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They Touched My Life Robert Rose

They Touched My Life

Robert Rose

Published August 4th 2011
Kindle Edition
192 pages
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 About the Book 

Be an elementary teacher? In 1958 this was not even a consideration. I was going to be a child psychiatrist and novelist. I hadn’t done any writing during my four years in the U.S. Air Force, but I had functioned as a psychologist-social worker. AtMoreBe an elementary teacher?  In 1958 this was not even a consideration.  I was going to be a child psychiatrist and novelist.  I hadn’t done any writing during my four years in the U.S. Air Force, but I had functioned as a psychologist-social worker.  At twenty-one I had my own office and I was giving marriage counseling to noncommissioned officers and officers who were decades older than I was. I had practical experience doing individual and group therapy and even used psychodrama techniques.  The psychiatrists I worked with all believed I was a natural therapist and they gave me dozens of books to read, we discussed their cases, and they wrote recommendations for me for medical school.  My goals were lofty- then, reality set in.  I didn’t have the money (or grades) to become a doctor.  My bachelor’s degree in psychology was next to useless.  A friend suggested I teach while I pursued advanced degrees to become a child psychologist.  It was a painful compromise.  I had already given up my dreams of becoming a professional actor or athlete and I would have to be an elementary rather than a high school teacher so I couldn’t coach football or track.  It was like being a dishwasher rather than a restaurant owner.  There was also the commonly held belief then that a male elementary teacher must be somewhat effeminate, if not an outright homosexual.  Throughout my career people have been surprised (disappointed?) that a man who looks like a light-heavyweight boxer could be a teacher of small children.  Still, I had a wife and a child to support so I got a teaching credential. I had been bored in school and I was determined to make my classes interesting, but I was totally unprepared emotionally, educationally, or organizationally.  I was wildly successful only because I was charismatic, creative, and I truly enjoyed the children.The more I realized how much more effective I could be with so many more children every year as a teacher than I could be as a psychologist, the more I knew I had stumbled into a great career.  I had found my calling.  I could express my artistic self through music, art, dancing, and drama.  My athletic needs were met by playing with the children while teaching them all the sports I loved.  I had a captive audience for my need to perform as I read to them dramatically and transmitted my eclectic love of learning.  I was proficient in many psychological techniques, which came in handy as I probed their brains and changed their behaviors.  I was almost too clinical in the first few years as I secretly tested my children using the ink blot test, sentence completion, and the TAT (ambiguous pictures) which I used as means to motivate their writing.  Later, I realized that it was not so much the testing, as it was the time I spent individually with children that made the difference.  I was interested in each of them and they knew it and so they shared their lives inside and outside the school as if I was their therapist.  Therapists never get the opportunity to see their clients in the environments that are causing their problems.  I not only saw things through their eyes and the dynamics of their relationships, but I was in the position to actually change these by what I did.  Whether it was as simple as changing their seat or reading group or placing them in allegedly extemporaneous plays to act out (feel) a role that they needed to experience, I made immediate changes in their lives. It was then I knew that my (often) traumatic experiences as a gifted Jewish child alone in hostile schools where I was seen as an evil presence was not unusual.