Something We Can Learn From A Ukrainian Educator

Vasilii Sukhomlinsky was a famous Ukrainian educator, and many of his concepts are applicable today in the U.S. and all over the globe.  He was one of the few noted educators to delight in teaching pre-school, because he realized that the seeds of learning need to be planted early.  He believed that it was important for children to experience words before learning them.  Thus, he took his students on nature trips pointing out what interested them.  Later, they learned to form words and do simple drawings.  As their vocabulary grew, the children were encouraged to write brief compositions on what they saw in nature.(Although my Grandma Lillian and my Dad didn’t know it, they were applying Sukomlinsky’s ideas to my mental development.)  Sukhomlinsky also believed that every child should grow a rose.  He believed a child attuned to beauty will develop a sensitivity towards all living things.  Readers interested in learning more about Sukhomlinsky’s philosophy are referred to my highly edited translation, I Give My Life to Children.

“When you think about a child’s brain, picture a tender rose petal holding a trembling drop of dew.  Imagine what care and tenderness you need to exhibit, so that the drop doesn’t spill after you remove the petal.  This is the very care which we(teachers) need to show every moment;  after all, we are touching the most delicate and tender thing in nature– the thinking matter of a growing organism.”

Gone, But Not Forgotten

The rapids of the Rogue River that once flowed freely before Lost Creek Dam was built are gone, but not forgotten.  Laurelhurst State Park was once the beginning of many an exciting river adventure.  A beautiful waterfall fell over a cliff into the river, and the gravel road came right up to the river.  Rapids such as the Stair Steps, the rapid below Tucker’s(the summer retreat of the Tuckers of Burlingame, California), and the sheer pristine beauty of the canyon, made the river journey something special.  Let’s not forget the numerous spawning beds, and great steelhead fishing.  For braver souls, to begin your journey at the confluence of the North and South Forks meant almost a half mile of continuous rapids as they cascaded down the canyon.  One of the most famous, Whitewater, is shown below due to the courtesy of river guide, Bob Pruitt.  The Y-Rapid was the last major obstacle before the covered bridge, and the entrance to Laurelhurst State Park.  When I was in my teens, I took many raft trips and inner tube trips from this Park.  Oh, those wonderful memories!  For individuals who want to know more about the Laurelhurst area, please read my:  Laurelhurst:  Lost Community of the Upper Rogue.

White Water Rapid on the Rogue River. At low summer flows, the canyon becomes one long rapid with lots of rocks to dodge.

White Water Rapid on the Rogue River. At low summer flows, the canyon becomes one long rapid with lots of rocks to dodge.

A Path And Some Philosophy

Yesterday, I walked down a path in Rogue Elk Park adjoining the Rogue River.  Glad to leave the campground, I looked at the natural world surrounding me.  Yes, maybe fifty plus years ago I was walking down a path, but at that time it was with my Grandma Lillian.  And we weren’t walking in Rogue Elk Park, but in Casey State Park.  I remember her pointing out to me the different sizes and shapes of pine cones and the pine needles scattered along the path.  We picked up several objects of interest, and these became the basis for our hobby shows that we put on for several years at Eastin’s Rogue Haven.

My grandparents had begun coming to Southern Oregon for their summer vacations in 1929, and continued visiting regularly with the exception of the war years.  They stayed originally at Casey’s Auto Camp with no electricity.  And now, I represent another generation that visits Southern Oregon.  All these thoughts from a path along the Rogue River on a sunny afternoon on August 4.