• Shammai and Hillel were both great Jewish teachers, but only Hillel had patience. A non-Jew came to see Shammai. The non-Jew pointed to the students in the room and said, “I do not have time to study your laws, your Torah, everyday like these students, but I would like to become a Jew if you can teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shammai sent the non-Jew away, saying, “You expect to learn in one minute what these men study their entire lives? That is impossible.” So the non-Jew went to Hillel and made the same request. Hillel listened carefully to the non-Jew, then said, “That which you hate, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah. All the rest is explanation and commentary. Now learn the rest so you will truly understand what I have just taught you.” The non-Jew became both a Jew and a devoted student.
• Richard P. Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics in 1965, reviewed science and mathematics textbooks for the California State Curriculum Committee, pointing out both what was good and what was bad in textbooks that were being considered for use in California schools. He was concerned about bright children, and he did not want bright children to be penalized for solving problems in ways not discussed in the teachers’ manuals that came with the textbooks. In fact, his daughter Michelle was penalized for solving an algebra problem in a way not covered by the teachers’ manual. Mr. Feynman spoke to Michelle’s teacher, who told him that he (Mr. Feynman) didn’t understand mathematics! Following this confrontation between teacher and parent, Michelle studied algebra at home. She went to school only to take the required tests.
• An impoverished young man who worked as a water carrier in Jerusalem saw a beautiful young woman — the daughter of a rich man — and fell in love with her. He asked her to marry him, but although she was attracted to him, she replied, “Do you know who my father is? Me marry a water carrier? He’d fall over, laughing.” The young man decided to become more than a mere water carrier, so he began attending school with very young children, learning the Hebrew alphabet with them, and he began his study of religious texts. Eventually, he became the well-educated, great Rabbi Akiba, and he married the beautiful young woman.
• A Monsignor was both overweight and the superintendent of some Catholic schools. One day, he sat in on a first-grade classroom where the Sister teaching the class was reading the children a story about a pony. After reading the story, the Sister asked the children if they thought the Monsignor had ever ridden a pony. The children all answered, “No,” but the Monsignor explained that he had ridden a pony when he was young. One little boy, unfortunately, said, “But you couldn’t ride one now, because you’d squash the poor pony.” Fortunately — and to the relief of the Sister — the Monsignor laughed.
• According to NBA superstar Larry Bird, speaking in an interview with Tom Callahan, “The guy who won’t do his schoolwork misses the free throw at the end.” He and most of the other members of his high-school basketball team would practice shooting free throws at 6:30 a.m. before school started. One player, however, never showed up. Tournament time came, and that player missed the front end of three one-and-ones in a row during the regional finals. His — and Bird’s — team lost in overtime. Mr. Bird says, “I never said nothing to him. I just looked at him, and he knew.”
• Arlene Istar Lev, LCSW, CASAC, author of How Queer: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parenting, once watched a young boy do his homework: writing short sentences to describe the pictures on a worksheet. For a picture showing two short-haired children playing together, he wrote, “The boys are playing.” Ms. Lev asked him how he knew the two short-haired children were boys. He replied, “Because they don’t have dykes in school.” He was a smart boy. In his home life, he knew short-haired females, but he also knew that in school-worksheet pictures, girls always had long hair.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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