Elementary Lessons That Last

Evening, gang.

With just a week and a day left until we reach our shared goal, I thought it might be fun to shake things up and bring in a special guest star.

Without further adieu, please welcome my daughter, Alex, to our countdown.

Figure 8 as Double 4, Alex T. Fischer

“Figure eight as double four…figure four as half of eight. If you skate, you would be great, if you could make a figure eight.” That’s how I remember learning much of what went through my head as a toddler and early elementary school student – through songs that played during the Saturday morning children’s television block on ABC TV.

Most times, though, Schoolhouse Rock basically played on a loop in my childhood home, via VHS tape, as my younger sister, Sammy, and I ate meals or played with our toys.

Little did we know that just a few years later, VHS tapes would become obsolete, and the only way we could reminisce on these moments was through fuzzy YouTube videos.

As you might imagine, my dad has a fascination with daylight savings and the solstice. And as a regular early morning runner, the lack of daylight in the wee hours of the morning makes it difficult when it comes to motivation for leaving your warm, cozy bed. He still does it, though, even in the dead of winter, and his countdown to an influx of light hours is what gets him through.

So, when it comes to countdown day number 8, my dad tells me that warmer temperatures and longer days are on the horizon, and I should be grateful.

In the spirit of today’s post, I have to say that a guy named George Newell, the series co-creator, is to blame for the incessant humming of “Figure 8,” a song that was played and sung in our home for years. (My father was the primary culprit.) Sadly, Newell passed away just last week, ironically enough, at age 88. (Some might call it double 44.)

Schoolhouse Rock was an iconic wave of media innovation angled at children learning the basics of early childhood education. The animated, musical short films showcased many of life’s educational building blocks within grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics and civics.

Now, at a ripe old age of 23, I often reflect with friends about how much of what I learned in school is now a mass of blurred material that has been archived in the files of my brain. Sure, in fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and y = mx+b, but in such a short period of time (life after high school and then some life after college), a lot of what was taught in the traditional classroom has been lost on me. Hopefully, I’m not the only one.

I guess there are certain things that I never forgot, purely due to the musical nature in which they were presented to me as a young and impressionable child. Below, find a few tidbits of knowledge I can still recall:

  • How a bill becomes a law
  • The entirety of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution
  • Names of the planets in the solar system – including Pluto, which was, of course,  ultimately downgraded to star status
  • Conjunctions and adverbs and how to use both of them

And really, how catchy are those songs? I’m sure that I’ll remember them forever. Thanks for reading, all! And Happy Holidays to you and your families.

Thanks again, Alex, for agreeing to pinch-hit for me. It’s a real kick for your old dad to have you play a role in the countdown this year. I owe you one, kid.

Make it a great night, all ye fellow hopeful ones. When we rise and shine tomorrow, we’ll have just one week left.

A & J Fish


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