Thursday, April 7, 2011

DAVID RAYMOND & THE LETTER “Q”



I have always been partial to the letter “Q”, being introduced to it in Kindergarten. “Q” was the only letter in print whose capital formed foreign with the little, slanted tick at the bottom right. It was best friends with the letter “u” which I originally considered to be a handicap because it always needed “u” while “u” did not need it (which I thought unfair, actually pitying “Q”, because “u” did not reciprocate “Q’s” devotion). 

Sesame Street instilled in me a deep respect for “Q” by showcasing it apart from the letter “u.” To this day I still enjoy Sesame Street’s politically correct explanations for anomalies, even though as a little child I had a bed-wetting experience when one night I imagined Snuffleupagus to be at the foot of my bed. In reality it was my Chihuahua, Tiger. How Tiger became a furry, wooly mammoth that night, I will never know. How queer.

David Raymond and I have been like the combination “Qu.” In 2003 David came alongside to help me develop my fourth year of Stone Table. After a year of immersion, David  took on more and more responsibility. David taught classes (from which I needed a break). David taught students (from whom I needed a break). David designed the class schedule (from which I needed a break). David planned the yearbooks. David planned the school calendar. David planned the field trips. David planned the mid-terms, finals, and national exams. David planned end-of the year trips to Chicago and NYC. David took over the transcripts. David eventually was donned headmaster: I quietly taking the place of “Q” and he of “u.”

People who have only known David Raymond as Robbie Grayson's batman have been unaware that he has been running his own school these past two years called “Q Class”, the inspiration of the literary Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (after whom Kenneth Grahame developed the character “Ratty” in his classic Wind in the Willows). Quiller-Couch (“Couch” pronounced “cooch”) is known for his influence in the literary lives of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein (I have also been told that he has a loose connection to “Q”, the gadget researcher & developer in the James Bond films). 

I figured I would explain David Raymond’s mentor & class style using the letter “Q.”

QUARRY (kwōr-ree)
While a quarry is “a type of open-mine pit from which rock or minerals are extracted” (Wikipedia), I would like to think of David Raymond as a quarry who has been mined of the essential materials necessary for a student’s literary education. Almost without fail, students who have transferred from Stone Table to public or private school typically enter high school English Honors. It is also not uncommon for me to receive the yearly SAT & ACT scores that consistently show Stone Table students to operate in the upper percentile in Language, Reading Comprehension, and Spelling. An old student dropped by school just two days ago. He is graduating in two months and entering the Army. He relayed to me a story that is not uncommon: all of the literature books he is reading for 12th grade, he read in 6th grade under the direction of Mr. Raymond.

QUESTION (kwesh-tŏn)
A question is “a linguistic expression used to make a request for information(Wikipedia). Much of the love and hate Mr. Raymond typically receives from students is due to his use of questions during class-time and in exams. Usually, the more vocal students express a hatred of this kind of catechism, only to come back years later to say “I love Mr. Raymond. I learned more from that man than I learned anywhere else” or some similar sentiment. Mr. Raymond’s teaching style falls under the heading of “Moral Philosophy” which, insofar as we have implemented it at Stone Table, means that the lesson is designed to get students to consider changes they must make in their own lives. I have always emphasized to teachers who have worked with me that it is only natural to think morally about anything because facts are either “right” or “wrong.” What I especially like about Mr. Raymond’s questions is that they are always personal, pushing students to own the lesson. Else it is no good to anyone.

QUIT (kwit)
Ok, I’m going to stop before I find myself making metaphysical connections that make little sense.

I will say that I have had a wide spectrum of experiences with Mr. Raymond that will highlight my time at Stone Table. We have had hundreds of hours of conversation about “What Stone Table is” (I am happy to say that we now know what Stone Table is, hahaha). We have spent hours playing any number of active games with students from pseudo-violent Air Soft Wars that ended with tears (for some students) and admirable wounds (for others) to “death” soccer resulting in broken glasses, torn clothing, countless wrestling matches, a lost tooth, and one concussion to hide-and-go-seek that ended with certain students disappearing for longer stretches than the games actually lasted. We have counseled students for hundreds of hours, making sure they were safe and sometimes having to intervene at odd hours to reconcile an issue that could not continue another minute. We have graduated students, a glorious event we celebrate all summer long by traveling, playing, and sleeping. We have been at the graveside of a student.

I would simply like to leave you with a quote (my last “Q”):

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” Albert Einstein

Oh, and I would like to leave you with a Sesame Street short. One of my favorites on the letter "Q."


2 comments:

  1. Robbie, I would agree with your summary of the esteemed Mr. Raymond. Just recently, my husband and I were going through our old letters to each other and found the note David had written him during the courtship phase asking my husband to describe his intentions toward me. Even though David is my younger brother, he functioned as the older, protective brother not only in that courtship, but also in various tough situations that needed wisdom and a confident decisiveness. He provided that. I'm glad you two have had the chance to have so many adventures together. He's a gem, that's for sure.

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