Monday, December 8, 2008

Where my teaching skills came from

My father turns 75 on December 21. My sister, Susan, is throwing a 75th birthday party for him, and we six kids are supposed to write a memory of Dad and read it aloud at his party. We're supposed to keep it to one page in length.

Hmm. I tried to think of the most significant memory of my father, something I can write a full page about. I decided to start by writing down all the significant memories I could think of, and ended up with a full page of ideas. I still don't know what to write about.
However, one thing stood out from the list. Check out these memories:
  • sitting in the car in the grocery store parking lot, waiting for my mother, and him teaching me how to to tie a square knot.
  • teaching me how to ride a bicycle - and a horse
  • teaching my brothers and me how to make scrambled eggs
  • teaching us how to make red onion sandwiches on toast
  • teaching me how to make bread pudding from the crusts we trimmed off the sacrament bread
  • teaching me how to drive a stick shift
  • taking advantage of everyday "teaching moments" to teach a wide variety of unforgettable lessons
  • lamenting, as I prepared to go to college, that he had spent 17 years trying to teach me to work hard, and that once I finally learned the principle, I left home
  • teaching me how to teach
Um, do you see a theme there? And then see how the theme wraps around on itself in that last point? Yeah. I always thought that I learned how to teach from Boyd K. Packer, one of the best professional teachers I've ever known. But as I squint and look at things more closely, I find that all of the skills and talents that have made me a great teacher originated with my father. Who knew?

Dan Fogelberg, a native Colorado musician, wrote a song about his father, also a musician. The chorus ends with these words:
My life has been a poor attempt
to imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy
to the leader of the band.
If you talk about teaching instead of music, that's me.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Sounds to me like you've just written a perfect tribute. Happy Birthday to your dad, he sounds like a wonderful man.