Back to School
...we become kids again, when I pull out the school stuff with my Senior Groups.
Even though the folks I gather with, come from different worlds, with very different kinds of experiences, we all seem to have a fondness for sharing school nostalgia.
Young and Old
Not all are the right age to have learned how to ready with "Dick, Jane & Sally" books. But all remember hardback books and spelling lists.
Some remembered walking home for lunch and others recalled buying hot lunch in the cafeteria. "I can remember just exactly what I used to have on my tray! The roll went right there and the spaghetti was the best! I bought a carton of milk to go with it!"
Ramona remembered hiding under her desktop, to sneak bites of her taco. A few others attended culturally mixed schools where the children who had sandwiches in their lunches, were curious about the kids who had tacos. "Lots of kids had never tasted a taco, so sometimes I shared."
We had fun trying to remember all the school supplies we used as kids... pencils and chalk, glue and a Big Chief tablet for many of us.
We laughed about how Crayola colors have gotten a lot fancier with their names, from sea green to periwinkle. We even noticed that the words on the labels were written in 3 languages!
The Black and White Quilt
In my morning group, we gathered around a black and white quilt, with musical notes and piano keys. The quilt belonged to Betty, who told us about her years as a teacher. Her music students made the quilt for her.
The table props always help with stories. I expected the school desk and lunch tray to prompt a few. I didn't expect any whistle stories, so I asked what kind of teacher would use a whistle.
She smiled even bigger when she remembered the young football player, who made a lanyard for her whistle. The well-loved coach passed away and Betty still has the whistle today.
Luckily no one had horrible stories of getting paddled or slapped with a ruler. But everyone in both groups decided, teachers have a tougher time with behavior issues, today.
It was interesting to hear from those who went to rural schools and felt like school was a break from all the farm chores and house work. "No one ever complained about school. We felt lucky to have it."
My dear friend from Trinidad, was so intrigued with the small bus. He never took a yellow bus to school, but he sometimes took a train.
He was one of the lucky ones who was allowed to go to school, in Trinidad. He actually gave our group quite an education, when he told us the changes in public schools, with Prime Minister, Eric Williams. "Now school is free for all children from Kindergarten to University!" He announced.
What Did I Learn?
I was reminded of how much our little gatherings remind of a classroom. When we gathered around the quilt this time, (after 2 months) it felt like we were all just a bunch of kids coming together after summer break.
Just like any class, we're made up of different personalities and temperaments. Some are loud, some need encouragement to talk, some are distracted and some like to clown... But there are no teacher's pets in our groups. We're all teachers and we learn from each other!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.