Reading, Writing, and…

Every Monday morning we drop Willa off at day camp after driving through Starbuck’s for a puppaccino—a vital part of the weekly routine.

Not on the menu, a puppaccino is a small, complimentary cup of whipped cream for your pup that you can get along with a paid-for item.

After check-in, we leave Willa at “school” where she socializes with other dogs, interacts with humans (both male and female), and gets her toenails trimmed without fear.

In the back left you’ll notice a pool for supervised swim time.

When I think about my years at school, I learned several things that serve me well. Aside from reading and writing, the most important skill I learned was typing—something I use every day.

In addition to reading and writing, what’s the single most important thing you learned in school?


76 thoughts on “Reading, Writing, and…

  1. great ad for starbucks… you rock Willa!! One thing most schools teach and what I learned is roll call, sit in a certain seat, do the assignments the teacher has as their curriculum, be on the school’s schedule, learn to be social with others, buy the school supplies needed to do assignments, read the chosen textbooks and have recess and lunch. Education however is different. You get to study and apply things that are on your purpose in life that help others. I became educated after I graduated from the school system.

  2. Hey Laurie,
    I just love your posts, they’re so close to life which makes them beautiful.Good luck 🙂


  3. Wow–puppy camp! I got to spend some time with my granddog yesterday while helping my daughter and son-in-law move into their new apartment. 🙂

    I had to really stop and think about this one, Laurie. I guess one thing would be simply socializing with others, particularly people who come from different backgrounds. Perhaps the basics of music theory? We had a pretty good music program at my elementary school, and I must have learned some basics there before I started taking piano lessons.

  4. What a fantastic treat for Willa! In school I learned that other kids can be cruel. Our differences are more pronounced as we try to find that place we fit in. I also learned that it’s not about the learning, it’s how well do you take tests (how do you function under pressure and can follow instructions) as well as go through the hoops of doing work that other people believe is important. Interesting, to see that as my viewpoint a little sad. It completely makes sense why I view life the same way and trying to break that mold of thought.

    • Lana — I understand exactly what you’re saying. Personally, I didn’t even come close to “succeeding” in school until after I left it, and returned as an adult. With school being MY idea, not something I HAD to do.

  5. Great question, as always. Funny, I also learned to socialize with humans (both male and female), but I didn’t get my toenails clipped. I could use that school about now. You’ve given me something to ponder. I shall return.

  6. Oh wow! Where to begin? I always loved school and still continue to love learning. i suppose everything I learned in school has helped to grow me into who I am today.

  7. When my teacher/aunt Miss Longenecker read stories to her class after lunch I learned to tap into my imagination – with my head on the desk, listening with the third ear. Later, her giving me a copy of Jane Eyre with etchings sealed the deal. I love blending writing with pictures (photos, artwork, anything visual).

    My favorite thing about this post: pup with his Puppaccino. Ha! How long has this been going on?

    You never cease to amaze me with your creativity, Laurie, linking the practical with the philosophical.

    • Marian — A follower of your blog, I’ve become quite attached to your aunt/teacher Miss Longenecker. She reminds me of my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Kline, who instilled my love of reading with a gift of The Swiss Family Robinson.

      I’m not sure how long Starbuck’s has been giving complementary puppaccino’s, but Willa sure does appreciate it!

  8. The basics, obviously, which included typing. But I think the most important thing I learned was how to adapt to new situations – a result of moving from place to place so often.

  9. Learned many things – the love of reading and using my imagination also from a teacher reading after lunch – but her name was Mrs. Smith (honest) and she read from The Robbers of Ravenhearst, how cruel kids can be, creative writing, geography, and how to do projects especially the research part – the latter from my mother who made it her business to hunt down geography project info at travel agents and bought the World Book Encyclopedias (which I still have, but yes I do use Wikipedia), and standing in front of a class and teaching (our Grade 8 history teacher’s project for us to do) – but again my mother taught me as she patiently played audience while I practiced. Typing I learned after high school at a business college.

  10. How to listen, how to be first to try something new, and how not to need to say something or respond; how to encourage others. When you have cancer, how afraid other people are to talk to you or be around you – or any major illness.- or difference. How real citizens are afraid of foreigners and Native Americans.

  11. I believe it was in sixth or seventh grade, we had a great teacher who strictly taught us research skills, critical thinking, research report writing and debate skills. These skills served me well throughout the balance of my education up and through my masters studies Of course I built on those skills and the foundation was vital. The greatest of the skills was critical thinking!

    • Audrey — You’re the first person to mention critical thinking and debate (I l-o-v-e debate). When I was in debate, I learned how to fully support the other team’s side — critical to being able to disassemble their position.

      • Yes, it seems to be a lost skill. And the extra benefit (which we also learned supporting before countering) can also be of value in so many other ways including finding common ground to conflict resolution and in collaboration. Fun to know we have this joy in common!

  12. Hi Laurie

    If you are going to break rules, don’t do it in crowds. As soon as a crowd starts to form, leave, because the authorities are attracted to crowds. So often I was guilty of breaking school rules and doing interesting things, and others would start to notice, as soon as more than two people noticed I would quit and leave, and inevitably the group that formed behind me, doing something I had started, got into trouble with the teachers.
    I could never quite figure out why they kept doing that.
    I learned that lesson at about 7 year old – crowds attract attention. If you don’t want attention, avoid crowds.

    Libraries can be safe and interesting places. Some of those people from long times ago had some interesting ideas, and some of the newer ideas are even more interesting, and mixing them all up and seeing what comes out can be great fun.

    Sometimes it is useful to learn several different ways of doing the same thing.

    • Ted — Your comment is response for the face-splitting grin on my face! And then there’s the library…I’m pretty sure I’d like to be locked in “accidentally” overnight. The only “trouble” I ever made in a library was to place beautiful handmade bookmarks inside the pages of books I really liked, thinking, “The reader who likes this book will definitely enjoy having this bookmark.” 🙂

      • What a lovely way to connect by leaving a bit of yourself behind, albeit anonymously (I assume), with another bibliophile. I never use library books because I write and underline in every book I read. I cannot enjoy a book I cannot respond to in that way. Books are my tools.

  13. Thank you for taking me to Willa’s “school”. It looks like a very fun place.
    Just one goal, yeah?
    Well there’s and then there’s and then there’s…
    Okay. Okay.
    How to achieve a goal.

  14. Laurie, your little schoolgirl, only as big as a small pony, is doing so well in her classes! Like most of the rest of us, being able to socialize is a high priority in Willa’s education. While I was glad to go to school from the beginning, my brother David had to be scraped like a barnacle from my Mom’s leg. We could hear him roaring long after we had lost sight of him. Today he is a well-educated and genial world-traveler who never meets a stranger. What did I learn that stayed with me the most? An appreciation of the Fine Arts, including music, writing and visual arts.

    • Sandi — If I ever get to meet David in person, I’ll wear a face-splitting grin that’s covering my secret thought—”Barney, short for barnacle.” But I’ll never breathe a word of it.

  15. Love that Willa is going to school 🙂 In addition to all those basic skills, the ability to take a “helicopter view” of things has helped me most in life. I learned that fairly early in college.

    • Tiny — I love your term, “helicopter view.” There are many times when I wish I’d distance myself further. I’m going to remember your term and see if I can reach new heights next time 🙂

  16. Love the idea of doggy school …cool uniform 😀
    Friendship , how to cook basic food and foreign lands and its people .

  17. Academically, school helped me find my focus and my passion on reading and writing and expressing my thoughts. Emotionally, psychologically, school helped me discover how to learn to just be myself, and not what everyone else wanted or expected me to be. (And in the process of that, to learn to not care about what others thought of me – to be secure in my own being.)

  18. “Act busy even when you are not” was probably the most important lesson/statement made by my business teacher.

    She was a feisty smaller woman who demanded respect just by the way she held herself. She taught typing, shorthand, calculators (yes it was part of the class using a calculator without looking), and overall office environment and behavior.

    Through my first few jobs more than once I heard those words echo in my head. Even if I was doing a crossword puzzle I printed out, I made it look like I was very hard at work doing something. That moved me up the ladder quickly throughout my career and by the time I was 24 I was an assistant to the owner of a family owned multi-million dollar company and bought my first house. It’s been almost 24 years and the 3rd generation of the family is now running the company and I am still here….

    Acting very busy while I type this hee hee 🙂

    Great post! Tina

  19. To stand up for myself! I was painfully shy then so a sitting duck for teachers as well as pupils to bully. The day I stood up to my horrible bully of a PE teacher which had previously been a terrifying proposition it was a turning point and I also learned that people actually respect you for it and are really uncomfortable with someone who allows themselves to be treated badly. I think that’s why some people get bullied by their peers. They don’t know how to deal with a simpering cowering wreck and that discomforture sometimes leads to a negative knock on response. I learned my lesson well!

  20. learned to do the least possible effort to just pass — and sometimes fail when the least effort was not enough. we never learned skills, only dry knowledge and prechewed problem solving (but that was not your question, or was it too?)

  21. So many things we learn in school. I probably learned that there are many things to learn in life. I was in a pilot class for “lifetime sports” in place of PE. I’m sure it helped me learn to want to do activities besides calisthenics (had to look the spelling for that one!) and girl style football. BTW I love your new header photo, the sage and so green earlier this summer.

  22. I have often said that typing was the most useful class I took in high school. It was only a semester, but it got me started … and that was in 1969-70. I must also give a shout-out to my high school writing teachers, as they were collectively very good.

  23. Funny, I’ve always said typing, my one non-college prep course, was my most practical and useful class. Ironic that it wasn’t a college prep class, given that writing papers was a huge part of college life. Aside from that, I learned to disregard what authorities say unless it has the ring of truth and became adept at fudging tests. It’s too bad I didn’t learn how to research and find the facts and how to do my best to my own standards. Great question and comments here. I’m so happy to have found your blog, Laurie!

  24. What a lucky dog Willa is! I’d like to think that I learned the nature of responsibility in those formative years – the necessity in taking care of books comes to mind. It came at a price I do remember, as I lost my mathematics book in the third grade and my parents had to pay for a new one. I didn’t feel too good about it and I remember taking a more hands on approach after that. Again a superlative post here!

    • Sam — You are the first person to mention RESPONSIBILITY. I can well imagine that as a teacher yourself now, RESPONSIBILITY—and what that entails—factors largely in many of your classroom discussions 🙂

  25. hmm. . . it’s hard to list just a few things. . . . but reading, writing, and math were all important things that I learned in school. I also think that subjects like history and economics gave me lens that I regularly use to try to make sense of my world.

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