Friday, February 28, 2014
I could tell that Mojo had been hard at work in his laboratory. He had on his lab coat (pun intended). “I’ve discovered and described a malady that seems to infect some older members of the human race.” “Tell me about it.”
“Its called Backwhenitis. A prime symptom is thinking that if only we could return to back when, everything will be okay.”
“And how did you discover this malady?”
“By induction. You get a lot of emails from people in your high school class touting the way things used to be - pictures of cars with large fins, bikes with playing cards attached to spokes, ads for nickel Cokes, Howdy Doody puppets, penny loafers, Flash Gordon serials at the movies,.... The malady seems to have infected some of the writers on the opinion page. A County Councilman who shares a name with the main character on the t.v. show, Father Knows Best, bases his understanding of early childhood education on his experience as a first grader. A well known columnist who shares a name with a 1950s candy bar constantly calls the reader to look backward to the good old days.”
“Mojo, I think you might be on to something. I confess that I too tend to use my own early history as the standard to judge the present and future. But there is hope. The hope lies in new experiences shared with those younger than I am. Let me tell you about one such experience. As you know, our granddaughter Ella is five years old. She has been in a pre k program and will begin public kindergarten this fall. Interestingly, Ella will attend the same elementary school I attended. I asked her if she would like to go with me to visit the school. Ella said yes. I called the principal. She said that she always had time for an alum and a prospective student.
So, there we stood hand in hand at the front door of the school. The front door was the same one I had first entered in 1949. It was intimidating. I could only guess at what Ella was feeling. She held my hand tighter. We looked up. Something had been added since I went there. Over the top of the door was a large sign, The Best Little School in the World.
The sign proved to be prophetic. The principal greeted us, gave us a tour, and turned us loose to go where we wanted. We visited what will be Ella’s kindergarten class and met her teacher. She asked Ella about pre K noting that Ella would have no problem with kindergarten. It was one plugged in classroom. Technology abounded. Computer terminals were everywhere. Projects filled every available space. We sat in on a third grade music class. They were singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat in the round. Instead of the familiar words the song was about how various kinds of rocks are formed. The words were on a big screen. Science and music combined. The librarian showed Ella how she could access the world of literature through the computers there. The librarian was also a story teller and said she looked forward to having Ella in one of her groups. The walls of the school were covered with art, math problems, phrases in many languages,.... What struck me most was the makeup of students and faculty. Everyone we met was gracious and they looked like the world. When I was there, everyone was white. Now, they are white, black, brown, yellow,.....
As we left the school, I couldn’t help but be struck by the reality that the only thing that was really the same was that door. I asked Ella what she thought. “Awesome”. In your terms Mojo, perhaps I had gotten a therapeutic dose to help me combat my Backwhenitis.“
“Could be. Maybe there is hope for your human race after all.”
The Rev. Dr. Jim Watkins and Mojo