Friday, December 13, 2013

Give Me Learning, Sir . . .

Back when I was in high school, I participated in the ubiquitous gym class.

And let me paint a picture: I was not athletic then. Nor am I now. I was, and am, a bone-idle, out of condition bloke to whom regular exercise -- let alone something as organized as basketball or volleyball -- was completely alien.

Why do I have to do this, I wondered, every time I had to strip down to the "skins" -- invariably, all the fat kids ended up on the team that had to take their shirts off; I guess the skinny ones liked to see our man boobs jiggle.

But you know what? I did it.

I sweated through the warm-up exercises. I panted and wheezed through all the running. And though I refused to play baseball, I wasn't shunned. Nor did I get a bad grade. Because I did everything else. I even learned to like things like the warm-up exercises and pickleball.

I still regard physical fitness as important. I'm not wild about team sports, but I will go biking and walking and hiking. I try to watch what I eat.

I got something out of high school gym, even though it wasn't my favorite thing in the world to do.

So Rebecca Schuman's essay in Slate today really got my goat.

She thinks students who don't like to write shouldn't be asked to write any more. Because they hate it. Because teachers hate reading their essays. And because they'll never learn how to do it effectively, so why bother teaching them.


She says keeping writing in strictly English courses is okay. I assume she's OK with writing in other subjects -- history comes to mind -- but for those who don't want to be English majors or historians or whatever, writing should not be required in their college careers.

Her attitude stuns me. "They don't like to do it. It's too hard to teach them how to do it. So let's not do it." How DEFEATIST is that?

I don't recall seeing it written that what we learn in school has to be easy for us to do. Or something we'll be doing for the rest of our lives. I remember going in with the attitude -- and I get this from my father, whose schooling was interrupted at the third-grade level by World War II -- that we should learn whatever we can, even if it's hard. And he learned a lot of things, reading a lot of books and writing things down in a language that was not his native tongue. He might know what he's talking about.

I get it from this, too:

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

-- Doctrine and Convenants 109:7-8

Or, if you prefer something a little less churchy:

"Give me learning, sir, and you may keep your black bread."

-- Leo Tolstoy

Let's just not treat everyone like this:

No comments: