Thursday, March 19, 2015

How did you get to school?

I was talking to my 86 year old mom today and I asked her how she got to school when she was young.  Of course I have always said she walked to school up hill both ways and barefoot.  She was born in 1928 so I assumed they might have a car, they did not.  She said they either walked to school or road a horse.  Now think about that for a second.  If she walked it was about 2 miles to school approaching 3 as I recall.  Can you imagine walking that far as a child to school on a gravel road?  The good thing is she was the youngest girl and therefore there were 5 walking together, Gladys, Peggy, Magnolia (Maggie), Erlene, and of course Opal (Mom).

Now let's take this another direction which I had never considered before.  When they road a horse obviously they typically had 2 or 3 on one horse and when they got to school what happened to the horse the rest of the day?  Believe it or not there was a horse barn at school for the kids to put their horse in while they were being taught.  Also that means they had to feed and water the horses plus take off the saddle and harness before school and then put it back on before the ride home.  The school had to have a horse barn just like today they have a bus barn.

Then let's talk about what they did during the day.  First of all they did not have kindergarten.  They started with the first grade and you could flunk a grade or be held back and in very few cases you could actually skip a grade.  For lunch they brought their lunch.  The school had no air conditioner and the heat was from a coal burning stove.  If you were disruptive in class or did not respect authority you were in BIG trouble and a paddling on the bottom was on the agenda at school and especially when you got home.  I think they call that consequences for bad behavior.  They were expected to perform to their individual best at all times.  High expectations by teacher and parent.  What a novel idea.

And teachers in those days had to love teaching because there was no money to pay that well.  Now today we still have a similar problem.  I think it is about time we paid teachers a lot more but we do need some adjustments in the system.  Teaching is a high stress job when children don't behave and especially when adults/parents don't behave and adults do not respect the needed discipline of the child in the system.  Top that off with a shortage of teachers and too many children in a class room and how have we tried to fix things over the last 50 years?  We have added overhead, more counselors, more administrators and more overseers (is that a word) to solve a problem that could have been fixed in my opinion by adding more teachers and paying teachers better to keep the best teachers.  Also we need to stop the lawyer required for every situation to slice and dice every situation when what is needed is common sense and level headed leadership plus some faith in people doing the right thing.  That is probably hoping for too much.  Now I know this gets everyone charged up but I am for the teacher and for efficiency and not more testing which is another solution and/or symptom of the problem.  I am probably too old and too prejudiced by the great teachers and administrators we had when I grew up like Mr. Treadway and Mr. Morris and Miss Shumate and Aunt Gladys Snyder and Coach Cotham and Brewer plus Pablo Alverado and Mrs Head and Mrs. Himbury and Coach Smith and the list goes on and on.  I really don't care what political party or what union anyone belongs to but I do care about our kids and our teachers.  The teachers need paid so they can make a living and they need benefits that match private enterprise not exceed and there needs to be a bit of protection so they cannot get fired by some political leader of the school but get fired if it is warranted without a bunch of legal garbage going on.  I got carried away, sorry.  In summary let's pay the teachers a lot more in dollars every month and lighten up on the benefits and make them similar to private enterprise benefits.

Back to the topic.  I was a lot more lucky in that I road the bus everyday and it was driven by Bob Scott or Don Conner.  Bob always had a chew in his jaw and Don always chewed on a cigar but they were good to us and made us stay seated and in control.  The only bad thing I remember about riding the bus was I was first one on and the last one off making my ride very long.  Everyone road the bus and it was every grade mixed together which sometimes was a bit of a challenge when some of the older guys picked on us younger kids.  I am sure glad I did not have to walk or ride a horse to school and at Grainola Lizzy fixed a great lunch everyday and we did not have to take our lunch to school.  Once I went to Shidler I was amazed in that there was a whole bunch of ladies who prepared lunch everyday and for a lot more kids.  Just to give you an example:  Grainola had about 40 to 45 students and 3 teachers including the principal while Shidler had about 400 to 500 students with at least one teacher for each grade.  WOW!  It was crowded when we had 56 in my class graduating in 1971.  I figured it was a big city school.

So with all that what do you learn in the Osage?

  • things change
  • teachers need paid better and more and now
  • common sense and strong leadership should make the decisions in schools
Thanks for your time,
gary@thepioneerman.com

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