I remember very little about kindergarten or my teacher, Miss Hayes. I remember that she seemed ancient to me (in retrospect she was probably fifty), and I remember her
teaching us about cooperation. The word seemed so big, but her explanation made sense to my five year old brain. Two minds are often better than one. Work together and you are more likely to succeed.
The next person who drilled that into my head was a Girl Scout leader during my several horrific days at Girl Scout camp. I was twelve, and camping was not my thing, but my friends were going, and I was determined to join them. The problem was, I was not able to put up a tent, rub sticks together or even cook marshmallows over an open flame. The leader took me aside and pointed to the most successful scouts. They were the ones who were working in teams. Cooperating! I sensed a theme.
When I began teaching, we attended mandatory workshops on cooperating with fellow teachers. Since teachers rarely have their own rooms, desks or even pencils, this was a good lesson. I soon found myself teaching this same lesson to my own students as I fondly remembered "old" Miss Hayes.
When Arthur and I went to our Take Stock in Children orientation last week, the first thing the facilitator did after introductions was give each of us three pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece had a word that described a trait necessary in mentoring, and we were directed to cooperate and put the pieces together. What might have taken an hour for one person took our group under ten minutes.
Somehow this simple lesson has been forgotten in Washington, D. C., and we need to remind our senators and representatives how important those early lessons were and still are. It is shameful that in the World Health Organization's rankings of health care, the United States came in at 37. Not even in the top twenty-five. We rank between Costa Rica and Slovenia! How can this be? Our insurance is disgraceful and isn't getting any better. Although "Obamacare" has some major flaws, a contingency of democrats worked for years to put it together. It definitely needs tweaking, but it provides the basic bones. Although the republican plan has many problems, they are addressing some of Obamacare's weaknesses.
Cooperation might put that jigsaw puzzle together, but neither side will acknowledge the other. They are both blaming the other party for a failure to compromise, meanwhile we are suffering. Please...republicans and democrats...contact your congressmen and congresswomen, and remind them of the importance of cooperation. A kindergarten lesson that might help make our country whole again.
Speaking of kindergarten, I couldn't help but add Randy Cecil's The Horsefly and the Honeybee to my "to do" review list for this week. It is a charming children's book that teaches cooperation in a beautifully illustrated way. It is a wonderful gift idea for the young ones in your life.
I also read/reviewed John Grisham's book, Camino Island this week. It is a bit of a stray from his typical legal thriller, but it is a good story told by an expert story teller.
As always, complete reviews of both books follow this blog.