A Raisin of Serendipitous Learning

When she told me NOT to throw away the moldy orange, I questioned her sanity.

Why in the world would we want to keep this tainted fruit within arms reach of four-year-old children? And why would I, the 24 year-old teacher with a degree in Early Childhood, listen to my 56 year-old assistant teacher with no formal education?



“Because,” she’d said, “It is a learning experience, a teachable moment. It’s science.

I was awestruck.

That is why “Vivian” and I worked so well together. I taught her how to implement bias-free education in our classroom. She taught me that hoarding can lead to serendipitous learning and creativity.

Today, over 20 years later and still a hoarder, I was reminded of my friend, Vivian, when I cleaned out the trunk of my car. Behind the boxing bag, a ton of smelly hand wraps, and a couple of sweaters, I found something which must have fallen out of my grocery bag months ago.

I’ll give you a hint. They used to be grapes. But now …


I hear Vivian’s voice in my head saying, “Don’t throw it away! Show your grandchildren.”

And so, I will.

Wherever you are today, Vivian, THANK YOU for one of many teachable moments!



photo credit




Published by

Carolyn Dennis-Willingham

Carolyn is the author of two published books – No Hill for a Stepper, 2001, and The Last Bordello, 2016. Her third novel, The Moonshine Thicket, is set in 1928 and is currently enduring a professional edit. When not on her laptop, she serves as a lap top for her grandchildren. She is a retired Early Childhood Specialist, a fitness boxer, artist, and a ball thrower for her ever-persistent mini Aussie. In addition to her blogging website, carolyndenniswillingham.com, you may find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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