Baby Bison, don't tread on that pretty flower...

Baby Bison, don't tread on that pretty flower...
Custer State Park, SD; June, 2010

About Me

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Columbia, TN, United States
I am a Christian, married over 43 years to my gorgeous first wife; in 13th year as professor of education at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, TN; 4 children and 9 grandchildren.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pat Conroy's World

For the last "several" years my students in the foundations course that I teach at Martin Methodist College, Education as a Profession, have been watching the film version of Pat Conroy's journey into school teaching. Now a famous author (Prince of Tides, Lords of Discipline, et al), he started out as a school teacher. He wrote of an early career move in his book The Water Is Wide about his "year" on Yamacraw Island off the South Carolina coast in an all-black school. He taught grades 5-8. If you search your Rand McNally Road Atlas, or any other for that matter, you won't find Yamacraw pinpointed. No, it's not like Brigadoon in the musical by that name - a village in Scotland that only appears once every 100 years. It's the fictionalized name for Dafuskie Island near Hilton Head. The original movie was called Conrack apparently because of difficulty some of the students had in learning to pronounce their new teacher's name. Then about 2-3 years ago Hallmark Hall of Fame flicks did a remake titled the same as the book. This version of The Water Is Wide has "cleaner" language, but it doesn't do as good a job of depicting either Conroy's creative teaching techniques or the bigotry he battles every step of the way. He eventually gets fired for usurping the authority of the big dog on the mainland who runs a tight, unforgiving, and totally prejudiced ship.

In October of 2009, I had the opportunity to travel to Dafuskie Island and tour the school house where Pat Conroy taught his kids. It was a highlight of a very pleasant vacation. My wife Delores and I took the boat to the island - the only way to get there except maybe by small seaplane or holding onto a dolphin for dear life...Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning...Remember? We rented a golf cart for a few hours as the preferred mode of transportation around the island. With a crude map of main roads marking all the touristy spots, we circumnavigated from west to east. It was a really neat trip for several hours. Now when I view the film with my students, I can tell them the rest of the story and even show pictures.

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