A common misconception among youngsters attending school is that their teachers were child prodigies. Who else but a bookworm, with none of the normal kid’s tendency to play rather than study, would grow up to be a teacher anyway?
I’ve tried desperately to explain to my students that the image they have of me as an enthusiastic devotee of books and homework during my adolescence was a bit out of focus. On the contrary, I hated compulsory education with a passion. I could never quite accept the notion of having to go to school while the fish were biting.
Children are entitled to special consideration for two reasons: helplessness and innocence. They have not yet acquired either the faculty of reason or the wisdom of experience. Consequently, they are defenseless (incapable of fending for themselves) and blameless (incapable of real sin). That’s why we grant them special protection. In an emergency, it is our duty to save them first because they, helpless, have put their lives in our hands. And in wartime, they are supposed to be protected by special immunity because they can have threatened or offended no one.
I sincerely believe that for children, and for parents seeking to guide them, it is not half so important to know as it is to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused－a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love－then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, such knowledge has far more lasting meaning than mere information. It is more important to pave the way for children’s desire to know than more information. It is more important to pave the way for children’s desire to know than to put them on a diet of facts they are not ready to assimilate.
What I wish for all students is some release from the grim grip of the future. I wish them a chance to enjoy each segment of their education as an experience in itself and not as a tiresome requirement in preparation for the next step. I wish them the right to experiment, to trip and fall, to learn that defeat is as educational as victory and is not the end of the world.
My wish, of course, is na?ve. One of the few rights that America does not proclaim is the right to fail. Achievement is the national god, worshipped in our media－the million-dollar athlete, the wealthy executive－and glorified in our praise of possessions. In the presence of such a potent state religion, the young are growing up old.
America can be a strange experience for a foreigner. My wife and I arrived in the United States in January after seven years overseas－four in France, three in Poland. From the jumble of first impressions, we compiled an A-to-Z explanation of why America can be such a foreign country to those who arrive here from Europe.
I should explain at the outset that I am from Britain, but my Florida-born wife Lisa is as American as apple pie. In our list, however, A doesn’t stand for apple pie. It stands for: Ambition. In the Old World, people are taught to hide it. Here it’s quite proper to announce that you’re after the boss’s job or want to make a million dollars by the age of 30. U6
Every 23 minutes
A heart breaks.
Someone’s pain shatters the confines of her body, leaking out in tears, exploding in cries, defying all efforts to soothe the despair. Sleep offers no escape from the nightmare of awakening. And morning brings only the irreversibility of loss.
Every 23 minutes.
A dream ends.
Someone’s future blurs and goes blank as anticipation fades into nothingness. The phone will not ring, the car will not pull up to the house. The weight of tomorrow becomes unbearable in a world in which all promises have been broken by force.
Unfortunately, doing things badly has gone out of style. It used to be a mark of class if a lady or a gentleman sang a little, painted a little, played the violin a little. You didn’t have to be good at it; the point was to be fortunate enough to have the leisure time for such pursuits. But in today’s competitive world we have to be “experts” even in our hobbies.
The race to the moon, which was won by the Americans in 1969, was driven almost entirely by politics. The rivalry between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union meant that the two countries were determined to be the first to put a man on the moon. President John F. Kennedy promised that America would win this race and, as one of the most popular presidents in American history, he inspired a nation to think of space exploration as the ultimate test of America’s superiority over her Soviet enemy.
America’s success as the first nation to reach the moon, coupled with continuing Cold War rivalry, created much public support for the space programme and Washington was able to fund many more missions. During the 1970s, the moon was visited again, unmanned missions were sent to Mars and, for the first time, man-made craft were put on paths that would take them out of the solar system.