School days formula: C+D=LLL to infinity

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    The use of an 8 on its side to represent the concept of infinity is credited to English clergyman and mathematician John Wallis, who served as chief cryptographer for Parliament and the royal court in the 17th century.

As a P.S. (pre- instead of post-script), Dear Readers, thanks to fans who responded to the Aug. 17 “Green Flash” about my two “uglies,” in particular, the ulu, breadfruit. Keith, Terri and Jim were all affirming, and other TGI readers met while out and about.

Jim (Jung) revealed that he teaches about the ulu (among other subjects) as a volunteer interpreter at the Kauai Museum. He reminded me that the water used to irrigate these plants aboard the “Bounty” was a triggering factor in the thirsty sailors’ mutiny, to which I replied that my intention is to present enough information to tweak the interest of readers so they’ll want to find out more for themselves, for example, in this case, to see the classic film, or read up on the history …

… which is a perfect lead into this piece to remind us of the recent beginning of a new school year. This writer offers for consideration a newly hatched personal formula for an older idea: C+D = LLL + infinity symbol (8 on its side). C stands for Curiosity; D, for Discovery; the triple L, for Life-Long Learning in infinite ways.

This formulaic way of presenting my idea came to me while I was scrubbing grime off window screens (which has nothing to do with the subject, except that often a person’s best thinking takes place while tackling a somewhat mindless chore. It might be considered a “Green Flash” in that the idea came while accomplishing the work on grass using a glossy green lime tree as a prop for scrubbing and hosing the screens.)

Actually, the idea was seeded some evenings before during a pleasant conversation with a green-eyed woman who believes similarly in life-long learning, under an unusually green rock mountain looming over a lazy green stream. “Kay” (for short) has home-schooled two of her children and launched them successfully to higher learning and careers of their choosing. Her last, a good student, has elected to attend public high school somewhat for the camaraderie, and is enjoying involvement in team sports.

With school having begun, our talk turned to what makes a “good teacher” and also, a “good student.” Boiled down to simple facts, a good teacher is one who doesn’t teach by stuffing facts and conclusions into students, but in doing what education (Lat., educare) truly promises; that is, leading a student to draw on her/his capabilities to discover and learn in a way that superficial memorization can never match. The personal interest and excitement of a good teacher about the subject matter can fire up the interest of their students. A good student is one who goes further than what classroom lessons present as a “starter.”

We agreed that if education as a value is present in the home, students who live and grow in this atmosphere receive a huge, helpful bonus. Discovery and learning are the home medium, rather than beginning and ending with a school bell. “Homework” can turn into family discussion and further related experiences, or life examples. Often, as learned from my children and grandchildren, the “kids” may teach some (or very many) things to their adults, and vice versa.

We’ve looped back to the beginning, where the C for Curiosity and the D for Discovery lead to (equal) Life-Long Learning, and possibly, GNH, for Greater National Happiness — not that everyone has to be a talking head, an academic, a “brain.” Nor is there any one route to a satisfying life. Each person decides and lives according to his own sensibilities, and there are myriad subjects and ways to learn using alternate senses and methods of expression. There can be leaps in learning at times; at others, it may be that the learning comes in small increments, subtle and minute discoveries.

Whether you’re a Type A personality, or a Type B, a “bookish” or “painterly” person, a “hands-on” discoverer, active or passive in your comfort zone, a listener, a “people” person, someone who likes to tear things apart to see how they work, an introvert, an extrovert, a farmer or a scientist type, or any of a million other options and combinations, it’s fun to find the symbol that fits your expression. Warning: this may change as you live and grow, day to day, moment to moment. Think of a favorite emoji you might choose from the newest graphic vocabulary to end your text or e-mail. (A whole new “alphabet” of emojis is being developed that bypass the difference in languages, as worldwide [worldwise] symbols often do.)

Beyond our brick-and-mortar school buildings, the Kauai community offers opportunities for life-long learning and growth for kids from under 1 to over the proverbial 99. In friendship circles and associate networks, in your neighborhood or town, via the media or internet, you can’t help being exposed to announcements and invitations to join groups, take classes and volunteer. Wiser people have said that as a person’s satisfaction level rises with interests being fed, positive feelings increase to heal and connect, and flow to those with whom one lives, works and interacts. Curiosity and discovery increase exponentially, along with general well-being.

I volunteer to test the theory: I’m off to the newly formed Kauai “Live Poets’ Society” at the Lihue Library this evening to savor the sound and sense of language with others who enjoy the challenge of creating patterns of words — hopefully, to discover something new. Aloha, see you there?

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Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai in the 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. Shared passions are travel and nature. The writer’s books may be found in local outlets and on Amazon. For more information, go to tropicbirdpress@gmail.com.

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