The Lightsby Narratorway
Terra and Gau: The Learning Lights
Terra and Gau: The Learning Lights
Chapter 6 - Lesson Plans
Two weeks before the end of August, Terra had another talk with Duane in the new school house. This time, Katarin was included. It seemed that Duane had not bothered to mention the talks he had with Terra, and led Katarin to believe all the wonderful changes that had been brought about was his doing alone.
"You know, in my defense," he said, "I never said they were my ideas." He smiled sheepishly at the two very perturbed women facing him from across the table. Silence. "Okay, I'll shut up now."
"Right," said Terra, "Now on to the topic at hand: the new school year. Now as you know, this will be the first truly whole school year we have ever had. While I was gone, I spent a lot of time figuring out a way to organize a school schedule and I think I've come up with the best solution, except for one problem but I'll speak of that later. First off, I don't think we should separate the children based on sex. I remember when we tried that last time and it just added to the confusion of scheduling and I don't believe it's necessary. Okay?"
Duane and Katarin had no qualms with that whatsoever. It seemed like a good idea at the time, it was how they had been taught when they were young. Unfortunately, the form of education Terra was teaching was completely foreign to them. Their parents had home schooled them, girls learning the ways of house and home, while the boys learned how to tend the fields. They'd never heard of 'classes' and 'curriculums'. There were twice as many girls as boys which meant they had to wait a long time before they started their class, and nothing was taught to them that wasn't taught to the girls. Still they tried to mix some old with the new and what resulted was confusion and poor results.
"Okay," Terra continued, "Now, here's how I've planned it. Go ahead and stop me if you get confused. I think the two youngest girls are too young. They're the only two who don't know how to read or write at all. Katarin, I think you should take care of them while I'm doing classes."
"But I think they're old enough to begin learning to read and write." Replied Katarin. "In fact, I believe they're around the same age I was taught how to read."
"Oh, I don't want you to just keep an eye on them, I want you to start teaching them the fundamentals of reading and writing. I don't think there's enough room in this school house..." Terra looked around, "...nope. Perhaps you can teach them at your house."
"I know!" cried Katarin in sudden inspiration, "I can teach them out near the garden. I can call it the kiddie garden."
Duane snickered and was shot a look by his wife and Terra. He raised his hands in surrender.
"Anyway, it's so stuffy in the house, the fresh air will do them good. But still Terra, I really don't know the first thing about teaching."
"Oh that's quite alright," replied Terra, "neither do I to be honest. But I'll give you advice when you need it and I'll hand you assignments to give to the children."
"Um, I don't mean to be a spoil sport here," Duane suddenly grew up enough courage to enter the conversation, "but...well, how are we going to teach these kids. We don't have any supplies."
Terra looked at him with a strange smile. It said that she was expecting that question and had already taken care of it. But Duane wasn't about to let her brush it aside. He leaned over and smiled right back, daring her to show him her solution. She got up and walked towards the closet, opened it and bent over to pick up something. Duane leaned over the table, straining to see what mystery prize she was grabbing, and felt a strong slap on the back of his head. He fell on the ground, but not before hitting his head on the table, staring at a very angry Katarin. At first he didn't understand, then it hit. He almost laughed, but realized that Katarin probably wouldn't think it very funny.
Oh, you've got to be kidding me!
He decided to nip this nonsense in the bud right now. Getting up he spoke dryly, "Katarin, don't be silly. I wanted to see what she was picking up...nothing more."
"And here's what I picked up." Terra called to them. She brought a rather large briefcase she was carrying down on the table with a slam and popped open the lid. "During my adventures, I was able to pick up a great many things...at many times a great cost.
Duane and Katarin both looked inside curiously. Mostly there were books, tall and thick, but also there was bags of varying sizes tied with bits of yarn, stacks of paper, and all other manner of school utensils. Terra brought them out, one by one, stacking the books on top of each other and so forth. All the while she spoke.
"No indeed, these were very difficult to come by and we'll have to use them sparingly. I don't imagine a shipment to come in for another, hmmm...I'd say six, maybe seven months. I'm afraid that we'll probably have to wait another year before we can allow the children to use pencils and rulers and such. Although I was able to find a remarkably large number of chalk sticks, quite amazing." Her voice lowered, as if she were talking to herself. "Amazing."
Duane cut in, "I'm sorry, but did you say shipment?"
"Of course, why do you think I kept pressing the issue of communication with the outside world? I've been sending letters to Nikeah, Tzen, Albrook, and the kingdom of Figaro. The king was the first to reply and I expect a shipment of books to be arriving within three months at the latest."
"Hmph!" snorted Duane, "Some king, all he can lend is a couple of books."
Terra rubbed her head as if she had a headache. "Duane, I'm feeling real good right now, don't ruin that for me."
"But aren't you supposed to be in good with this guy?"
"Now, as I was saying, three months at the latest...but that was last month. With any luck, they'll arrive in a month or two. Until then, we need to prepare them for a different curriculum. One that involves a lot more reading. Now I'm not sure how this is gonna be accomplished which is one of the reason's I aske-."
Duane interrupted her, again. He was reading one of the books and giggling.
"Something funny Duane?" Terra was now out and out angry with him and she saw no reason to hide it. Duane, however didn't seem to notice.
"Terra, look at these books, and then think of who you're gonna try and get to read them. All these books are thicker that the walls of this school. The History of the War of the Magi..." he showed her the book he was reading, at least and inch and a half thick, and he could barely keep from laughing. "Volume...one!" That did it and he busted out with a guffaw. "Oh man, you have got to be kidding me! These are children Terra. Our oldest kid wouldn't have the patience to sit through the smallest book you have here."
Terra snorted, "I think you'd be surprised how far Gau has become."
That put Duane off for a moment. "Gau? Oh, oh, that's right, Gau. Well, I...really wouldn't know about that Terra." He sounded uncomfortable, "But, but Terra, yeah, Timothy's not gonna be able to read this, or any of these others without great difficulty, and he's the most learned."
"No he isn't Duane...you are." Terra smiled.
"What? What's that supposed to mea-ooooh no. Oh no, you can't be serious. There's no wa-."
"I want you and Katarin to start reading as much of this stuff as possible before the start of the school year. This is all we have so we're going to have to make the best of it. I'm gonna read up on all the history and science books. Duane, I spotted some how-to books and some reference books, you can handle those. Basically, I want both of you to grab whatever you can and...well, learn." She shrugged.
"So we can be better teachers, right Terra?" Katarin asked.
"Exactly!" cried Terra. She could tell Katarin felt out of place, but she could also tell that she didn't realize how helpful she would've been had she been a part of these discussions earlier.
"Hey," Daune chimed in, "now that I'm thinking about him, what about Gau? He may be the oldest, but he's also the...least educated. You say he knows how to speak proper speech, that's all fine and good, but I don't think any of those beasts he runs round with ever taught him how to read."
"Don't worry about him, I'm gonna help him catch up."
"He's thirteen years old by the looks of him. That's eight years of catching up Terra. Where are you gonna find the time to teach him and the children."
Terra replied by just staring at him. He didn't understand it at first and he looked at Katarin for an explanation. She was staring at him too. He looked nervously between them, then his eyes widened. He suddenly burst into a kind of crazed laughter. "Ha ha ha ha ha, ahhhhno. Nope. No way. Not in this world or the next. I-I-I don't know how to teach these kids!" He looked like a cornered rabbit.
"Duane," Terra said softly, "you're just as experienced a teacher as I am. You seem to have got it into your head that I know what I'm doing." He began to babble. "Duane, Duane, look at me. You can do this."
Duane looked up at Terra, and opened his mouth to reply, when one of the children screamed outside.
"Jessica!" Katarin gasped.
They all got up and ran outside.