Mel Jacobson on thu 2 oct 97
my best buddy in high school was a funny little kid. real cute, laughed
a great deal, and convinced me to be in a singing trio with him and donnie
brooks. we kinda did ukulele songs, old time stuff. we did our songs
at school assemblies....we were sort of dopey, but the kids thought it
was fun. and of course the three of us loved to be on `stage`.
we all were into sports, me football and swimming, they did cross country
and basketball and tennis. we did not study very much, just enough
to get by. almost.
none of us took art....that was sorta for sissies, guys like eddie holmberg,
who painted pictures of woman in long dresses. ( of course he became
one of minneapolis foremost fashion designers.)
we were always those sorta C guys...just do what you have to.
well, it turns out that we wanted to go to college... I mean a real
college. and we did not take chemistry or physics, we took classes
in radio and stage craft, home ec., shop....and we needed some
teacher to write some sort of letter to a college and tell them we
were smart and could do the work....no one would.
one day we plotted that old `mr. stoylen`, the english teacher
that spoke in broken english and norwegian, and was really
a sucker for kids, and was nice enough, might be our `letter
writer`. we stopped after school, chummed around him, told
him he was a `great guy`. `vat do you yerks want from me?, he
finally said. `well, we were, well, kinda thinking, maybe, well, do
you think you could write a letter to our college and tell them
we are ok?` `oh, christ, yacobson and gunderson, you crazy
boys, what could you do in college?` `oh vell, vat the hell,
you might be able to get C s if you really try.`
well what do you think? keith gunderson went to macalester
college in st. paul. graduated with almost straight A s, majored
in philosophy, went to oxford for two years (fullbright), and then
back to princeton for his p.hd., taught at u.c.l.a. before he was 25.
keith gunderson is a full professor of philosophy at the university of
minnesota, and one of amerca s fine poets.
when keith returned from california to take up his post at minnesota,
I made him a large clay plaque that hangs to this day in his office.
it says....`gunderson, you can get C s if you really try` sig stoylen,
west high school, 1953.
and concludes with. `who wishes to predict what a child may do.?`
we who teach have to be commited to `all` of our students.
show me a teacher that thinks they can predict greatness, and
I will show you a jerk.
touch clay, keep the wobble, leave tracks that show you
touched the clay. be proud of skills, but don t let them
take clay, make stuff, put it in a kiln, and turn it back into the
material that is took nature millions of years to make, in just
a few days. if that does not turn on your buttons, nothing will.
enjoy the thrill.