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Educating Albie

Submitted by Albin Johnson - January 02, 2006

My early classroom education consisted of learning basics at Minonk Grade School. I was in one of the first classes to attend the then new "yellow brick building" and I loved it!! I had great teachers, Miss Grey, Miss Swan, Miss Meierhofer, and Miss Healy plus Mr. Janssen the custodian. I won contests in humorous story recitation and blue ribbons for pastel drawing art contests, even a war bond for a poppy poster.

Minonk High School was different. I was still good at being "funny" and "drawing" but not so proficient at Civics, Chemistry, English and History. Shop Classes? I loved them, and I also played basketball. During my senior year I was awarded an appointment to attend Annapolis Naval Academy. Unfortunately my entrance exam scores were less than expected and I was offered a chance to try again after I re-studied. I didn't do either! But that was not the end of my fascination with the Navy. I next decided I would attend Colorado A & M where my two older cousins had graduated. Fort Collins was beautiful with mountains and a very good football team. The air was clean and I had a chance to dress up in an ROTC uniform. Unfortunately I didn't seem to grasp the need to again study in all those chemistry and science classes.

In the fall of 1949 I transferred to ISNU (Illinois State). Enter a new revelation, "FATE". She entered a class I was attending and her name was Marilyn Bloomingdale! That started my adult life. But soon, patriotism and the Korean conflict permitted me to spend the next 4 years as a Navy Seabee where Real LOVE drove me to propose marriage to Marilyn. Upon discharge we gathered up our oldest child, a promise of GI benefits and headed our Chevy Convertible to Colorado State College of Education in Greeley. A couple of years later I graduated with a BA and an MA in Industrial Arts Teaching. My ability to use my hands made woodshop, drafting, metal shop and print shop easy and natural.

Those dreaded "education" classes proved to be impressive. Imagine studying about Pavlov's rewards, Horace Mann's education theories, the Sloyd movement, John Dewey and more, such as a host of scholars explaining heredity and environment, individual differences, school boards, behavior, discipline, utilization of time, the home, rationality and intelligence, cognitive learning, lesson plans and more lesson plan. Bloom's "Taxonomy of Educational Objectives" was number one reading throughout my 24 years of planning coursework for teaching Jr. High, High School and Community College.

Most recently, the Los Angeles Times newspaper reported a story about the Nobel Society offering a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for, "Fostering the understanding of conflict and cooperation". (to me that meant teaching!) But what this study meant was how conflicts such as nuclear proliferation, arms races, trade wars, price wars and takeovers could be mediated. The answer was to revisit a branch of Math and Social Science called, "Game Theory". One recipient wrote a book called "The Strategy of Conflict" which touted as saying "long term success could be gained by giving up short term advantages". An example given was that two feuding nations that had multiple Atomic Bombs who were stalemated and so could seek more sane answers. Brilliant! Give and take, Chess, Poker, or as one version of the Bible Book Genesis states that God took a rib from Adam (that had to be painful) and made Eve which was surely a better deal than living alone!

In conclusion, as I reminisce about my teaching career and education, I am favorably reminded that "Game Theory" between students and teachers is what education is all about and good teaching produces good students and that rewards good teachers. Simple!! Just remember that LIFE has to be a continuous journey of LEARNING and UNDERSTANDING, and so on and so on and so on.

Post Script! I have been haunted often in life by what some unknown wag uttered: "Those who Can, DO, and those who can't, TEACH!!!" My answer always will be - If you are willing to learn and are dedicated to helping others learn, then you are on a very rewarding road that will bring you a lifetime of wonderful memories.