Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

Featuring articles written by Crane Staffulty

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I have Learned and been Happy
Pat Bixler

“The best thing,” said Merlin, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics.  There is only one thing for it then – to learn. ”

I grew up in the Midwest--Kansas--until fourth grade, then Oklahoma through my high school years. From about fifth grade on, a big influence on me was Jacques Cousteau...

“The best thing,” said Merlin, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics.  There is only one thing for it then – to learn. ”

I grew up in the Midwest--Kansas--until fourth grade, then Oklahoma through my high school years. From about fifth grade on, a big influence on me was Jacques Cousteau.  I remember his television programs where he’d explore the oceans in his research vessel, The Calypso, and actually go underwater for extended periods using his aqualung. I never even saw the ocean until I was twelve. That was in Galveston, Texas, where our family vacationed in a ramshackle cabin built on stilts. We caught big slippery catfish with my dad along a muddy inlet. The pointy dorsal spine of one stabbed my little brother when he first grabbed it. I remember he bled all over the place and howled like a coyote.

My love of the ocean continued in college and sustained me through graduate school. I studied marine biology and oceanography at the University of Oregon and at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. I studied a particular seagrass called Eelgrass that grows in rich coastal mudflats. Upon finishing a master’s degree from Humboldt State, I was hired at the Catalina Island Marine Institute, a teaching stint that gave me invaluable experience working with kids in the field and sea, and it was here I discovered that I had a knack for teaching and working with young people. By sheer luck, I met a delightful group of students from Crane that eventually led me to being hired as a science teacher. This was in the early 1980’s — the rest, as they say, has been history.

After 36 years of teaching at Crane School, I am (gulp) retiring. 

At the end of his long and lofty discourse, Merlin said to the young and future King Arthur, “Do you think you have learned anything?” To which Arthur replied, “I have learned and been happy.” 

Like Arthur, I too have learned and been happy in a modern-day Camelot we call Crane.

Pat Bixler
Upper School Science Teacher

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