Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Special Moment in Time

"We have the vocation of keeping alive Mr. Melcher's excitement in leading young people into an expanding imagination. Because of the very nature of the world as it is today our children receive in school a heavy load of scientific and analytic subjects, so it is in their reading for fun, for pleasure, that they must be guided into creativity. These are forces working in the world as never before in the history of mankind for standardization, for the regimentation of us all, or what I like to call making muffins of us, muffins all like every other muffin in the muffin tin. This is the limited universe, the drying, dissipating universe, that we can help our children avoid by providing them with 'explosive material capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly.'"
      This quote is from Madeleine L'Engle's acceptance speech after winning the Newbery Award for A Wrinkle in Time... in August, 1963 (you can read the rest of her speech here: http://www.madeleinelengle.com/reference/newberyspeech.htm.  Can you believe it, 1963!  Sounds familiar, doesn't it... Madeleine L'Engle could give the same speech today?

     My fifth grade daughter and my wife are reading A Wrinkle in Time together each night before bed (a gift from Jo Franklin, my daughter's first grade teacher who just retired and recently moved to Minnesota).  They are loving the read... the intimacy... the talk... the questioning... the wonders... I listened in from the stairs a few nights ago and it made me smile (and, by the way, they are not reading just because she has to record it on her blasted reading log...).

     Mrs. Franklin was my daughter's favorite teacher (and now her friend for life).  Jo understood that children are all unique individuals and never tried to force her students to be "muffins all like every other muffin in the muffin tin."  She was a teacher who stood strong in her philosophical underpinnings, who understood that learning was a process, and who continued to learn more about the profession to which she dedicated her career even during her last year in the classroom.  Her classroom was quiet, calm, gentle, smart, thoughtful, and process-oriented.  She didn't do "canned" curriculum, but focused instead on thinking, depth, and learning for learning's sake.  She was an advocate for the Denver-based Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC) and served as a lab classroom host for many years.
     I wish Jo could sit on the stairs and listen... she'd be so happy!  I wish my daughter had benefited from more teachers like Mrs. Franklin.  There was something special about her.  And, Jo's gift of A Wrinkle in Time (a book she lovingly read to her own daughters) has continued to spread her brilliance into the nightly ritual of reading in our home...
     Thanks Jo!  

No comments:

Post a Comment