When I was two years old, my mother taught me the alphabet and all the sounds each letter made. My first memory of letters was in the bath tub, playing with the sponge letters that would squelch to the walls of the tub, and my mother pointing to each one, asking me to recite the name, the sound and a word that went with it.
When I was three, entering pre-kindergarten, my teacher taught us to read. My greatest challenge I remember was the word, “jelly”. I have a short film in mind, where I am staring at a small paper book, reading aloud to my teacher a story about a boy making a sandwich. Coming across the word jelly, I halt. The J sound is throwing me off. It sounds like G, but I can’t truly understand this yet. I continue to stare at the word, now unable to read the rest of it, because I simply could not understand that first part.
My teacher quickly went to work. She covered up all the other words so my vision quickly became tunneled and then took her customary red pen and drew a soft-edged rectangle around the word. She then cut the word directly in half, so I saw je on one side and lly on the other. Coaxingly, she asked, “What does this part of the word sound like?” as she pointed with the tip of her red pen to the lly part.
I knew the answer to that part. It was easy.
“It sounds like lee.” I mumbled. I was scared to get it wrong but I felt so sure that I had to answer.
Mrs. C- was pleased. As she had thought, I did understand concepts and with this assurance she leaped onto the fact and took it for a swim.
“Alright, good. Now what’s the J sound like? ”
Ah, now we were back to the simple ideas. Pleased, I responded with, “Juh.”
We were progressing nicely and she furthered the lesson.
“And the E?”
“Ee and eh.”
“Right, but which one do we use?”
What rule did that follow again? I couldn’t remember and took a guess.
“Correct, now, combine what the J makes and the E makes.”
“Good. Now tell me again, what does the lly make?”
“Okay so now why don’t you-”
The connection sparked and I interrupted her.
The word was jelly! Mrs. C- smiled and praised me then had me continue reading.
The class was a small private school pre-kinder and the teacher had at least one assistant, so student and teacher lessons were often one-on-one. My mother was a well-trained kindergarten teacher and my father was moving up in the ranks of technology-related education. The first five years of my life were that of a single child’s one and so I was showered with attention, love and learning from birth by not only my parents, but grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends of the family. I was put in daycare at eight months and learned quickly how to interact with the rest of the world on both their terms – and mine. By the time I was learning how to read, I was well-equipped for whatever stumble-inducing exercise would be shoved my way.
I could not ever decide such a choice because while they were individuals who contained scattered and sporadic knowledge, none of it could be separated into groups of levels of caliber. I lived -and continue to live in- a web of people who pick up where the others broke off. Some leave forever; making their lessons so much more valued and listened to. Others come to join me, providing sought after information. They are always adding to my education.
I understand now, that the village to raise a child philosophy holds much truth. If we expect the future to be worldly and aware, then they must be exposed to the world, the good, bad, ugly, pulchritudinous, young, ancient, small and gargantuan. It is this unique “education” that I have received, not only one from my teachers at school, but from those of my “village”, allowing me to embark on the future before me. Being with this village and what they’ve taught me has educated me to a point to where I am comfortable with going into the unknown that is my future because I believe my “village” has brought me forward beyond requirement for what is ahead in my life and I also have a web of people to rely on, constantly teaching me, guiding me as I go forth. Education never stops on graduation day, but continues throughout my life with others around me and through new experiences that tomorrow holds.