During times uncertain, an increased longing for normalcy, for the familiar to reassure offers comfort that things will be ok.
The Art Linkletter Show- Kids Say the Darndest Things- aired from 1952 through 1970, brought the candor and innocence of children’s thoughts unrehearsed to an eager television audience. The whims of children sometimes catch us completely off-guard and guide us through the maze of confusion to a place of simplicity and perspective.
Another likely source of finding balance may be in history, in our past progressive that helped us maneuver to today in society. As imperfect and faulty as it might be, our history and its institutions have provided us a foundation, and are yes, a part of our culture. Let’s take the United States Post Office.
Our first Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin in 1775, more than 2 centuries ago. Since 1863, delivery has been from Monday through Saturday with free city delivery and rural free delivery from 1896. Zip codes were instituted in 1963. In fact, the USPS connects families, friends, businesses and customers. It delivers to every address in America, from the biggest cities to the smallest hamlets and is part of the fundamental American infrastructure. Their mandate is— binding the nation together through mail. Their commitment is to provide secure, reliable, affordable delivery of mail and packages. Always have, always will. As an essential public service -it’s what they do. There is much more to understand, to improve, of course, but the most genuine thoughts often come from the spontaneity of kids.
My neighbors have been teaching and keeping their 8 year-old third grader occupied during this period of unparalleled quarantine. Cindy sent me a photo of a poster Luke made for our mailman, Keith, because he was “missed” for a few days, replaced by another USPS employee. I asked Luke about his taking the time to express his feelings. Several of Luke’s comments reveal the kindness and wisdom that we all should note.
Question: Why do you think that making your poster would make the mailman happy?
Luke: I think that making a poster for Keith makes him happy, especially because it might remind him of when I dressed up like a mailman on Halloween.
Question: Why is it important to wait on Saturdays to say “hi” to him?
Luke: It’s important because our mailman is so nice and friendly…I have extra time on Saturdays.
Question: What do you miss most?
Luke: I miss school the most – the many kind, funny teachers, my teacher Mrs. Schwartz (Fork Lane School, Hicksville) and my friends. I like to see my teacher’s videos every day.
Question: What are you learning at home?
Luke: I’m learning math – all about inferences.
As a higher order thinking skill, an inference is defined as what we figure out based on an experience. Helping students understand when information is implied, or not directly stated, will improve their skill in drawing conclusions and making inferences. These skills are necessary for school, for life. Inferential thinking is a complex skill that will develop over time and with experience. And I’d say, Luke has a great start!