Back to School
Viking, Minnesota

Rural Reflections Radio

It’s time for the great fall round-up which is known as back to school. Time for new crayons, a different backpack-plain for the high school kids and maybe a cartoon character for the younger ones then pay the school fees and meet the bus on that first morning. I think this year we need to dig a little deeper inside the locker past the books and binders to make school a real learning experience.

In 1982, Coach Sam Gebhart told a bunch on young boys that his word was final. He said that his decisions might not always be right but that someone had to be the boss. I would find his words very true later in life but I’m not sure this lesson is taught anymore. In 1982, my parents said the teacher’s word was law and they meant it. Today there are parents who would rather rely on the experience of their fourteen year old than that of an adult teacher.

Bad test scores, being left on the bench and discipline for bad conduct should be met with re-enforcement at home instead of a complaint letter to the school Superintendent. Parents can teach so much but those who don’t respect a teacher or coaches’ position teach their kids causing trouble and being lazy are just fine. Mom and dad will always be there for them-even if that includes bringing candy and pop during visits to the local jail.

Governor Tim Pawlenty recently instituted a program called "super teachers." He plans to pay a few teachers about $100,000 a year to teach other teachers to "super-teach " With few exceptions, my High School teachers were incredible. Mrs. Peterson helped me understand Shakespeare, Mr. Ueland gave me the principle of the liberty-security balance and Coach Gebhart got me started weightlifting and so I could lose weight. I think teachers already understand that whole "super teacher" thing. I might guess they would accept more pay but would welcome more support. Support from each student’s home and more help in the classroom. I’m not an expert but I was once a kid and the best learning technique was less students per teacher. Special education needs more support to create the success stories we rarely hear about but often happen. Schools attempt to streamline special Ed students into regular classes were they occupy much of the educators time which creates a learning deficit for the other twenty five kids in the room. Finally a word problem; which is more effective-one teacher explaining simple math to thirty kids or a parent explaining it to one child?


A few months back I met Iris Furuseth at my father’s class reunion. She was admired by her students who’d learned much from her. When her students spoke of her, it reminded me of an old concept that we need to restore in the classroom. It was a simple statement, "we really learned from her, she cracked the whip."