Thursday, March 15, 2012

What A Wonderful World

This song has been stuck in my head for the past few days. I don't think it's quite appropriate to sing in a "school," while on the other hand it seems to come from the perspective of the most educated man on Earth, if education can be defined as understanding the greatest truths. If you've been reading here for long, you'll know what I mean.

It was written by Sam Cooke, Herb Alpert, and Lou Adler (the guy who sits next to Jack Nicholson, courtside, at LA Lakers games). Cooke was the first to make it a hit, but it came to my attention in 1977 when Art Garfunkel recorded it as a duet with James Taylor. I listened to this version of the song over and over and over, never telling any of my friends about my love for this adult contemporary hit during the era when boys loved AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Grand Funk Railroad. I sometimes think even my parents were a little embarrassed for their teenaged son holed up in his room singing along to:

What a wonderful, wonderful, world this would be
What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful world.
Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful, wonderful world this would be.

Don't know much about geography
Don't know much trigonometry
Don't know much about algebra
I don't know what a slide rule is for
But I do know one and one is two
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful, wonderful world this would be
What a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful world.

Now I don't claim to be an 'A' student,
But I'm trying to be
I think that maybe by being an 'A' student, baby,
I could win your love for me.
Don't know much about the middle ages
Looked at the picture and I turned the pages
Don't know nothin' 'bout no rise and fall
Don't know nothin' 'bout nothin' at all
Girl it's you that I've been thinking of
And if I could only win your love, girl
What a wonderful, wonderful world this would be
What a wonderful, wonderful world this would be.

This has been in my head these past few days and somehow, despite it's overt anti-intellectualism, I can't help have a feeling -- not a thought, not sure knowledge, but a feeling -- that this is what I want all children to know, perhaps not as something they learn in school, but simply as that thing that stands at the absolute core of their knowledge about this wonderful world.

You don't have to be an "A" student to win my love for you. You have that already, simply by virtue of your being, the rest is only trivia, and if you don't know your trigonometry or the French you took, you know some other trivia, like dancing or hammering or singing falsetto. When we let children know they are loved with words, with touch, and with our attentive presence, we are the greatest teachers to ever live, and the world, their world, in good times and bad, will indeed be wonderful. I think that's what it is, love, that forms the foundation of all true learning, that's where it starts, it's what gives meaning to the trivia, it's what makes us want to know. And wanting to know is everything about everything at all.

(I chose this "video" to embed here because it just shows the Watermark album cover and nothing else. That's mostly what I'd look at as a teenager while sunk into my beanbag chair, listening to this song. Now it will be stuck in your head too.)

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Buse said...

I wish my children would have a teacher like you, I really really want this... (Greetings from Turkey.)

martha brown said...

Thanks Teacher Tom!

1luckymama said...

i so ditto buse....

Liz Ditz said...

I've always loved David Bromberg's version with Bonnie Raitt on backup vocals. He really sounds like an awkward high-school student.

Say, my e-pal Ken at Popehat is running a promote your blog post on a lazy Friday, so I explained why I read you at least 3 times a week, and why everybody with an infant or preschooler should do the same.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite songs when my Dad would sing JT to me as a little girl. Now I have my own little girl to sing his songs to...and raise to know that she is loved however, whatever she does and is. My sweet, roaming, incredible, spirited baby girl. :)