Posted tagged ‘math’

“Education is the movement from darkness to light. “

April 10, 2015

This morning I noticed webbing between my toes. It appears I am beginning to adapt to a wet world where it rains every day. The sun is supposed to return, but I have become a skeptic worn down by snow and cold and rain.

In elementary school my day was chock full of subjects, some every day and some once a week. Many of them have since disappeared.

Back then no school room was complete without those green writing alphabet cards running atop the blackboards. On each was a single letter in both small and capital cursive forms. I always liked the capital Z and the capital Q. They were odd-looking and uncommon to use. We had penmanship a couple of times a week when we practiced the Palmer method. I remember the circles and the lines. I also remember mine were usually messy and didn’t resemble the examples we were following. The nun always stopped at my desk to show me how my hand should be moving up and down as I practiced. Many schools don’t teach writing any more. Cursive is disappearing.

Geography was always one of my favorite subjects. I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about knowing that Columbia produced coffee or that Costa Rica led the world in bananas, but I loved the pictures and the articles. I used to dream about visiting some of the countries in my book, but I never really believed I would see so many of them. When I was sixteen, we went to Niagara Falls and saw the falls from the Canadian side. I was visiting my first foreign country, and I was thrilled. They don’t teach stand alone geography any more either.

We had music a couple of times a week. We learned the fundamentals. I still remember every good boy does fine and face: the mnemonics for the names of the scale’s lines and spaces. We sang songs. I remember every nun had a mouth tuner like a round harmonica. She’d blow the note, and we were supposed to start singing the song on that note. I doubt we ever did. I was in the rhythm band in the first and second grades. I remember first year I did sticks and second year I did triangle. I always wanted tambourine.

Reading was a subject unto its self. We had reading books with stories then questions and new vocabulary at the end of each story. I always liked those books. Each year the stories shared a theme. My favorite was American folk heroes. I loved Pecos Bill and his riding the tornado. It was the only time he was “throwed” in his whole career as a cowboy. I learned about Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox, John Henry and Sally Ann Thunder who helped Davy Crockett and wore a real beehive as a hat and wrestled alligators in her spare time. There was even a sketch of her and the alligator. I got my love of reading from those books and those stories.

I was never bored in school. We went from one lesson to another quickly enough to stave off ennui. I looked forward to most of them but only tolerated the rest. I still don’t like arithmetic no matter what you call it.

“My grandma always said that God made libraries so that people didn’t have any excuse to be stupid.”

January 6, 2015

I’m still waiting for the celebration. Bring on the balloons, the cake and the conical hats. I did it. I took down almost all of Christmas yesterday. Only the trees are left for tonight’s lightning, for the celebration of the Epiphany.

I carried empty boxes up the stairs and filled boxes back down the stairs to the cellar. Some boxes were so heavy I couldn’t carry them so I slid them down the steps one step at a time. The block Christmas tree was the scariest to carry downstairs. Given my history, I was afraid of falling and scattering all those blocks, but I didn’t. It is safely secured until next year. The special ornaments went into individual small boxes then into the ornament box. The snowmen are still around the house and will stay a while longer. With the tree lights, the house still has a bit of the festivities about it. Wednesday will be a dark day. I miss Christmas.

I am not good with numbers, never have been. I counted on my fingers until at least college. If I hadn’t worn shoes, my toes would have extended my math ability. Words are my strength. When I first learned to read, I read everything I could at the Dick and Jane stage. I got to know their animals and their little sister. The more I read, the better I read so Dick and Jane were left in the dust. I read real books, not the ones filled with pictures. The books in school were boring so I went to the town library. That began my love affair with libraries. The college library was for studying and research though I often ran into friends who convinced me it was time to grab a drink or two after all that academic effort. My town in Ghana, Bolgatanga, had a wonderful library. It was designed by award-winning American architect J. Max Bond Jr. The design of the library always made the inside feel much cooler than outside. I was a frequent visitor.

I still go to the my local library and am on the board. I used to buy books all the time, but now I borrow most of them unless I just can’t wait to read the newest book from a favorite author.

I’m tired today, and I have PT which in this case,. after yesterday, might just mean physically tired.


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