One Teacher Can Make a DifferenceWritten by Bernice Becker
Our third grade class was listening to our teacher, Miss Pratt. She told us she was disappointed that we were not making progress she had expected with multiplication tables one through nine. She explained that we really understood meaning of multiplication but that we had not spent enough time memorizing tables. The rote method was necessary in this case. I regretted that I had not put forth amount of effort required. I had spent too much time playing with my friends instead of drilling myself. I had let down my teacher, who to me was kindest, sweetest, and prettiest one I had ever known. This was my first experience with one who smiled much more than she scowled, laughed often, and never threatened any of us, yet she was able to “read” children, control class, and teach effectively. Miss Pratt put a lot of herself into her work. Every day near close of school, she would read to us, or even better, tell us stories about when she was a little girl. Most importantly, she made us feel that she cared about us and that we were important. Because of a serious car accident when I was three and a half years old, I had a scar below my nostril that was result of a torn upper lip. Everything else had healed up without any after effects physically, but my emotions remained scarred. (Years later plastic surgery was performed that improved that condition.) Meanwhile, having been called Chief Running Nose and Scarface by many insensitive children, my confidence and self-esteem had suffered. Although my parents and relatives referred to me as pretty, I did not see myself that way. Focusing on my scar, I could not appreciate any redeeming features. (As I grew older, I thanked God that I was alive with relatively little damage, and still do.) At end of one school day, I remained in my classroom, waiting for arrival of my mother, who was coming to take me to an appointment close to school. Miss Pratt sat at her desk with a fellow teacher and chatted.
The Disenchanted Forest, The Enchanted Self - A Tale of Female Development in a Strange LandWritten by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Once upon a time there was a Princess who set out on a raft to find Enchanted Forest. She took with her a canteen full of hopes and dreams, minimal provisions, and outdated maps. The raft swayed. wind blew. It was too cold. It was too hot. She was hungry. She was tired. She was scared. At times she was almost swept overboard. Finally, she arrived at what she thought was Enchanted Forest. At first it was welcoming. There were beautiful trees and lovely smells. However, quickly she fell in brambles and was pricked again and again. It was dark inside forest and she couldn't see where she was. She realized that most of signposts were missing, some that were there were tilted wrong way. Night was falling, this was not an Enchanted Forest! She was sure of that as she lay down in a pile of leaves to try to sleep. This was feeling like a Disenchanted Place! I wandered for ages through this disenchanted forest. I was alone and yet not alone as many others were wandering also. Yet there was a hole in my heart as I felt even though others were in forest we weren't connecting. We were shadowing each other but not speaking in ways to each other that were full enough to create connection and a sense of joy! I wanted to go home. But where was home now? Then some women came along and gave me time and opened their hearts and minds to me. I listened to what they shared and went over their wisdom and knowledge again and again. I suddenly realized that more sunlight was coming through forest. The birds were singing and flowers were all in bloom. I realized that I had gone from a disheartened state to a state of elation! The women had helped me discover and give life to THE ENCHANTED SELF. I realized quickly that each of us has one! For some of us, our enchanted selves are clear and central to our beings. For others our enchanted selves are vague and barely breathing. But everyone has one! It is our most special part of ourselves that is where joy, wisdom and meaning emanate from. It is a gift that we carry. It is a gift we share. It provides light when everything is dark and it takes us again and again away from disenchantment and despair!