We have been on an extended road trip. I chased fall color and cover bridges. Colleen chased fiber. Fiber? As in wool and fleece from sheep. Sheep? Yes, there are a myriad of rare sheep with fleeces she covets. ?? Polworth? Teeswater? It’s an endangered breed in the US. TMI!! We made it to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Fair. It went on as scheduled despite Covid. Yes, we got big rain. There were prizes at the auction – another spinning wheel! Ha ha. (I/Colleen won one.) There was the fleece barn, Colleen’s candy store. Llama, pajama, an interloper! Yarn?! Tons. It was more knitter’s fair than weaver/spinner. There was a line (out the door!!!) to purchase this year’s (yarn) color. There was the one room school (revisited). We – Colleen and I – almost went to one. We did sit in this style school desk in elementary school. So, why not – recreate the image of where we met. Again. And, yes, it is my regret – I wish she’d have grabbed on and held me close those many years ago. What a difference fate could have dealt. Such a good time, too many pictures, wistful, and hoping for a do over – life.
Practical reality. Schools opened for face to face teaching. What’s going on? School. Is there social distancing? Who’s it for? To protect the teacher, or student, or both? It turns out there is no social distance in school. The kids are all over each other and all over the teacher. Enforce it? Hardly? You’d spend the day just reminding them to be distant, Distance is just not how little kids roll. Jules has 5th graders. They are naturally social. It’s just not happening (distancing). Words? Action? Practical? The reality is that everyone is mashed together again. So far it is working. No disaster to report. Pfewff!! As a general, (principal) you may order your teachers to do anything. On the ground chaos reigns and choices are made. You are given lemons, you make lemonade.
I’m behind the times and don’t even know what it is. But, they do it in math class in the 5th grade now. It’s a puzzle game. Really! We participated in grandparent’s day at school. It’s not what it used to be (school). In fact, the gym was bigger than our entire elementary school. Yes, we went to the same elementary school – Elkins First Ward. The principle shoveled coal to keep us warm. And that darned school was smaller than the gym. In fact, we had no gym. Our exercise was in the yard of barren grass not the tennis court this school sported. Yeah, strangely different after decades. Progress.
I first met Colleen in third grade. Have I told you this story? Of course! And, not unusually, we have found ourselves in old classrooms from time to time. Colleen adores history and we explore old schoolhouses. Ok, this one happens to be in Scotland. We made the most of the experience and recreated the original photo of our past youth. Gee, I wish she hadn’t disappeared for so long in between…. It’s fun to live life and enjoy one’s memories.
Well, we are back in class. Redux. I did this shortly after we first met. I think I would have sat behind Colleen. Who knows? Once more, it’s the same style school desk we had in elementary school. What can one say? I wish we had known then… I suppose we would have been together a few more decades. Life’s funny, better than never….
When we moved to Elkins, I attended two elementary schools. They are now apartment buildings. Don’t ask. I don’t know why. One, Central, looks to be a low budget, pretty hideous renovation. First Ward was done up nice and pretty. It’s invitingly lit up and I am sure curious to see the inside. I have not pulled the trigger yet. Ummm … bad way to put it.
- New York Times
“In the face of growing pressure to tackle New York City’s widespread school segregation, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Saturday a proposal that would change how students are admitted to eight of the city’s specialized high schools, a group of highly sought-after institutions where students gain entry based on a single test.
Black and Hispanic students, who make up 67 percent of the public school population, are grossly underrepresented at the specialized high schools, which include Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science.”
It’s another conundrum. The specialized schools are the best in the city? You can’t get a better education in any other high school? It’s a choice. You take a test and then if your score is good enough, you may choose to go. Or not. Level the playing field or dilute the talent. Even in a school like Stuyvesant you have a hierarchy. There was a student (whom I knew) who was number 708 in our class. Is it about status, or about education, or the ability to move with a faster crowd? Talent? Opportunity? Equality. A level playing field you say? I went to Stuyvesant. We were average guys (all male student body then). There was talent. Nobel? Ummm, no, I don’t think so. Better teachers? No! There was more incompetence because with seniority, a teacher could become assigned to Stuyvesant where the students were pre-selected and motivated self learners. Auto pilot! And in many cases we were – left adrift. We were once graded in English by writing our own grade on a piece of paper. Yes, you pick. like strawberries. I don’t know the answer. But, it ain’t easy. And politics should not be a measure of trying to make things better. There are quotas. They exist at Harvard. They existed at my NY state medical school. It’s unspoken. Legislation will always be circumvented. I count myself lucky that I survived education and benefited in spite of it all. Right place right time and darned lucky. At my last glance, Asians dominate the student body. When I attended (’60’s) it was Jewish. The conundrum is how to make a level playing field. Should we mandate that basketball teams have short players too? Or we should truly have overweight beauty contestants? The road to hell is paved with good intentions.