December 2014 Column

  Education and the holidays go hand in glove.  The community continues to support our children during the holiday season to ensure every child has a positive experience.  Educators have the privilege and responsibility to provide the gift of learning for every child.
  There will always be conversation made to determine the best way to educate our children.  Many of us grew up in a time when rote memory was the standard.  Teachers delved out facts and information and it was our job as students to memorize the facts and divulge those facts when given tests or quizzes. In contrast, educational experts today realize the world is changing faster than we can print new textbooks or maps. Thus it is imperative we teach children to be problem solvers.  Though problem-solving skills requires some memorization,  it is also imperative for students to understand how this information became a fact.
  I was fortunate to have teachers who instilled the problem-solving thought process in my head.  Mr. Page taught Advanced Chemistry at Tucumcari High School.  As we advanced into the school year Mr. Page would lecture us on various chemical compounds on Monday of each week. On Tuesday we were given a test tube with chemicals in it.  We had the entire week to experiment on the substances and find the right chemicals in the tube.  There were times when none of the chemicals were items we discussed that week.  Our weekly grade was based on the number of times we turned in our answer.  For example if we got the answer on the first try we received an A, on the second try a B and so on.  It had a compelling impact to make sure you were right before you submitted your answer. This has been applicable in numerous other life experiences.
  I recall a Science Fair entry I had in high school - a requirement of Mr. Page’s  Advanced Chemistry class.  My experiment was the “Role of Indoleacetic Acid on Phototropism."  Indoleacetic acid is a growth hormone.  The experiment was premised on trying to get plants to bend away from the light by applying the hormone on the side of the light causing the cells on the stem to grow faster and bend away from the light.  The final results were plants that grew in curves because the growth hormone made them grow (bend). But the plant always grew toward the light. Although this was a required experiment - and one I was not excited about - it apparently made an impression. Mr. Page was integral is creating a problem-solving classroom. Apparently he was ahead of his time.
  I bring these things to light, because in their premise they appear minuscule to the education process.  In reality, however,  they are extremely important!  I’m not sure if Mr. Page prepared us for any major test (although I clepped out of eight hours of chemistry in college.) Mr. Page did instill collaboration, hard work and keenness to detail.  I remember his classes with fondness.  I remember the man because he loved kids and loved sharing his knowledge.  He certainly had a big hand in my successes in life.  He was one of many educators who I can credit for later becoming a science teacher myself. Thanks, Mr. Page, for giving me the gift of being a lifelong learner. 
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