The Best 4th Grade Education in the World

Tonight is a true life tale about the power of sharing personal details & reconnecting with people who help shape ones persona. The tie back to privacy is a bit thin, but it's there in fits & starts.

In the Network of YOU, data is shared-- and a risk undertaken-- with the hope, but not promise, that some reward will be achieved. DV > DR = Success.

We share our best efforts filling out tests & term papers for the reward of recognized scholastic effort. We can read alone or perform mathematics in secret & actually grow our knowledge, but learning from others and getting a grade are useful & valuable things.

Sometimes we share stuff just to have a certain level of catharsis but we don't really know if anyone reads or cares about our thoughts. The community of thinkers or of objectors can be a valuable thing too.

Still other times, technology, personally identifiable information shared & our actual/ real/ flesh & blood relationships combine & some really cool stuff can happen.

Put this posting into the Really Cool Stuff category:

So, I'm sitting in my office & trying to figure out how I will get to about 5 conflicting fall conferences & meetings all squished in & I have a nagging irritation in the back of my brain that I MUST call Drew C.

(Drew is, incidentally, a super smartie data valuation guy with whom I am currently conspiring to create something very very cool.)

From out of the blue, a got an email telling me that I've got a comment on my blog from my fourth grade teacher!!!!

Small world & cool internet moment & all that but, what makes this exceptional is that this was THE teacher in my life who first made a difference; the person who made me feel like being weird all the time actually made me kinda special; that just being myself & dreaming my own dreams was not just tolerable, but pretty great.

When I was in fourth grade, I thought that boys were 'yucky' & I told Mr. F. that this was so. He said, "I'll bet when you're a few years older that you'll feel differently."

So, never one to shrink from a challenge, I said that I bet him $5.00 that he was wrong.

He smiled & said, one day you'll grow up & get married. When that happens I will come to your wedding.

This may be why I don't gamble.

My family moved away the next year. I kept in touch with Mr. F, writing letters. A few years later one of my letters arrived containing $5.00. I had a mad crush on a boy named Ted. (Who never did know I was alive. Wherever you are Ted, that chubby brace faced dork 2 rows behind you in Mr Schneider's math class thought you were cuter than Hans Solo.)

When I was in college, Mr F shared those letters that he had saved for all those years with me. I was at a serious cross-roads again at that time & here he was again believing that I could make it-- the power of a great 4th grade education, after all, should never be underestimated.

I worked my tail off between undergrad & put myself through law school at night through a serious of odd & intense jobs & lost touch with Mr F. After I started practicing law, I had moved out to California & was planning to be married when I received a call from Mr F who had bumped into my mom & dad. He & his wife had retired (sort of-- he's STILL teaching part time after nearly half a century of encouraging kids like me!!) &, sure enough, he kept his word & he & his wife were there, grinning broadly as I walked down the aisle with my dad.

Insane law firm job, crazier still Sun job, house burning down & 2 kids & just plain old life later & I became so caught up in the day to day that I neglected to write to my favorite pen pal for many years. Until today.

Thanks to the Network, open communication practices & a really great memory of Mrs F to recall my maiden name, my favorite 4th grade teacher & I reconnected. We chatted for a while, I sent him pictures of my ladies & just got caught up. I cannot begin to express what a joy that is to me.

We as an industry & as a global community WILL figure out how to secure communications channels because we MUST. We WILL figure out how to measure out appropriate levels of authentication, and use of information with respect & trust.

Connecting to those who are near & dear should be simple. It's not. It would be lovely if we could collect all of our favorite people & our future favorite people & always be within walking distance. Not possible.

We can, should, must understand the Value that makes it worthwhile to take a manageable Risk to connect with the appropriate layers of confidentiality. We'll figure out how to keep the DV > DR.

Today, my personal equation is in balance. I may sound like a soppy bonehead weirdo on this blog but, among other things, the blogoshpere is keeping me grounded in the best parts of my past. Such is the power & the relevance of a really great 4th grade education from the best 4th grade teacher in the world.

Just a 1970's thought...


Michelle, Mr. F. is equally blessed to have had you as a student. Your experiences highlight how learning and teaching are a two way process. Perhaps a highlight for me in my early adult years was the privelege of teaching my all time favorite teacher (1st Grade) how to swim, even though she was terrified of the water. And I am equally blessed that when I am back in my old stomping grounds I can call on her and many others who have had influences on who I have become. Indeed we must continue to remember and re-connect with those who have touched our lives yesterday and today. If we don't, who will tell our children how cool we used to be? And it is absolutely okay to be soppy about those we hold dear.

Cheers, Beth

Posted by Beth Taylor on August 01, 2008 at 07:09 AM PDT #

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