Tag Archives: education

Up On Our Feet

Today’s post is a message from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, forever enrolled at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hey, Mr. C!

Sorry I only write to you when I want you to do something for me or I have a complaint, but what do you expect?  You’re an old guy and I’m still in high school, so for us to be just-hanging-out friends would be weird.

But I saw this article and it really got me riled up.

Well, actually, Mr. Boozenporn made us read this article in social studies class, and it got me thinking about how so much of life winds up being about your expectations.

Really!  Because you know I’m super focused on what I’ll do for a living if I ever get out of Willkie.  On account of they keep threatening to graduate me, since I’m older than the janitor now.

Anyway, Mr. B. showed us this article about how a bunch of elementary schools are getting rid of sit-down desks and making their students stand instead!

For example, nearly every classroom in the Vallecito Elementary School, in San Rafael California, now has standing desks!

I found out there’s been a bunch of news coverage of this, and all the students, teachers and parents they quoted go on and on about how great it is for helping kids stay focused and keeping them healthy.

Blah Blah Blah.

Nobody spoke up for the best part of desk-sitting in school, which is the way being crouched down behind a piece of furniture all day makes it easy to hide stuff in your desk, write secret notes, make spitballs, and etc, etc, etc.

This looks like a secret plan by education bosses and trend-followers to get rid of the school experience that I loved so much – where you’re in a constant battle with the teacher over winning the attention of the other students and the sit-down desk is your foxhole!

Some say the stand-up desk helps prep the little kids for the workplace of their future because it’s a big trendy deal in corporate offices now.  But the difference is in corporations it’s the higher-ups (literally) that get to have a stand up work space, and it’s always their choice if they want to do it!

So telling kids the stand-up desk gets them an early start on their career sends the wrong message, because the only kind of stand-up job that’s available when you get into the workforce today is fast food worker, cashier, barista, waiter, stock clerk, and road work  signal man!

Not to put down those jobs, but if I ever get to college,  I definitely want to graduate with a degree in Sitting Down and Telling People What To Do.

Sit-down jobs are still the best, because that’s where the money is. And I’m pretty sure all those corporate CEO’s are hiding cool stuff in their desks!

Your pal,

What did you hide in your elementary school desk?

Skipped a Step!

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, who, as the poster child for the campaign against social promotion, has spent 20 years in the 10th grade at Wendell Willke High School.

Hey Mr. C,

Did you see what Microsoft did yesterday?

It’s awesome, and it fills my heart with hope. They decided to introduce a new version of Windows – “Windows 10″! But here’s the cool part, and believe it or not I first heard about it on your blog when “Happy Valley Steve” made this comment –

Screenshot 2014-10-01 at 6.54.55 PM

How about that – ME learning tech stuff from YOU! Pretty amazing. I guess old people aren’t a total waste after all. Who knew?

That’s almost as amazing as the other part of the story – Microsoft totally disrespecting the number 9 by jumping over it! A lot of people are upset about this, but I think it’s cool because skipping steps is why I keep getting held back.

Like in Mr. Boozenporn’s history class two years ago. I was just barely making it. Everything was riding on the grade for this class, and Mr. B had everybody do a final project, which was supposed to be a six page, single spaced, typed report about a historical event or thing or person, and I chose William Henry Harrison who was the first U.S. President to die in office (after only 32 days!) and whose brief term helped people work out all the rules about what to do when the president dies in office.

It was actually a pretty good report. I worked kinda hard on it, which is strange for me! But then I didn’t hand it in. I don’t know what happened. As soon as the report was finished I kinda lost interest and I never even brought it to school. I’ve still got it in my room – it’s under the goldfish bowl where it soaks up condensation that drips off the tank sometimes.

Anyway, not handing that in got me an “F” and another year as a sophomore at Willke. My folks complained but Mr. B was firm. “Bubby skipped a step,” he said. “Giving him a passing grade wouldn’t be fair to the other students who completed their work.”

I tried to argue that not handing the paper in was really a clever way to mirror the Harrison presidency – all potential with no actual follow-through, and a sense of disappointment all around. But Mr. B. saw through that one. He told me to quit trying to sabotage myself.

So here I am trying to pass my sophomore year again. I’m not saying I’ll do the work and not turn it in, but I wonder if he’ll let me write a report on Windows 9?

Your pal,

Ever skip a step?

Story Theater

Today’s guest post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale

It sounds like Husband is mumbling something to me from the front room, but no… as I approach I realize that he is just rehearsing again. Tomorrow his volunteer group will present two stories at our regional library, and he has one of the leads – Little Beaver – in one; he will be Narrator in the other.

Michael is part of a group called Story Theater, a collection of Senior (and I don’t mean high school) volunteers in the Robbinsdale School District, who act out tales from books for elementary school kids. (I’m aware of at least one other district that also has Story Theater.) During the school year S. T. members rehearse every other Monday, and then travel to a different school almost weekly, in their Story Theater t-shirts and headgear, with their props and script stands, and to promote a love of reading for 1st – 5th graders.

Photo courtesy of Gina Purcell, Crystal-Robbinsdale Sun Post
Photo courtesy of Gina Purcell, Crystal-Robbinsdale Sun Post

They’re really pretty good – adopting different characters’ voices and inflection, projecting their voices, and engaging the kids whenever possible. The group used to read the script standing behind their stands, till George Lillquist – a former middle school drama director, among other things – came on board as Director a few years ago. Now there is more memorization of lines, and therefore more eye contact and communication with the other players and the audience.

Costumes are an amazing array of headgear (and have become more elaborate and sophisticated over the years), fashioned by the Props Committee. For instance, Little Beaver’s hat is brown plush with white trim for teeth, and has a beaver’s tail/paddle at the back.

Little Beaver and Otter
Little Beaver and Otter

As I see it, Story Theater serves several purposes. It shows the kids how reading can be fun, and that older folks can have fun volunteering. It keeps alive the art of oral storytelling, and each story has a moral for the kids to take with them.

But the most fun for me is seeing Husband and his colleagues out there, stretching their skills, having a ball as they make a bunch of little kids laugh.

What children’s story would you include in Story Theater’s repertoire?