Letters to the editor (04/18/12)


A good teacher learns from other teachers
When I first started teaching, I was a good teacher.
It was simply because I wanted to be. It took me a long time and effort to get the degree and on my husband, George’s part as well.
George was great. After working hard all day, he came home and took care of our four kids. He fed them soup and sandwiches — his specialty in those days — while I went off to night school. George was chief cook and bottle washer, two nights a week for years. Actually, till our youngest, Curt, went to school.
It was interesting how we got the money to pay for college classes. I started out in New Jersey at Glassboro State College. And in only seven short years, I finished up in New Mexico at UNM. In the ’60s and ’70s, it was relatively cheap to go to school.
Actually, it was very hard for us to come up with the money. Like most people, we lived week to week. But by building our menu around coupons, I managed to save $5 out of our $30 budget for food each week.
I always had just enough to pay for two classes each semester. The text books were a different story. Some how, George always managed to find an extra job to foot the bill. What a man!
I don’t think that I ever had a new text book. But who needed it? I had George.
Yes, I did very well in school — even the last semester when I took 18 hours. I know why I was there, and how many people — mostly my hubby — contributed to how I was there. So the motivation was strong to being a good teacher.
As time when on, I became an excellent teacher as I found out what worked and what didn’t work.
And as much time passed, I believe that I became a great teacher because I also learned from others.
Mrs. O was a wonder. She ran a lively class — and a tight ship. The woman knew about change of pace, and would get her class up on their feet for a few minutes of mental and physical exercise, which is probably how I got into things like “Simon Says” an “Around the Room for Ten Minutes,” which was a game — I think — I invented.
I’d put a problem on the board and the class had a certain amount of time to do it on their own papers. If they got it right, they moved to the next empty seat. Sometimes, that was only one seat. Sometimes, it could be several.
We went around the room like a snake, up and down the aisles. It was fast; the kids thought, they moved, they reviewed and we had fun.
We also played “Baseball” to review anything. Half the class, team “Giants” would stand. One at a time, they came to the “batter’s box” to get their pitch (question). If they were right, they walked to first base.
Next batter up. If they were right, they went to first base, moving that runner to second base. A “hit” with bases loaded produced a run. All wrong answers were outs; three outs and the next team was up. Batter up!
Lolly was enthusiastic; she even talked teachers into volunteering for jobs they didn’t want to do: “Come on,” she would say. “Let’s do it together. It’ll be fun.”
No wonder her kids loved her. One time, she had her class write down important things for the future. They put it in a time capsule and buried it in her yard.
We were studying energy, so my class built “solar cookers” on which we cooked hot dogs outside. Then we went to my new solar house that George was building in Tomé. I bet somebody remembers at least the hot dogs.
Dorothy was the kindest of teachers I ever knew. Her students responded in a most positive way. They still keep in touch with her. Wouldn’t we all like to have that talent!
Lydia had her class make a wonderful haunted house out of their classroom. She shared with us by letting us take a tour. Her kids were so proud, and my gang wrote great papers on their experience. It was terrific!
Steve was a wonder with computers and kids. He willingly shared his expertise.
Judy not only helped kids pick out great books, she helped me a lot. Once I got my hands on a book call “Written and Illustrated.” It was a series of lesson plans that took us step by step on how each and every student could write and illustrate their own books.
It was typed, colored and bound. Then we held a tea and crumpet party for their parents. The kids did a beautiful job.
Judy also talked me into taking a storytelling class. I thank her so much, as I thank them all. There are many, many more.
So when I say that at the end I was a great teacher, it isn’t ego talking. I understand that I am a part of all the teachers I have known.
I can’t end without acknowledging my first teacher. Dad always did mental math with us. He introduced us to books, games and puzzles.
And then there was Mom. Her lessons revolved around love.

Nancy Faust

Jesus wouldn’t do some of these things
No problem here stipulating that there was an individual in history named Jesus, even that he was a carpenter in Nazareth.
It is probable that he walked around Judea (where Israel is today) giving speeches, otherwise nobody in that illiterate society would have noticed him nor would versions of his speeches have been written down by the scribes.
The supernatural aspects of the Jesus story are not stipulated here, and anyway are not relevant, except that millions of people are stuck in the magical thinking provided to them by the purveyors of magical thinking.
There are probably not more than a handful of actual practicing Christians on the planet at this time. The word “christian” is defined as someone who lives their life according to the principles of the New Testament character Jesus of Nazareth, who was given the title “Christ” in that book.
(Christ is the Greek word for “anointed, meaning the same as the Hebrew word “Messiah,” which really means nothing more than “leader.”)
Take care of the poor? The poor of today are not taken care of. The poor of today are exploited, with many governments allowing dangerous and inhumane environments, with token “dollar-a-day” wages so they cannot be chastised for condoning abject slavery.
Heal the sick? Modern pseudo-Christians prefer to dismantle Obamacare, which isn’t that good of a solution anyway, because the pseudo-Christians prevented and continue to prevent all progress in health care, women’s rights, safety in the workplace, food and drug safety, etc.
Pollute the environment? Jesus would not do that.
Maybe you should compare his Matthew 25:40 statement “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” with slavery in Africa and Asia, with Mitt Romney’s “I don’t care about poor people,” with poison fracking fluids injected into the ground, with the billions of tons of garbage killing the Pacific Ocean, with cutting the minimum wage in America.
What would Jesus do? Not that.
Pre-emptive war? Constant saber-rattling about North Korea and Iran and Pakistan and Israel? Jesus would not.
Even though Jesus never called himself the Prince of Peace, the actions and statements on record were all about non-violence, so anyone acting as a warmonger cannot call themselves “Christian.”
The historical Jesus ran the money changers out of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, a rare tale that is included in all four Gospel accounts.
Compare that to modern pseudo-Christians who worship Wall Street — ticker reports on every news channel — and there is even a bronze bull on Wall Street as stand-in for the golden calf of the Israelites.
Three of the Gospels relate the quotation, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Millionaires and billionaires are disqualified, according to the words of Jesus himself.
It is also probable that the reason that magical Jesus has not returned is that the institutions operating in the name of Christianity have worked very hard to create a physical and moral cesspool here on planet Earth. Humanity at large does not qualify for that Kingdom that Jesus talked about.
The Beatitudes were not about making it tougher for people to make a living, that would be economic Darwinism.
The pseudo-Christians on the right insist on “survival of the fittest,” which in practice is the time-worn practices of the barbarians — might makes right, the oligarchy deserves to rule the planet by “divine right,” and anybody in opposition is beaten, killed or banished.
Or would Jesus side with the progressive movement?
“Everybody is better off when everybody is better off.”
The record gives evidence that Jesus was about the rights of the people to assemble (the Romans and Pharisees felt threatened by his large crowds), the right of free speech, freedom of religion, collective survival (Loaves and Fishes, anyone?), and non-violence.
But the pseudo-Christians will have none of that. Kill all the buffalo! Exterminate the homing pigeon and the whale and the tuna and the salmon!
Set uniformed goon squads against peaceful Occupy Movement protesters! Foreclose on families who were sold usurious mortgages by banks —and by God protect the banks from any consequences or regulation! Steal elections across America. Buy politicians for further nefarious ends!
Lie and lie again and loot and cheat and steal are not principles of anyone in the New Testament. Even Judas Iscariot had a conscience — eventually.
The Declaration of Independence created a new model for existence, a new possible future for mankind. What made the United States special was the attempt by a people to be better than previous societies, to declare their right to give it a try, King of England be damned!
The historical forefathers didn’t get it all right — slaves were accorded three-fifths the worth of free men, women demanded the vote and it took 150 years to happen, but the design was intended to capture and maintain and expand on the “unalienable rights” that were prevented by monarchies and despots and barbarian oligarchs.
Freedom is an idea, it is a promise. Freedom is never guaranteed, it must be protected and nurtured like a flame against the whirlwind.
Freedom is something that an individual or a group or a society can only be for or against. There is no middle ground.
And the funny thing about rights is that rights exist only when they exist for everyone. Martin Luther King nailed it: “Until all are free, none are free.”
The very sad thing about life in modern America is that half the population wants oppression, for themselves and for the world. They vote for fascism (under the false label Conservative or Republican), and they work very hard to destroy the teetering freedoms that provide the facade that the United States is a free country.
Registered as a Republican? Jesus would not approve.

G.E. Nordell