As Presented at Temple Beth El, Boca Raton. Community Forum on Education; "Teach Your Children Well"
I wish to thank Rabbi Brockman, Debbie Block, and each of you, for this opportunity. May I also offer my sincere gratitude to my mentors, Amy and Tom Valens, the makers of August To June.
You have just seen a lesson the two illustrate so well. "One Class" plus "One Year" equals more than the sum of these parts.
Through twenty-six eight to ten year olds, and a Teacher, the Whole Child concept is understood.
Other persons who offered this lesson are here among us. In spirit my very, very, very young cousin, at the age of 93 is with us, as are you. I will share Alvin's wisdom as I go on. I experience that yours is ever-present in our travel together this evening.
For now, I will merely say; Alvin does, as I trust you will tonight; teach me. I have faith that your every word and deed will inform my own.
That is what human interaction does for each of us; it edifies.
Even an encounter with our own thoughts teaches. Thus, I suspect this evening, you will teach yourself.
Let us begin to learn as we look beyond the limits and the labels.
What we saw on the screen only moments ago were the words, "One Class" and "One Year." We also glimpsed into the lives of an extraordinary Teacher and her exceptional students. Parents too, while less prominent in this particular clip, are everywhere in the full-length feature film.
There is much that makes up a Whole Child, a Whole Classroom, and a Whole Life. I think of Alvin, his 93 years on this planet. There is not a day that goes by without Alvin discovering a new fact or fiction. The same is true for me, and you!.
Yet, others wish to reduce each of us to descriptors.
You are a professional person, a parent, a Mom, or Dad. He or she is an "At Risk" Student, a "Highly Qualified Teacher," or a "High Performing Pupil." "Dropouts" too abound or did before they were left behind.
Each spends most of their days in a "Failed School."
That is what people do; we categorize, characterize, and calculate the numbers.
We place labels on all that we see. Rarely do we ponder as Danish Philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard did near two hundred years ago. "Once you label me, you negate me."
Thankfully, my cousin Alvin had thought that notion through. Alvin taught me decades ago . . . "No two people, places, experiences or emotions are ever the same. They are similar, but never the same."