So Much to Learn

Bill Wichman Education Reform, Introductory Articles, Staff Accomplishments, Student Success


Do you ever stop to think about how much you know? No, really. It’s sometimes politically and humbly correct to apologize for how much we don’t know. Nevertheless, what we do know about an incredible breadth of subjects is overwhelming. And that’s important. A grasp of a large amount of basic information is crucial for us to survive and prosper in a complicated culture every day.

Where did we learn all of the stuff we know? Some of our knowledge comes from simply living life as we observe, explore and assimilate the workings of the world around us. Hopefully, much of what we learn comes from loving parents, grandparents, family and peers who want us to be equipped with the resources we’ll need to live productive and full lives. But, many of the sometimes mundane but always necessary lessons we need come from those that our society has designated to help us be aware and prepared – our teachers. The required life-lesson course load is daunting.

My wife and I have been given the opportunity to volunteer* at a sweet, but struggling little school in the St. Louis Public School System, Adams Elementary School. Adams is a potentially exceptional school with a gifted and dedicated staff. They are determined to make a difference in the lives of their children. Many of the school community’s families are saddled with the handicap of extreme poverty. The challenges of teaching are very real.
Last week I was charged with sorting and leveling books for the kids in the book room. Adams School is an architectural amalgam of two century old school buildings conjoined by a new, modern addition. The book room is in the new section and adjacent to the outer wall and windows of the old building. As I worked, I could hear the lesson/s being taught in the classroom next door. It was amazing. The breadth of the teaching made me appreciate how much we know and how much we need to learn.

The main lesson was on how to use calendars, but as if adding spinning plates, additional subjects were simultaneously and seamlessly mounted including counting Monday’s in the month, holidays in general, when and what is Labor Day, what is labor, why “labor” is important to our country and the historical framework of working. Not the least of the lessons was being quiet and respectful while others are speaking because of the psychological impact of how we feel when we are not respected by others. And all this seasoned with a reasonable dash of discipline. It was a ten minute potpourri fragrantly filled with “the stuff” that we need to know. And it was delivered with a spontaneous yet impromptu aplomb that would have made the most fastidious lesson planner proud. This learning snippet would be repeated with new knowledge components many times that day, then day after day after day.

FOALogoSmallNoWebTeachers, real teachers, are more responsible for the health and potential of our society than we can imagine. They mold and even dictate the future. Teachers need to be acknowledged, encouraged and inspired continually. That is what Friends of Adams is all about. Join us.


*one of the components of helping through Friends of Adams is volunteering. The list of volunteer opportunities is viewable on the “Needs” page.