So my old car has been without a radio recently, since the original died awhile back, and I finally had a new system installed. Great to have music again! But, honestly, what I had missed was my morning dose of NPR. Well, I happily tuned in today and caught a segment relating to old films and television episodes that are stored in the Warner Brothers vaults out in California. The report went into a discussion about how many are being converted laboriously into a digital format. The process apparently is exceptionally labor intensive, with hours spent on short strips of film, ensuring the right balance of color and depth and focus is retained. But then a further discussion revealed some dissension and argument around the process and it’s affect on the original intent of the director. Mention was made of how people would react if someone decided to slap new color onto a fading Mona Lisa, for example.
Needless to say, this prompted me into a thought process about education. That is the field I deal with every day, of course, so my thoughts usually find their way back there, no matter where they start. :-)
In this case, I started to think about art, and how it is not really emphasized as strongly in school as it once was, along with music, and ... well, since No Child Left Behind was introduced, just about everything else except Reading and Math!
But that got me to thinking about the nature of learning, and that led to my thinking about Abraham Lincoln, the other subject to which my poor old brain almost always returns.
Mr. Lincoln, as we all should know by now, had little formal education at all. And yet he is recognized as one of the few authentic men of genius produced by our country in his lifetime (Shelby Foote said that so I think it must be true!)
How did this occur? By Reading. Pure and simple. Reading and thinking. That’s it! Abraham Lincoln loved to read. And continued to do so throughout his entire life. From reading whatever scraps he could find as a boy, to reading borrowed novels, to books on surveying and the Law in order to build a career, all the way to the White House where a lack of talent among his generals led Lincoln to study military history and strategy himself. His was a lifetime spent absorbing information through words. He read, as an old frontier primer once said, as a man of science (to learn), but also for simple pleasure. He read everything. From extensive legal briefs to political screeds to simple books of low brow humor, to poetry and literature and even an entire set of books on Euclidian geometry, just for the fun of it! As a result, his education was well rounded in all fields. Mr. Lincoln would have understood more than issues relating to his profession. He understood most of the wonderful world around him! Might we all be so fortunate!
And so, in this era when schools are under the gun to promote improved reading skills among children (often to the exclusion of just about everything else), we have decided to do a little of that ourselves with the assistance of good Mr. Lincoln. We already know kids adore the 16th president. Twenty some years of school shows has taught us that they are simply fascinated by him and cannot get enough. So, playing on that, and on Lincoln’s auto didactic life and life long love of books, we have created a new school assembly entitled Books Made the Man!
Not to be confused with our current and well loved Living Lincoln school assembly, Books Made The Man is entirely new. In this great new school show, Mr. Lincoln himself (or a reasonable facsimile - the original is dead after all) will take your students on a rollicking ride through his own adventures in reading, spanning every decade of his life, and including some audience participation, some staged readings, and, of course, the humor and charm of our most beloved president.
Reading served Mr. Lincoln well throughout his entire life, allowing him to rise from a barefoot backwoods boy to become one of the most brilliant men of his time. Allow him now to share the secrets of this literary journey with your students. We are certain you will all have a really great time with Books Made The Man!
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN.