Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why Didn't It Destroy Our Psyches?

I hope that's the word. Why didn't we graduate from grammar school as broken, emotional wrecks? After all, we didn't have the toys.

Let me set the stage. We went to the Catholic school which had just started in 1947. I was in the third class and, quite possibly, all three started at once. I was in kindergarten and finished in 1956. The school was as poor as the mice in the adjacent church.

How did we draw circles? We used the cardboard lids off the milk bottles; remember those? Scotch tape was too expensive, so we had leftovers from, I think, the Corsair airplane factory nearby (where, coincidentally, my father worked), with numbers and letters on it. It held things, so we didn't care and, besides, it was free. Class size was a reasonable 42 per nun; they were probably just this side of a breakdown, but handled it well, with good humor and never, ever hit or insulted us. They gave respect and, in turn, received it. We would have lain down in front of a steamroller if they told us to.

When the church finally built a school (I forgot to mention that we were in some old house at the time), it was the greatest thing. It didn't have a library, as that was an expense we couldn't handle, but the town library was a couple hundred feet away and we made do with that.

All this just would not float these days. I don't know why; maybe the kings and queens would be afraid it would damage their little princesses and princes. I don't think we should go back to those days, but if the times dictate that we no longer have all the niceties, all the toys, the bells and whistles, we might do well to remember that our generation did ok. If we did, then we should teach our children that they can, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had some of my most notable teaching successes in a Catholic school (k-8). My salary at the time would NOT pay my current gas bills. The cafe was a building that belonged to a local college. The pastor asked for, and got it rather than let it be demolished. That building, manned by moms, fed the students for years! I was "forced" to get creative and, with the help of my grad school professors, learned how to make my own follow up worksheets. I would joke with my friends that I was teaching "for the grace of God" but as I look back on my life and fortunes I realize just how valuable that "currency" really was.

September 28, 2006 9:51 PM  

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