Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Drink of "Water" Was All She Offered

*Look for a new Posting every Tuesday and Friday*

Catherine taught Sunday School at the Tiptonville Presbyterian Church on a fairly regular basis as did many others of that small congregation.  Each year the teaching assignments were shuffled around so that both students and teachers would get a well-rounded and balanced learning experience.  
I can't truly say that I was an eager Sunday Morning Bible Student.  As I recall my attendance bordered on being mandatory, especially if it was Catherine LeDuke's turn to teach a class of any age level.  Daddy was somehow exempt; I suppose because he was the organist and said he had to practice.  I seem to remember seeing him with a cup of coffee and a cigarette in his hand as we left the house each Sunday.  Of course I'm sure he was heading immediately to the piano bench. 
Jimmy's first "blog"?
I would be hard pressed to remember who my various Sunday School teachers were from year to year, but thanks to my "snooping" talents I came across a gift that was given to me by my 1956 teacher, my Mother.  The gift was a Christmas present that she gave to each of her students; a diary of sorts that she personalized with the letter that follows.

The notebook/diary that she gave each of us, as you can see, is a small, skinny, loose-paged binder type book.  She used the first several pages to write her note and then she made title pages that said: "What I Think by ______ [each students name]."  She then wrote a Table of Contents with the different "suggested" categories of things to "think" about.  All the pages shown here are Mother's handwriting.

"What I Think about: God, Church, Bible, Family, Friends, Nature, Books, Movies, Places, Happy things, Unhappy things"

I had originally intended to retype her letter to save you some time in deciphering her handwriting, but after scanning the notes I have decided to allow you to have some of the fun I have enjoyed.  After all, who among us has not had many samples of her handwriting scribbled across the tops of our book reports and term papers; often in red ink.

Whether teaching Sunday School Bible Class or High School English, Catherine LeDuke was always teaching "LIFE."  Teaching not just "facts" found in the required text books we carried around, but more often what to do with those memorized facts; how to apply them to our daily lives.  Catherine LeDuke wanted her students to THINK, to ANALYZE, to PONDER, and yes, even to DISCUSS with others the various thoughts that sloshed around in our heads.
Her note that she wrote in the 1956 Christmas gift to each of her Sunday School Students is such a good example of the way she tried to lead her pupils to think for themselves.  English, History, Latin, Spanish, Bible, all equaled "Life - How To" to Catherine LeDuke.

[By the way. ... if you want to honor my mother in a way that would make her really happy:  Just use her letter as a guide, rewrite it into your own style, and make a few of your own "What do You Think" notebooks to give to one of your children or grandkids. Make sure you leave in the line that she used on the first page that says:  "Remember the saying of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a great American Writer, who said that books are just the ideas of other men, fine to read, but less pleasurable and less profitable than one's own." This lady never ceases to amaze me!!!]


I wish I could say that Mother's efforts to inspire me to "Think" had produced some sort of dramatic results, but alas I must remind everyone that I was 13 years old when I recieved this notebook and all I found during this particular treasure-digging venture was an envelope with these pages enclosed. 

Most of you would agree that Catherine LeDuke's approach to teaching was not an "in-your-face" style.  She believed that it was her job to "lead her students (and her children) to the water." If they "drank" any at all at any time in their lives, she had succeeded and they and the world would be a better place. 

I believe that all of us are better off because of Miss Catherine, even if we only took a few sips.

Jimmy LeDuke (I'd love to hear from you...feel free to comment below, or click HERE to send me an e-mail.)

1 comment:

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