Classical authors and history itself has been rather thoughtless towards teachers in the 21st century … especially middle school language art teachers.
What was Rudyard Kipling thinking about when he wrote of gathering pig nuts in The Jungle Book?
Or any author who mentions guarding their balls or beating their breast or having a bosom friend? Especially any author who surely could have anticipated their fame amongst hormonal teens and pre-teens.
Who was snickering at their computer when they designed the grammar worksheet we did today about squirrels. Nothing wrong with squirrels, except for the sentence to be diagrammed that focussed on squirrels hiding and storing their nuts.
You can’t tell me that the said worksheet author couldn’t anticipate the snickering, giggling, and knowing glances that would be exchanged by 11-year-olds while teachers put on their grinchiest faces and ignore the nonsense.
Then, the biggest fiasco of all …
Lucy Flucker Knox. Seriously? No … really … seriously??????
Our follow up project for Johnny Tremain seemed like such a great idea. The kids were excited to learn more about women who participated in the American Revolution in unique ways. What could go wrong with that research project?
But why oh why did I not follow up more closely on the final drafts of the posters? I knew of Lucy Knox, but had no idea of her full name. You might not believe this, but the student who composed the project approaches all of life with a very matter-of-fact, black and white approach.
So when the web sites that student used stated Lucy Flucker Knox … Lucy Flucker Knox it was … on the bulletin board … for all three of my classes to see before I realized it was there. I had been proud of myself for letting this independent, capable 8th grade class of 10 girls and one boy assemble the bulletin board on their own while I corrected their latest essays. Big … monstrous … gi-normous mistake.
I really believe that the bulletin board kids was innocent (well maybe one or two saw the problem, but they sure weren’t going to squeal). BUT … I knew something was up when the 7th grade boys suddenly had an interest in the Women of the Revolution.
I acted all cool and ignored the couple of them that kept glancing to the board. As soon as school was out, however, I sprinted over there, leaping over books, and shoving desks out of the way to see what those stinkers were up to.
There it was for the viewing pleasure of the entire middle school … Lucy Flucker Knox.
I couldn’t take it down after all the hard work my student had put into it. Her artwork was incredible. So this is how I solved the problem. (Note the nicely placed, very patriotic looking stars.)
Extremely clever, I thought. Of course, my artistic rendering was immediately noticed by the 7th grade the next day and quickly mourned by those who had heard, but not seen the original. Snickers, whispering, constant glances towards the bulletin board.
It wouldn’t die down, so I got all cool again and … lost my mind in classic teacher fashion.
“Nice bulletin board,” I said. “Didn’t the 8th grade do a great job?”
Eyes drooped, avoiding mine. You’d think I’d caught them with naughty pictures in their books or something. Blushing, nervous hands, pencils tapping.
In a very calm, measured voice, I said (not even knowing what was about to come out of my mouth) …
“Her name is Lucy Flucker Knox. She was an amazing woman who did her part to fight for the American causes during the Revolution.”
A couple more pencils tapped … knees were shaking … they knew I was onto them.
“And out of honor for someone who helped fight for the freedoms that we enjoy today, I took away the opportunity for any of us to pervert her name. So again, her name is Lucy Flucker Knox. Do any of you have a problem with that.”
“No, Mrs. A.”
And now I have a middle school that shields their eyes and walk a long path away from that bulletin board. Not another snicker has been heard … they wouldn’t dare.
And me … after all the kids were gone, I walked into my co-worker’s classroom and relayed the whole story … only this time … broke into a cold, drenching sweat and giggled nervously.
“How did you get that out without cracking a smile? You are a rock star.” The fellow teacher high-fived me.
Oh … not a rock star … just feisty.
And thankfully, feisty enough to win that one … but really … couldn’t authors and history have been a little more thoughtful?
Middle School teacher problems.
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