Monday, May 01, 2006

The Game

I'm sitting with the guidance counselor facing six young troublemakers and I realize that I have now become the great oppressor. I'm threatening kids with the prom.

"School is a game just like anything else," I'm telling them, "and at this point in the year, you know the rules. Do you know the rules? Yes, you do. Well, now it's play or get played, kids. So if you don't want to go to your 8th grade prom, then, please, keep acting like fools and sit back and watch us play you."

I almost quit my job today. For the first time all year, the thought crossed my mind that I could just walk out of my classroom (driven to near bedlam by my request that they read a "whack" book about the civil rights movement) and never come back again.

But I didn't. Instead, I taught 7th grade in the afternoon, and gave a big speech about why it's important to learn grammar. And - miracle - one usually diffident kid was nodding when I told them that my allowing them to go to 8th grade without knowing proper grammar would be like a basketball coach sending them out to play without ever having taught them the rules of the game. You could be a great athlete and still fail under those circumstances.

"Would that make me a good coach? No, it wouldn't. And if I didn't teach you the rules of writing, I wouldn't be a good teacher either. So, do this worksheet on nouns."

Tomorrow is another day.


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