It all began with her

Bob Greene, excerpts from I Actually Thanked A TeacherNow 88, she gave me a refresher in the lesson I’d learned in first grade: how to read the word ‘look.’ (wsj.com, April 12, 2017):

…My first-grade teacher was named Patricia Ruoff…I still recall the day she helped me learn the first word I could ever read…and she showed me what the shape of the four letters on the first page meant, and what they sounded like. That one word: “Look.”

I went home so thrilled that day. I knew how to read a word. “Look.” When the day had begun I hadn’t known it, and now I did. Such a magical feeling, accompanied by the sure knowledge that other words would soon follow. […]

it became important to me to find that teacher. It took some doing—it turns out she has been twice widowed, and thus has had two different last names since back then—but I reached a woman on the telephone who I thought might be her.

“I’m sorry if I have the wrong number,” I said. “But I’m looking for a Patricia Ruoff, who once was a schoolteacher.”

“Yes,” the voice said. “You have the right person.”

“You taught me to read,” I said.

I told her my name.

“Oh, Bobby,” she said. […] [Read more…]

Imagine an infant lying in its cradle, discovering its voice, purring and murmuring MMM to itself

leonard-bernstein

Bernstein reminded me that the word “education” is related to the Latin educere—“ to bring forth what is within”— and then added: “Though I can’t prove it, deep in my heart I know that every person is born with the love of learning. Without exception. Every infant studies its toes and fingers, and a child’s discovery of his or her voice must be one of the most extraordinary of life’s moments. I’ve suggested that there must be proto-syllables existing at the beginnings of all languages— like ma (or some variant of it), which, in almost every tongue, means mother— mater, madre, mère, mutter, mat, Ima, shi-ma, mama. Imagine an infant lying in its cradle, discovering its voice, purring and murmuring MMM to itself… […]

Whether teaching children or adults, Bernstein understood that loving and learning are inextricably linked, that real knowledge is a concomitant of the desire to know, and that music itself— a meeting of living creator and creative listener— is one of the most efficacious vehicles for teaching. As a conductor, Bernstein experienced the relationship between himself and his orchestra as that of a lover and his beloved. As he remarked at the conclusion of his 1955 Omnibus television broadcast “The Art of Conducting”:

“The conductor must not only make his orchestra play; he must make them want to play…. It is not so much imposing his will on them like a dictator; it is more like projecting his feelings around him so that they reach the last man in the second violin section. And when this happens— when one hundred men share his feelings, exactly, simultaneously, responding as one to each rise and fall of the music, to each point of arrival and departure, to each little inner pulse— then there is a human identity of feeling that has no equal elsewhere. It is the closest thing I know to love itself.”

~ Jonathan Cott, Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein


Notes: Original Source – Brainpickings

MMM*: Their hope is so bright I can almost see it.

hope-faith-light-bright-sun-woman-portrait

My students still don’t know what they will never be. Their hope is so bright I can almost see it. I used to value the truth of whether this student or that one would achieve the desired thing. I don’t value that truth anymore as much as I value their unrest hope. I don’t care that one in two hundred of them will ever become what they feel they must become. I care only that I am able to witness their faith in what’s coming next.

~ Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary


Notes: MMM* = Monday Morning Mantra. Photograph: in-constancy. Related Manguso posts: Manguso @ Live & Learn

Walking Cross-Town. On A Golden Autumn Day.

Steamy-Grates-walking-winter

I’m on the 5:40 am train to Grand Central.
I dose through most of the ride in.
The throngs spill out into Manhattan.

It’s 15° F, but feels like 0°.
Frigid wind gusts rush through the concrete canyons, whistling as they pass by.
Salt is gnawing on snow and ice.
Steam from underground tunnels billows out of steel grates and evaporates into air.
Now you see it, now you don’t.

The streets are beginning to stir.
Cabs. Delivery trucks. Construction workers.

I’m marching cross-town on 48th.
Headphones in. Playlist set to “My Top Rated.”

Gloves on.
Ear lobes are tingling, frost-bite workin’.
No hat. Can’t mess what hair I have left.

The wind shocks the corneas, my eyes water.
I see him a block away. A mirage.
I wipe my left eye.

It’s the legs I notice first.
They are suspended.
Swinging wildly, jointless.

I’m closing in.
Forearm crutches. Not one. Both arms.
He leaning in.
Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left.

I’m 30 feet away.
[Read more…]

Riding Metro-North. With our Kids.

a-few-good-men-jack-nicholson

It’s 5:25 am.
A dark, windless morning.
14° F.
I’m stepping quickly in my 1/2 mile walk to the station.
Suit. Top Coat. Gloves. Black lace-ups. No boots.
Fear of: Black ice + Tumble = Face plant.
My right ear is tingling.
A dandy frost bite when I was 11. No hat. No matter how long ago, acts of stupidity are never far from consciousness.

I glance at my watch. It’s tight. I step up my pace.
Way (WAY) short on sleep. Mood: heavy. Dark.
There will be retribution for the arranger of the 7 a.m. meeting in the City. Matthew 5:38: Eye for an Eye. DK 1:29:2015: Arm, Leg and Eye for an Eye.

There are days when you need to read with paper in your hands. With something real touching your fingers. Yet, I’m conscious of being the only one in a packed train car crinkling a newspaper, shattering the silence of fingers swiping digital pads. The commuter next to me is asleep. I work on folding the morning paper.

It’s maddening that I’ve never been able to hold and fold a newspaper like many commuters. I can’t roll my tongue. I can’t wiggle my ears. The genius who set up this 7 am meeting is going to feel the cold chill of the Juno aftermath.

I pan through the front section and my eyes lock on 4 lines. I have no expertise in this area. Zero fundamental knowledge. But I know what I see. I know what I feel. We’re in trouble.  [Read more…]

Lit Boy

John-VandeZande

I’ve reached the half-way mark of Updike, a biography on John Updike written by Adam Begley.  I pause to reflect on how I arrived here.  “Here” being how did I come to be reading John Updike’s biography.  Yes, it was Amazon’s Best Book of the Month for April, 2014. That helped, but that wasn’t it.  It was that man in the photograph that is responsible.  John VandeZande.

It was an undergraduate elective class titled “Good Books.” It was highly recommended by my senior jock buddies: “Just show up, read a few books and you’re done.”  I signed up for the class. I sat in the back of the room.  And hoped never to get called on.

He would assign Hemingway, Faulkner, Joyce, Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Updike, in his biography, would describe them as “textual titans.” At the time, I would describe them as literary unknowns – – DK, a lover of Hardy Boys who then graduated to the genres of Jeffrey Archer (Kane & Abel), James Clavell (Shogun & Tai Pan) and Stephen King – – was being heaved up into the major leagues.  I slumped further down in my chair at the back of the room.

He would break the awkwardness of the early classes by reading long passages from the assigned readings. He would sit on the edge of his desk.  The book in his right hand.  And then immerse himself in the passage. There were no pencils tapping. There was no shifting in chairs.  We were gently transported with him on the journey.

He struck the match. And stoked the fire. And I went on a tear.  First Hemingway with The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom The Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea. Then Faulkner with The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Light in August and Absalom, Absalom!. Followed by John Steinbeck with The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row and East of Eden.  And then John Updike with Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux and Rabbit Is Rich.  And to this day, my serial runs on “Textual Titans” continues. (In Begley’s biography of Updike, Updike explained that: “A real reader,” he explained, “reading to escape his own life thoroughly, tends to have runs on authors.” That had my head spinning.)

[Read more…]

Millennials. Listen up.

skills-students-future-chart


#2: Writing Effectively.  My 10th Grade English teacher underscored this for me YEARS ago.  And I see too much today that hurts the eyes.


Source: Pewresearch

Language Lesson 1 and 2…*

lessonThere was (is?) a number of enthusiastic fans of Saturday’s post titled Sloppy is as sloppy does…(Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  If you haven’t seen the post, it’s (its?) worth a peak.  The punch line?  Bad grammar and punctuation are (is?) bad.

So, wouldn’t you know it, LaDona (Piano Teacher extraordinaire) proceeds to proof read my old post titled: Who would have thought…

I made the mistake of checking my emails before bed time to find an email flashing from LaDona.  She took the courtesy of sending me a private email rather than censuring (aka humiliating) me in public in the comment section of my post.  (So Canadian of her!)

“Dave, you seem to be heading a campaign to clean up some bad writing habits (and rightly so!), so you might want to take care of the rogue apostrophes in the Zeke post. They are still not supposed to be used to denote plurals unless they show plural possession.  Kanigan’s is incorrect in this usage, as are most appearances of Viszla’s.”

[Read more…]

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