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Interview #456: Chapman, Emily E. (1994)

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00:42:36–00:48:24 EC taught home economics at Wisconsin...

EC taught home economics at Wisconsin High School in 1956 and 1957. Her class focused on the importance of packing well-balanced bag lunches. After her field work was complete, she had to withdraw from UW to take care of her daughter, who had contracted chicken pox and then mumps.

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00:42:36

BT

So you graduated with your degree in home ec education?

EC

No.

BT

No?

EC

No. The first year, the second, the second year, 1956 to ’57, was when I was taking Teaching Home Economics and Education, the Nature and Direction of Learning. And I was taking advanced public speaking then. I took the beginning public speaking in the other one. And I got through, the Teaching Home Economics was when I was teaching at Wisconsin High.

BT

Oh, yes, that’s right.

EC

And we had a, we did it in pairs. One of us observed while the other one did the teaching.

BT

Did you observe through those one-way mirrors?

EC

Oh, no. No. observing meant you were in the class.

BT

Oh, in the class. Okay.

EC

In the classroom. One student observed. In other words, you did it in pairs. And I finished, finished my whatever, my project, my teaching project. And that was when our youngest child got chicken pox. [laughter] And I think it says here, “12/4/56 withdrew, family responsibilities.” And I just couldn’t. I couldn’t, I had to go to every class and keep up. I couldn’t afford to be absent for a day or two because I had the whole house at home, and the three kids to take care of. And I just, I had to really, and I knew I had to stay home with this.

BT

Right. With the chicken pox.

EC

With the child with the chicken pox. Poor little kids. And then she got mumps, right on top of it. [laughter] And then I caught mumps from her.

BT

Oh, my.

EC

But that was, teaching the eighth graders home economics, and they gave us a choice of things. And I think mine was packed lunches, which is a very uninspiring thing. And it was about trying to teach them good nutrition and bringing lunches to school, and whether they should buy them or not. The thing that made the—oh I almost hate to say this. The thing that made the biggest impression on them was when I took them on a field trip in a bus to one of the supply areas for the local restaurant, so they could see how the restaurant did things. And they all came back and said they were going to carry their own lunches from now on. [laughter]

BT

Interesting. Now was this at Wisconsin High where you--

EC

Yeah. That was Wisconsin High.

BT

Tell me a little bit about Wisconsin High.

EC

Oh, those kids were bratty. [laughs]

BT

Were they sort of faculty brats?

EC

Well, they were, Sherwood Hills. Yes, some faculty ones. At one point, I was getting pretty frustrated with them. I said, “Now why do you act so nasty?”

They said, “Well, we’re teaching you how to teach!” [laughter]

BT

So they were precocious on top of everything else.

EC

Yeah. They were really precocious. But I think the only thing I felt good that came out of that was that before I took them on this one field trip, I said, “Now, have any of you ever said thank you to a bus driver who’s taken you on a field trip?” They all looked at me with their mouths open. I said, “I think it would be a good idea if when you got off the bus you said thank you to the bus driver. Because he’s not earning much money taking you.” And I was absolutely astonished. That’s all I said. As they were getting off, every one of those kids said thank you. You should have seen the bus driver. He nearly fainted! [laughter] But you know, I figure that was my one contribution, was to get the kids to realize that bus drivers were humans.

BT

Bus drivers are people, too.

EC

People, too. So that’s, anyway, in, so I dropped out and took care of a sick child. And took care of myself. And then went back the second semester. But before I went back, I asked Dean [Zole?], I said, “Do I have to repeat the teaching? Because I only,” I said, “I did the teaching part. I just didn’t observe.”

“Oh, yes. You have to do it all over again.” And I thought, do I really want to be a teacher? I decided that I wasn’t the kind that wanted to teach high school kids. College kids, maybe. But not high school kids.

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