As people have been hunkered down at home during the Covid-19 epidemic and parents have been smacked in the face with the difficulties of trying to keep children productively employed in confined spaces for hour after hour, I’ve been thinking about Mrs. Clark.
Mrs. Clark was my high school English teacher. I clearly remember two things from her classes.
First, I remember that when she talked about fiction, Mrs. Clark said the details a novelist chooses are important. To illustrate that concept, she said that when she did dishes, there was always one spoon left in the bottom of the dish pan after she thought she’d finished washing up.
I don’t recall what novels we had to read in Mrs. Clark’s classes other than Lord of the Flies and I’m pretty sure is there was no dish-washing scene in that. Nonetheless, what Mrs. Clark taught, stuck with me. I probably remember her a couple times a month when I do dishes and find a spoon left in the bottom of the dish pan after I think I’ve finished washing up.
I also remember that Mrs. Clark taught us to spell cemetery.
Mrs. Clark said that if you went by a cemetery on a dark night, you might cry, “E-e-e.” That mnemonic came in handy after the death of my uncle’s widowed second wife’s second husband when I emailed my sister to report that I had gone to the funeral and to the cemetery to represent our family. That was about 50 years after Mrs. Clark had taught me to spell cemetery, and I hadn’t forgotten.
I also hadn’t needed to spell cemetery any other time in those 50 years.
And this is the first time I’ve needed to spell cemetery since.
Why think about Mrs. Clark now?
When the children who are confined at home during this epidemic look back in years to come, I wonder what they’ll have learned from the experience.
Will it be something they will use just once in 70 years?
Or something worthless they remember vividly?
And when the epidemic is history and they get back to school, what will they learn there?
Will it be something they will use just once in 70 years, or something worthless they remember vividly?
Or might it be something they use day in and day out for the rest of their lives?
While we’re hunkering down in our homes, waiting out the Covid-19 epidemic, let’s use some of this time to think about what we can teach students that will have every-day-all-their-lives significance.
©2020 Linda G. Aragoni