Where do old wives remedies come from?

The book “Same Kind of Different as Me” mentions a Cow Tea that the youngster was forced to drink when he was ill. It’s made from lipton tea and ground up cow patty. Where did the idea for cow patties being healthy come from? I wonder who was like “hey, let me grind this up, and drink it and I won’t be sick.” What the what? There probably are probiotic type bacterias in that…. but really, I want to know where old wives remedies came from.

Indians chewed on willow bark <- has main ingredient of asprin
Egyptians used honey on wounds <-sterilizing, and kept other bacteria out
Native Americans also peed on dandelion roots for a pregnancy test
I’m not remembering any other examples right now. But I know there are many.

Where did this knowledge come from? And, why do we view it as primitive if it takes centuries to get the science to back it?


Yesterday evening, at a party of sorts, a teacher mentioned how much education is a corporation that is run by the government. I tried to dig a little deeper for what exactly this implies, and her two big points were that measuring education puts a damper on learning. It makes sense, right? There is a lot of synthesis before a topic is mastered, so if, for record keeping reasons, you need to know that students have mastered a topic, you have to pick an arbitrary day and check to see which students are “on track.” That day gets in the way of people who are not yet understanding b/c it takes time away from explanation. Also [from another reading] we know that this creates a fear based learning environment, which we know is less effective.

The second point didn’t make as much sense to me. Her idea was that taking a break doesn’t help learning. Half of my students return from summer with a passion for learning revived. The year of school is hard, and often stamps out the desire to figure things out (or work in general). 

She used the example of forgetting how to play the piano. I’ve done a lot of research on the topic, and students who truly learn a song before age 10 are supposed to have the song for life. True, with the way music was taught a long time ago, most people have forgotten what they learned. And, this is very sad. But, music was taught in a VERY inefficient way back then. And, I think there are some VERY inefficient things going on in education today. The whole idea of forgetting what was “learned” made me think about French. I LOVE French. I studied it for two years in high school, and one semester in college, and I speak it today. I have met countless people who studied Spanish or Italian or French in school that don’t remember more than how to say hello. I’ve forgotten tons of grammar stuff too, but I speak the language b/c I love it. Maybe I was “tutoring” myself back then. Maybe that’s why I remember the language. But, what I remember about the language is how to use it… I have to stop and think REALLY hard if I’m going to pull up a grammar fact. But, I don’t need grammar facts to use a language. I need to know how to use a language.

I’m grateful mumsie had that view of learning, and I’m grateful she did what she did to give us the freedom to learn this way. 

Another interesting thought from that evening was the group reaction to hearing how we used to put on shakespeare plays for fun. Before last night, it had never occurred to me that that was not normal child’s play. And, it made sense, I’m forever being told that I think differently. In highschool, it was in a sarcastic, joking tone, in college, it was said with distance, now I hear it from the parents of the students I teach, and it is said as an accolade. But, it makes sense, I DO think differently. I hold onto the thoughts I love, I enjoy ideas. I don’t enjoy mindless conversation so much. The things that I have to have in common with people are a love of the French language, a love of science, a love for the essence of music, and a love for dance. I don’t know many people with those loves.

This post started as a post about education. Apparently, I needed to crystalize some thoughts on why I view teaching and learning the way I do. 


So in the musings of commitment, honor seems to follow right behind. We honor commitments by sticking to them. When we agree to something in our heart in the first place, we are, in a sense, giving it a place of honor. When we agree to something, we decide it’s worth our time…