Category Archives: Education


I have been discarding “stuff” for a half dozen years in preparation for a move to an old-folks home. Occasionally I run onto something that puts a smile on my face like a story that appeared in the Nov. 18, 1967, issue of Publishers’ Auxiliary.

It was in a file of “jokes” that I occasionally read to students in my classes because I am not a teller of jokes. I forget the punch

This joke was in the form of a story reporting an error that had appeared in a classified advertisement published by the Rocky Mountain News in Denver in 1967.

The newspaper article read, “With the terrific volume that Rocky Mountain News handles, it’s amazing there aren’t more errors made” and continued:

“Thankfully, we haven’t yet had a string of errors like the one recently made by a small daily newspaper in the south.” It started with the following ad on Monday: Continue reading WHY WOULD MY STUDENTS FIND THIS JOKE FUNNY?


BOY SETTING TYPEAfter writing last week about how Louis L’Amour acquired an education without attending school, I thought it timely to confess that I also didn’t let my schooling interfere with my education during my undergrad work at Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University) in Springfield.

For the record, I entered college in 1945 when I was 16 years old in an attempt to complete two years before being drafted. However, World War II soon ended, and I was afloat among a raft of returning servicemen who we referred to as “damned grade average raisers.”

Nevertheless, I buckled down and focused on a newfound love — economics — only to change majors quickly after receiving a D in the basic course. I floated around awhile in the music department, where I discovered that I created more discord than harmony.

Eventually, I settled on political science largely because of a professor who had just mustered out of the Army after leading a squad of infantrymen from Normandy to Berlin. He broke classroom convention by swearing during lectures and by bringing a radio to class so we could listen to 1949 presidential election returns. He challenged students to “think outside the box” and helped inspire me to become a teacher.

This was good stuff for an Ozark hillbilly who had spent most of his life milking cows and plowing corn and who had never traveled more than a hundred miles from home.

Meanwhile, I was working part-time in a print shop, acting as a Boy Scout leader, playing sousaphone in the symphonic and marching bands, building and flying model airplanes, running the half-mile as a track team member, helping organize a campus fraternity, leading a college class at my church and serving as editor of the college student newspaper during my senior year.

As a result, I didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on my class assignments, especially during my senior year when I met and courted a woman who eventually became my wife.

On one occasion during my senior year, my buddy, the campus newspaper sports editor, and I started to enter a classroom and realized we had failed to complete a written assignment.

“What should we do?” I asked my friend.

“Let’s go bowling,” he replied.

We did. We passed the course and eventually received our liberal arts degrees. In my case, I completed two years of required Latin without even a basic grasp of the vocabulary — and with D grades.

I did, however, complete my undergrad requirements with a C plus average, which was adequate for admission to grad school in those days.

Despite my sorry scholastic record, I figured that I received a valuable education during my four years in undergrad school.

Today, if I had it all to do over again, I would spend more time bowling.


      While eating breakfast in a Central Oregon cafe several years ago, I noticed used books perched on a shelf in an adjacent room where groceries are sold. Upon inquiry, I learned that the books were free. I took one by an author whose books I read.

Louis L ‘Amour was a storyteller, a writer of western novels. He died in 1988 but not before L'AmourI had an opportunity to visit with him during a book promotion tour in Eugene, Oregon, where I worked as a newspaperman.

When I read what I call “escape” literature, I often reach for one of L’Amour’s 86 novels. The plot and the characters are familiar, uncomplicated and predictable. “Conagher,” which was made into a film, is one of my favorites along with Hondo and the Sackett family.

The memoir that I discovered in Maupin was “Education of a Wandering Man,” which was published in 1989.

L’Amour ‘s views on education bear repeating because of their merit. They also reflect my philosophy as a former university professor, a profession I followed during the latter portion of my life. Keep in mind that L’Amour left school at age 15 when he was in the tenth grade.

“I left for two reasons,” he wrote. “Economic necessity being the first one. More Continue reading SCHOOL NEVER INTERFERED WITH THIS GUY’S EDUCATION