• Richard A. Watson, a professor of philosophy at Washington University, refuses to have a television set in his home. He relates in his book Good Teaching that this used to upset his young daughter, Anna, because when she said she wanted to watch TV, he told her to go to someone else’s house. However, when Anna became a college student, she began to think that her father had been right to keep TV out of their home. At her university, she discovered that many students were watching TV four to six hours a day, and she wondered when they found time to study.
• The father of Robert Newton Peck, author of such young people’s novels as A Day No Pigs Would Die, was a Shaker — a member of a pacifist religious group who practiced simple living. Robert was the only child to go to school, and actually, his parents didn’t want him to go to school. His teacher realized this, and when she met Robert’s father, she told him, “Thank you for giving me Robert. I shall try to be deserving of your trust.” Robert’s father replied, “Whatever he breaks, I’ll pay for.”
• Richard A. Watson, the author of Good Teaching, has a sister named Connie, who wanted to go to college. Unfortunately, she never managed to go and so ended up in the type of job a high-school graduate usually ends up in. Whenever a college student in the company she works for moans and groans about bad teaching at the university, she looks the student in the eye and asks, “You want to end up at my age with a job like mine?”
• Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the author of such children’s books as Shiloh and The Agony of Alice, loved making up stories even when she was in kindergarten. One day, her kindergarten teacher asked each of her students to make up a story, which she would write down. Young Phyllis dictated her story, then stood in line again to dictate a second story, then stood in line again to dictate a third story. Finally, her teacher told her that that was “quite enough turns for one day!”
• When Jason, Candy Chester’s son, was three years old, the church they attended began to meet in a local school while waiting to move into a new building. Both the school and the church had folding chairs, so to keep the chairs from being mixed up, church members painted “Jesus” on the church’s folding chairs. One day, Jason said that he could spell the word “chair,” then he spelled “J-E-S-U-S.”
• When he was in the third grade, Newbery Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli wore his cowboy outfit — complete with hat, guns, jodhpurs, and spurs — to school. His teacher took the outfit in stride and asked, “Jerry, would you like to do something for us?” Young Jerry went up in front of the class and sang, “I Got Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle.” As accompaniment for himself, he shook his spurs.
• Even as a 14-year-old youngster, entertainer Jennifer Lopez took her craft seriously. During a dance class, her teacher saw that she looked upset as she struggled during class. Thinking that she had boyfriend trouble, he asked her what was wrong. She replied, “I just want to be better.” Impressed by her seriousness about dance, he replied, “You will.”
• When she was a little girl, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, enjoyed her first day of school, but she was surprised that she had to go back to school — she thought that after she had gone one day, she had finished school and she never needed to go back.
• For a while, computer guru Bill Gates went to an all-boys’ private school named Lakeside. When the school went co-ed, Mr. Gates programmed the school’s computer to give him a schedule that made him the only boy in classes filled with girls.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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