a photograph by Sonja Bingen
U.S. educational policy today emphasizes “informational text” and performing well on standardized tests based upon a “common core” of knowledge. The academics, businesspeople, and politicians who insist upon such nonsense have clearly forgotten what learning is all about. My two daughters, Sonja Bingen and Mary Wood, both teachers, remember how their love of learning was originally sparked, so they are actually teachers who work to instill a love of learning in their students. If the educational theorists would take a vacation from their heavy thoughts and the hieroglyphics of statistics generated from assessment data and spend some time in Sonja’s classroom reading with her students beneath a blooming fruit tree in early spring, perhaps they would remember that it is not knowledge, but an entertaining book or an excited teacher capable of waking a young mind that leads to learning. Maybe then they would stop all the unnecessary testing and pontificating and begin to give teachers the support and freedom they need to generate the drive to learn that enriches those lucky enough to have lost themselves in a book on a gloriously sunny day spent outside in the school’s yard.
The new issue of The Road Not Taken, a Journal of Formal Poetry has just published one of my sonnets, “Spreading Wings.” You canhttp://journalformalpoetry.com, then click on the Spring 2016 issue and scroll down. Since both of our daughters, Sonja and Mary, were present at the poetry reading at the Reader’s Loft Bookstore in Green Bay (http://www.houseofthetomato.com/march), I read this Italian sonnet there. The sonnet is about them when they were young. I wrote it during an extremely terrifying time in Ethel’s and my life when Kevin, our 27 year old son, was in the process of dying from cancer. Writing sonnets (I wrote 44 in all) was the only way I could bear what Ethel, I, and, of course, Kevin most of all, were going through. What concerned me day after day was our family and remembering incidents that made up the substance of our lives as a family. This sonnet tells of a time that I remember with great love in my spirit.
Raising children is not always easy, but I like to think that at least part of what Ethel and I have achieved in life is the way our two daughters have reflected into our granddaughters and grandsons. They both are beyond outstanding parents, always willing to sacrifice so that their children can meet whatever promise they have in life. I am also convince that they are great teachers because of the spirit they have inculcated from the time they were toddlers, dancing through life with a verve that gives no quarter to a universe that is not always kind.
I hope those of you who go to read the sonnet will enjoy it.
a photograph by Mary Wood, our daughter
Filed under Art, Photography