Teaching & School

Snowflakes and Rocket Ships

September 21, 2021

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that low’r’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
From Richard The Third Act 1, scene 1, 1-4
William Shakespeare

The winter doldrums are here. It’s raining for the third consecutive week, chapter fifteen in language, ten in math, it’s getting tougher and eyes begin to glaze. Those given to snarkiness, get snarkier, those given to deep, pathos-laden sighs, sigh deeper, pathos oozing across the floor, and up the walls, like sticky molasses. The slow and meticulous get slower and sloppy. Tempers get short, fuses burn up quickly and explode, shrapnel flying around the class, wounding some, irritating others, stunning sleepy flies. Complaints are heard in the land and teacher finds himself grumpy too.

So teacher is grumpy, uh?

That explains part of it. The doldrums have affected teacher and like all good sheep, the crowd has followed along, grumping through math, whining through language arts and sulking through science.

So they have a talk, they and the teacher. An intimate kind of talk, serious like, not at recess, not punitive, no judgment, just a talk. He tells them none of us want to be here, not even a little bit, I for sure not. No way, I want to be outside on the hockey rink, or sitting at home with my feet up, mug of cocoa in my hand, reading through Thoreau. I would love to be gone, napping maybe, counting snowflakes, which incidentally, I’ve noticed some of you doing, how many fell this morning anyway, tough to count when they come down that fast, isn’t it.

I go on, the beginnings of genuine inspiration. It so happens though, my friends, that we have no choice. We are here, we all know we can’t leave without getting into a heap of trouble so let’s make the best of it. Remember your number one rule: do unto others as you would have them do to you. Do you like listening to whining, like a mosquito buzzing around your ear? No you don’t, so quit doing it yourself. We are in this together and those that don’t want to be in this, I don’t want you here. Be off, go home, sit around there and whine, we don’t need you here.

Eyes look at him, they know each other well by now, the teacher and they, and he sees deep inside they have no desire to go home, at least most of them. Some would take him up on it for a few days but hey, so would the teacher.

So class continues, and in the middle of math–four times four is what my lady, I don’t think so–a rocket, the Saturn V to be exact, flies by. Of course, for an event like this class is disrupted, explanations are made, lectures on the challenges of moon travel commence and why is the bell ringing, we just started. Out of the class they go, laughing, rocket engine sounds emanating forth, close fly-bys over the girls’ heads, teasing, jolly now, the dangerous doldrums banished to the basement, forgotten for now.

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