Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When Less is More

In 1929, the superintendent of schools in Ithaca, New York, sent out a challenge to his colleagues in other cities. "What," he asked, "can we drop from the elementary school curriculum?" He complained that over the years new subjects were continuously being added and nothing was being subtracted, with the result that the school day was packed with too many subjects and there was little time to reflect seriously on anything. This was back in the days when people believed that children shouldn't have to spend all of their time at school work--that they needed some time to play, to do chores at home, and to be with their families--so there was reason back then to believe that whenever something new is added to the curriculum something else should be dropped.
One of the recipients of this challenge was L. P. Benezet, superintendent of schools in Manchester, New Hampshire, who responded with this outrageous proposal: We should drop arithmetic! Benezet went on to argue that the time spent on arithmetic in the early grades was wasted effort, or worse. In fact, he wrote: "For some years I had noted that the effect of the early introduction of arithmetic had been to dull and almost chloroform the child's reasoning facilities." All that drill, he claimed, had divorced the whole realm of numbers and arithmetic, in the children's minds, from common sense, with the result that they could do the calculations as taught to them, but didn't understand what they were doing and couldn't apply the calculations to real life problems. He believed that if arithmetic were not taught until later on--preferably not until seventh grade--the kids would learn it with far less effort and greater understanding.[1]

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Death of a Salesman (but death is a misnomer)

Sometimes I feel like Willie Lohman, only I'm much happier. I've been on the road since the end of February. I flew to BWI (Baltimore International Airport), spent a night or two with friends in DC, then began my journey down to South Florida. After an 8 hour drive I spent the night in St. George, SC. After a morning of not taking advantage of the free processed food , but loving the free treadmill, I ventured on down to Daytona, where Bike Week was in full swing. Friends had rented a gorgeous house in an old neighborhood, with huge oaks and pines and imaginary bobcats.

The minute I entered Florida on Hwy 95 I was engulfed in nostalgia. I remembered walking hand in hand with Paul on the Mayport beach at the intersection of canal and Atlantic. We later took the same walk when I was pregnant and we conversed about how excited I was to be introducing a soul to our wayfarer lifestyle with all it's beauty and spontaneity.

In Daytona, my girlfriend & I visited the legendary Iron Horse Saloon, it is what I refer to as "Thunder Dome". Again, I was taken back to another year, another time, Pre- Adrian.It was the year 1999 when I first entered this bar with it's multi level swing bridges and burn out pits and I knew for sure that Tina Turner would come swinging down any minute.

My next stop took me to one of the equestrian capitols of the world. It was great seeing old friends and catching up.

My greatest fun, was visiting Nicky. I trained Nicky to take over my job as a shore excursion tour director for the cruise ships in St. Thomas in 1999. She was then my boss as the Atlantis Submarine, a real submarine that took 54 people down 90 feet to a fed coral reef. Nicky now works as a director for a privately owned cruise ship for the elite billionaires of the world. We had a blast. She's from Whales and we are comfortable enjoying a good cuppa.

I'm staying in Florida longer than expected. Weather and expectations may be better.

Traveling for hours at a time with no dial on the radio worthwhile, with lots to ponder and a journal for contemplating. When the day is done it is satisfying and rewarding. Good friends, good memories, lots of self exploration.