Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lessons Learned

Nothing like several gatherings of school mates to send us back to school, literally and figuratively. I'm sure many of you drove to either Anthony Wayne/Sienna Village or Schuyler Colfax and of course Wayne Valley, only to be shocked at their growth, repurposing, condition. (Bill Kimak once told me that there are over 200 security cameras in the school now, and a resident cop)

I also noticed that all the shrubs and trees in Wayne  are now overgrown, having been planted without a thought to how they would fit into the landscape after 40 or 50 years of growth.

I guess we are part of the landscape as well. No one ever planned for us to turn out the way we did either. 45 or so years of growth, changes, some judicious or random pruning, but we grew, we survived and now we're back to where it all started.

Reunion Sunday was a busy one for me. First on the agenda was the Anthony Wayne 7-3/8-4 mini Reunion with our block teachers, Al "Doc" Piaget and Dorothy "Darth" Tunis Piaget, who both went on to distinguished educational careers. You may recall that Doc was suspended from teaching for standing up for his beliefs. Darth failed to gain tenure. They were the round pegs in the square holes of Wayne public education in the 60's. It was Wayne's very own Scopes Monkey Trial. There was even an episode of the Defenders TV drama (starring E.G. Marshall and a very young pre Partridge Ken Reed) dedicated to the situation.

It is truly interesting that these round pegs' educational methods are now widely accepted as productive and effective, especially for those classified as "at risk" at both ends of the educational spectrum. They brought humor, compassion, intense personal interest, incisive insight, the ability to motivate, Socratic inquiry, self examination. These two amazing teachers didn't belong in the Wayne system as it existed. They were martyred because they were too good for it. But we were lucky to have had each of them for 2 periods every school day before their subversive methods were discovered and they taught us to learn, to question both ourselves and the world around us, to look for the core questions that needed to be answered by each of us. Strangely enough, we all, each in our own way, ended up as round pegs too, never quite satisfied by what was, always looking for what was around the next corner, over the next hill.

Describing this get together as a "Mr. Chips" moment for those who attended would be a trivialization of what it meant for us. This was a special group with special teachers all in the same time and place. And we sat there with them, in close approximation to our old seating arrangement, and we all remembered what these wonderful people did for us. They helped lead the way for us to become adults in a difficult world. We'll be doing this again.........

Next time, the second installment of Reunion weekend 2012............

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