My Valentine to Teachers

Dorothea Mordan
5 min readFeb 2, 2022

“Shall we play a game?” is a gateway question to many learning opportunities, not just a great line from a movie.

My dad’s cousin Anne was an elementary school teacher when I was growing up. She had many subjects to teach to her students, but her lesson on what it means to live in a democracy sticks with me to this day. Anne had a three-day unit that she presented to elementary school students. Each day the class would have a baseball game run in a style of government.

Day One was a Monarchy. One student was chosen King or Queen, and the rest of the class had to do everything they said. The game had to be played as the King or Queen demanded. Only one person was able to do what they wanted, and everyone else was mad at them.

Day Two was a Anarchy. There were no rules, any student could run the bases anytime they wished, and throw balls at anyone or anything. Everyone could do whatever they wanted, no home-runs were made, and everyone was mad at each other.

Day Three was a Democracy. The class voted on who was captain, and how they would organize teams and set up a game. Everyone had a chance to make a contribution, and figure out if baseball was even for them. Voting on rules to organize a game allowed for supporting your team specifically and the game for everyone. Not everyone won the game, but each student felt part of the group.

The origin of our public schools is in filling the needs of our households and societies as they progressed through history. In colonial North America, the common man or woman needed to know how to do a job, but not how to read; the merchant needed to know arithmetic and how to bargain between manufacturers and customers; landowners needed to know how to manage resources, and the ruling class had to know how to manage people. Keeping knowledge segmented meant leadership kept control. Over time, public education changed that imbalance of access to knowledge.

Schooling was once done on a very small local scale — a few years of schooling for kids of farm families, until they were old enough to work, one room school houses led by teachers who traveled to anywhere they were needed, wealthy households having tutors and select private schools. Parents have always been aware of schools’ impact on family life and culture. The people…

Dorothea Mordan

Stories about life in our United States & on our planet.