Setting intellectual goals. Education quotes. Tales from a Village School by Miss Read (Aug 2012)

Susan's Thursday morning note August 16, 2012
Setting intellectual goals. Education quotes.
Tales from a Village School by Miss Read

Good morning!!  No rain, but cool.  That gives Mother Nature one point out of ten in her favor.  Makes my coffee filler with a little coffee taste perfect.  Makes the sun look huge coming up over the horizon.  Makes the cats breathe heavier.  Doesn’t make the little one sleep longer.  We’ll have to ask her to bring a different gift to help that particular plight…maybe drip drops of rain someday in the future will cause that phenomenon!  Regardless, what is in the cool air is the reality of school.  Backpacks, buses, pre-made lunches near the checkout at grocery stores…all showing the reality of routine upon us again!  When I was teaching in Minnesota Stu brought me a book he knew I’d love…very similar to Lucy Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) in writing style.  Stories written by a school teacher on her experiences in a small town in Britain.  Tales from a Village School by Miss Read holds a collection of short stories of one year in the life of a teacher with her students.  One of my favorite excerpts is a lesson to young children on day and night…the progression of a great lesson idea turning into a typical lesson in the life of an elementary teacher.  I hope you enjoy this with me.  This is only the beginning of great fiction by “Miss Read”…all on her experiences (through old age) in the small town of Fairacre.   You may suddenly have found a new favorite light series!

Night and Day by Miss Read
'This,' I say, switching on the light, 'is the sun.'
   The class looks at it with awe.
And this, I say, twirling the globe neatly with one finger on Alaska, 'is the earth.'
   There is a respectful silence.  It is one of those taut moments packed with psychological importance, child wonder and the impact of knowledge.

 The spell is broken by Alan, who asks in a fruity Berkshire voice, 'But it don't keep on turning, doos it?'
   'Does,' I correct automatically.  'Yes, it does.  It never stops.  Day and night, week after week.'  I tell the children, 'it turns round and round and round; and just here, is Great Britain, where we live.'

The class stands up as one man, and I wave it down again.  It is not easy to show the British Isles to a mob of eager children.  Apart from its minute nature this country's peculiar position on the upper slopes of the glove make it necessary to carry the whole contraption round the class in a pointing position with the brass knob to the front.
   Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society will have no difficulty in following my meaning.

 Half the class say they can't see, while the other half tell the first half to sit down.
   I put the globe back on the table and attempt to recapture dawning wonder.  I point to the naked light bulb.
'There is the sun shining up in the sky.  All the people who live here,' I stroke the class side of the globe seductively, 'are saying "What a lovely day!"'

    I drop my voice about an octave.
'But who knows what the people on my side of the globe are saying?'
'Well, will they be looking up at the sun?'  John, tell me.'
   John, cornered, says he don't know what they says.  If they doeos say anything, he adds.  But, in any case, he don't know.

 I start all over again.  The sun - heads tip up, the globe - heads tip forward, the seductive stroke - the people in the sun!
   We are poised again.
'But what about the people on this side of the globe?  Can they see the sun?'
   Brian don't see why not if they are looking.  He is ignored.

 Jane says reasonably that all of them as is on her side of the globe is in the sun because the electric is switched on.
  I agree.  Now we are getting warmer.

 'Well, then, if all the people facing the light are in the sun, what are the other people doing?'
   Deadlock again.

 I begin to go mad.  I stick a pin into the steppes of Russia and revolve the globe again with horrible deliberation.
   'Here I am,' I say with emphasis, touching the pin, 'and I am just waking up.  I can see the sun rising.  Now it's the afternoon, now it's the evening.  Are you watching?  It's beginning to get dark.  Tell me, is it still the daytime?'
'No!' A lusty Berkshire roar.
   'Where am I now?'
'Round the back!'

Fair enough.  Not what the Royal Geographical Society would care to hear, probably, but we progress.
'What am I doing now, then?'
They tell me I be in the dark, I be in bed, it be the night and the day be over.

We smile triumphantly at each other, glowing with effort rewarded and flushed with new knowledge.
I twirl the globe dizzily.  The pin flies round and round, and we shout 'DAY - NIGHT' and feel terrific.
'Now,' I tell the class with conviction, 'you really do know what causes the day and night.'
'Yes,' says Jane happily, 'switching on the electric.'


I hope I got a smile out of you with that scene…if you’ve had to teach a group of children at any point in your life I’m sure you can easily picture the rolling of the eyes of the teacher when no one was looking.  I have an old book that belonged to my grandpa, Thoughts that Inspire collected by George Knox printed in 1906.  

Following are some of my favorite quotes on education and books.

Henry Ward Beecher:  Education is the knowledge of how to use the whole of one's self.  Men are often like knives with many blades; they know how to open one and only one; all the rest are buried in the handle, and they are no better than they would have been if the knife had been made with but one blade.  Many men use but one or two faculties out of the score with which they are endowed.  A man is educated who knows how to make a tool of every faculty; how to open it, how to keep it sharp, learning to apply it to all practical purposes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:  If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.

Robert Louis Stevenson:  The most influential books, and the truest in their influence, are works of fiction - they repeat, they rearrange, they clarify the lessons of life; they disengage us from ourselves, they constrain us to the acquaintance of others, and they show us the web of experience, but with a singular change - that monstrous, consuming ego of ours being, once, struck out.
Horace Mann:  Resolve to do a little reading every day, if it is but a single sentence.  If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.  

Dr. E.E. White:  A child's mind should, however, be increasingly stored with the beautiful and vital truths expressed in choicest language.  Our English language sparkles with gems which become a treasure in the memory.


Cool breezes.  School buses.  Backpacks.  Supplies lining check-out stands.  All ways to remind us what our own individual goals are to sharpen all of the blades in our knife.  A time to reset individual goals for our intellects.  10 year, 5 year, 1 year, 1 month, 1 week, 1 day, 1 hour, 1 moment.  All gifts.  Time.  How can we show our gratitude for the gift of intellect?  My favorite book on setting individual goals for my life is called Eat That FrogOn setting individual goals in all areas of my life, goals of where I want to be many years from now, and immediate goals.  The link above will take you to the Thursday note I made on this book…how to prioritize what matters. 


Tonight we’ll have the opportunity to mentally carve in stone the epitaph of the moments we were given today…to carve how we used the gift of time.  Anne Lindbergh refers to “margins in our day” for chances to try to learn something regardless of all the other responsibilities we have.  Maybe what we need to carve in our stone is the use of silence.  The use of space.  Will we notice the eyes of those we love?  The eyes of those we meet?  The quiet of the cat’s purr?  The pretty singing of the tiny bird?  Will we notice?  Life.  Our gift.  Beautiful life.  Thank you so much for letting me enter your Thursday again.  Thank you for your excitement over our candy store opening last weekend.  If you only knew how much your business & encouragement mean to keeping our store…have a great end of the week.  Go set some personal goals.  What blades are being unaccessed in your knife?  What parts of your life to you need to open and sharpen?  One minute per day.  Twenty minutes per day.  How can we use this gift and look back knowing we thanked our Creator?  Whatever your day brings, know that only a glimpse to the heavens, or a one-foot drop to your knees holds the promise of a peace that passes the understanding of any observer.  The peace that passes understanding.  If the buses bring you sad memories, realize you now have a gift for today.  Children grown?  Children gone?  Then how do you fill your moments for yourself and others that will count?  Time…the years glide by…let’s go make the moments today be worthy of the gift.  Susan


Latin for this week:
educare - to bring up
ducere - to lead, to bring forward
educatio - education
Works CitedKnox, George H.  Thoughts That Inspire.  Des Moines.  Personal Help Publishing Co.  1906.
Read, Miss.  Tales from a Village School.  New York.  Houghton Miffln.  1995.
Tracy, Brian.  Eat That Frog.  San Francisco.  Berrett-Koehler.  2006.