Things I learned from teachers that I wonder if they teach today

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck

Schools across the country are back in session after what probably seemed like a very short summer. Unless you're a parent, that is.
I remember being so excited for school to start every year. Truthfully it was more about socializing than learning, but I actually enjoyed learning too.
And many things I learned–especially in elementary school–have stuck with me more years than I care to disclose.
A couple weeks ago, Tom and I took a weekend trip to cat sit for his sister in Ft. Myers.
We pulled off to stretch our legs and a storm was brewing on the horizon. The flashes of lightning illuminated the trees around us, and Tom started quoting Joyce Kilmer's Trees.
He knew the first few lines, and I finished it.
"Freak," he said to me as I concluded the 12-line poem.
"Hey, I had to learn it in fifth grade," I said, "along with September, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, If Nancy Hanks Came Back as a Ghost. Didn't you have to memorize poems?"
Did you?
Are children today taught poetry? Or has it gone the byway in favor of higher standardized testing?
There's a lot I learned from teachers that I fear may no longer be deemed important enough to fit into the public school curriculum.
Here are my remembrances of things I was taught in school. I welcome yours.
• Do not make telephone calls before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. It is bad manners to do so. Likewise if you call someone and it's their dinner hour, apologize and hang up. You can reschedule later.
• Ladies do not chew gum in public. It looks like a cow chewing its cud. (Yes, I break this one all the time, but I never said I was a lady.)
• Cursive writing. It saddens me to know so many schools have ditched the art of beautiful handwriting since we live in the computer age. Cursive is important, and Pearl Martin gets credit for making sure I know how to do an appropriate "Q" in cursive.
• Soap carving. I learned the difference in Ionic, Corinthic and Doric Greek columns by carving them out of a bar of Ivory soap. Likewise, I learned about "perspective" not from an art class, but from drawing the Parthenon, all part of our history class in fifth grade.
• "John Brown's Body", "Battle Hymn of the Republic", "Yankee Doodle", "the Noble Duke of York." Songs from the past that detail history. We didn't have music teachers back then. Instead the first 30 minutes of every day was devoted to singing from some paperback songbooks and when we tired of that, we moved on to "The Farmer in the Dell" or the theme from "Gilligan's Island."
• Diagramming sentences. Man, oh, man, this started early and went through senior year of high school. One test in senior English was one compound-complex sentence that had to be diagrammed. One sentence. Total grade. I loved to diagram, and occasionally I still draw a sentence in the air to figure out what part of speech it is or how it's used.
There are so many more. Mine was an education that went beyond math, science and spelling.
I wish today's youth could have it so good and carry with them a lifetime of remembrances.
Helen Hunt Jackson must have thought so too when she penned:

'T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.