Ah, the return to the classroom brings about both good and bad memories. It recalls some of the same questions I posed so many years ago. I hope I find answers to them before my time on this earth is done.
First, I still wonder what is the reason for demanding 4 years of English from every student. The same question applies to math and science. Schools should construct their curricula in ways that meet
the needs of each student. If the goal of school is to prepare individuals for life’s work, then perhaps
one person can survive well with 2 years of English, math, or science. Another student might need to concentrate on a core course when it directly relates to the future field of study he or she enters. A student who wants to pursue a specific trade skill might find vocational courses more beneficial than the overkill of so many years of a core courses.
Second, shouldn’t school prepare students for a well-rounded life? If so, then isn’t education much more than core courses? Music and art are those areas that bring joy and spirit to life. It’s also been
proven that individuals who participate in music performance classes perform better in academic areas. These outlets allow young people to develop other talents not addressed in traditional courses of study. A dappling in them can provide much entertainment during leisure hours for the rest of a person’s life.
Along the same lines, shouldn’t a complete education include social aspects? Learning to get along with others is an important lesson. Developing a sense of loyalty and community is accomplished more
effectively through sports, band, and clubs. Those activities might be every bit as important as calculus or physics since success many times is dependent upon effective communication among individuals pursuing a common goal, and they are learned in extra-curricular activities.
Third, is literature created express the passions or musings of authors? So often, the beauty of a novel or play or poem is obscured by the insertion of endless analysis. Does the author tell of the hidden meanings of his story? Does the poet choke his message with attention to correct rhyme scheme and meter? The use of figurative language is simply to make the passage clear through comparison. In and of themselves, personification or metaphors or alliteration are of no value. The joy of literature is the reading of it, not the over analysis of it.
It’s true that I’ve been away from the classroom for several years. However, the same stale school models govern education. The demand that every person go to college is absurd. Just as one size of shirt doesn’t fit everyone, college doesn’t work for all people. Technical schools meet some needs for students. Apprenticeship programs are better suited for others. Another truth is that the old ways of education bore students stiff; they search for way to escape school as soon as possible. Education is valued only when it meets the direct needs of each student.

The good of my new role is that I merely babysit students. Only on rare occasions do I teach them. The lack of change over the last 8 years caught me off guard. I supposed that the high demand for testing and accountability had dramatically changed the educational model. Sadly, it remains the same except for the introduction of technology. I can only hope that those in charge will someday revise schools so that they address the areas that will help to make students successful in their lives. 


By the end of the summer, the new subdivision just up the road will be completed. Forty new houses line the streets. To my surprise, two separate tracks bordering the development have been scraped clean of topsoil, and work on phase 2 has begun. The additional land looks large enough to
accommodate 60-80 more dwellings. Does any governmental official ever look at the impact of all these additional subdivisions?
The stated Knox County population for 2013 was 444,622, up from 432,226 in 2010. That equals a .028 growth rate in three years, equivalent to 12,396 individuals. I’m not sure such a paltry number justifies the overbuilding in our area.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, I could walk to the store a tenth of a mile down Ball Camp Pike. During the journey, I might encounter half a dozen cars. Today, no one walks the s road that is the same size that it was 50-plus years ago. The fear of being struck by a speeding car keeps people from even trying. A study from several years back stated that the road carried approximately 12,000 trips a day. With the addition of so many subdivisions, the increase in traffic will make getting anywhere all the more difficult. The Schaad Road extension, once called the new Ball Camp Pike, aimed to remove most of the traffic. However, the recession choked off funds and the project died. No new road and three railroad crossings can back up traffic for nearly a mile. Just imagine the effects of so many more cars entering the main road from the new developments.
Beautiful views in the area have been wiped out. The fields where this new subdivision is located offered residents a beautiful landscape in the morning when a light fog hung just above the ground until the morning sun steamed it away. Gone is the sweet scent of hay as it lay in wind rows before being baled. Only the memory of crossing that field in search of a perfect cedar Christmas tree remains. The losses of these things bring sadness to all of us who have invested in the community for such a long time.
The most worrisome impact of these developments falls on the lives of wildlife. Nest are turned under by bulldozers and graders. Wildlife of all kinds is left with no place to live or to find sources of food. These creatures move on in an attempt to find new homes. They invade neighborhoods and wreak havoc on gardens and garbage cans. More and more of them meet a deadly fate as they try to cross highways and roads to reach new places to live. Our constant demand for development pushes animals farther into smaller areas that cannot sustain their lives.

The solution to this problem is simple. Folks can choose to buy existing houses. Plenty are available, and many are of higher quality than the new ones that pop up in only a couple of days. The cheaper
prices leave owners cash for remodeling and adding rooms. Animals then have a chance to live in a safer environment. It’s come to the point where me must live and let live. The land is not ours alone.


I began a new job as a substitute teacher at the beginning of the school year. The first couple of days were rough as I reacquainted myself with teenaged students. I’d spent 30 years as a teacher but had been gone from the school setting and the classroom for a long time. What surprised me was the fact that my generation no longer was present except in rare cases. We’ve left the educating of the young to a new group of teachers. Our time has passed.
For the past year, I’ve watched the presidential race. From the primary candidates to the party
nominees, most of the individuals are either too old or too tainted to be effective leaders. They preach divisiveness instead of unity; some openly show their dislike for others who have different color or different language from theirs. Our two candidates are Baby-Boomers at the age of 70 or close to it.
John F. Kennedy became the youngest president to take office from the oldest sitting one. In his inaugural address he declared that the Eisenhower generation had passed the torch to a new generation of leaders. He called on citizens to “ask not what you can do for your country; rather, ask what you can do for your country.” The time has come for that same kind of change to come once again.             
New, young leaders must come, and with them they must bring new ideas and open minds. Most importantly, they must also arrive with a willingness to reach across the aisle in order to work together. Continuing gridlock promotes political ideologies while injuring the country and its citizens.
These new, young minds bring with them possibilities and solutions that my generation can’t imagine. Perhaps they can formulate new approaches to the questions of entitlements, how to pay for them and how to check their out-of-control growth. They might be able to bring a fresh approach that discovers a way of stopping the pollution of our planet before it no longer can sustain life. Tech-savvy leaders can implement educational programs in the work place that retrain workers for the jobs of the future. It’s imperative that they do so because those old manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back nor will they offer a living wage.
Too many young people complain about the shape the world finds itself. They throw up their hands and declare there’s no need to even try to get involved. That kind of thinking just won’t help this country to remain strong. The sad fact is that too many Americans have already given up; they no longer participate in the process. Our country’s hope lies in the willingness of the young to participate in all areas of government. Yes, it involves sacrifice in that our brightest must delay some of their own goals and instead become servants and stewards of this country. It is an act of unselfishness that can bring with it rewards for generations to come.
We Baby-Boomers must step out of the way. Let’s allow the next generation to save the country. They have more energy and more years left than we do. Their new and bold ideas are our only hope for a better world. We mustn’t be a “helicopter generation” that spares them from adversity. Our generation survived the hard times, and this new generation will grow and overcome the obstacles before them.

Our older generation has accomplished some good things. The country has been a world leader for years because of our efforts. It’s time to usher in that new generation and to allow them to lead and make this country their own. Maybe we can serve as mentors to them until they find solid footing. The things that they accomplish might well surprise us all. 


Weather forecasters predict that temperatures will cool into the 80’s in the coming days. The summer of 2016 has been the hottest we’ve had in the last few years. Perhaps global warming is finally giving
us a preview of what’s in store if our pollution of the planet continues. At any rate, we have had a steady stream of days with highs in the 90’s. I don’t pay attention to the “feels like” temperatures because 90 degrees is plenty hot without add-ons. A pool in the backyard is the place where we retreat to escape those blast-furnace temperatures. As a child, we turned to different things for cooling off.
At home, we resorted to a using a water hose or sprinkler for relieve. Jim and I put on our bathing suits and ran in and out of the spray. Sometimes, we’d put on masks and walk straight into the water blasts. One downside to the activity was that the water attracted bees and wasps, and they shooed us
inside with stings. Another was that we wore bare spots in the yard with constant stomping in the same place.
We also walked across a hay field next to the house to reach a small creek. A long board reached from bank to bank, and we sat on it and held imaginary club meetings. Before long, we broke out the snacks and ate peanut butter crackers and washed them down with water or Kool-Aid. That place offered at least a few minutes of relief from the scorching temperatures.
Just up the road passed the railroad tracks, a small bridge spanned Ball Camp Pike. We boys gathered our fishing poles and walked to it. The bridge was so low that we had to stoop to pass under it. For a couple of hours our backs stayed hunched over as we fished for small blue gill. Just drowning worms was okay as long as we could remain by the water and out of the sun.
As we grew up, our neighborhood gang of boys biked across the ridge and toward Beaver Creek. Arriving at our destination, we parked our bikes at the edge of the field, trekked across the land, and
skinny-dipped in the water, which was much cleaner than it is today. Eventually, the group reluctantly dressed and biked home as our clothes stuck to wet skin. The bonus was the dampness felt especially good as we traveled down the roads.
When all else failed, we sat under one of the sprawling maple trees in the back yard and hoped for a breeze or a cloud-filled sky. The sound of thunder spiked our hopes of a summer shower that would drop the temperatures. For one of the few times in our lives, we boys sat as still as possible to keep from melting in the heat. The fact remained that after those showers the combination of the sun and humidity returned and turned all outside into a sauna.

Too many people now whine about hot weather. Most never experienced a life where the only cooling thing in the house was a small box window fan or wide opened window with a screen to stop mosquitoes from getting inside. Air conditioning has put an end to people’s ability to tolerate any kind of warm temperatures. What they fail to remember is that in only a few days, temperatures will begin to drop until they plunge. Frigid conditions will replace hot ones. Then they’ll gripe and complain about how cold it is. That’s when I might join them because I never warm up until the spring thaw arrives. I’d rather cool off than warm up.