I went to school this morning to attend Autumn's ancestor presentation to her class. Jeannie went into work late so she could be there, and Donald was working in another classroom but came in for the presentation as well. Autie stood in front of the kids in her class who were seated on mats on the floor; she had a large poster that she had made, with pictures, maps of Germany, Spain, and Africa, etc.
I sat in a chair facing the class as Autumn talked about her ancestors. Then she interviewed me in front of the class with lots of questions regarding where my family came from, how they got here and why they made the journey, as well as what is different now from when I grew up, what kinds of things we played with, etc. - just life in general for an 8 yr old. Then the children asked me questions and though I didn't realize I'd be speaking to the whole class, I think I would have gotten an "A" for speaking in complete sentences, distinctly and loud enough to be heard. I loved it!
An interesting side note is that last week one of the children brought their 82 yr old great-grandmother for their presentation, and the g-grandma left Germany after World War II. Asked about her life there and why she left, she elaborated on the hunger, bombed out buildings and lack of shelter, rubble in the streets, and a foreign army ever present following the war. The teacher told me that the woman had tears in her eyes as she spoke of it, and it made me realize that although I think nearly everyone I knew in my childhood was poor (poor being a relative term), we can't understand what it would be like to go for extended periods of time without decent and palatable food, a roof over our heads, and a foreign army in our midst. The children in the class were so attentive and polite, and it is good to see that children today are not just spoiled brats but are interested and caring.
One more thing about school - I would have done well in this school - actually I did ok scholastically, but there is less concern today with making kids sit rigidly at a desk and never talk out loud unless told to by the teacher. I was a talker as a child, and the Catholic school system of check marks for behavior is still a cause for laughter among those of us who had to deal with it. On the back of the report card was a grid with behavioral problems and boxes that could be checked for each grading period if necessary. The one I remember is "Exercises self control" - which means talking when you should not talk. I think in the 7th grade the box for this misdemeanor had 4 check marks in each little box across the page! I don't even see how they could have fit 4 checkmarks into one little box, but they did. There were a couple of other lines that I can't recall but which meant "talking too much". I just couldn't keep my mouth shut! In the classroom this morning, at certain times and depending on what they were supposed to be doing, you could hear quiet conversations among groups of kids. Now that's my idea of a fun classroom!
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