By Lynn Moncus: QCS columnist
At this time of year, the student and teacher in me become more than a little restless because school is starting, thus bringing back many wonderful memories of those years spent in the classroom on one side of the desk or the other.
The formal student years began 65 years ago at Central School and will continue as long as I can manage to think and to learn. When we quit learning, we really quit existing as human beings.
The day during which we don’t learn something new must be a black day indeed because we have to but awaken each morning to begin adding to our knowledge. Of course, as we age, we tend to lose some of that knowledge in the cobwebs of our minds, but if we pause to clear a path, we can usually find the missing files in order to add to them.
The teaching years began 50 years ago at Forrest and ended rather abruptly when I retired after 34 years although I have managed a few informal teaching experiences during the interim. Those years were really a combination of teaching and learning, with the majority of the time being spent in the latter activity as constant learning goes hand and hand with teaching.
While listening to some mothers of young children discussing the items they had to purchase before sending them to school, I was recalling how simple such purchases once were. About all we needed to begin was a Big Chief tablet, a pencil, and a small box of crayons. What more would anyone need in order to learn the three R’s and to enter the fine art of coloring within the lines?
We eventually went into higher grades and substituted notebooks, notebook paper, and fountain pens for the original necessities while continuing to learn the joys of learning. By today’s standards, we would be considered to have been neglected, but by yesterday’s standards, we were well supplied for many years of formal education.
Obviously, times have changed drastically on both sides of the desk because technology has supplanted almost everything we once did with such ease in quiet surroundings. Now, without computers, calculators, palm pilots, etc., children don’t have a chance to enjoy the silence and are definitely underprivileged if they don’t have cell phones and all sorts of games to entertain them while they “learn.” Many still have a few books to carry around, but that will be history ere long when all learning and teaching becomes computerized.
On campus, we used to laugh about the idea of taping our lectures and playing them to the students’ tape recorders. Now that would be plumb passe. Computers just communicate with each other while humans wander around the halls of academe searching for some kind of purpose.
After all these years, I am most thankful to have received my simple education and to have had so many outstanding teachers and students. We talked to each other, we laughed, we learned, and we have led right good lives. We can look back and smile when we discuss our learning processes and try to compare them to those of today. Oranges and apples really are different.