Thursday, April 30, 2009
SCENE 1, INTERIOR. AFTERNOON, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The school day is over. The clock above the dry-erase board reads 4:15. An 11 year-old boy and his teacher sit in a classroom. The boy has just finished his writing and is now starting on his Math homework. He pauses after a few minutes of working on his area and perimeter assignment. He then starts to work again. After a minute he stops. This goes on for a few minutes. Finally, the boy speaks].
JOEY: Mr. Z?
[The boy looks at his paper for a moment and then back at his teacher].
JOEY: Did you know that there’s only about five weeks left of school?
TEACHER: That’s what the office staff keeps telling me.
JOEY: Well, I was thinking about that last night; I couldn’t sleep.
TEACHER: So, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
[The teacher pauses in grading and looks at the boy who is gazing intently at him].
JOEY: I’m gonna say something; I can’t believe I’m going to say it either.
TEACHER: Well, maybe you’d better not tell me then, some things are better left unsaid.
JOEY: Yeah. [Pause]. Well, I’m going to say it anyway. You know, this is the first year I’ve ever had a teacher like you.
TEACHER: Well, I certainly hope so. I’d hate to think that there were two teachers as good-looking as me running around.
[The boy laughs for a moment and then becomes sober again].
JOEY: No, seriously. You’re the first teacher I’ve ever had that I’ve ever been able to…well…connect with. The others just didn’t…well, they didn’t understand me.
[The boy stops and remains silent. A beat or two passes. His teacher stops his correcting and looks at the boy who is still staring back intently at him].
JOEY: You’re more than a teacher to me, Mr. Z. You’re almost like a friend, too…a really good friend. I’m glad that you’ll still be here next year so that I can still come and visit you when I’m in the sixth grade.
[The teacher sits speechless for a moment, and then speaks to the boy].
TEACHER: Thanks, Joey. Just remember though, I’m your teacher first, and then your friend. You still have to do your homework, too.
JOEY: That’s okay, Mr. Z. I just wanted you to know.
[Fade to black].
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
We all have dreams.
We have aspirations and things we wish to accomplish before our limited time on this earth has reached its conclusion; things to see finished before the curtain is drawn on the final act of our lives.
I know that I do.
Whatever the dream, don’t let it die.
It’s a little bit funny, I remember as a kid thinking that world was entirely at my disposal; a very large place which was just waiting to be explored and discovered.
You know what though?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
SCENE 1, INTERIOR. FRIDAY AFTERNOON, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The school day has ended. All of the students have left for the day. A teacher and a fifth-grade boy sit at the back table. The teacher is entering grades as the boy is finishing up his math assignment. From time to time the boy asks questions about how to do certain problems. Before long, the boy is finished and looks expectantly at his teacher.
JOEY: I’m finished with my Math homework.
TEACHER: Good job. Now, what about your journal entry?
[Joey shakes his head and takes out a blank piece of paper. He stares at it for nearly a minute.]
JOEY: [Mutters in a low voice to the paper]. I hate journal entries. [Pauses, still looking at the paper].
TEACHER: The sooner you get it done, the better you’ll feel.
[Joey glances up for a moment, sighs, and stares back at the paper].
TEACHER: Remember what I told you before? If you had a big dinner to eat: lasagna, a roll, mashed potatoes, milk, green beans, and piece of chocolate cake—and you had to eat everything—what would you eat first?
JOEY: The chocolate cake.
TEACHER: Ah…but if you ate the chocolate cake first, you wouldn’t have it to enjoy later on.
[Joey sits up a bit straighter and smiles].
JOEY: I’d eat the cake first, the lasagna next, then I’d eat the potatoes, eat the roll, and then drink the milk.
TEACHER: But then all you’d have left to enjoy after that is the green beans. Would you like that taste in your mouth to finish it all up?
[Joey pauses and glances at the ceiling. He drops his gaze and leans in close].
JOEY: But what if I die?
TEACHER: What do you mean, ‘what if I die?’
JOEY: You know…what if I died? I mean, if I did then I’d have already eaten the good stuff. I wouldn’t want to die after eating green beans. [Shudders].
TEACHER: And what if you don’t die? You’d still have the green beans to eat at the end. [Pauses]. If you get the stuff you don’t like out of the way first, you’ll have the good stuff to enjoy later. Like the food; if you do the homework, chores, or whatever it is you don’t like the most first, you get it over with and then have the ‘good stuff’ to look forward to.
[Joey looks from his teacher down to his mathematics textbook which is closed on the table].
JOEY: I love math.
TEACHER: I know, but you already did it. Now what do you have to do?
[Joey stares at the blank paper again and then at the ceiling].
JOEY: What I hate about journal entries is that they’re hard to write. [The teacher says nothing and the boy continues his thought]. I can’t ever think of ideas; I just sit there for a long time…then I just start thinking of other things.
TEACHER: Other things?
JOEY: Yeah. When I’m at my desk, I think of what to write and before I know it, my thoughts just fly away…like bugs flying over a dead animal.
TEACHER: So write about writing. [The boy looks puzzled, so the teacher continues]. Write a journal entry about how hard it is to write a journal entry…Like this: ‘I hate writing journal entries. They are so hard for me to write. I sit there for a long time and I find myself thinking about other things. When I sit at my desk, I think of what to write and my thoughts just fly away…’
JOEY: Like bugs flying over a dead animal.
JOEY: So I can just write about not liking writing?
TEACHER: Yep. Just write what you were telling me; after all writing is just talking on paper.
[Joey begins to write and is talking aloud as he does so. He writes his first paragraph rather laboriously. He pauses to examine what he’s written. Soon it is time for him to go].
SCENE 2, INTERIOR. MONDAY MORNING, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The school day has not yet begun. The teacher is getting ready before the bell rings. As he is writing the vocabulary exercises on the board for the morning, the door opens and in walks one of his students. It is Joey. He is smiling as broadly as the Cheshire Cat. He stands in the doorway and then marches up to his teacher. He thrusts a notebook into his teacher’s hands.
TEACHER: What’s this?
JOEY: My journal entry.
TEACHER: [Surprised] You finished it?
TEACHER: Good job, Joey, I’m proud of you.
JOEY: It took me three whole days to finish!
TEACHER: Three whole days?
JOEY: Yep! Just like I said here at the end. [Points to the end of the paper]. I worked on it on Friday, Sunday, and I finished it this morning.
TEACHER: Wow, three whole days?
JOEY: Yeah [Laughs]. Mostly because I kept putting it off. I kept sitting on my bed writing…well, trying to write. Mostly I just looked at the sheet of paper.
TEACHER: How many times did you rewrite your name on the top?
JOEY: Two…or three. I wanted it to look really good.
TEACHER: I’m impressed. I can read whose it is.
[Joey smiles and begins to dance from foot to foot].
JOEY: Are you gonna read it?
TEACHER: In a few minutes…
JOEY: I made a lot of mistakes, but I caught myself too…I was like, ‘nooooooooooo’ [makes swooshing sound]. I realized that I didn’t need that little thingy.
TEACHER: Which thingy?
JOEY: The curvy thingy above words.
TEACHER: The apostrophe?
JOEY: Yeah, that thingy. Then I was like, ‘I need a capital here, and I need a period there…and I crossed off that right there [points to a section of the paper] and that should be capitalized but I forgot. Then I also spelled ‘correcting’ wrong—along with a few other words.
TEACHER: How’d you know they were misspelled?
JOEY: They looked weird…but when I tried to fix some of the words they looked even weirder.
TEACHER: What could you have done to find the right words?
JOEY: Uh…looked it up in the dictionary?
[Joey pauses and cocks his head to one side, thinking. After a moment or two of silence he asks:].
JOEY: Would a law dictionary have worked? That’s the only one we had in the house.
TEACHER: Probably not. Wait, a law dictionary? You planning on becoming a lawyer?
JOEY: Maybe….so, you going to read it?
[The teacher commences reading with the boy proudly looking on].
jurnul entre by
I hate jurnul entres, they’re hard to write. When I am at my desk sitting there, my thoughts fly like kids runing to cake.
Did you know that I had to forc myself to writ this paper? Thats how much I hate jurnul entres. I would rather buy a whip and beat myself half to death than write this jurnul entry. But I have to do it.
This jurnul entre is about how bad and scrambled I am at writting jurnul entres. Im serious, I forget commas, capitalzation, and I spell stuff rong all the time. My ideas our all over the place, like Im talking about dogs for the next two lines then somehow I’m talking about space. That’s how scrambled my ideas are.
It took me three days to write this and it s only this whole page Seriously it’s sort of hard. I’m tring to get this in before mr Z is done corecting them. He say, “It’s a real hassul.” So I’m going to finish it. And I did.
TEACHER: Three whole days?
JOEY: Yep! Just like I said at the end...and I didn’t even die.
TEACHER: Well, hooray for green beans.
Fade to black.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I usually don’t shoot black and white, but I do on occasion. I’m glad that I did on this trip. I will post a few other shots in a day or two once I’ve had a chance to go through them. There is a post I feel inclined to write with which to accompany them, and tonight I do not wish to take the time to do so. I instead will grace my underground theatre with my exclusive attention and will indulge myself in cinematic bliss.
Until then, Anon.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Last weekend I went to the kite festival in St. George. I’d never attended this event before; it was a nice little digression while on my latest trip. However, it was not quite what I had anticipated. There were far more kites littering the ground than those ascending to the skies; however, even these were not a few.
I stayed for just a little while; it felt odd when I was kiteless at such a gala. Of course, I could have purchased a kite there, but when I already had two kites at home, this made a purchase of this type especially pointless, particularly when most of the kites there were of the Hannah Montana and Transformers variety.
A few days after, I had a friend whom I took a few shots of her son with a kite as well; I added these into the montage. As she and I talked, she made a comment which got me to thinking. It was this thinking which brought on the following:
Like kites pull at their strings
Slowly they will rise.
Golden summers will end
And like one another
in a flurry of brilliant color
Will one day fly away.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
It rained today.
Have I mentioned that I love the rain?
Today was a downpour.
This was wonderful; however, I did have a shoot scheduled for this afternoon. Luckily, the boys involved loved the precipitation and the serious drenching waited until we were finished.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
TEACHER: Music is powerful. It has a way of opening up a conduit—or pathway—of time, allowing a person to remember memories from when they first heard it.
BOY 1: Like when a song is used in a movie?
TEACHER: Exactly. The next time you hear that song, what do you think of?
CLASS: (in unison) The movie.
TEACHER: That’s right, because music can speak to us in a way that not many other things can. When a character in a book loves a particular song, we will often associate that song with the character.
BOY 2: Like in the book, The Watsons go to
TEACHER: Exactly! In the story, what is Kenny’s favorite song?
BOY 2: “Yakkity-Yak.”
TEACHER: And what do you think of when you hear that song?
BOY 2: Kenny.
TEACHER: Music can do that for us. In fact one day you’ll be sitting in your car, your own kids will be screaming in the backseat, as you fumble with the radio you’ll come across a station playing “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac. Even as you sit there, you’ll be transported back through the years. You’ll find yourself sitting in this classroom for just a brief second; you’ll see all of us gathered together singing to the guitar. It’s at that point that you’ll start to wonder, ‘Did Lance become a lawyer after all?’ ‘Did Bree and Andrew get married?’ You’ll even wonder, ‘Hey…is Mr. Z even still alive anymore?’
JOEY: And is he still as good-looking as when he was my teacher?
[The class bursts into laughter. The teacher, not having lost composure, brings the class back to order and then turns to face Joey].
TEACHER: We can only hope…
[Fade to black].
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The television was channeled to PBS; Wordgirl was the program starting.
The man next to me shifted in his seat.
“My appointment was supposed to be thirty minutes ago…the receptionist keeps the doctor’s schedules busy so the doctor’s time isn’t wasted. I guess their time is much more valuable than mine,” He grunted.
I smiled. “They asked me to come in early.”
“Whatever happened to the days of Roadrunner?” he grumbled, waving offhandedly at the television.
“What’s with all of this trying to shove education down kids’ throats with everything they watch?”
I looked up from what I was writing, “It’s better than some of the garbage they have on Cartoon Network—a lot of that is just mindless drivel.”
The man looked again at the TV set. “Yeah, I guess so…but Wordgirl?”
Little did he know that he was barking up the wrong tree; after all I am a teacher. “I think it’s great that kids can not only be entertained, but can learn at the same time.”
The man’s eyes roved about the room for a few moments, searching for the remote control. “But shows like Rocky & Bullwinkle; now that’s a show.”
I admitted that I’d not even seen the movie which had come out a few years ago.
“It surpassed my expectations!” he proclaimed. “It was really great. Of course, with my kids grown, I had to go see it by myself…” He paused. “You got any kids?”
“I have 28 of them.”
His eyebrows shot up.
“I’m a polygamist,” I returned to writing.
There was a long pause. “Well,” he finally said, “…that’s great.”
I waited for the uncomfortable silence to come to full gestation; I then looked up from the paper I was writing
“Just kidding, I’m a teacher.”
The man gave a low laugh and blew out a breath. “You know, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, now that’s what I call a show…”
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
They were not the most beautiful or majestic of birds.
But they could fly
No matter what they looked like on the outside, they had within them the capacity to take to the air, and leave the earth far below them; they enjoyed the glories their wings afforded them, just as any other bird
It was at this moment that I felt envious of these crows.
Yet, we have so much potential within us…more than we are aware of.
For some reason, we often only ‘see’ ourselves as how we believe others view us…how we are perceived. This is simply not the case. We have unlimited, untapped promise. We simply need to spread our wings and take it.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed.
Amidst trash-strewn yards, buildings in a state of general disrepair, and hordes of motorcycle gangs hanging about the local gas stations, there wasn’t a whole lot to be offered. At least not without getting your trash kicked by a group of biker-mamas and papas.
I was readying to depart from one particular little town I suspected was called “Nowhereville,” when I noticed three boys selling something up the street. I’d seen them earlier hauling their cardboard boxes and unknown items to the local gas station marquee sign and set up shop—they then sat down and started yelling, “Get your (insert indiscernible words) here!”
Wondering just what it was they were selling, I decided to make a purchase of whatever it was—after all, remember how I said I supported free enterprise?
I did a quick inventory of my cash status—after all—they probably wouldn’t be able to take a debit card.
I had one dollar.
It was perfect. I’d buy whatever they had for the quarter or fifty cents they were charging, and give the rest as a nice, fat, little tip, right?
I drove up to the small cluster of boys and asked, “So, what are you guys selling today?”
“Juice,” came the reply, with a half-smile.
“Sounds great, how much does a cup run a person?”
“For a whole cup or a half?” he promptly responded.
I guess that made it sound cheaper than charging a whole dollar. Still, my mind was reeling. A dollar? For a cup of juice—correction—half a cup of juice? Whatever happened to the days of asking for a quarter or fifty cents? I started to think, one more dollar and I could almost bought a gallon of gas. That would be 25 miles closer to home. Did I really still want to support childhood business endeavors at this rate? I’d already bought several items from students this year which I’d never use.
The boy brought me the half-filled cup—which was the equivalent to a ¾ measuring container—of pinkish liquid. I handed over the cash.
“Thanks, have a great day!” he responded.
I thanked the young man and drove off, taking a sip. The juice was good. A dollar good though? Probably not…however, like I said, times are tough on everyone. And really, what’s a dollar when one is supporting a moment of childhood?
Friday, April 17, 2009
The call of the desert is incessant.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
SCENE 1, EXTERIOR. AFTERNOON, SCHOOL CROSSING. The school day is over. A fifth-grade teacher is out on bus duty. The last of the students are leaving the grounds. A fifth-grade boy is sauntering along the sidewalk, when he reaches the teacher he stops and begins to shuffle from foot to foot. The teacher crosses the last set of students and begins to walk toward the building.
TEACHER: Hello, Joey. Aren’t you going home?
JOEY: I need some help with my homework.
TEACHER: You do?
JOEY: Yeah, I don’t understand some of the math stuff...
[The boy falls into step with his teacher as they both walk back to the classroom. As they stroll together, the boy motions to his backpack].
JOEY: You know what? If I were lost in the wilderness I could survive on everything I have in my backpack for a week.
TEACHER: You could?
JOEY: Yep. I’ve got two bags of popcorn and two bags of beef jerky.
TEACHER: And you could survive for a week just on that?
[The boy nods his head vigorously and suddenly stops as he remembers something].
JOEY: Well, Travis ate one of the bags of popcorn, and I ate the other one at lunch recess. And my mom ate the beef jerky last night.
TEACHER: So, just how could you survive on food you don’t have?
[The teacher opens the door of the school and the boy enters. They begin to walk down the hallway].
JOEY: I could always reeat it.
TEACHER: [Confused] What would reheating it do? You already ate it.
JOEY: No, Mr. Z. Not reheat it, reEAT it.
TEACHER: ReEAT? Well, I have no idea how you could manage something like that…
[The boy shrugs, grins sheepishly, and then makes a quiet retching sound].
JOEY: That way, it’d be warm, too…
SCENE 2, INTERIOR. AFTERNOON, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The fifth-grade boy and teacher are both seated at the back table with an open math book. The boy has already asked several questions about polygons. He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a pencil. He heaves it to the table with both hands making grunting noises as if it weighs hundreds of pounds.
JOEY: ….ugh…too …heavy…it’s…too…much…to…lift…ugh…
[The teacher lowers his head and covers his face slightly; not wanting to show the boy that he is laughing].
JOEY: Mr. Z? Are you crying?
[The teacher quickly composes himself and looks at the boy with a serious expression].
TEACHER: Just a little bit.
JOEY: Why were you crying?
TEACHER: Because I only get to be with you for two days this week; you know, spring break…
[The boy nods his head knowingly].
TEACHER: So, why is pi so important to a circle?
JOEY: Because most pies are circles? Well, that is until you cut into them; then they are just…yummy.
TEACHER: No, I’m talking about pi for a circle, Joey. The pi spelled P-I, not P-I-E.
JOEY: Like a cow pie? You know, cow pies are my favorite.
TEACHER: Why am I not surprised?
JOEY: But only when they’re fresh; that way they’re still moist and chewy…
TEACHER: They’re good with milk I hear.
JOEY: They are…just like chocolate muffins but bigger and flatter...
TEACHER: I’ll have to take your word on that.
JOEY: I love pi.
Fade to black.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Everyone around me was chanting the same thing—only I can’t remember what it was. They were all beckoning for me to do the same; I was soon trying to out-scream my dad and friends who were egging me onward with the crowd I was sitting amongst. All around me were people I knew; you were there, too.
It was somewhere around 5 a.m. and the pain was horrible
The new medication has done wonders in taming down my once-horrendous migraines into something more of, “hmmm…there appears to be a mild head pain in here someplace.”
This morning was different.
Light hurt. Sound hurt. Heck, even being hurt.
Nothing I did seemed to help with this one. Hot showers. Cold showers. Pressure points. Dr. Pepper. Breakfast. Fresh air. Pulling hair. Sleep. Excedrin. Ibuprofen.
Results? Nada, nothing, nil, zip…
I rode the storm out, feeling like I was going to retch. This one was ghastly and not something I’d wish on my worst enemy…well, maybe my worst enemy would be okay.
The tempest has since cooled itself down into a mild storm; a storm I can manage.
Thank goodness today is the first day of spring break.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Welcome to my life
Monday, April 13, 2009
If you haven’t, you’re probably envisioning a type of moss seed or fertilizer; however, I can assure you that he is neither of the two.
Bill Peet is an author…one I highly recommend. He is a wonderful writer/illustrator who worked for Disney Studios for 27 years. Yet, this is not the reason I would urge you to check out his work; it’s because I love his books. He has wonderful stories which are easy to connect to, and lessons which can simply be taught through the medium of his tales.
In a word—his books are brilliant.
I recently assigned my class to create a mini-book based on the American Hero they selected a few weeks ago. I thought it would be nice for them to have an example which they could look at when it came time to make their own booklet. I started this project at 4:30 this afternoon and I just finished. Granted, I didn’t draw any of the illustrations, these came from his autobiography (which, by the way, is incredible). But it still took a while to put together.
So, for this post I thought I’d share a few screen captures of the mini-book I plan to share with my class tomorrow.
Just know…I know that this isn’t ‘amazing’ material, it’s more to simply share with you the great author which I have come to love.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I say difficult simply for the reason that it was.
The words wouldn’t pour from my head the way which I wanted them to.
Draft after draft was written, rewritten, discarded, and restarted.
I walked away from my computer. Some time later I returned.
I have found that I cannot force myself to write, and have it sound the way that I’d really like it to. I usually squander my time with my proverbial wheels spinning in mudsling of ineffectual words.
You get the point…I get stuck.
However, I digress…
I have always realized that it is really the smallest of acts which can make the biggest difference for others in this life. In fact, great man once said that it is by the small and simple things we do, that the truly great things can come to pass.
I myself have been the beneficiary of so many ‘little things’ throughout the years; today was not an exception.
I awoke early, got ready, and headed out for the day. As I opened the front door I was greeted with a neon-green bag filled with various Easter goodies—a gift from a friend of mine who just wanted to drop off a little ‘holiday magic.’
I won’t say that I wasn’t grateful, because I was. A little smile stretched across my face, and I couldn’t help but let it stay with me for the remainder of the day.
A few hours later I returned home and once-again began to write on my blog posting for today. As I typed away at the keyboard, a knock sounded at the door.
My roommate went to check who it was; standing there were two neighborhood children whom I’ll surname, Kelton & Breanna.
“Is Teachinfourth here?” came the hesitant question.
My roommate opened the door wide and the two children crossed the threshold, bringing with them a plastic Easter bucket filled with various holiday candy and purple grass.
“Happy Easter!” They both proclaimed. “We brought you treats!”
As they presented their little goodie bucket to me, I felt what was spoken of in Margret Lindsey’s poem, The Little Things:
“The little things are the most worthwhile
Quiet word, a look, a smile.
A listening ear that’s quick to hear,
Another’s thoughts, another’s cares.
Although these things may seem quite small,
These little things mean most of all.”
These are only two of the ‘little things’ which have happened this week for which I am grateful; I really would like to write about them all—however, I’ll put forth a little restraint and not do so. Just know this; it really is those little things which truly make the biggest difference. There is no act of kindness which is wasted on another.
~ Margaret Lindsey
~ Margaret Lindsey
Thursday, April 9, 2009
When I arrived downstairs, I heard the sound.
The sweet tone and fragile notes of rainfall on roof…
It was exhilarating.
I opened the doorway into the enchanted world before me, and felt a rush of buoyancy greet me with the sluice of rain; what better greeting could one get than this to commence one’s day?
My feet were ready, as was
With a smile…
Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. ~Roger Miller
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
SCENE 1, INTERIOR. AFTERNOON, FIFTH GRADE CLASSROOM. The bell has already sounded and the students have headed home for the day; one student remains in the classroom, rummaging through his desk. He is looking for a homework assignment. Meanwhile, the teacher is organizing books in the corner of the room. After a few minutes of silence, the boy walks over to the computer to begin his Spelling assignment. As the computer boots up, he runs his fingers lightly over the keys.
JOEY: Belly-button lint is my favorite. Did you know that, Mr. Z?
TEACHER: [Distracted]. What was that?
JOEY: Belly-button lint is my favorite. It tastes salty, but that’s from the sweat.
TEACHER: Where do you come up with this stuff?
JOEY: [Taps forehead]. It’s all in my head, Mr. Z. [Pause]. By the way, I made that up; it’s not based on a real experience.
TEACHER: Oh, really?
JOEY: If I had me a whole bunch of belly-button lint, you know what I’d do with it?
JOEY: I’d build a house!
TEACHER: A house?
[Joey begins to work on his Spelling assignment. He races his fingers over the keys making ‘brummmmmmm’ noises. He begins to poke at the keys with two fingers].
JOEY: I bet if my face exploded, I could make it all come back together again.
[Joey pantomimes his face exploding in all directions with his fingers, and then ‘reconstitutes’ his face back the way it was].
JOEY: Did you see Corin Bleu on the Kids’ Choice Awards?
JOEY: He was slimed.
[There is a slight pause as the teacher continues to reshelf books and the boy turns again to the computer and begins his assignment. After a silent beat, the teacher speaks again].
TEACHER: So, what color was he?
[Joey stares in silence for several seconds, his mouth slightly open].
JOEY: Sometimes you’re so weird, Mr. Z.
TEACHER: Thanks, glad you noticed.
[Fade to black].
I was invited to write a post for “Life as I Know it” elsewhere on the web this week. If you’d like to read it, please feel free to head on over and check it out. Gerb’s blog is always a fun read, and one I highly recommend.
Said post can be found here.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
So instead of slumbering, I composed a message for my class website Thought of the Month.
I know, kind of a poor excuse to call a post, but what can I say? I’m a double-dipper…
How much to you put into your own education? I mean, how much effort do you really put into school?
When I was a kid, I was under the mistaken belief that it was the responsibility of my teacher to make sure that I learned. My job—I thought—was to go to school, sit in my desk, daydream, turn in homework that I did a halfhearted job on, and complain from time to time about just how much I hated homework and school.
You know the years have flown since I was in elementary school, and I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t really my teacher’s job to make sure that I learned.
No matter what I thought, my teacher wasn’t affected by whether or not I paid attention in class. If I learned it, I learned it. If I didn’t, my teachers didn’t go home having their lives changed for the better or the worse. It was my life that was affected.
The reason that I bring this up is that there seems to be an increasing number of students who seem to think that it is the job of their teacher to make sure they learn while they are at school. I’m here to tell you that this is simply not true. Now, I’m not saying that a teacher shouldn’t be prepared, because they should be, what I am saying is that the job of learning is yours.
There’s an old saying which goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.” Have you ever heard somebody say that before? Maybe your parents or grandparents? Do you understand what it means? When I was a kid, I sure didn’t. What the heck did drinking horses have to do with me?
You see, a horse will only drink when he is ready to. You can take him to the water trough, you can even try to force his head into the water, but until he is ready to take that drink, it just won’t happen.
In a lot of ways you are just like that horse; you cannot be forced to learn…you have to decide that you want to learn. Then—and only then—will the learning really happen for you; it won’t happen until you make the decision for yourself.
You know that it all comes down to one person…
After all, you all know that if you really wanted to, you could space off in class, and not pay attention in the slightest. Right? But who does this hurt in the end…really?
If the learning of the content doesn’t happen, whose fault is it? Is it the fault of your teachers? Is it your parents’ fault for not making you do your homework; for forcing you to read at night?
Now, when I was a kid I might have disagreed and said that it was my teachers’ fault; I’d have probably argued that if only Mr. Miller were a bit more interesting then I’d have learned what he was trying to teach. But really, let’s be honest here…was I coming to school to be entertained, or to be taught? Sure, it’s great when these two things happen together, but when they don’t can I really blame the teacher?
The truthful answer is:
So now it comes down to you…what kind of effort are you going to put into your own education?
When you stop to think about it, when you try to get out of things in school or find shortcuts in life, in the end you are just cheating yourself. You may not understand how this can hurt you right now, but one day you will.
So, what happens now? To be honest, I don’t know. It really depends an awful lot on you now doesn’t it? I would hope from this day on that you’d to put a little bit more into your own learning each and every day; after all, it affects you more than anyone else.
You know what though? Despite everything else, there is one enormous reason for putting more into school each and every day. So, what’s the reason?
YOU are worth the effort; give yourself your personal best.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I am exhausted.
I have not strength—physically or mentally—to write anything of substance.
And so I don’t.
At least for tonight; tomorrow is another matter.
For now, a comfortable bed and downy pillows beckon to me.
I will follow their bidding.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I’m still smiling.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Today I found myself slipping into yesterday.
I had a visit after school from a boy I had mentored for two years; he’d showed up without warning. It wasn’t long before he was telling me about his recent experiences of life, about his upcoming graduation from high school, and his countless memories of yesterday.
As I listened to him talk of the past, I found myself slipping into the days back when he was shorter than I was; I was his mentor so long ago. It seemed another lifetime, really; back before facial hair and critical life decisions.
As we talked about the moments he’d—or I’d—forgotten, we both laughed. It was a moment where I found myself, just for just a minute, stepping into yesterday. After nearly an hour, this young man left. Yet I found myself still milling over the words of our conversation.
When I came home I did a little digging; it wasn’t long before I unearthed a DVD I’d put together of a camping trip I’d recorded of this young man and two other boys I had been mentor to. As I slipped the disk into the player, and the room ignited with the light of the screen, as also it did with the remembrance of times past.
I laughed out loud. I found myself inundated with memories of a trip with these three boys which was a lot of fun. I missed them. I started to miss all of the kids I’ve been a mentor to over the past decade of my time on this earth.
As the video came to and end, I sat in the dark room; I began to wonder about them all. What were they up to now? How were their lives going? What type of people had they grown up to be?
I could only hope that they had all turned out…good.
—Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years
By all means, this collage does not show every child I’ve mentored, but it is a sampling of those who’ve weaved their way into my life throughout this past decade.
I hope to have others who will do the same.