Lifelong Learning Teacher Explains ‘Phenomenological Psychology’ | New


THOMPSONVILLE – The hundred-year-old eyes and one day of Beatrice Brenton glowed with enthusiastic communication.

Finally, she had diverted the discussion from a subject that was dear to her: phenomenological psychology.

Despite his blindness, muffled hearing, worn knees and other ailments often associated with a person who achieved centennial status, and despite having lived through 17 presidents, the Great Depression, the Big Band era, the Second World War. world, the space race and a technological revolution of the World Wide Web – the latter which appeals to her very much – the longtime educator was doing the natural thing: she was teaching.

“In phenomenological psychology,” Beatrice explained, her hands clasped in front of her, “you work from the inside; you are trying to make “you” understand what is right and what is wrong intrinsically, rather than outwardly. “

And so the conversation continued, the soft-spoken but confident educator who lives in the shadow of Crystal Mountain spoke of her beliefs rooted in both science and spirituality, of her love. longtime for dark chocolate, meditation, reading and exercising his mind. , body and soul, every day.

“I meditate, every day,” she said. “I sit with my eyes closed, thinking – analyzing – to be thankful for this and that. I look at different things in different ways. If you want to know things – if you want to progress – you have to think about them, you have to have good thoughts, you have to have ideas, you have to have feelings.

“You have to have a direction that you are meditating on, you have to keep focusing and focusing on whatever you are trying to meditate on. “

Physical exercise also remains a priority for Béatrice.

“(Her) morning routine could be most impressive,” said her son, Michael Brenton. “She has degenerated rotator cuffs and bone-to-bone knees, but she’s not discouraged.

“Every morning, she starts with about 30 minutes of exercise and stretching while still in bed. Then she tries to walk at least 2 miles, sometimes more, using a walker, and either my sister or I – mainly my sister (Kathy), who is her rock – as a guide.

“After she gets home, she uses exercise bands and dumbbells to work on things that can still be worked out,” he said. “She has… biceps like hard balls.”

With the lively, overflowing mind of an inviting personality, if you ask Beatrice a question, ie “what is the ‘phenomenological psychology’ you just mentioned?” – you get a well-thought-out response delivered in an educated and articulate manner.

“She loves to devour books on nutrition, dietetics, medicine, anatomy, physiology, psychology, sociology and National Geographic,” said her daughter, Kathy Wilson. “All the people who did the nature shows, she recorded them all. We were able to adopt humpback whales because she had all the information about humpback whales – their migration from Hawaii to Alaska. And “Michigan on the outside? I remember it was one of our favorite TV shows we watched.

Her family recently gathered in Traverse City to celebrate Beatrice’s 100th birthday.

“Despite her failing body, her doctor tells her that she is one of his healthier patients,” her son said. “She retained a mental acuity and the ability to engage in detailed conversation, tempered by her hearing difficulty. If I mistakenly use an incorrect pronoun, it gently reminds me of the correct pronoun.

“More than once I have heard her say, ‘If I had known I would live this long, I never would have retired so soon.’ What continues to be remarkable is the way she continues to live her life, 35 years after her retirement. “

To follow the educational routes that Beatrice walked, a person may need an atlas two inches thick.

Beatrice skipped third grade and graduated from high school at 16, second in her class, only because her older sister was first. She went to college early at what was then the Stout Institute, and obtained a teaching certificate and diploma in dietetics. She then embarked on a career as a teacher at a public school, which included teaching in the Upper Peninsula.

She also got a job at Houghton Lake Public Schools, as a junior high science teacher, teaching children in a number of ways.

“During those years, it was my mom who taught me, as an elementary and junior high school student, to snow ski, water ski, deer hunting and to drive. a ski boat, ”said Michael. “And she bought all the Hardy Boys books that I could read. She had the joy of living and learning. And she didn’t mind driving me to the Grayling ski areas and then coming back at the end of the day.

In 1958, Beatrice and her husband, Laurence, left Wisconsin because the latter was appointed pastor of an episcopal church in Houghton Lake. He died five years later.

After the death of her husband in 1963, Béatrice raised her two daughters and her son on her own.

“She decided to do what she could to give us a better life,” said Michael. “In 1966 we moved to East Lansing (and) at 45, mum enrolled at MSU (Michigan State University) and in less than three years graduated with a masters and doctorate degree and then continued to work on postgraduate certification as an educational psychologist Graduate graduation led to a career as a professor in the Western Michigan Department of Education.

In 1969 and during an uncertain period in the field of higher education, said his son, his mother was made redundant.

“There was one thing she could do to avoid the layoff, (and that) was to teach a class that no one else was willing to teach – top-level research statistics,” he said. he declared. “She accepted the challenge and in three months she had learned enough to teach the class. After a career as a teacher, she retired, but continued to work as a school psychologist for a middle school district.

Beatrice has also taught history, science in college, physics in high school, chemistry, biology, home economics, conservation, and algebra.

She was born in a house on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin.

“I listened to a lot of radio and then the TV came on,” Beatrice said. “I just listened to what was going on. One of the things I really liked about radio was the music, the Big Bands. I used to go to the various Big Bands (concerts) when they were playing in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul-Minneapolis. I would go dancing.

She was very physically active and enjoyed exercising, swimming, water skiing, downhill skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, boating, fishing and deer hunting within 3 hours of the day. morning.

Today, with the help of her high-tech magnifying glass that she calls “Merlin”, Béatrice is able to pursue the hobby that she loves so much: reading.

“I can’t read unless I’m with Merlin,” she said. “I like to read non-fiction. I don’t find anything boring, it’s factual. I love science and I love nature. Frankly, I like to read philosophy and psychology, these are my favorites.

For a person with near zero eyesight, Beatrice percolates with the type of insight, and all the while she’s at peace.

“To find peace, you have to believe that God is in you,” said Beatrice, who has four grandchildren and a step-grandchild. “You must believe that God is guiding your thoughts and actions. You have to stay aligned with God. You have to believe that God is everywhere.

As Beatrice began to pull on a rubber band and explain her stretching exercises, her nearby daughter smiled.

“She’s been a teacher her whole life,” said Kathy.


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