I'm a teacher. And there's what's wrong with education today. I went to grad school, worked quite hard, aced my Praxis exams, went through several induction processes, have attended thousands of hours of in-service training and seminars on differentiated instruction. But still, all I do is tell stories, make the kids laugh, and mix in a few tidbits from time to time to convince the kids that I'm in charge. I really can't claim to know what I'm doing, and I'm as organized as an orgy at the crackhouse. In short, I'm a principals wet dream.
Every year, the phone calls come in from parents. My Pennsylvania Geography lesson turns into "Why is Mr. Gribble telling stories about giant blue monsters chasing him?" My Geology lesson turns into "Why did Mr. Gribble have my son eat chalk?" My Middle East Current Events lesson turns into "Why did Mr. Gribble describe two Yemenese brothers knocking each other's teeth out for fun?"
So when Chucky asked me to tell a story for Algebra class today, I refused. The only good algebra story I have involves my teacher kicking me in the ass as I bent over and driving my head into the chalk board. I deserved it, by the way. The whole class pleaded for a story, and I told them to forget it--I'm done. Oh, the whining and weeping that ensued. So I explained--"You guys never get the point! I tell stories so you learn something. The Yemenese brothers, once they ran out of teeth, went through a renewal process and were able to actually accomplish something in peace. The chalk is a really just a form of limestone that neutralizes acid, such as that in your stomach. The blue monster, well, we did at least explore the hill-and-valley region and the Allegheny plateau, and besides, you actually paid attention to what I said for about a week!"
Chucky, not realizing he was shooting himself in the story-listening ear, piped in. "Yeah, but what about those stories about Larks throwing rebar through passing cars?" "Yeah" his buddy Jason added, "And what about Larks quitting his job because the cows were staring at him?" "Hey" piped in Mindy "Isn't that the guy who got his dog stuck in a tree and tried to go golfing in his living room?" "What was the lesson from any of those stories, Mr. Gribble?"
"The lesson is, don't throw rebar through cars, or you'll become a deranged, paranoid lunatic and work in a junk yard and break out all of your windows."
Ah, well. I'm sure I'm not on my way to being teacher of the century, but what do you remember from school? At least these kids can keep a few details in memory, and the other teachers are doing a good enough job that we still get by on the "No White Child Left Behind Act" standardized money making scam tests.
I did have the good sense to turn myself into the principal for my latest. I convinced one young head-in-the-distant-nebula type kid this morning that, by taking every sub-atomic element apart and stripping down the tiniest building blocks of matter, you would end up with nothing. And if you end up with nothing, then everything is made of nothing, which means we don't exist. And if we don't exist, why do we have to do things like homework and science crossword puzzles? I knew I shouldn't have said that last part, but it all came out in my explanation somehow. The kid asked "Do you think that will work on Mr. Adams? I really don't wanna write a research paper." Of course I righted the situation--"Suuuure, it'll definitely work. Mr. Adams will give you a zero, which doesn't exist anyway. And if you're lucky, he'll give you a detention which doesn't exist, which will lead to your parents taking away your video games that don't exist, and you won't get to go to the dance with Heather, who doesn't exist."
I'm pretty sure the kid is going to write the paper, and may even swap spit with Heather. But just in case, the nonexistent principal is going to have a conversation with the nonexistent lad.