I like to settle into routines. Like most adults, each week I have an idea of what I’d like to get done. Usually it revolves around some routine.  Discipline is inculcated at an early age as we learn to do things around schedules, plans and deadlines. April 15 is one such deadline some of us may have encountered this week.

A second grade class I taught this week at one of the elementary schools reminded me of this fact – how important routine and structure is to the fabric of our lives. Even at the age of 7 and 8 years old, kids operate within a set of routines. It was nice to see second graders take out their homework and perform other tasks throughout the day centered around their routines.

My teaching routine generally does not cover second grade – I prefer well disciplined AP Physics students at the high school level who are all engaged on an independent project. But I don’t always have control over my teaching assignments. They come and go, each one different, and I must adapt myself to circumstances.

Second grade is an age group I don’t prefer to teach. I much prefer fifth and sixth grade if I’m teaching on the elementary school level. Second graders have to be kept on task. Second graders ask a lot of questions. Second graders demand much more of my time. If you need your shoe tied, don’t ask a second grader because they will ask you.  

If I had known that I would be teaching second grade this week I don’t think I would have accepted the assignment. Sometimes we find ourselves outside our routines. If you had been training  for the Boston Marathon and entered the race this week how could you have foreseen the tragic outcome?

As I regularly look over Warwick Valley Living’s events calendar, this time I chose to go to an event that fit perfectly into my routine. On Saturday I regularly go to Gold’s gym in Monroe and so I knew I could squeeze in a trip to Museum Village located just up the road for their Grand Opening.

The museum was founded in 1950 by Roscoe V. Smith and is one of Orange County’s prized cultural institutions, drawing many visitors yearly, including caravans of school children who come on field trips. The Museum offers lessons on what it was like during a specific era in history, circa 1850’s, just before the advent of the industrial age.

At the museum I took a self-guided tour, engaging with a number of volunteers who came out in full force.  I met woodcarvers from the Mid-Hudson Woodcarvers Guild, and stopped at a candle shop, broomshop  and blacksmith shop, where I was given several demonstrations on each of these crafts. Then I went to the old school house where I reviewed the lesson of the day, written on the blackboard:“How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour and gather honey all the day from every opening flower?” 

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What I love about school, inside or outside a classroom, is that each day we have opportunities to improve ourselves. This is one great gift of life. We are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.

Education is an exciting proposition worth supporting. Keeping cultural institutions alive like Museum Village, or nurturing second graders along a pathway of good routines leads, I think, to a better civilization.  Cherishing each person for their self worth and unlimited potentiality is a right for all.

Finishing up my day in that 2nd grade classroom, I read from Charlotte’s Webb. The students were rapt in attention and I brought to conclusion what turned out to be a wonderful day inside the classroom.

Young minds were turned on. And then I realized, I was “gathering honey all the day from every opening flower.”

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