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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 74: Brown 25
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A school? Derek thought he was already learning enough, and useful stuff at that. Math and history were not high on his list of things to know. Lauren continued. "No, seriously, do you know that apart from Chicker none of these people can read or write more than a few words? And they can count, but they can't add or subtract? The whole world has lost these simple skills, and you and I could bring them back."
Derek still didn't get it, but Lauren didn't seem to care. "How would you like to be a schoolteacher?"
"A schoolteacher?" He didn't expect this at all. "You mean, stand up in front of the class and tell them stuff they don't want to hear?"
Lauren laughed. "I guess that's one way of looking at it. But you'd be surprised what people want to learn when they have the choice—and I don't know that we'll have to have blackboard lectures. At least that's not the way I'd usually do it."
"So, what then?"
Lauren paused for a moment, as if she hadn't thought about this yet. "Well, we would start with the people here, Starson Coombrick and Qualick and everyone, and teach them some basic math and science, and how to read and write. But somehow we'd have to get the word out to the rest of the world, that there's a school here, so more people can come and start learning."
Derek wasn't certain he wanted to be a schoolteacher. If that was Lauren's idea of God having a plan for them in every world they visited, he wasn't sure he liked it. His feelings must have shown on his face, because Lauren answered them.
"Look, maybe you don't need to be a teacher; at least, not at first. I'll teach. You just hang around and help people who need it." She stared at him, as if waiting for some flicker of agreement. "So, are you with me?"
What could he say? Lauren had already taught him quite a bit, and she was a good teacher who probably didn't need his help–but it would be a tad ungrateful for him to refuse. "Sure," he said. "I'll help."
"Great." Her enthusiasm came through. "I'll explain it to the others at dinner tonight. I think they'll like the idea."
To Derek's surprise, the others were very interested in a school, once they understood what the word meant. They did know people–using the word, Derek thought, rather loosely, as it included a giant moth and a snake with eight arms–who might also want to learn the things Lauren wanted to teach. It was good all the way around.
So the next day when they took a break from their regular practice, Lauren took him on a tour of the building, looking for rooms which would be useful as classrooms, study rooms, even labs. This would require some work, but they had time, she said, as they would begin with the basics and build from there, and the basics would only require something like a blackboard and chalk, some of their paper, and space to stand and sit and talk. That was easy to arrange, as there were meeting rooms and presentation rooms in the building that were set up almost perfectly for it.
So before a week was out, Lauren was teaching school, and Derek was serving as her teaching assistant. He thought it remarkable that she didn't slow down on anything else, continuing to teach him and train him, and to work out every day, and to practice with the laser (periodically coming up with new ways to practice, such as skeet shooting, firing at targets in a row, and running from point to point hitting targets from each). She just added teaching school to the list of daily chores, and got everyone involved in learning and helping each other.
She also took time to teach Derek how to teach the others. He had never realized it was something you could learn. Knowing how to teach was itself a skill, and he thought it just might be useful one day.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #104: Novel Learning. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: