Lemon-Scented Bivouac  

Fatherly and, eventually, teacherly blather. Also: graphic design, baseball, synthetic fabrics, jug band music and, lord help us, the occasional politics.

Thursday, October 23, 2003  

Notes from my school observations:
-- I was told today that I am the "King of Kicking." This came after I was supervising recess and, inadvisably, was goaded into drop-kicking a playground ball over the art portable, over the music portable, and into an unused playground.

-- I watched the class at music today, sitting in a circle and singing along to a CD about "Best Friends." Halfway through the song, the students began putting their arms around each other and, without any prompting or even approval, they started swaying back and forth, so that the whole circle swayed in a giant ripple. After a very brief time, the music teacher yelled: "HANDS IN YOUR LAPS!"

-- I walked past a classroom of 20 students looking at an overhead and, in a chair that clearly had been separated from the rest of the class by a good 20 feet, one brown-skinned boy who was sitting alone. Obviously, this was Time Out. He caught my eye and gave me the look that most of us imagine the animals at the pound are giving us when we visit. As a sort of backwards echo, I heard what I was supposed to say in response: You are a very Bad Boy.

-- I think something is very wrong with our schools, and I'm at a good school. Schools may be a place where insane adults prepare children for adult insanity.

  posted by Andy @ 4:41 PM §

Wednesday, October 22, 2003  

Sheesh. How many professions are there in which the people for whom you work every day stand a small-but-important chance of being entirely against you?

-- commission salesman
-- debt collector
-- IRS auditor
-- policeman
-- public school teacher

The last is the most personal: A kid can tell you "no," smile at you, head-butt another kid "accidentally," smile, stop smiling, tell you "I don't have to listen to you," etc. The adult world has an implied loop that if you work very hard for someone that they carry a minimal debt of gratitude for that work. Young students don't carry that debt at all -- they just see you as a fact of nature, and the lessons as existing with or without you.

Part of my teacher training is going to amount to erasing my ego. If I can do it, that will be worth doing. It doesn't help, at the moment, to have come bursting out of a program that asks us to examine, in endless detail, the teacher's contribution to the classroom. Better to get it outside of myself, I think.

And yesterday, a student came up to me at the end of art class and said: "Mr. James, what does turtle eat?"

  posted by Andy @ 7:15 AM §

Monday, October 20, 2003  

Two post-its I found on the floor of a 3rd-grade classroom today:

  posted by Andy @ 9:07 PM §

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