Education isn’t a mere Operation

As much as I would’ve enjoyed having a cloudless day and no wind, neither occurrence took place, but hopefully the wind will go down with the sun and offer up a more pleasant day tomorrow. I didn’t bother to look when the “official” night our little munchkins are going to be out begging for treats which is hopefully tomorrow night instead of the official day. I was teasing someone today about how they handle the trick or treaters when saying, “I’m sure every time Halloween rolls around, you’ve got all your lights off and hiding under the bed until it’s all over.” Of course he had to one-up me when replying, “How did you know?” Too funny.

It was a bit of a whirl-wind day with getting docs printed out, emails sent, and errands run on this last business day of the month. I didn’t have any appointments to show houses, but yet still on the go most of the day. I had to take my vehicle back into service again due to a malfunctioned part I had replaced less than two months ago which had me nearly fit to be tied. Fortunately the owner of the shop called back and said the part’s under warranty so at least I won’t have to pay for another, but for sure I’ll get charged the labor for installing the new one. I not so kindly said, “When the next one comes in, make sure it wasn’t manufactured in China.” It’s one more example of how poor the qualities are of just about anything being new. I do like my vehicle, but if it continues to nickel and dime me as it has this year, I’ll likely be looking for something newer with less mileage.

Since I’ve never owned a brand new car, I was shocked when being told today that many of the new cars on the market, don’t have actual keys for the ignition, but rather a remote that has to be engaged and then a button on the dash to push. I personally don’t know how I’d act if I didn’t have an actual key for a vehicle’s ignition. I long for the days when everything in a car or truck was mechanical and absolutely no computer chips to go bad. My very first car was like that, and truth be told, of all the vehicles I’ve owned, I enjoyed that one the most. There were no automatic door locks, no electric windows, no power steering, no power brakes, no automatic transmission, and no air conditioning, and yes, I did survive our sweltering summers without it. Sounds kinda like I was driving a tank around town, doesn’t it? Well, in a way it was because it was a heavy brute that everyone steered clear of.

My grandmother’s car was a 1950 two-door Chevrolet which was a joy to ride in, which was also a straight stick, and even at her advanced age, she could run thru the gears as easily as one of the many teenagers driving the “loop” in our once beautiful Downtown where Federal Ave went straight north and south without detours. It’s all in the past, and nevermore to be seen again because of several so-called “visionaries” having pushed thru the idea of building that cursed Southbridge Mall. There were many under the table dealings which made that happen, and surely money driven, but they’ve all taken their dirts naps and likely now paying for their sins.

While tidying up my office today, I ran across a very old teacher’s primer which I’ll be giving a good read when time permits, and what struck me upon opening it, was a beginning line that went, “Education isn’t a mere operation; it’s a cooperation.” The more I thought about it, the more it made absolute sense. Back when I used to teach a required real estate course at NIACC, I learned very quickly how to acclimate myself to those various adult personalities.

As much as the head of adult education wanted me to order textbooks, I continued to refuse because I’d already created my own curriculum which I believed far better than anything I had shoved under my nose back when I had to take that class. Yes, there were always those two or three who’d attempt to side-track me with their needless interruptions, along with acting like they knew it all, and only there for the credits. Whenever I’d have open discussion on a given facet of real estate to debate, I’d zero in on the trouble-makers by asking their thoughts about what was being said by the others. It didn’t take long for them to realize that if they didn’t fall in line with the general flow of my instructions and their learning, I’d continue to target them.

After having been in enough classes over these long years, I’ve found that most instructors tend to ignore the unruly ones and focus on those who’ve fallen in line, but in the end, the learning experience wasn’t the best it could’ve been because there were always those pot-stirrers who’d find ways to distract the body of the class.

To this day I still smile about what I thought was going to be my chastising by the head of adult education department for using my own curriculum after receiving a call from her one day saying, “I received a call from the real estate board in Des Moines asking what style and type of teaching methods you’ve using in your classes.” At that moment my heart sunk, and the only response I was able to give was, “Ok, what’ve I done wrong?” She paused a moment and laughingly said, “They were asking because they keep records on the pass/fail ratios of our State exams given and can track back to which instructors those test-takers had used, and the students you’ve been teaching, have a pass/fail ratio that’s gone off the charts by the number of those who’ve passed.” Oh if you only knew how relieved I was because I was convinced they were going to either make me start using their textbooks or have me removed from that position.

I’m not being proud or haughty about my the successes I had with those students, but rather being a reminder that a positive learning experience is nothing less than a cooperation between teacher and the students of a given classroom. That’s all it is.

Tonight’s One-liner is: Be as polite to the custodian as you are to the chairman of the board.

Joe Chodur

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