Getting education off on the right foot

Published 11:57 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

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A lot of what we need to know in life can be learned from animals, especially horses.


Today lots of people talk about protecting our children from our history, as if the bad old parts will disappear if we don’t talk about them and the good old parts will just get better and better, especially if we keep embellishing them.

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Don’t think I’m about to suggest I’m a horse trainer. I’m not. But, I know a few things about horses because I have been around them all my life. And as we all know, in today’s world a teensy bit of information can qualify you to offer your “expert” opinion on pretty much anything from the simple cost of gasoline to the irrelevantly complicated question of whether self-driving cars will ever occasionally get a mind of their own and just serendipitously take a spin on the Blue Ridge Parkway without the owner.


So here’s the thing. If a horse steps on your foot, what do you do? You make him move off your foot. There are a number of ways ranging from simply pushing his body weight to force a shift or poking him in the side with a sharp elbow.


If you feel it would disturb or upset your horse if you take steps to teach him what not to do, then you face the possibility of your foot being crushed while you wait.


Don’t think I’m about to suggest that I could be a school teacher. I could no more handle a room full of kids with ants in their pants any better than I could outbox a kangaroo. I know my limitations.


But, explain to me why allegedly shushing teachers when it’s time to talk about our history regarding the treatment of people based on their race, ethnicity or gender helps kids learn. Someone famously said that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I’ve always liked that quote, and I’ve used it at times during my life to remind myself that learning from the error of my ways is beneficial. Granted, it can be painful because it means dredging up my sins of omission and commission in my life.


Being a phony is for the people who demand that the 10 commandments be erected in front of the courthouse knowing full well that there are a bunch of people inside the building, some employed by the taxpayers, who regularly break one or more of the commandments. Being real means accepting where you went wrong instead of making a hypocritIcal display of virtue.


Teachers should teach our children where we went wrong.


Like a horse, unless they feel the emotional pangs of making mistakes, they will grow up always stepping on someone else and believing that they have a right to do so.


Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at