My Best Teacher.

That would be Marion Brady. He was the best all through school and college, and I had a lot of them.

I am in contact with Mr. Brady, and he’s still raising hell with the system of education that we have in this country. I’ve mentioned him before and given you links to his editorial pieces. If you want to know how qualified he is to offer advice on education, just Google him.

What what Marion did so well, at least in my case, was to teach me to question. This didn’t go to well with many of the parents back then, and I believe that it’s true today. Most parents want their children to grow up as euphemistic clones of themselves. As a result, Mr. Brady had problems staying at one particular school for any extended period of time. That was also true at Sea Cow High.

Our book reading assignments from Mr. Brady were Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville and The Ugly American by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. After the summer break, Mr. Brady asked us what books we had read. When I told him that I had read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. He was taken aback just a little. I thought at first it was because the book is so classical in nature and also very long. But then he asked “Who let you read THAT?” If you don’t know, The Canterbury Tales gets mighty spicy in parts. I think he was pleased.

Perhaps the most telling evidence of one’s influence on another, especially a young person, is how many specific instances way down the road that one recalls. I have a very good memory. But I recall more occasions from his class than probably all the others combined. For example, this just came into my mind the other day. Marion, assuming that you’re reading this, you probably don’t remember. A discussion arose about a woman who had lost her only child through some accident or illness. Your question was “Does a woman who loses her only child grieve as deeply as a woman who loses only one of several?” A number of students answered – I particularly remember Bob Beall’s answer (yes, of Beall’s Department Stores), which echoed the sentiments of the class in general. Yes, the woman with many children feels the pain just as deeply. I had my hand up, but we ran out of time. Now, Mr. Brady, here is my comment fifty-nine years late. The woman with several children feels the pain just as deeply, but she has her remaining children to comfort her.

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2 Responses to My Best Teacher.

  1. Marion Brady says:

    OK, Bud. Better late than never. I haven’t even a faint memory of asking that question about grieving mothers, but I’ve always loved questions for which there are no look-up-able answers.

    Here’s the latest such question: Attempting to push educators at and above the middle school level worldwide to switch schooling’s primary purpose from (a) having learners recall secondhand information long enough to pass a test, to (b) maximizing learner ability to think clearly and productively and create new knowledge, I’ve pulled (with my brother’s help) material from an 8-year-long project I did for Prentice-Hall back in the ’70s that got put on the shelf when it was finished because their marketing department thought it was too unorthodox to sell.

    About five years ago I asked P-H to give me the copyrights, they did, we reworked the stuff to create lessons that would fit into existing middle and high school classes and put it all online, free, along with an explanatory eBook, also free. Downloads now average a little over 500 a week and climbing without a dime spent on advertising.

    That level of interest in school work for adolescents that’s too complex to be evaluated by standardized tests makes me want to keep it alive and accessible online, but I’m 92 and my brother is 84, we’ve concluded we’re not going to live forever, and want to give it all away, no strings attached, to an organization, foundation, or other entity that will keep it online, free, and encourage users to continuously improve it, maybe eventually turning out a kid who figures out how to keep us from frying ourselves.

    Marion

    So, the Question: How do we find a taker?

    • budgra5_wp says:

      Marion, you’re an inspiration. At least you have been in my life. What are the best links to your lessons and the ebook? Folks, he’s still at it

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