The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149313   Message #3474056
Posted By: Don Firth
31-Jan-13 - 05:41 PM
Thread Name: BS: Death Trap Schoolrooms
Subject: RE: BS: Death Trap Schoolrooms
The teachers I had were, with very few exceptions, highly inspiring people.

Among the home teachers I had (provided by the Board of Education, which also oversaw the regular public schools) were all caring people and often introduced me to books and such in addition to the regular curriculum, that they figured I might be interested in, and they were generally right. We discussed various things, history, civics, and such one on one, and they managed to make it interesting.

When I got into high school, there, too, I found most of the teachers to be inspirational, very interested in making sure we kids learned, not just by having the information stuffed into our heads, but by creating an interest in the material so that we wanted to learn it.

In one Civics class, several of the kids got together and formed an after school group that met once a week to discuss current events. We managed to talk the teacher of the class into staying over after school with us to act as advisor and guide our discussions. It ate into his personal time, but he was willing. It was a good group, and I really learned a lot!

The drama group I mentioned above verged on the professional, and some of the kids went on into professional performing. In the theater (assembly hall) in the school, I saw full-blown productions with sets, costumes and all, of musicals like "Show Boat" by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein and "The Fortune Teller" by Victor Herbert performed by the kids and accompanied by Roosevelt High School's student orchestra. These were remarkably profession productions, and they generally played to full houses, not just the families of the kids, but others as well!

Two good friends who performed in these went on, one, a remarkably rich-sounding young baritone, to do a bit part in a Bing Crosby movie ("Mr. Music") then went to Broadway where he understudied the lead in "Damn Yankees." One girl with a big voice sang with several opera companies, including San Francisco and Seattle (I saw her as one of the Valkyries in Wagner's opera of the same name—"Die Valkyrie"). Several others later appeared on dramatic stages and on television.

The experience I picked up hanging with this group stood me in good stead when I was asked, some years later, to be "musical director and folk music consultant" for a production of "Dark of the Moon" produced by the Cornish College of the Arts drama department.

I missed my chance to do some acting myself when the drama teacher asked me to play Grandfather in the following school year's senior play, "You Can't Take it with You." I was only vaguely familiar with the play and I said that I wasn't sure I could do it because of my having to walk with crutches, and he said that it wouldn't be a problem. In the movie, Lionel Barrymore played the role from his wheelchair, and the teacher said that if I preferred, the school could rent a wheelchair for me to use during the play. But—I was graduating that spring and wouldn't be around for the senior play.

I found school a marvelous experience and got a great deal out of it beyond an education.

I did know kids who didn't like school--hated it, in fact--but my observation was that they tended to get out of it what they put into it.

I don't know what Lizzie's schooling was like, but it sounds as if she was a classmate of David Copperfield, had to deal with the Beadle, Fagan, Bill Sykes, not to mention Mr. Bumble and Uriah Heep who slopped over from other lives, not to mention a whole raft of flesh-eating Ogres. Something early on must have filled her with anger and hatred.

She apparently didn't have a "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" experience.

Don Firth