In this memoir, William "Bull" Hefferton recalls his thirty years as a teacher and coach in Newfoundland's educational system at the end of the Twentieth Century and compares his experiences and career with those of his uncle, Samuel J. Hefferton, who taught at the beginning of the Twentieth Century and was made Newfoundland's first Minister of Education in 1949.
Citing his uncle's diaries, speeches, and conversations, Hefferton explores the differences and similarities of a timeless profession separated by the gulf of Time. He covers the topics of school routine, punishment, sports, attendance, and the philosophical nature of education itself.
Not to mention a few pranks and general shit-disturbing along the way.
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By Bob Forsey
Jan 15, 2007
"Time is of the Lessons" The secret ingredient possessed by all successful people, particularly teachers is“Enthusiasm.” Derived from the Latin root, En Theos, or “the God Within,” enthusiasm is the heart of the creative spirit. This memoir is a two-way story of teaching in Newfoundland in two eras 50 years apart in the 20th century focusing on Samuel J. Hefferton (1896 - 1980) and William C. Hefferton, the author. It shows both as students and teachers, both enthusiastic and effective in their own unique ways. The author compares his teaching career with Uncle Sam’s using the latter’s diary as a primary resource. Selecting insightful quotes, he has pieced together an overview of what teaching was like in a one-room school in a small outport nearly 100 years ago, and finds contrasts to his own experience in St. John’s, Newfoundland,Canada (1971 to 2000). Sam taught in Newtown, Bonavista Bay and St. John’s, mostly, from 1911 until 1949. Sam’s teaching life at the one-room... More > school in the fishing outport, population 500, provided a wealth of detail about teaching in that era. The reviewer knew the author as "Bull." When Bull entered teaching in 1971, he followed Poet Robert Frost’s advice exactly by choosing a path less taken in accepting a post at an All-Girls School in Carbonear (3 years), followed by another (27 ) at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic School in St. John’s. How Bull succeeded in both schools makes for a wonderful story. The writer, infected by Bull’s enthusiasm for life in university briefly campaigned to expand “Bull” to “Bull Wonder.” This whimsy was prompted by Bull’s obsession with Stevie Wonder’s music, and the surprise and admiration he evoked among friends and acquaintances with his impulsive pranks and humour. “Bull Wonder” did not fly, but for friends who watched him march to the beat of his own drummer, it has a nice ring. Tossing imaginary hand grenades and miming the explosion with wide mouth glee and energetic hand gestures no doubt dispelled boredom and won polite applause among Bull’s classmates. It also makes one wonder of how he might deal with the reluctant scholars in his own classes. Happily, character is what this memoir is about, having it as a teacher and building it in the students in his classes. And, aha, Bull had it as a student and teacher, as did his Uncle Sam, who was more predictable and consistent on both sides of the desk. However, Bull picked Uncle Sam’s brains before he started teaching, and learned “Education is life as well as a preparation for life” and the importance of self-discipline, continued reading and learning. The importance of self-trust, respect for others, fairness, determination, humour and self-reliance is shown as vital for successful students and teachers, which, of course, includes everyone at times. Bill’s selection of spiritually uplifting poems helps reinforce these virtues. The poet W.B. Yeats said, “Education is not about the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Bull’s enthusiasm has been a consistent part of his character all his life, and it showed in wonderful and puzzling ways, but he was seldom boring and often an inspiration to his students. Time is of the Lessons describes school days in different eras, lists pranks and punishments, discusses power and principals, and explains schoolyard games and the joy of coaching championship teams. Read Bull’s heart-felt and insightful memoir; you’ll be amused and learn a lot about education in Newfoundland in the 20th century, and maybe it’ll fire your enthusiasm and make a difference in your life. As “Bull Wonder” likes to say, “C’est si bon fire.”< Less
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