So this meme comes from Chas, whose blog “Letter from Hard Scrabble Creek”
Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for students to learn about.
Give your picture a short title.
“The Boy and his Dog are Thinking.”
Title your blog post "Meme: Passion Quilt."
Link back to this blog entry.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008 entry for “Letter from Hardscrabble Creek” See above.
Include links to 5 (or more) educators.
This one won’t work. I don’t think I know any educators with blogs except for Richard Stern at the University of Chicago who publishes his in the rarefied context of “The New Republic,” far over my head. Other than Tim, who vlogs rather than blogs anyway, and whose mention would chase all sorts of coyotes my way. The teachers I know are at the secondary level, which means they are lucky to have time to sleep, much less blog.
So instead I’ll tell you about this photo. It’s Leland, my student in the 7th grade in Browning, Montana, standing beside the dog of the band teacher who has such a dog because he’s on the Blackfeet Reservation and was scared of Indians. (His wife probably was not.) However, Leland knows dogs have always been friends of the Blackfeet and is not intimidated. He sometimes uses his great-grandfather’s name: Eagle Calf. Also, he has been given the traditional name, “Jumps Up.”
The scene is just outside my classroom at the back of the school built by Doug Gold, another highly controversial white fellow. His father was the local Presbyterian minister, a Scotsman, but that is forgotten. Gold is accused of politically incorrect things but was Bob Scriver’s revered superintendent of schools. Gold’s daughter lives here in Valier. For a while it was suggested that this school be renamed for Gold, but the Neo-Traditionalists rose up in horror. It ended up being “Napi School,” which means it is named for a much more indecent and incorrect fellow than Gold could hope to be. (Napi is the mythological trickster.)
Leland is a massive grandfather now and runs a medical supply business out of the house where Bob Scriver was born and grew up. Both Bob’s parents came to the house as newlyweds and died of old age there many decades later. Just a few days ago Leland and his friend came by my house in Valier and helped to assemble the stovepipe on the little wood stove in my garage so I can burn up the sticks I’ve been pruning from my yard trees.
Leland is one of the most curious-minded and reaching-out students that I’ve taught. When he knew me, I was 21 and just forming my two big rules for life:
1. If you must choose between education and money, choose education.
2. If you must choose between adventure and security, choose adventure.
This has brought me near the end of my seventh decade broke but full of wild stories. No regrets. Leland, who was maybe 12 when I was 21, never made such formal rules but has had a similar life. His dedication to Pentecostal evangelism has taken him far to the north. His love of traditional Blackfeet ways, his family, and this place have brought him back here. He has made his living mostly as a hospital accountant, because he loves math. I think we independently reached the same conclusion about what is worthwhile in life. Sometimes a teacher is most effective by example.
Bob Scriver also taught on this reservation and there was a time when we went to events that if his voice was heard, heads of grandparents who had been his students went up, and when my voice was heard, the heads of the grandchildren went up. It was simple conditioning, not any kind of homage. Sometimes they were very angry at us and other times they weren’t. Now when I go to events alone, people throw their arms around me and exclaim, “teacher!” because they came from a time when teachers were at least respected. Often I don’t recognize them because we’re changed by time passing. Sometimes they are people whom I would have cheerfully strangled in the classroom. Other times students I loved have turned away with contempt.
Alvina Krause, legendary acting teacher at Northwestern University, used to say that both the tragedy and comedy of teaching was that one would never know the results until decades later. Which the rose and which the skunk cabbage? Who would earn the Nobel Prize and who would be killed in a drunken car crash two years after high school graduation? They’ve pretty much sorted themselves out by now.
If I knew a former student of mine who blogged, I would link him or her now. Some became teachers but none became bloggers -- that I know of. But we never exhaust our knowledge of each other. Leland and I have a lot to talk about because we both followed my Rules for a Life and now we’ve become equals. We both like to sit by a warm woodstove and tell stories. Maybe now that Chas is retiring, he'll drop by.