studied 
together and helped each other as needed. We also played together at 
recess. Elmer Johnson, a gentle giant of an 18 year year old farm boy, 
let us climb on him like a mountain and seemed to never tire of giving 
us high speed merry go round rides. He went on to be a very successful 
executive in a farm equipment manufacturer.

The land in the area had a shallow layer of rich top soil over several 
feet of clay. The only non farm industry was a drain tile factory. We 
dug out own clay, made arts and crafts and they fired our creations at 
the factory.

Loving learning as well as understanding how different people learn and 
taking full responsibility for my own learning were intrinsic to this 
early formal education. It has served me well ever since and led me in 
my work as an artist, educator and parent.

I will forever be in the debt of Myrtle Overson. Within a few years we 
expanded into a 2 room school. Miss West, a 19 year old teacher with, 
again, 2 years of teachers college became my second public school 
teacher. What she lacked in experience she made up for with humor and 
love. If I had one wish for children today it would be to have such and 
amazing educational experience.


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