Not all learning comes from books

Clyde Davis

Clyde Davis

By Clyde Davis

Local columnist

Trigger is on my desk. The stuffed bears are in various places in my office, and the Baja blankets are on their shelf. The WWII Naval officer’s chair is tucked behind my desk. The handmade pottery is lined up in its place, or rather its places. The family pictures are arranged. Chris LeDoux is singing ” County Fair” on the iPod.
The school year may now begin.

Surrounded by objects which make the classroom a home away from home, including but not limited to the above, I reflect on how the new year will shape up. I reflect on who it is that I will be teaching.
Almost across the board, my students do not know who “that horse on your desk” is.. Some of them know it’s a Painted Pony, but have no idea of the story behind that particular Painted Pony.

I rescued Trigger from a pile of items ready to go into a garage sale at the Foodbank. (Thank you, Melinda Joy!) Occasionally they have seen “that horse” in movies watched by dads or granddads.
They do not remember winter Saturday mornings watching, first the “Roy Rogers Show,” followed by “Sky King.” (Do you, who were small children in the ’60′s?)

They will, occasionally, go find one of the stuffed bears to hold during class, particularly if they are having a bad day. Even at the age of my students, there is much comfort to be found in a stuffed bear.
My bears are high quality, not big box store; several of them are handmade. Not all of them are actually bears; one is a frog, one is Snoopy, and there’s a small pony as well, but you get the concept.

They do not remember the ’80s, when most of the bears were collected.
The chair recalls a time before me, though most of my students have a slightly damaged concept of history. They confuse WWII with Vietnam. They have even suggested that I was in WWII, not because they believe I am that age but because they confuse WWII with Desert Storm.

Some have never seen an actual, workable piece of wooden furniture. Their knowledge of wooden chairs is limited to those they are not allowed to sit on when they go to Grandma’s house.
Pottery, handmade, is likewise an oddity, something which one sees in Santa Fe, home of oddities. The exception to this, of course, is in the minds of students who have taken art, and thus appreciate what they are seeing.

The family pictures, of course, are easily understood. These kids of mine are way too old to believe that teachers do not have a life, that we are locked into the classroom closet between 3:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. If they were in kindergarten, however, that would be their view.
Chris LeDoux? Well, the rodeo context they can understand, but the singer himself has no place on their radar.
Yet. Along with the other objects mentioned, they will learn of him this year, by osmosis. I will learn of their worlds, too, and we will build bridges to understand one another.

Not all of the learning in class is found in textbooks.

Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis High School. He can be contacted at:
clyde_davis@yahoo.com