I listened to John Merrow's podcast with Alfie Kohn with my wife's 93 year old grandfather.
The moment it was over, he said, "you know, we never said a word in school. We sat there in our desks and the teacher talked."
"Did you ever raise your hand," I asked.
He laughed, "oh God no. Almost never. I wouldn't dare. You know Shannon (another one of his grand-daughters who teaches grade three) teaches and she says her kids are always talking and discussing and working together."
Bennie then said, "You know, I left school with a lot of questions."
I could see this last comment was said with a sad, regretful tone.
"I was kind of bashful, and I felt like I just shouldn't interrupt the teacher. But you know, years later, I was talking to a Wildlife Officer and he was giving a seminar on some such topic and he told us not to be afraid to ask questions - after all, there's probably a 160 other guys waiting to ask the same question."
I could tell that Bennie took great relief in knowing that his questions were falling on a safe crowd.
"You know, to me grade 9 was a chore, but grade 10, 11 were more enjoyable."
So I asked him, "What was the difference?"
"In 1935, I was in grade 9 and, I had a coal oil lamp. It gave off a kind of red light - not bright at all. But then for grade 10 and 11 we went to a gas lamp - it gave off far better light.
"After grade 10, my old man said he couldn't afford to send me to school, but mom said go ahead and register and he'll have to pay the five dollars a month."
"Was 5 dollars too much money?"
"Well, when you didn't have much, anything is too much, but no - we could afford it. Dad just wanted me to stay home and help him on the farm."
Bennie then asked me, "what grades did you like?"
"Well, I really liked learning about the World Wars. I like the tanks and the aeroplanes. I then got interested in the politics as I learned about Hitler, Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt. But you got to remember that I was interested in learning about this at home on the Internet."
"Oh, well I learned everything from the radio."
I explained, "when you listened to the radio, you had to listen to whatever they decided to tell you. Imagine if you could have told the radio to share with you what you wanted to hear about - that's the Internet."
He shook his head with disbelief, "oh, wow. That would have been something else."
I really enjoyed my chat with Bennie.