Albert Einstein never used flash cards...

by Marjorie Wolfe
Syosset, New York

It's Back-to-School time. Alan King tells this story. The time comes for a Jewish mother to send her son off to his first day of school. She showered him with customary pride and precautionary advice.

"So, bubeleh, you'll be a good boy and listen to the teacher? And you won't make noise, bubeleh, and you'll be very polite and play nice with the other children. And when it's time to come home, you'll button up warm, so you won't catch cold, bubeleh. And you'll be careful crossing the street and come straight home..." And on and on.

Off to school the little boy went. When he returned that afternoon, his mother hugged him and kissed him and exclaimed, "So, did you like school, bubeleh? You made new friends? You learned something?"

"Yeah, replied the boy. "I learned my name is Irving."

In the book, "Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn-And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less," Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff have an imporant lesson to teach: Children learn best at play. "Play equals learning. And play, plain and simple play, is the key to nurturing happy, intelligent children."

Much of Einstein's learning took place through play. His parents paid attention to his interests and fed them with lessons and toys and books--and some freedom to do as he pleased.

Here are some Back-to-School tips, facts, and trivia:

. Albert Einstein did his greatest thinking while walking on the beach.

. Five-year-olds should learn that "a black crayon should not be confused with a Tootsie Roll."

. Lollipops are sometimes referred to as "behavior modification reinforcers."

. Albert Shanker said that "First graders were always smart enough to see that the Bluebird reading group was for kids who were having a tough time and the Cardinal group was for those who learned to read in the first weeks."

. Robert Fulghum ("All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten") said, "These are the things I learned:"

Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. .........

. A capital "A" is approximately the height of Danny De Vito," says Dave Barry.

. Backpacks are now known as "load management technology."

. An "Ospringe," according to Douglas Adams, is "that part of a three-color ballpoint which renders it instantly useless."

. Many late talkers grew up to become successful political figures or media figures. Examples include G. Gordon Liddy, Barry Farber, Wally Williams, and Dick Armey. (Source: "The Einstein Syndrome - Bright Children Who Talk Late," by Thomas Sowell).

. A BMW is not an advanced degree.

. Students may call it "Jockeying for position," but the principal calls it "cutting in the cafeteria line."

. "Chutzpa" is defined as "calling on a cellular phone from a BMW to tell your professor that your term paper will be late."

. "Ziegler's Law" says that "the amount of education received depends on how close a student is to the teacher in the classroom."

. On a Social Studies exam, NEVER define "B.C." as "Before Carbs."

. Watch your spelling...and proofread all term papers. The New York Times (3/12/2001) published the following correction:

A music review misspelled the name of a guest artist. He is Big Gipp, not Big Dip.

. If you enroll in a course which covers the works of William Shakespeare, you will probably learn the following pick-up lines used by Shakespeare:

"Et tu, Cutie?"

. A McPaper is your basic unoriginal, derivative, last-minute college paper. A play on McDonald's.

. When Teresa Heinz Kerry appeared alongside her husband as he announced his running mate, she ran her fingers through her hair and pulled it way out to the side and let it slowly fall. Twice. Hair-flicking is a voluntary movement; don't do it while standing on the school cafeteria line!

. If your teacher asks you, "What is the shape of the earth?" don't answer, "Right now, 2004, pretty bad."

. You'll receive a "D" on your Stock Market report if you define an "institutional investor" as a "past year investor who's now locked up in a mental hospital."

. Stedman Graham, author of many books, gave this superb advice: "Life is a journey we travel one day at a time. Day by day and step by step, you have to maintain your vigilance and hold on to your vision for your life no matter what happens around you or to you. To get where we want to go in life, we have to keep at it. We have to create a vision, make choices based on what moves us most swiftly toward our goals, and go after them with determination and single mindedness. And whenever you encounter a problem, no matter how insurmountable it might seem, there is one simple response that should be ingrained in your behavior. Never give up."


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of a new book titled, Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction? Yiddish Trivia(Malka Publications, ISBN 0-615-12507-7), $12 at Borders Books & Music or from

Malka Publications
19 Market Dr.
Syosset, NY 11791
$12 (plus $3 shipping and handling)

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