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Willy’s Slippers

Posted by Mummy Dearest on Nov-6-2001

Huize Doorn is one of my favorite places in The Netherlands. I’ve actually only been there once, around 6 years ago, but it’s high on my list to revisit. Perhaps when The Father retires, or I learn how to drive, whichever may come first.

Huize Doorn is where the Kaiser lived from 1920- 1941. Unlike many royal accommodations, Huize Doorn is really just a large villa, and remains very much in the state it was when the Kaiser ( Willy) lived there. And the tour really lets you see just about everything- the kitchens, the bathrooms, the dining room table ( still set with the cutlery designed especially for Willy : a fork with one sharpened edge, which functioned as a knife as well), his wife’s bedroom, left intact from the day of her death.

My favorite ? Willy’s bedroom, complete with a portrait of Granny ( Queen Victoria) over the headboard, and his carpet slippers placed on the floor next to the bed.

Willy is buried on the grounds of Huize Doorn, as well as his string of beloved dachshunds. That’s right, dachshunds. One really would have thought he was more of a rottweiler kind of guy, but no, Willy’s pooch of preference was a dachshund !

  1. Joe Dougherty Said,

    I did a Google search, looking for information pertaining to a requirement to fill host positions for a new television production the DIY Network is preparing to launch and…somehow, I landed here. (?) Is this an online journal of sorts?

    I feel like I’ve been snooping by reading this, in which case – since I’m leaving a tell-tale trail with this note – I’ll consider myself busted and go ahead and offer some possibly useful thoughts regarding your concerns with “Mike” (who I presume your son).

    I don’t believe in accidents – rather I think of them as diversions driven by fate, so maybe it was intentional that I read your note here. By virtue of that little notion, I’ll consider my act of responding a task I can’t deny, because this may help.

    About the math thing, and really regarding any school subject: There is a key that is vital to learning, one so obvious that I just can’t understand why I never see it approached by school administrations or educators anywhere. Usually, I don’t speak so confidently about subjects to which I am no bonafide authority, but I am this certain about this magical key to being a successful learner. First, let me tell you how I “know” about this (in effort to gain a little credibility with it), then I’ll offer to you how you might use it with Mike.

    One morning, I was in my car, driving to work and listening to the morning news on the radio. The report I heard was one I never like getting. You may have seen or heard this type…where the roaming reporter attends a college graduation ceremony and asks random questions to randomly selected graduates. Of course, this post-grad pop quiz is supposed to impress what level of intelligence our youth manages to exit college with these days.

    The results to these reports are horrifying and I usually end up nursing a lingering depression from them for at least a half day. The answers these young men and women provide to the simplest questions make you wonder if whoever was driving the news van didn’t take a wrong turn to the location and maybe the crew ended up at the “University of Special Ed”.

    I think the reporters must get the printed programs to these graduation ceremonies and seek out the students who appear at the bottom of the grade point average ratings – because, naturally, it’s all about stirring up horror and depressing the public. When the networks accomplish this, you see, good ol’ John and Jane Q. (being drawn to anything that may horrify and/or depress them) ultimately begins purchasing Coca-Cola instead of Pepsi and going to Taco Bell next time instead of Del Taco, which drives up the price to advertise on these networks, where the horrifying reports are always aired, invoking our depression, buying soda products, hiking the price of ads, airing the reports…and on and on and on.

    It’s a vicious circle, I’m sure you’re aware.

    This particular morning, the reporter involved the rest of the news staff – having them guess at what the answers were – while she read from the questions that the graduates had been given. As I played along while I drove, I quickly realized that the questions were very specifically designed to quiz a graduate’s knowledge with things they probably never will require to need to know or use in their adult years. For example, “Who rode in the night shouting, ‘The British are coming! The British are coming!’?” In the end, something amazed me about my own “score”.

    The list contained 15 questions. I myself couldn’t correctly answer five of them. Okay, get ready – here comes that “key to learning” I introduced six hours ago, one I have spent so much time writing so many words to a perfect stranger, who for all I know could be talking about “Mike” her neighborhood mailman. The ten questions I did answer correctly…all pertained things in which I have an interest.

    Earth-shattering, isn’t it? (Not really. But, if you guessed I was going to take the liberty to further explain, then you’re already somewhat getting to know me. Oh…hi, by the way, I’m Joe.)

    From this, I developed a theory about our inept methods in educating our children (if you’ll excuse the slightly generalized editorial). Retention is a vital component to the learning process.

    In my example here, you should understand that I have never reeducated myself on any of the subjects I had learned in school, yet I apparently retained the details to what I had learned with the subjects that interested me then. I haven’t cluttered my adult years (further) by bothering to take any refresher courses on the orbital bodies that comprise our solar system, yet I easily rattled off the names of all nine planets as they are ordered, sun-outward. (I even went for extra points on that one and identified which of those planets have satellites and, of those that do, how many.

    Another example of a successful answer: Although I haven’t ever checked out any used text books from the local public library in the past 20 years, maybe to voluntarily retest myself on mathematics, the data that went with the questions on that subject might as well have been freshly poured into my head the day prior to taking this quiz.

    The five questions I failed to answer “correctly” were the same five questions for which I couldn’t provide answer at all. Though I clearly remember the name of the teacher who tried to cram this information into my head then (incidentally around the same time of my life when I was learning about moons and asteroids – probably about a half an hour later in the day), I couldn’t even have given a decent guess to where Paraguay is located on the globe. (Poor Mr. Bloodworth.)

    The book you just read is my attempt to pass on the notion that you might be able to just about guarantee that your kid will do well to learn (even retain what he learns) if he can somehow gain an interest in the subjects.

    If I were a teacher (though I realize some disagree with installing a “reward method” anywhere near the difficult mode of teaching), I might have the Internet available at every desk; and maybe in a corner of the room I would have displayed the complete Nintendo 500X-2-Z-44-R system – or whatever the latest is these days (that sample model number is a very uneducated guess well okay it’s pure fiction); I would makeshift an area where the girls – or boys, if interested, could perform experimental makeovers on each other…essentially, I’d create an environment where – foremost – the kids could act like kids for a minute or two before I injected their craniums with the trash of our sometimes shameful histories and sent them shaking like a leaf down the hall to their next class, where they’ll learn how every creature of Earth is part of the teetering, volnurable balance to the planet’s eco-system, then require them to mutulate an amphibian they’ll select from a smelly tub filled with that precious life.

    That environment (the favorable one – you know, Nintendo 5000, makeovers, etcetera) would also double up as their learning environment. If it’s mathematics I’m teaching, we’ll gather around the game machine and I’ll teach them one way that math is applied. If I’m the unfortunate leader of the social studies class, then we’ll engender a functioning society throughout the year with the population of the class and – parallel to the text books – we’ll live our own version of how our executive branches and legislative branches are structured.

    In fact, if I had a child, I think I might involve myself to that level. The unhappy truth is that our classrooms probably couldn’t effectively facilitate my ideas, so I would have to rely on the parents to pick up the slack and devise ways to keep my students (their children) interested in what I’m efforting to stamp onto their brains.

    Both parties have this responsibility, as I see it. One of them has readily chosen to take on the task – and even gets paid to do it. The other party (at home) inherits the responsibility by default and pays dearly to keep their children on-track. Back to both parties, though: They both have so many peripheral duties with each child, but…one of them in particular – even though they’re on the payroll to perform – is limited more in the effort to educate. The simple mathematics are working against the efforts of the teacher when you multiply the number of students they deal with on a daily basis. Factor in the matters of oversized class populous in undersized classrooms; over-the-top administrators forced to downsize budgets; and (the salient factor, I believe) our over-the-hill teaching methods to which we have bound ourselves, undermined by the budget constraints needing loosened to overhaul the underachieving.

    (Ugh. I’m becoming horrified. A little depressed too. Okay, swaying away from the “why-it’s-never-ever-gonna-be-possible-to-improve-this-system-we’re-all-doomed-I-tell-you-DOOMED-I-say! list”…)

    I’m not attune to your current situation – whether or not you work outside your home, if you’re a single parent, what Mike’s age is…um…what you take in your coffee, your likes, your dislikes, what your name is – little things like this that uncover how I just haven’t spent much time with you lately, I guess. My apologies and I’ll do better from now on (haha), but whatever the “situation” – the home structure, the schedules – whatever…I think you could have great times ahead with your child, available to you by inserting yourself (not involving, really – inserting is more like it) into your child’s process of education. To do this by taking his existing interests – be it Ultima 13 or hairdressing – and somehow corrolating those activities to what his teachers are trying to get him to learn.

    It sounds like fun to me. I have many neices and nephews – most I helped raise for years – so I am aware of the enjoyment your children can (and yours probably certainly does) provide.

    So – with all that being said…


    Well, I just reread your posted message here and…well…it could just be that he’s coming down with the common cold. In which case, of course, it’ll pass. You can disregard the rest of what I said.

    (Haha. Good luck.)

    Joe Dougherty at februari 18, 2003 01:24 pm

  2. sue Said,

    Wow ! Thanks for your ideas, Joe. First of all, this is a weblog, or blog and there are zillions out ‘here’.

    I want to take some time to think about your ideas, but you know, my first reaction- or response- was that the things the children are most interested now in are in fact the things that Han and I love, and to which we expose them – hey, we took a 2 year old to Willy’s.

    Back later-


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