Getting Schooled in Education

Meditations in Motion

The beginning of September brings with it thoughts of going back to school because, for most of my life, that is exactly what I did.

I am a recently (two years ago) retired high school chemistry teacher. I know that for many of you, back-to-school has already happened, but here in Lititz, Pennsylvania tradition runs deep. Our children still begin school on the Wednesday after Labor Day, thank-you-very-much, just as God intended.

I still think a lot about the mission of education in this country. For me, teaching was mostly about the relationships that developed between the students and me during our 180 days together.

My goal was to teach teenagers to think for themselves, to learn how to find answers, rather than waiting to be spoon-fed all of the critically important facts needed to pass the next test.

I attempted to create a safe place for students to make mistakes without fear of ridicule or reprimand. Learning from our mistakes is one of the most valuable tasks to master in life.

I endeavored to teach kids to clean up after themselves both physically and emotionally, and to be self-reliant, another important lesson to learn.

Finally, I aspired to instill in students the notion that there are caring, fair, but firm adults in the world whose dearest wish is for them to succeed.

If they learned a little bit of chemistry along the way, that was a bonus.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Meditations in Motion

I am linking with Welcome Heart for Let’s Have Coffee, Debbie at Dare 2 Hear Amy at Live Life Well, Raisie Bay for Word of the Week, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth, Random-osity for Little Things Thursdays, Knit by God’s Hand for Thankful Thursdays, and Morgan’s Milieu for Post, Comment, Love.

Please click on the following link to read more funny or inspirational one-liners. One-Liner Wednesday.

Meditations in Motion

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52 comments

  1. You were a teacher??? I was, too, Laurie! And yes, my goals were to teach my kids (middle school) to think critically, to challenge themselves, all in a supportive, encouraging environment. That’s what teachers should be all about. To be honest, though, I feel education is now more agenda driven than about building character and confidence. My heart goes out to our grandchildren who are just now entering that sphere of influence. In light of that, we have OUR homework cut out for us!
    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t realize that you were a teacher, Martha. I started out in middle school but moved to the high school after only one year. It takes a special person to be a middle school teacher! 🙂 I sadly agree with your thoughts on education today. I think I was lucky to teach when I did. I had wonderful support from both the administration and the parents. Blessings to you too!

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  2. Wow, Laurie. The goals you set and achieved along the way surely have impacted countless students’ character and ability to succeed.

    What a legacy you’ve left there … and continue to leave in this season.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Over the summer, one of my kids was diagnosed with autism. This culminates years of butting heads with various teachers and administrators. When your child has special needs it becomes clear which school personnel are truly in it for the children. The ones who have instinctively worked with us (rather than simply prattle on about making bad choices) are the teachers who embody the spirit of your post. I’m pleased to say that the *good teachers* out number the bad by at least 2:1.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad to read you think there are far more good teachers than bad. That has been my experience too. Unfortunately, parents sometimes need to fight to get the best educational experience for their children. Good for you for being persistent and going to bat for your autistic child. I had many autistic children (and some with Tourettes too) in my classes over the years. As long as we both knew what to expect from each other, we were great.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish all educators were as good as you!! I will never, ever forget my stepdaughter’s 10th grade English teacher who said she wouldn’t correct grammar because “if they don’t know it now they never will”. *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you instilled a little bit of this and a little bit of that in your class curriculum Laurie and your students were richer for having you as a teacher during a time in their lives when life is tough enough … and then there is chemistry class.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! I thought kids would naturally not like a tough course like chemistry, then in one class, I made a comment (jokingly) about chemistry being everyone’s favorite class. One girl spoke up and said, “It IS my favorite class!” “It IS?” I asked. She said yes, and I bet it’s everyone in this room’s favorite class too. I looked around and all the kids were nodding their heads and saying “Yes, it’s my favorite class too.” One of my all-time great moments in teaching!

      Liked by 2 people

      • That is funny Laurie – you should feel proud of yourself. My chemistry class was not like yours. Mr. Mumau was not a teacher who encouraged us to love chemistry. It was a tolerable class and he did nothing to get us to be enamored with the subject at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Harold Mumau was a dud. The only thing he had interesting for us was experiments and we mixed up “potions” (his words). I had an oddball high school science teacher. Botany was his subject and he bought a box of chocolate-covered insects and brought them into class. He did not divulge that they weren’t ordinary chocolates. He said the first person to complete an assignment would win the chocolates. I don’t recall what the assignment was, but Richard Long, who was on the chubby side, was excited to win and opened them up and ate a few, then Mr. Gray told him, in front of the entire class, they were chocolate-covered bugs. The look on the student’s face was priceless. He spat out what he had in his mouth and ran out of the class, likely for the bathroom.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree Laurie. In fact, we were all a little shook up as Richard looked really queasy after Mr. Gray told him that. We all thought this teacher was a little odd to begin with, but after that even more so.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jan. Because I live in the same community I used to teach, I get lots of recognition at the grocery store, the park, and running on the sidewalks. Never sure if that is a good thing or not! 🙂

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  6. Oh yes. Wise words. Completely behind you on all those aims, especially thinking for themselves. I’m sure your students were very lucky to have you as a teacher. We go back in September too. New pencil case and text books. My favourite. September always feels more like a new year than January. #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cheryl. I loved teaching but was ready to retire. After being a teacher all of those years, when someone would talk about the “beginning of the year”, I never knew if they meant September or January.

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  7. I love all the things that you tried to teach the teenagers in your classes – all very important things to learn, especially learning from our mistakes, thinking for yourself and being caring and fair. Those are the kind of lessons they’ll remember even if the chemistry stuff doesn’t manage to stick. We’re back to school this week too. I hope that Sophie will learn those kinds of lessons along with her school work too. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this post Laurie, I used to teach hairdressing for many years and its not just about teaching a skill, its also about teaching student to love and respect themselves, and help them so goals for their lives, no matter how large or small x

    Liked by 1 person

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