Hoops

Prompt: School


Hello Wednesday,

Do you find sometimes that the most valuable lessons you learned were in primary and elementary school? I mean actual academics, not lessons about sharing and communication, since I’m not sure I learned anything of great value about life in any stage of school.

But addition and multiplication tables— all that repetition mostly stuck. And cursive handwriting— once out of fashion but now sneaking back into curricula— and all the practices hoops and lines, page after page.  It comes in handy— it’s like a kind of speedwriting when compared to printing, and is simpler and more personal than keyboarding. I’m not forgetting spelling and reading, though I think it’s often true that we learn our love of reading despite early school lessons, unless the methods and resources have changed. Have they?

I honestly don’t remember early school as a series of life lessons. I was already familiar with bullies of all ages. Sure, I had to share during recess, but I’d already learned that at home with three brothers and sisters, though it’s also one of the earliest playground lessons, if you don’t want to get beat up. The conning of teachers was an early learned skill; I used to play the “cute” card a lot as a wee girl, while not even knowing what “manipulation” meant. One thing that was drilled into me was obedience to authority, and that was a lesson that did not serve me well as I matured. It allowed me to abandon responsibilities, turn away from injustice, and accept the unacceptable.

School was never, sadly, a bright glorious light for me, even though as a typical young child I professed to “love” school and adore my teachers. It was a more a part of an inescapable routine, frequently boring, sometimes enlightening, less frequently stimulating and challenging. And of course, it kept us off the street, where we might get up to thieving and pillaging.

I think in general schools have changed for the better (at least in where I live), but I would like to know more. I have teacher friends— I suppose it’s time I hauled them in for an interrogation. I never learned how to interrogate in school… but neither did they.

On the topic of “school”, may I now present a few of my favourite cartoons loosely related?

cartoon summer vacation

cartoon math blackboard

cartoon teacher money


Peace, fuzz, and uniform hoops,

~~FP

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Teach a man to yodel

Prompt: Taught


Dear Wednesday,

Memorable teachers I have known:

Miss Howard: My grade one teacher was a kindly old woman (was she really old, I wonder? I remember her as grandmotherly). See Spot run. Look, baby, look! A good introduction to school for a sensitive little boo like me. My younger brother and sister were not so lucky.

Miss McGillvray: My second and third grade teacher was young and pleasant; liked kids and loved her job. She had freckles.

Miss Ferguson: My fourth, fifth and sixth grade teacher was a gem. Pushed us hard because she knew we could excel. I learned to write essays (yes, essays) in her class, a skill I needed and used in university. She once rapped my knuckles with a ruler for passing notes. She saw me as a feverish loony when she made a house visit when I was off school for three weeks because of strep throat. I missed my stage debut as Mrs Flintstone in the Christmas play because of this illness, which probably dashed my future career as an actress.

Mr Fraser: A prankster. It was fun to have a teacher with a sense of humour— also got my sense of humour.

Miss Connor: The one who called me a dim bulb, and failed a story I wrote because she didn’t know what a “gremlin” was. No, I still hold a grudge.

Miss McIntyre: Never was a teacher more well-intended but more boring. I used to pray for nuclear war to put an end to the mental paralysis caused by the topic “portage”.

Miss Campbell: Miss McIntyre after 30 years a teacher and thoroughly bored (and still boring).

Mr Cummings: a young teacher who somehow got me through Math class, which I took by mistake since I was hopeless and disinterested, and congratulated me after graduation at a basketball game for passing the final exam, when I was embarrassingly high as a kite and just grinned and drooled silently like a maniac.

Mr Creep: Several of my post high-school teachers fit this mold. Yep, creepy comments, asking me out, penalizing my work if when I didn’t cooperate, downright sexual harassment. One of these was expelled by the University of British Columbia because of me. Well, not me directly. My mother and a few other parents petitioned the Dean of Women after hearing a few of the stories, which I told as if they were jokes. She didn’t tell me this for 10 years.

The teacher who told me every single word matters hugely in a poem you are writing, and every single stroke counts mightily in a picture you are drawing.

And may I now present several of my favourite cartoons, some tenuously related to today’s prompt, “taught”?

cartoon janitor conference

cartoon give a fish

cartoon viii skater


Peace, love, and early season cherries,

~~FP

Think of the Ways [Repost]

Prompt: School

child poster pollution

Yes, children: Help the world. Think of the ways. Walk more. Don’t litter. Plant a tree. Recycle your pop cans. If you don’t, everything will die and we will all choke to death. Including puppies.

Something about the way we teach ecology to children rankles. They can be worked into a frenzy over juice boxes. Taught to fear asphyxiation if parents idle their cars beside the school waiting for the final bell. Are willing to pick a square of cellophane out of a garbage bin for the sake of recycling.

Why so much pressure on the kids, when the greater reasons for life-threatening, world-ending pollution rest in the hands of the polluters and the politicians who enable and bless them?

Certainly every little bit helps. It is important to recycle, to value trees and plants, to be aware that small changes add up.

But I don’t remember, as a child, being unable to sleep because the glaciers are melting, or having a panic attack when a juice box ends up in the trash can. Guilt and hopelessness make us panic and give us insomnia. Let’s stop loading the responsibility for a clean future, if we have a future, on six year olds.

Let’s teach them a little bit about ethics and civics. Give them relevant information that allows them to assess choices in the products they use. Let them understand the power of the consumer and of the vote and, yes, even of peaceful resistance.

Children aren’t stupid. I’ve worked with children and they constantly floored me with their wisdom and common sense. Let’s arm these children, sensibly and without terror, with the tools they need to face a real crisis and transform a future that is not as bright as it should be, or as bright as they deserve.


Original Prompt: Atmospheric, November 18, 2017

Dear Ms Roades

Prompt: Overworked

side-eye-classical-art

Dear Ms Roades,

Please excuse Todd’s absence from school yesterday, as he was suffering from diagnosable exhaustion. It had nothing to do with the police, his conflicts at home, or anything other than his devotion to completing his school assignments with promptness and competence. I would appreciate your sensitivity in this matter and hope you will leave us to attend to our own issues without your interference.

Sincerely,
Mrs. A. Caper