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Dear Old Golden Rule Days

We “oldsters” all remember the ditty, “School days, school, days, dear old Golden Rule days…readin’ and writin’ and ‘rithmatic; taught to the tune of a hickory stick!

Oh the times, they are a changin’! First of all, the Golden Rule is no longer politically correct and is off-limits since it is from the Bible. All it says is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The new rule is, “Do unto others before they do unto you!”

Secondly, we have the new reading programs, and those of us who learned from Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot, are really old fogies! Writing, with the old cursive letters posted above the old chalkboards are certainly a thing of the past. Not only is cursive writing no longer taught in many schools, but chalkboards have been ripped out and replaced by Smartboards. Yet even they too are becoming obsolete as teachers teach from their computers to the students’ laptops – now often provided to all students in the school. And arithmetic has gone through so many stages of new math, all the kids really need now is their smart phone. So why even teach Algebra any more? I am not even sure the teacher in the classroom is really needed any more!

Now the last line of that original little song – “taught to the tune of a hickory stick” would have the police and community up in arms over that abusive, threatening teacher – especially if there was a whack on any hand or bottom!

Before you begin to think I do not appreciate or even advocate change for the better, let me assure you that I am a retired teacher who now does speaking and consulting in schools all over the world. I love children: I love teachers; and I have welcomed change for the better for the past 35 years in education. But one size does not fit all, and one method does not reach all. I taught English, speech and drama in a St. Louis high school until retirement and then taught teachers in the Masters Program in a St. Louis University. I will keep speaking and consulting in schools until I am no longer invited. However, there is one component all of today’s technology, advanced methods and strategical curriculum cannot begin to cover – the precious heart of a child.

Many can picture a teacher of yore hugging her small students as they arrive, or having pleasant, meaningful conversations with both parents on Meet the Teacher Night.

As a former “troubled teen” myself, I chose to teach the more unloveable, who perhaps have never gotten a hug from a teacher, and only had one parent – or none-even in their formative years. Bring on the kids with the blue spiked hair, saggy-baggy pants and pierced, tattooed body parts. Many of them are daring a teacher to touch a part of them that no one ever has – and that is their broken, starving, often angry little heart. I was that child 40 years ago, and that is perhaps why I always knew the way to reach their mind was directly though the heart.

I am so thankful for our wonderful teachers and excellent well-equipped schools. I am amazed at the new technology and ever-changing advanced strategies of so many of our new dedicated young teachers.  But I am still old-fashioned in a few ways I must admit will never change. I still wave every time a big yellow bus passes by, and I still walk up to “strange-looking” kids in the mall and tell them my story, and even hug them! How wrong is that – and yet how right?

To all you parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and surrogate parents out there:

God has entrusted us with special gifts, for a specific time that can never be redeemed once it is gone. By all means support your local schools, the teachers and all advancement in technology and pedagogy. Fight for change when needed. But no matter how big, how “different” or how old your child is, please never fail to love them and tell them how valuable they are. Don’t leave it to the teacher alone, or God-forbid, a stranger, a gang or the streets. And by all means please risk teaching them the Golden Rule – that they would learn to treat all people as  they would like to be treated. The world would be a much better place if we adults learned and practiced the same – no matter how old fashioned or politically incorrect. Class dismissed.

 Read more posts by Debra Peppers, Ph.D., here. Dr. Peppers blogs for JenningsWire.


The post is presented by the National Publicist, Annie Jennings of the NYC based PR Firm, Annie Jennings PR.  Annie Jennings PR specializes in marketing books for getting authors booked on radio talk show interviews, TV shows in major online and in high circulation magazines and newspapers. Annie also works with speaker and experts to build up powerful platforms of credibility and influence.