Life-long Learning…in or out of the Classroom

001This past Tuesday, I made my first classroom visit with the fourth graders at St. Michael’s School here in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  It was a very positive experience for me.  I enjoyed visiting with the children and was able to share with them a bit about our life and work.

The children had prepared questions for me, which I did my best to answer.  A few kind of stumped me, asking what my favorite book or Catholic song was.  I told them there are so many good ones that it is hard to name one.   I tried my best, though, to think of some ‘favorites.’

These nine-year-olds were not the only ones learning that afternoon; the day’s events brought me to reflect upon the fact that we are blessed with life-long learning.  The specific event leading to this, along with my classroom visit, was the recent donation of unfamiliar produce: tomatillos.  We set them out by the employee time-clock for over a day, but very few were taken. Having studied Spanish, I knew how to pronounce the word and could safely guess the meaning (‘little tomatoes’) but I had to do some research to find out more about them and how to use them.

Although I had never worked with these before, I hated to just throw perfectly good food.  As Sr. Rebecca agreed: it’s a shame to waste all that food when so many go hungry, I thought I’d try and see what I could do with these donations from parts south.

Tomatillos, I learned, are small green balls which are in the same family as tomatoes.  They have an outer peeling (which thankfully had been removed by the donor). Tomatillos are used in sauces, green salsa, and chili.  Someone offered the idea of jam, but I was quick to eliminate that possibility.

Can you imagine?  Yuck!!!

I was not ambitious enough to make salsa as it would necessitate acquiring and cutting up peppers and such.  So I took what I thought to be the practical, easier route, making a pasta/spaghetti sauce.  Anyway, that’s a whole other story.

In the course of events, I learned some interesting things, including ways for cutting the acidic taste in sauce.  I also learned facts about some of the chemistry behind cooking.  I had to interrupt my sauce-making for a trek to the prearranged visit to the school.

Riding back from St. Michael’s School, I realized with gratitude, that we, as humans, are really privileged with the gift of life-long learning.  Although school children, like the ones I had just visited with, have a more intensive learning experience, I am grateful for the gift of learning that I am blessed with in some unexpected ways.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann

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8 thoughts on “Life-long Learning…in or out of the Classroom

  1. Actualy, Tomatillo jam is quite good, just saying. Here where I live is considered a gourmet jam and is served with ricotta cheese 🙂

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  2. People usually remember me as the PBS addict. Well, PBS is educational TV and we have several local channels available. Unlike many standard networks, which are entirely entertainment (not a bad thing, I watch some of these, too), I enjoy learning something new on PBS and discussing or sharing it with friends. I also post a historical event on my Facebook timeline every day and get a number of comments and shares of many of these. And, I have to admit, I still subscribe to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. It may be filled with trivia but there is still something to be learned.
    Many doctors will disagree on what keeps us young and agile but they all seem to agree that it is important for our brains to continue learning and being tested every day. Just as being a ‘couch potato’ is not good for your physical health, having your brain at rest for long periods of time is not good. Learning square or round dancing, playing a musical instrument, doing puzzles, playing group games, are all good activities to keep the brain stimulated and keeping it on the learning curve.
    A special “Thanks” to Sister Christina for sharing her adventures and insight with us.

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  3. It’s exciting that you get to teach in the classroom. There are so many things to learn in a lifetime. I recall when I was at Sacred Heart teaching, making lifelong learners was one of the goals we had as well as being lifelong learners. I love to learn. Thank you for sharing about your experience and the tomatillos.

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  4. You know, when I first started seeing tomatillos in the grocery stores, quite awhile ago now, I recognized them right away from… Laura Ingalls Wilder. I believe tomatillos are similar to, or identical to, what she calls “husk tomatoes.” She also talks about ground cherries. They seemed to find them growing wild– in the later books, so, in the Dakotas!

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