yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee
People of Action - 1969

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).  Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of the late Lillye Younger for permission to make this web page.

Rickey Barlow

By Lillye Younger, Sun Correspondent

Teaching Them Early Is His Aim

PARSONS — "Teaching school is a challenge if you do the job right," said Rickey Barlow, 22-year-old sixth grade teacher at Parsons Junior High School. "It's an art to make students want to learn, but it takes a lot of work," he adds.

The young man teaches social studies and general science classes to 90 pupils. "It takes a large amount of understanding and plenty of patience mixed with lectures, diagrams, textbooks and homework to make the grade." Barlow says with a smile.

In science he tries to stress the three majors, biology, chemistry and physics, which the students will have in high school and college.

"It is a hard job to simplify the material to them as well as the presentation," he notes. Barlow spends a lot of time reaching a simplified level whereby students may learn the basic concepts.

"If they get it, science in high school will be easier," he explains. "It's amazing how quickly they catch on and learn things I didn't learn until I entered college."

"We are now studying health. The organs of the body have created much interest for them. They ask, 'What makes the heart beat?' They are eager to learn how things work."

He encourages reading the daily newspapers in his social studies. "Recently we have been studying about Turkey and Greece. By reading the accounts of the present uprisings in the two countries, the students see them come alive," he pointed out.

 "I use the paddle as my last resort, I sorta believe when you have to whip the student, you have failed all the way around," he explained. "With 90 different personalities it takes many methods. I sometimes get the feeling I'm just lucky that the students allow me to control them."

"My students' parents have been very cooperative thus far. They trust my judgment Often times parents judge a teacher by the amount of homework the child has. I limit homework. I believe it should be given to help the student to learn the concept in the lesson.

"Procrastination is the worst fault some students practice. They keep putting off studying until sometimes it's too late and they fail. I don't condemn them, I did it too.

"In education the key figure is the student. No matter how hard the parents and teachers try, if the student doesn't want to learn, he won't. I believe in praising my students for outstanding work. Honest praise helps."

Barlow is lenient to a degree in grading papers. "There are so many factors to take into account," he said. Students may "freeze" in tests, causing a mental block. As a rule he grades by the correct answers. Personalities play no part in his grading.

Even though Ricky's original plans were to study medicine he sidetracked to teach school. "With good luck and hard work I hope to get my masters degree," he said. "I still want to go into the medical field." He plans to return to Bethel College later.

A former Huntingdon resident he moved to Parsons with his mother last spring to help care for his grandmother, Mrs. Artie Bussell, who is ill.

"Teaching is the height of joy when all is well and the depth of despair when things go wrong," he concluded.

His parents are Mrs. Mary Lou Barlow and the late Kenneth Barlow. He has one sister, Jennie, who is a student at Lambuth College.

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