Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Son Grows Up

This is Ben in the 2nd grade. Our local school participated in a district-wide gifted program that was housed in a portable at a school several miles away. The kids got to be with Mr. Dugger in his wonderful Quest classroom once a week. Ben is in the back row on the far right. 

This is a more recent photo of Ben (4th from left) hanging out with friends in New York City, where he has lived since going off to NYU quite a few years ago. He is an accountant by day, and an actor by night. James (far right) was a classmate from 3rd grade on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Elementary School, San Francisco in the 1950s

I am in the front with the dark plaid dress, white collar, and ringlets
They told us that our teeth should show when we smiled, which accounts for our rather ferocious-looking expressions

After my family moved out West from Maine when I was an infant, I lived in San Francisco until I was 11 years old and about to go into the 6th grade. All of these photos were taken at my two schools in San Francisco's Sunset District, the Francis Scott Key School and its Annex. Information about the Annex can be found on this page under "Other Improvements and Neighborhood Amenities" on the extensive historical site, Western Neighborhoods Project; Preserving the History of San Francisco's West Side.

It was pretty surprising to look up my old school and find that my experience is considered historical! I can gaze at these photos for a very long time, looking at the rooms and the kids, and picking out details. Look at the formality of our school clothes--all the girls are wearing dresses, and everyone's "school shoes" were kept for "good." 

I also like to see that the teachers in Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades set up hands-on experiences, like the play grocery stores. When you look at the third grade photo, you can see that we have pretty much put all that nonsense behind us in favor of sit-at-the-desk type learning. Nowadays, much of the school day is spent doing hand-on learning at all levels.

However, I really loved the structure and quietness of the structured school room. Those little desks in a straight row, with the books and papers lined up just so were very satisfying to me. When I was older, in 6th grade I believe, I visited the third grade class where my mother taught, using the new methods. I found the noise and apparent chaos quite disconcerting, with children moving all around the room from learning station to learning station.

First grade
I am on the left in the first row with the short kids
That Scottish-looking outfit was designed and sewn by my mother

Second grade
I am in the first row, just above "Scott" on the classroom sign, trying to keep Ronald's boy cooties off me

Third grade
Real structure has set in. I am in the back, in front of the boy (Danny) with the dark vest
I am amazed at how many names I can remember; in fact there are just a few that I can't recall
The short term memory, of course, is pretty far gone, as befits a historical figure