08/06/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

LEARNING LESSONS THROUGH LIFE EXPERIENCES AND FORMAL SCHOOLING.

As my life advances, little tidbits I have picked up along the way creep their way back into my memory.  Some of these life experiences I have shared with students when I was a substitute teacher in an effort to show learning is a process to be enjoyed. I was careful not to share certain escapades because while they were amusing, the students should learn from the lessons I learned and not emulate the circumstances of the lesson.

Lesson Definitions

Type of Lesson:   class room, lecture, session, tutorial, seminar, and period

Example of Lesson:  By Example, via message, through morals and as warnings

These are the lessons taught by parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, peers, and personal experiences bad and good.  This is how we learn and amuse ourselves at the path our learning follows.

As a pre-school child I learned lessons primarily by experiences and attempts by my parents to keep me safe. 

Experience – I learned about physics with the use of a Radio Flyer Wagon, an old bedspread and two boards with 1/2 inch nails in them and a trip down a hill.  The purpose was pure in heart, but I failed to understand the old bedspread will push the two boards with nails pointed to the front of  the Radio Flyer Wagon as it slopes down a hill and that one really shouldn’t jump butt first into the wagon to ride it down the hill.  When the wagon came to a stop, I still remember seeing my shadow with two boards ‘nailed’ securely to my butt. 

Lecture – Parental question after the boards were pried from my butt and Iodine was being applied to the eight nail holes in said butt, “Vickie what were you thinking?”  Well truth be told, I was thinking about a fun ride down the hill before I leaped onto the wagon. 

Tutorial  – Medical question upon my visit to the doctor for a tetanus shot in the butt, “Vickie what were you thinking?”  I was still thinking about a fun ride down the hill, but it would have been nicer had I not punched eight, no nine holes in my backside.

LESSON LEARNED – DO NOT SIT ON NAILS!

When I entered school I was surrounded by teachers, fellow students, a principle and a superintendent, and so I was introduced to the workings of the rest of the world.  Rules, consequences and so forth. 

As an undersized kindergartener, I learned it was not acceptable to poke a second grader in the nose for his bullying. As a fourth grader it was not acceptable to react aggressively when my cousin shoved purple tempura paint into my mouth ( I managed to escape a visit with the principal on that one). That same year I slid down the wooden, two-storied toboggan slide in the summer in a cardboard box. I climbed inside a tractor tire at the invitation of a neighbor-boy who rolled me (still inside the tire) down the bank toward East Lake Okoboji. Self preservation kicked in so I stuck my arm out to stop the speeding tire and quickly realized that strategy would not work. I finally threw myself sideways, tipped the tire over and experienced what the physical movement of dropping a coin on a flat surface called “spolling” was like.    Again I learned much about physics, problem-solving, and psychology without formal training. 

Experience – I learned first hand experience ‘spolling’ and the laws of motion

Lecture – The only witnesses were my partners in learning crime,

Tutorial Luckily there were no trips to the doctor or the school ‘Office’ 

LESSON LEARNED –  IT WOULD HAVE BEEN EASIER TO HAVE READ WHAT LEONARD EULER AND ISAAC NEWTON HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE ‘SPOLLING’. 

Who says you cannot learn from the old guys or watch a YouTube video. See (Youtube.com/watch?v=Sm96UC6O8Kw)  I do have to admit the experience was fun. By the way my birth surname was Newton. I just purely-by-accident experimented with those ‘laws of motion’ great-great Uncle Isaac philosophised over.

My next life experience was the mile-stone of taking driver’s training and getting my driving permit.  Again I did not use this experience in class for the obvious reasons.  While I took my driver’s education in Iowa, Mr. Sievert would not have appreciated my tale of hands-on-driving tutelage being shared.  The tale begins with a day of driving the Iowa Great Lakes area during tourist season.  We had two driver’s education cars that fine day (one instructor and three student drivers per car) and we were practicing the fine art of passing each other that fateful day on a back two lane road between Spirit Lake and Arnolds Park.  The speed limit was 70 mph and there was a double ESS curve that could have served as a training course for a grand prix.  The curves were banked, elevation changed two or three times and most important to this tale, the double ESS curve was not marked as “NO PASSING”.  The fateful instructions from my instructor, Mr. Woods as I slid under the wheel of the driver’s education car? “Pass when it is clear”, which probably needed more clarification for a fourteen year old.

It was clear and remained clear, as I headed into the first phase of the curve which involved an outside, uphill curve which bent to the right and down grade. I increased my speed to move out and around the other driver’s education car ahead of me.  When I moved around the other driver’s education car, I beeped the horn twice as I had been taught. I moved into the oncoming traffic lane to pass.  When I sounded the beep-beep, the other driver’s education car student driver suddenly moved to her left so I moved higher on the outside of the curve and I held my position, speed and passed her. I moved back into the right-hand lane, moving down grade to the inside curve and straightened out.  As this movement was taking place, I remember hearing a gasp from Mr. Woods. As I straightened out, Mr. Woods told me to pull over. I pulled over and the other driver’s education car parked in behind me.  I turned and asked Mr. Wood, “did I do something wrong?”  He took a long ‘breath-catching’ pause and told me, “No, you certainly have good control”  He got out of our driver’s education car, walked back to the other drivers education car and stood there an awfully long time speaking with the other driver’s education instructor. 

Experience – personal,

Lecture – None amazingly.

Tutorial/Message – Do not do as I did but think about the consequences.  One rider (sorry for the pun) to this experience, I was placed into another town’s driver’s education car because there were two of us who would use what was called the “passing gear” and so we were set passing each other during our remaining driver’s education time at the legal posted speeds.

LESSON LEARNED – LISTEN TO AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS, BUT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE OF SEMANTICS.  KNOW THE DIFFERENCE OF WHAT IS SAID IS NOT NECESSARY WHAT IS MEANT.





As I matured, on September 18, 1974, a senior in college I received an assignment to complete.   This Lesson was titled A Judgment Test.  Find the text below:

A JUDGMENT TEST

Below are listed three true case studies of young people.  In five years do you predict they will be functioning as Gifted, Average-Normal, Psychotic, Delinquent or Mentally Deficient persons?  Write your prediction after each case study.

Case 1

Girl, age sixteen, orphaned, willed to custody of grandmother, by mother, who separated from alcoholic husband, now decease.  Mother rejected the homely child, who has been proven to lie and to steal sweets.  Swallowed penny to attract attention at five.  Father was fond child.  Child lived in fantasy as the mistress of Father’s household for years.  Four  young uncles and aunts in household cannot be managed by the grandmother, who is widowed.  Young uncle drinks; has left home without telling the grandmother his destination.  Aunt, emotional over love affair, locks self in room.  Grandmother resolves to be more strict with granddaughter since she fears she has failed with own children.  Dresses granddaughter oddly.  Refused to let her have playmates, put her in braces to keep her straight.  Did not send her to grade school.  Aunt on paternal side of family crippled;  uncle asthmatic.

Circle your prediction

Gifted     Average-Normal      Psychotic,       Delinquent,          Mentally Deficient

Case 2

Boy, senior year in secondary school, has obtained certificate from physician stating that nervous breakdown makes it necessary for him to leave school for six months.  Boy not a good all-around student has no friends, -teachers find him a problem- spoke late-father ashamed of son’s lack of athletic ability-poor judgment to school.  Boy has odd mannerisms, makes up own religion, chants hymns to himself-parents regard him as “different”

Circle your prediction

Gifted      Average-Normal     Psychotic,    Delinquent,    Mentally Deficient

Case 3

Boy, age six, head large at birth,  Thought to have had brain fever.  Threesiblings died before his birth.  Mother does not agree with relatives and neighbors that this child is probably abnormal.  Child sent to school- diagnosed as mentally ill by teacher.  Mother is angry-withdraws child from school, says she will teach him herself.

Circle your prediction

Gifted        Average-Normal      Psychotic     Delinquent        Mentally Deficient.





If we were judged as the three individuals were, what would we become? 



 Who were they and what happened to them?

Answers on 08/09/2021



What lessons do we take from our judgments of all we encounter?