Friday, October 15, 2010
Blast From the Past
It seemed only right that I received this completely unanticipated email message in September which is the beginning of the school year.
It was a message from my 6th grade teacher Bob Edmiston! Being in his class was life-changing for me. How great was he?
I dedicated my first book to him.
What was so great about him?
He thought out-of-the-box and so taught us 12 year olds to think that way too. He pretty much tossed out the science textbooks because really, how excited can you get about science by reading? Science is about doing!
So he took a storage room and transformed it into a dark room. He taught us about F-stops and shutter speed and exposure. We developed our own film. We printed our own photos. I came to love the smell of developer. Sure there was the time we were jumping off the counters to see how far we could go in the dark. But no one got hurt. It just got noisy.
We learned about microscopy and climatology and botany. We learned how to shoot a Super 8 movie. I learned so much and was so proud of my work that I still have my Botany, Microscopy and Photography final projects. (I swear I am not a hoarder.)
He also taught us about culture. He took us to a Japanese restaurant and we ate raw fish! (Please keep in mind that this was in the sixties.) We worked with clay but we didn't make just little coil pots. We made raku pottery.
The most valuable gift he gave to me was encouraging me to write. In fact the subject line of his email was "The girl who liked to write really long stories." And we had all kinds of assignments: mystery stories, historical stories, stories based on TV shows. Writing was important to me because I felt that there was little else that I could do really well.
A couple other kids and I were working on a parody of "Get Smart" and our main character was called "Soxsmell Dumb." Get it? Very sixth grade, I know.
I so appreciate teachers because they can, whether they know it or not, determine the course our lives, for the better or for the worse. If you are teacher, please take your job seriously. I don't mean be serious, because God knows Mr. E was one of the funniest people I've ever known. Just know that who you are and the way you teach matters.
Mr. Edmiston wrote me a recommendation to get into UC Berkeley and then he sent me what he said was a copy, but was (I think) a joke. It's hilarious. I still have it somewhere and I'll post it as soon as I find it.
And I'll ask him if I can share about his life which was amazing to me since I thought all the excitement pretty much left his universe when I went on to Junior High.
Maybe I need a Permission Slip.