David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Education

From Bruce Anecdotes

Education

• When Molly Ringwald was in the 2ndgrade, she wanted to be a jazz singer. (Today, she sings jazz in a group for fun.) When her class was given the assignment of doing a presentation on a great American hero, most kids did their projects on such prominent Americans as George Washington, but she did her project on the prominent American jazz singer Bessie Smith. On American Life Story day, she showed up at school dressed in 1920s clothing, and she performed a few Bessie Smith songs such as “Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer.” (Molly says, “Miss Kestenbaum was a very progressive 2nd-grade teacher.”)

• When Sharon Salzberg and others established the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1975, she began a week of intense meditation. Unfortunately, it was a very boring week, and as she sat meditating on lovingkindness and directing lovingkindness toward herself, she felt as if she were accomplishing nothing. But when she was packing some belongings, she dropped a jar, which shattered. Her first thought was, “You are really a klutz, but I love you,” and her second thought was, “Wow! Look at that. Something did happen in this week of practice.”

• Tenor Rolando Vallazón was discovered — in a way — in the shower. At age 11 or 12, he was singing a song by Baloo from The Jungle Bookin the shower when the director of the Academy of Performing Arts heard him and knocked on the door. He asked Rolando’s mother, “Who’s singing up there?” She replied, “I’m sorry. I’ll tell him to shut up.” He objected, “No, no. We’re starting a program for young people, and maybe he’d be interested in singing.” Rolando went there, he discovered that he enjoyed being on stage, and now he has an international career singing in opera.

• Very often, the Navajo do important actions just before dawn. When 10-year-old Jaclyn Roessel and her Nalí Ruth (“nalí” means “father’s mother or father”) went searching for wild plants to use to dye wool, they did so early in the morning. Jaclyn asked, “Why do we always do things when it is still dark?” Nalí Ruth answered, “The Holy People [Navajo spiritual beings] taught us that there is wisdom and beauty in the darkness before dawn. If you sleep in, you miss it.” By the way, the Navajo have a wide meaning for the word “aunt.” An aunt is any older female relative.

• A man of wit, author George Plimpton once had a calling card that said, “If you plan to commit arson, murder, larceny, adultery, etc., notify George A. Plimpton, Boston Heraldcorrespondent.” And supposedly, when he left Cambridge, he had to take a three-hour test that had exactly one question: Who was Charles James Fox?” Mr. Plimpton had no idea who Charles James Foxwas, so he made up stuff up: “Charles James Foxwas a rather mediocre second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds ….”

• In June of 2010, Jane Schwanbeck retired from Lomarena Elementary School in Laguna Hills in South Orange County, California, after 37 years as a kindergarten teacher — she spent 36 of those years in the same room! When she retired, her students gave her testimonials. For example, TJ, who was in her kindergarten class that year, said, “I feel like she’s the best teacher I’ve ever had.” And Kirsten said what many students said, “What I’m going to say is that I love my teacher.”

• Architect Frank Gehry designed the Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information, and Intelligence Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Gehry knew that MIT is noted for its “endless corridor” — a corridor that winds throughout the school, so he designed a Student Street for the Stata Center and connected it to the endless corridor. Apparently, students approved of it because one student wrote on a chalkboard, “Frank Gehry, we love you.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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