The Wisdom of Potatoes

MUG Steve Coker 2Years ago, I heard how Dad and his father would fill the back of the old pick-up truck with Irish potatoes for market.  On the way to town, which was 30 miles away, they would take the longest, roughest road to get there.  By the time they got to market, the potatoes had sorted themselves into small, medium and large levels in the bed as the truck had bumped along and the gravity had done its work.

The work of grading the potatoes had taken place during the journey to market.

Often, I think that we always want the smoothest, straightest and quickest way for things to occur, even if the end result is not always achieved.  It is that way with the teaching of children.  The best learning occurs when there are challenges.  As students bump along in the school developmental processes, many things must occur at one time.  Morals develop, bodies grow strong, academic awareness expands, values and rules are tested and talents and gifts explored.  I would like to think that the bed of our school truck is made from the wood of good homes, faith-based churches and academic learning.

As our students are bounced along the road of life and these elements of simultaneous events occur, they become sorted into the pathways of their lives.  This process of bouncing along the highway makes for strong, well-balances children.  It allows for proper, well-rounded development of our students.

As I write this article, I am looking through my window watching the sixth-grade students launch and successfully navigate balloon aircraft which are propelled with hot air.  They have designed and constructed these UFOs themselves.  Our kids are no dumb spuds here.  If anything, their mamas will tell you that the girls are all sweet potatoes and the boys are probably French (freedom) fries.  More than anything, though, we need to remember that potatoes have eyes.  The late Lewis Grizzard gave a warning to his grandma not to bend over in the garden “cuz them taters have eyes.”

And so do our children.

We must always be mindful of teaching by our example.  Lots of little eyes are always watching and learning.

Now, where was I?  One potato, two potato, three potato, four … six potato … hmmm.  I forgot how this goes.


Dr. Steve Coker is Superintendent of the Houston School District. He can be reached at 456-3332.

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