Digging deeper helps education



January 22, 2016 - 12:00 AM

My latest literary travel has taken me back to my roots. I’ve been reading about noted mathematicians, the likes of Godel, Graham and Erdos, with a helping of physics in Teller and Einstein.
While far from a child prodigy, I can’t remember when math didn’t came easily for me. I learned to do various tasks at an early age, and could add and subtract in my head. Dad was keen on math, took college courses after World War II — to complement his work at Monarch Cement — and stressed often I’d be well-served by knowing how to do more than simple arithmetic.
While still in grade school, I learned how to figure square root. Dad knew and wanted me to as well. I was proud of the accomplishment. It meant little to my friends, although my teacher, Betty Crawford, an animated woman given to excessive excitement whenever one of her students mastered anything, was so delighted she almost danced across the classroom.
With all sorts of electronic devices today having multitudes of functions, including those to do with math, I don’t know if any computations are done with paper and pencil. If not, we’re probably missing the boat — which takes me to another thought on education.
Recently I read “The Annals of Iola and Allen County,” the first two volumes going through 1945. Often it occurred to me we should have a course at Iola High based on the two-volume accumulation of local history.
Mickey and Emerson Lynn carefully went through roll after roll of microfilm of Registers past to extract not only major events, but also everyday happenings that flesh out the story of Iola, as well as those of our neighbors and the county.
How many people today know we had prairie schooners and itinerant Indians coming through Iola regularly in the last 1800s? How many know officers had permission to fire on window peepers? How many know such titans of history as Teddy Roosevelt, Billy Sunday and Carrie Nation — perhaps Charley Melvin’s inspiration — visited and spoke in Iola? How many know Iola once had a population of 15,000, the county 30,000?
And, it isn’t widely known today that putting a public swimming pool at the north end of Jefferson Street was considered before it was built in Riverside Park. Also, financing concerns came close to keeping the pool from being built anywhere.
Not only would a semester, or at least a few weeks, focus on local history be intriguing, it would give kids a better appreciation of how we got to where we are today.

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