Today I attended my son’s Thanksgiving assembly in his classroom. The kids sat for 1/2 hour waiting for their parents to arrive. In that time there was much squirming, especially from my son. Every now and then the teacher would say “Appropriate behavior please”. What exactly does “appropriate” mean? Nothing. It is Newspeak. Why not just say “Dear, you are annoying the other students. Stop it.” That’s a clearer message, but the word “annoying” might not be positive enough for 2nd graders. Still, “appropriate” is a subjective term which means different things to different people. “Appropriate” activity to a 2nd grader might mean racing down the street at top speed on a bicycle to see how many people jump.
All students gave a “choral reading”. This means they had to sit together and read a poem together. My son does not like falling in line so he read in a funny, distracting voice. But what do they expect when they ask 2nd graders to read a poem together? Being a kid is all about showing off and getting attention, not doing the same as everyone else.
Next, they were supposed to stand, one by one, and read from a “Thankful book”. This was a photocopied book they had decorated. Each page came supplied with the starting of a sentence, for example:
“On Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for….”
“At school, I’m thankful for….”
The students were to fill in the rest and then present them. A typical example went like this:
“On Thanksgiving I am thankful for the turkey because it tastes good and keeps me healthy”
“At school I am thankful for my teacher because she helps me learn and get smarter”
“Outside, when I look at nature I’m thankful for the planet because it is where we live”
“I’m thankful for my family because my parents take care of me”
My son’s book went like this:
“On Thanksgiving I am thankful for being able to watch TV because at least I’m not in school”
“At school I am thankful for recess because it’s almost the end of the day”
“Outside, when I look at nature I’m thankful for the bats that eat the mosquitoes because I hate them”
“I’m thankful for my family because I love poking my mom in the belly when she does belly dance”
OK, this last one was a bit embarrassing for me, but at least it was original. And a lot of the other parents complimented me on my son’s lines. They were honest, and I was proud. Since when do kids like school anyway? Despite all the cheery rhetoric of educators, 2nd grade students don’t want to follow every rule and like it. They try to break rules. Come to think of it, they probably don’t like intensive preparation for standardized math tests much either, but that’s another story.