Tuesday, September 30, 2008

i slack off and inadvertantly stumble into genius

sometimes things come to us from on high. and when i say "on high" i do not mean a high power. i mean The Bureaucracy. we were told last year that we had to do one program a month about health. typically my assistant and i will put "health works" on the calendar and then hope to come up with an idea later. often this idea originates minutes before the program begins (like my healthy snack bingo game! oh how i love turning facts into bingo!) anyway, today we were supposed to do health works but my assistant and i looked at each other and without saying anything we mutually decided we would not be doing health works this afternoon.

instead we decided to do a program one of the kids came up with, called "poem day." now, i have the kids write poems all the time, so i was unsure how poem day would be different. but at the last moment i had a stroke of brilliance and i decided i would get some poem books and talk about them.

so i discussed shel silverstein, jack prelutsky, the graphic novel version of "casey at the bat," and langston hughes. i saved langston hughes for last, figuring i would read "i, too" for some wow factor that would get them inspired to write their own poems.

but first i decided on a whim to talk about what was going on in america during langston hughes life. so then we get into a discussion about the civil rights movement. now, they have their martin luther king and rosa parks facts memorized, but you ask them what the civil rights movement was about and they have no idea. so i told them about segregation and blacks being kept from the polls, and freedom fighters and people being hosed, et cetera et cetera.

after reading the poem, we went through several meaningful lines and i asked the kids what they thought these lines meant. and the kids came up with some pretty thoughtful answers. but it was at this time that my assistant and i realized that the kids have no idea about history and the chronological order which history took place in. several times i had to explain to one girl that the civil rights movement was in the 1960s and that the revolutionary war was in the 1770s. i mean, c'mon now. i'm no history buff. not by a long shot. but i think a child should be able to tell the difference between 1960 and 1770. do i ask too much?

so i made a timeline of the history of the united states, putting in such important dates as the end of slavery, the abolotionist movements, martin luther king jr. being shot, the first 4th of july, the birthdays of me and my assistant, etc etc.

the whole thing was pretty damned awesome. what was most awesome is that they actually listened to me and possibly even retained some of what i said. for a fleeting second i thought about joining the ranks of my enemies and becoming a teacher. but i immediately thought better of it. i could never wake up that early.

so after our lesson kid who hates hoboes asked me, "hey miss dewey decimal, how do you know so much stuff?"
and to this i felt the honest answer was best, "i'll be perfectly honest with you, kid who hates hoboes. i didn't like school much. but i like being smart. so i paid attention enough to learn the things that i thought were important and i went to college and then i got to learn lots of stuff. and now i am the very smart person you see before you."

and the kids oooohed and aaaahed at how i, a normal young slacker type white girl from the suburbs, had transformed into the super crafty smart gal they all know and love.


*Bitch Cakes* said...

"I could never wake up that early"- hilarious!!!

You may not technically be a teacher, but you ARE teaching these kids! So you are a teacher! A modern day unsung super hero - that's what you are.

Miss Dewey Decimal said...

funny you should mention my Unsung Super Hero status ... i actually have a cape fitting later today.

Peonys said...

Your method of teaching sounds a lot more ffun than what they get at school, for sure. They then - probabl y retain lots more.