• Elizabeth, the young daughter of Lynn Caine, author of the non-fiction book Widow, had wanted a Mickey Mouse watch for quite some time, and when they visited Disneyland, she finally got one. Unfortunately, very quickly she ruined the watch when she jumped into a swimming pool while wearing it. Her mother was angry and yelled at her. Later, when Elizabeth was remembering the vacation, she said, “We went to California, and my mama screamed at me for about two hours and threw my watch at me.” Disappointed, Ms. Caine asked her, “Elizabeth, is that all you remember about California? We were there four days. You have the choice of remembering that I screamed at you for two hours or thinking about some of the other things — didn’t anything make you happy?” Elizabeth then talked about quite a few nice things that had happened on the vacation.
• Kevin Jennings, the founder and executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), was one of the United States’ first gay teachers to come out of the closet. In school, he wore a marriage ring because he and his partner had exchanged rings. His students asked about the ring, and he told the truth. However, afterward his students kept his response a secret, as if he had said something bad about himself. This bothered Mr. Jennings, so he made a speech to the entire school and came out publicly. The response was incredibly positive. Students hugged him, and he says, “I felt like a celebrity.” Unfortunately, his life as a student in high school was quite different. As the school “fag,” he was called names and occasionally beaten up.
• When J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, was nine years old, she moved to a new home and started attending a new school. Her new teacher gave her a math test to see what she knew; unfortunately, young J.K. had not yet studied fractions, and the test included fractions. Her new teacher seated students according to how smart she thought they were; the students she thought were smart sat on her left, and the students she thought were dumb sat on her right. Since J.K. had not done well on the math test, her new teacher thought she was dumb and seated her accordingly. J.K. says, “I was as far right as you could get without sitting in the playground.” However. J.K. studied and soon she moved to a seat on the teacher’s left.
• If you think of Knute Rockne, you think of football at Notre Dame, where he was first a player and then a coach. However, he did things other than play football (and run track) while getting his Fighting Irish education. For example, did you know that he was in the college band? Anyone playing in the band got $200 knocked off his tuition, so Knute started playing the flute. He would practice in his room, which he shared with his friend Charles “Gus” Dorais (also a football player), but when Gus got tired of hearing Knute practice and felt that he deserved a break, he would hide Knute’s flute. In addition, Knute performed in theater, often playing female roles such as a society lady and a shop girl.
• Wise people believe in conquering haste. One day, martial arts student Joe Hyams was in the office of Master Han when a letter that Master Han had been eagerly looking for arrived. Mr. Hyams expected Master Han to tear open the letter and begin reading it immediately, but Master Han put the letter aside and continued talking to him. The following day, Mr. Hyams congratulated Master Han on his self-control. Master Han replied, “I did what I would have done had I been alone. I put the letter aside until I had conquered haste. Then when I set my hand to it, I opened it as though it were something precious.”
• As you would expect, teachers are good thinkers. A visitor whom a teacher wanted to impress visited her class, and the teacher succeeded in impressing the visitor, since wherever she asked a question, all of the students in her class raised their hands and whoever the teacher called on to answer the question knew the correct answer. However, the teacher did employ a trick. All of the students had received instructions before the visitor arrived: If they knew the answer, they were to raise their right hand, and if they did not know the answer, they were to raise their left hand.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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