Happy New Year folks. I'm entering this year healthy and full of stories to write about throughout this year.
What I want to touch on today is how we educate our children. I've been a member of the Ashland Historical Society for about two years now. I've been asked from time to time to donate my services at some of its events.
About a month ago, I was asked to be a tour guide for a group of first-graders from here in town. Could I handle it, was the question at hand. Interestingly enough I was attending college years ago to teach. The question at that time was, at what level? Grade-, high- or college-level students? I never had to find out because I was drafted into the military and never returned to school. SO, this day was my chance to shine with the little ones.
I was assigned to one room that housed old musical instruments, Meyer pumps, National Latex balloon products,-glass making figurines, old pictures and cameras. I only had about 10 minutes to teach the group about all these items as there were different groups roaming through the building going from station to station. I only had a couple of the kids at "question time" ask me off-the-wall questions like, "What's behind that door?"
When the morning ended and the children returned to school, I wondered, what, if anything, did their minds retain? When the thank-you notes came back to the society's office later that week did I only know the results.
The kids wrote about learning, about how old upright pianos are now keyboards, old phones have now turned into their hand-held smart phones. Old cameras are now part of their phones. Typewriters are now in their phones. Flashlights are now in their phones! You still can't pump water out of the phone like you did with a Meyers well pump but we'll give it time. The phones have replaced calculators, dictionaries and encyclopedias.
They will grow up with empty shelves at home. In other parts of the buildings, they learned about the old soda fountains now replaced at convenient stores where you can buy BIG Slurpee drinks on the go. The children also mentioned seeing a tarantula, petrified dinosaur poop, an alligator head and a two-headed snake.
All of these items were presented to these children on a field trip outside the classroom. Back in my school days we didn't do trips like this. It was the book smart technique. No visual aid was provided. I for one was a poor candidate to learn that way. My mother would have to help with homework and she would yell at me trying forcefully to get learning into my head. I was told I was stupid and wouldn't amount to anything.
I learned to read, was able to do basic math and learned H2O is water. Once out of school I've never dissected another frog or was asked to diagram a sentence. When I was older and got interested in cars, my dad would teach me the mechanics by watching him. Seeing what tools to use and how to use them. Visual!
My parents took us on vacations every summer to different states where we visited museums, saw landmarks, entered caves, drove through mountains and walked on ocean beaches.
Do I like to read today? No I don't! What's my favorite television channel? The History Channel! I'm thankful that today's children get out of the classroom. Some people might think they got an easy day, but that field trip might do them more good than staring at a book all afternoon.
Dave Mikla is an Ashland resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.