George Washington’s Gift for Locker Room Jargon

Few characters in American History are as deified as George Washington. In grade school, I found him to be one of the most boring people in the social studies textbooks. These books failed to convey even a smattering of the man’s panache or spirit. They declared that General Washington was revered by his troops, but offered not one insight into the vivacity that made this guy the “the Father of his Country.” He is placed so high on a pedestal that you can’t even see his humanity. According to the school textbooks, Washington, the man, was as wooden as his teeth. (They were actually made of ivory, but that’s another story.) Perhaps professor Charles V. Willies was thinking of Washington when he wrote these words: “By idolizing those whom we honor, we do a disservice both to them and to ourselves. We fail to recognize that we could go and Continue Reading

Categories: Schools.

The Song of the Century

During the month of October,  I performed a series of preschool story time concerts in Oregon’s Douglas County Public Library System. Yesterday, I played a gig at the small library in Oakland, Oregon (population 927). The vintage 1910 building has thirteen-foot ceilings and large wooden-frame windows. The library resides on the top floor of the building and the Oakland Play School Co-op operates downstairs. In the 21st-century, it’s uncommon to find a public library within walking distance of a school campus, let alone one in such close proximity that the students can access the library, even on a rainy day. So, Miss Melinda, the school’s lone teacher, assisted by several parent volunteers, brought her class of a dozen preschool students upstairs to attend my concert in the cozy children’s room of the library. I taught them to sing Woody Guthrie’s “Put Your Finger in the Air” and “Why Oh Why?” We sang “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star,” “Old Continue Reading

Categories: Libraries and Schools.