Rebelliousness was not part of my childhood persona. Some friends, even my baby brother, seemed to have such a tendency, but not me. I am not certain why that was the case, but it was. Perhaps it was my sense of responsibility.
Responsibility was drilled into me early in life. I was responsible for getting things right. I was responsible for making certain my baby brother was okay. I was responsible for knowing what was going on and my role in whatever it was.
By the time I started school, I could read and write. I also had at least an elementary grasp of science and history. To be clear, that did not mean I could recite the Periodic Table or give a lecture on U. S. history. I did know accuracy was important, and twisting facts to meet my view of things was WRONG!
That last sentence is what made me the rebel in Bluff Springs. After several years in big-city schools, we moved to Bluff Springs, Texas.1 There, I met the teacher who laid the foundation for my future relationships with teachers, professors, and other so-called learned people.
The lesson creating the problem between Ms. Whatever Her Name was and me involved a textbook. Looking back on those days later in life, I realized she was in a bind. I could only focus on how she misrepresented our textbook’s information then.
She was in charge of a class composed of students from three grades, fourth, fifth, and sixth (my grade). She was teaching all of us simultaneously and having to make allowances for differing levels of previous learning and skills. However, all I knew was she was wrong, at least this once.
The problem and ultimate head-butting arose over a history lesson. The lesson covered the migration of people from the Asian continent to the American continent. The text made it clear there were two theories concerning this migration. Our teacher only mentioned one.
Not only did she fail to mention it was one of two theories, but she also stated it as a fact. Her comment triggered my keeping things on the right track persona. Raising my hand respectfully, I waited until she called on me to remind her the text advised there were two possibilities or theories concerning migration.
There was an audible gasp from the other students and a steely glare from the teacher. Then she said I was mistaken. Of course, I could not let that stand. Grabbing my text, I opened it to the section concerning this matter and read it aloud.
The silence was deafening when I looked up and closed my textbook. The teacher seemed to be standing like a statute, not moving or breathing. After a moment, she took a breath and banished me to the cafetorium until she came for me.2
From that point forward, there was a tenuous truce in the classroom. I promised not to contradict her at the school again openly, and she agreed to discuss differing viewpoints privately. She did not have much wiggle room on her side, as I had my father on my side. She was not interested in having my dad show up at school.
Honestly, I did not want to drag Dad into the situation either. I’d seen him angry when he felt a principal at a much larger school mistreated me once. This poor teacher would not have had a chance.
Besides, we only had a few more weeks of school. Then I would move back to the city for the seventh grade. The teacher would still be stuck in a two-room schoolhouse trying to teach kids who were more interested in getting home to get their chores done than understanding who the first settlers in North America were.
1 Not to be confused with the current unincorporated community of Bluff Springs, Texas. Our Bluff Springs was an unincorporated area of Tarrant County, Texas, consisting of a two-room schoolhouse, a cafetorium, and a few dozen ranches or farms of various sizes. Today our Bluff Springs is nothing but a memory.
2 For the record, the reality of how and when the migration from the Asian continent to this continent occurred is still now completely clear. See The Fertile Shore for more information.
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