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From: Bill <>
Subject: [OH-NW-HERITAGE] Black Swamp Heritage, "School Daze", 2 January 2011,Vol 10 #01
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2011 19:42:58 -0500
Black Swamp Heritage Articles
© Bill Oliver
2 January 2011
Vol 10 Issue: #01
Good Evening from the Black Swamp of NWoHIo,
“4th of July”
That title was six months ago and the last article I
wrote, taking a six month hiatus, not from writing but
from these weekly articles.
Tomorrow ends the “Christmas Vacation” from school for
some of my Grandchildren. These children will not walk
to school, but either ride to school in the comfort of
their mother’s automobile or a yellow “school bus”. They
won’t be standing outside ringing the big bell [or the
small hand bell] at eight-thirty, again at
eight-fifty-five, and finally the “take-up-books” at
nine o’clock. Their bells will sound electronically at
precisely the “right” time.
They won’t line up in straight lines, boys in one line
and girls in another, nor will they march to their
classrooms like soldiers in a chow line. Rather they
will “mill” around in loose groups and “assemble” in
“Back in the Day” someone had to arrive “early” to stoke
the coal burner. Today, an “engineer” tends a modern
furnace to make the building warm and toasty. The modern
furnace is probably set to begin heating ‘up’ the
building before the building engineer even gets there.
Bouncing back and forth between small schools and large
school systems was quite an experience for me. In the
large schools there would be as many as forty children
in the same classroom and more than one classroom for
each grade level. In the smaller schools there might be
as few as six or seven per grade level and they would be
grouped together by three or four grade levels per teacher.
Each teacher was responsible for all subjects – reading,
arithmetic, geography, history, physiology, civics,
biology, “health”, penmanship, AND orthology. In my
Grandfather’s day it was more like calligraphy. My
family files contain some correspondence between him and
one of his brothers. What beautiful scripts! Though my
own Dad’s handwriting was smooth and very “neat”, the
art of such was losing out by the time I reached the
Handwriting is a separate story for me. My writing hand
was the left one. Being left-handed in a right-handed
world was not the easiest. In school it began with
knuckles getting wacked or finally the left hand being
tied behind the back. Then Mother marched to school and
laid down a law that said that her son WAS left handed
and “shall” remain so! Even so, left handed students had
to mimic the sample letters posted above the
chalkboards, even to the right handed “slant”. This, of
course, forced the left hand to “curl” and be dragged
across the freshly written letters. When we used either
ink or pencil, it caused our work to be “blurred” --
smudged, even. Neat papers never appeared. Today, do
they practice “penmanship” or even writing past the
Orthology is the art of correct grammar and correct use
of words. The orthography of a language specifies a
standardized way of using a specific writing system
(script) to write the language. We called it “Grammar”
and we had to diagram each word in sentences as to their
usage. My grades in the various subjects were never
great or even good, but grammar was the worst, and my
hatred for the subject has lasted many decades.
Lunch was always an hour or hour and a half. Once food
was consumed it was play time. During the early years
and into the middle grades exercise was mainly running.
Running was either tag games or chasing girls to make
them scream. If there were enough boys, ball games were
organized. My memory recalls mainly jump rope and
hop-scotch for girls, but then I don’t recall paying all
that much attention to – girls – back then.
Kahlil Gibran said of teaching, “No man can reveal to
you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the
dawning of your knowledge.” Whenever facts in a subject
were questioned by students, the teacher and/or textbook
was ALWAYS correct. This memory of things held until my
own teaching career became a “fact”.
The day Major Glenn orbited the earth in space, a
discussion in my classroom centered on speed. A student
was attempting to compare Major Glenn’s orbital speed
with the speed of light and 186 thousand miles per
second did not satisfy one young person. He said, “Mr.
O., I believe that you will find that the speed of light
is 186,282.395 miles per second and is not static, for
it constantly changes slightly.” This from a ten year old.
The State of Virginia is currently discussing facts in
their textbooks. Apparently some facts put into
textbooks are taken directly from “references” on the
Internet. We have all heard that “just because it is in
print doesn’t make it true” or “don’t believe all that
you read”. It is just as true about the Internet! There
are different years found on the Internet for the United
States entering into the First World War. There are at
least two different number of states credited to the
Southern Confederacy found listed on the Internet.
In researching one of my Ancestral Families, it was
found that they were listed as living in Louisiana in
1800. Some years of searching finally turned up
information that before moving to southern Illinois
about 1812 or 13, they lived in New Madrid. The given
reason for migrating was “not liking the devastating
earthquake”. Today we know New Madrid as being in the
State of Missouri, in 1800 it was a part of the
Louisiana Territory, not the State of Louisiana.
Happy New Year.
e-la-Di-e-das-Di ha-WI NV-WA-do-hi-ya NV-WA-to-hi-ya-da.
(May you walk in peace and harmony)
"Myths are universal and timeless stories that reflect
and shape our lives ..." Alexander McCall Smith, Dream Angus
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