February 12, 2002
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
9am. My show today at Seawood School completed a circle. It was there in the darkened little gymnasium, where I sat as a small boy watching Keith Scott's slide shows about backpacking and his adventures with bears. I thought, "This slide show guy is rad! I want to be like that!"
Today was the 100th day of school celebration. The announcements over the loud speakers started with the disco song-- "Celebration time... Come on... let's have a party!" It was so cool. Then they played "Name that song" and it was "YMCA" by The Village People. Lisa, the principal, is great. We talked about how the teachers have a huge responsibility, and must be very careful what they say to the students, because if they say something that is damaging, it could really hurt the child for a long time. For example, she recalled back to the grade, tapping her pencil on the desk and the teacher scolding her, saying, "Small things amuse small minds." "I'll never for get that," she said. "And it's the only thing I remember from the third grade." We only tend to remember the highs and lows, and the rest fades from memory.
I am impressed by the way the children say hello to each other. They are just really kind and genuine. I could tell they are respected by their teachers. There was no yelling like I've seen in some schools. Seawood is a really great school. It may have a lot to do with this neighborhood as well. It's quiet and safe; an ideal place to grow up. However, Lisa mentioned that not all kids have it as good as others. After being home for just two days on the weekend, some kids return to school with noticeably lower self-esteem. "We work really hard all week trying to build them up," she explained. "Then when they come back on Monday, you can see they've slipped right back." I asked if many kids were taking drugs for ADD/ADHD. Not many, she informed, and said that the ones that are, likely it's because their parents don't know how to deal with them.
I really enjoy chatting with teachers and students at different schools about their experiences. I want a clear understanding of what works and what doesn't, so at each show I can share it with everyone, both teachers and students. I'm mostly interested in understanding how to teach-- how to cultivate the thirst for knowledge, more so than acquiring and storing vast amounts of information. Teacher's are the inspiration for the next generation. I can't think of a more rewarding occupation. They should get paid as much as doctors. Everyday, dozens of children's lives are placed in their care... to be molded or set free of mental limitations. Teaching gives hope for the future. Today was a dream come true for a kid who failed grade two at Seawood School.