Stannard: Never too old to learn

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Letting the days go by, water flowing underground

Into the blue again after the money's gone

Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

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Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

— Talking Heads

Let's see now. What day is it again? Oh right it's Sunday. No school today.

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"What are we doing today?" I ask. "The same thing we did yesterday" she replies.

"How long have we been locked down?" I ask. "I think this is day 6,534", she replies.

What a difference a pandemic makes. It didn't take long for the world to get smashed in the face with a sledge hammer known as COVID-19. One day you're sitting around looking forward to doing whatever it was you were looking forward to doing; the next day ... POOF. All gone. That's it. Those great gigs you had lined up? They're over. That trip you were planning on taking? That's done. Those fully stocked shelves at your local supermarket? They're now empty. That school your kids were attending? Sorry, that's closed and now you're the teacher.

That's the bad news. The good news is they're giving gas away. Yahoo! But no one's going anywhere. That $1,200 you may, or may not, have received isn't going to carry you very far. So now what? Some politicians feel the need to prematurely reopen our nation, not for our benefit but for their's. It's hard to win re-election with an economy in the tank. Try as they might to put a happy face on "Today's World" it's not really going to work. What will work is a vaccine, which is a long ways off. Then the question is "who will get it"?

So what are our options here people? We could run right back out there and do what we've been doing since our dads came home from WWII and act like nothing happened. This is probably the worst possible option as more and more people will get sick and perhaps die. We could continue what we're doing right now, which is slowing down and staying home watching the grass grow. There will be ample time for slowing down when we're too old to move.

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As I get older I contemplate the slowing down plan. I'm not wild about it, primarily because I tend to be an obsessive compulsive, type-A personality. Sitting still has never been my long suit. I thought for sure that I would rebel at being forced to sit still, but after seeing those who are rebelling I decided that I don't relate to that group very well, so sitting still it is.

Luckily I have a new job as the assistant teacher in Gaga's Home School. (Gaga is what our grand kids call Alison; their grandmother). She taught third grade for 25 years. She thinks she's a little rusty, but I would disagree. We have two of our four grand kids here four days a week for "school." Alison does nearly all the work, but I am teaching them reading; something I find amusing since I'm mildly dyslexic.

Although the job is to teach the kids, here's what I've learned. Teaching is a very hard job. I'm thankful every day that we only have two students. Upon their arrival I address the kids with "Good morning students." It makes them feel special. I have no idea how anyone could possibly teach more than two kids —13, 15, 25? No way.

It's easy to see the different learning styles in two kids that I've known since birth. They're not the same age so one requires a different curriculum than the other. They both need the attention we give them. Spreading that attention over 15 kids is, in my opinion, insurmountable, but that's what we expect of our teachers.

Parents all around the country are quickly learning what it's like to be a teacher and it's hard work. If you're not good at it the byproduct is not good for society. Bad teachers produce bad students who possibly end up as bad citizens. Conversely, good teachers produce good students who likely will become good citizens.

Arguably one of America's greatest achievements has been the implementation and support of a strong public school system. Sadly, there are those out there who wish to destroy it. In my lifetime we've devolved from holding our public schools in the highest regard to working overtime to undermine them. We have seen the rise of taxpayer dollars being siphoned off to support schools outside of the public school system.

You're now the teacher. You know what's involved in helping little people to learn and it's not easy. Now is the time to be grateful for our public school system and work as hard as we possibly can to support it and strengthen it each and everyday. It's our future, which right now is looking pretty precarious. Tomorrow we're going to need all the smart people we can get.

Bob Stannard writes a regular column for the Journal.


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