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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What's Really Important? No...Really

Educators have a way of making everything seem important. I still enjoy the challenge from students and colleagues, when I say, "Everything is Social Studies." The only reason to truly know math is to take care of your finances, or build things that will make someone money, which is about economy, which is about standard of living, which is a social studies issue. The only reason to know Language Arts is to become literate enough to know the best way to make money in the area in which you live (in good times, and bad) which is an issue of economics, which is about standard of living, which is a social studies issue. The only reason to know science...yada, yada, yada...which is a social studies issue.

But really. What is truly important in life? Why do we (humans) try to make the easy things difficult? Could it be as simple as "Nature Boy" sung by Nat King Cole:
There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he

And then one day
A magic day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things
Fools and kings
This he said to me
"the greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return"
My mom passed away last Sunday. I left my classroom Friday at noon, to drive 6 hours to be with her, as were my siblings. By the time I arrived she was unable to talk, but could hear, and respond with smiles and eyebrows. She had her eyes open for about 3 hours after I arrived. She attempted to talk to me, but no longer possessed the strength to do so.

She knew her four children were with her. She slept from 11:00 Friday night until 6:32 Sunday morning. She took her final breath Sunday morning, and it was quiet, peaceful, and in a strange, surreal way -- beautiful.

Mom deserved a peaceful passing. She was a loving wife (for 57 years - Dad passed away in 2004) and mother. She once said to me that we'd have more if your father wouldn't try to help everyone who needed help. Yet it was Mom who tried to help every kid in the neighborhood. We had that kind of a house where my sibling's friends would come to eat. My friends called my mom, "Mom." I actually took extra milk money to school for several years because Mom thought one of my friends might need it.

She was a special lady, and apparently not just to me. After the funeral, I went into a local store to buy a pair of shorts, because I was going back to the house to do some cleaning and other things for which wearing a suit was not conducive. I was the only customer in the store, when I heard the doors open. Two ladies, probably in their late 50s or early 60s came in. I heard one of them say, "Janet Murry was buried this morning."

They didn't know I was there, and they wouldn't know me if they saw me. I just thought to myself, "Please don't say anything else. I just don't want to hear it right now." I guess I was feeling the possibility that someone would say the things we don't want to hear about the ones we love, yet we know they think.

The 2nd lady commented that someone else had passed away yesterday (although I did not catch the name). Then it happened...they kept talking...and all I could do was hope to get out of the store before they said something that would make me a) angry, b) cry, or c) fight back.

"We lost two of kindest ladies in town. What will all the shut-ins do without them?"

"Yep, we sure will miss them. You know they say the good ones go in threes. I'd sure hate to lose another one like them. It will really hurt [our little town]."

As I stopped by the check out counter, I saw the ladies nearby. I said, "Thanks for saying nice things about my mom."

"Who is your mother?"

"Janet," I replied.

"She sure was a wonderful woman. She was a saint. You were blessed to have her."

Yes I was. I'm just not sure I always knew that.

So what's really important...in the long run.

Not that we can do calculus. Not that we can understand Shakespeare. Not that we can prove Einstein's theory of relativity. Not that we can associate everything in life with Social Studies.

Perhaps it's about the idea of service to our fellow man. To love them...and be loved in return.

Until our curriculum has a bit more of that concept in it, I don't expect school will get much more interesting to students.

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The views expressed here are my own and reflect only my opinion.
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