Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," as we kick off October! For about one million reasons, this is my favorite month of the year. Autumn is such a grand season, isn't it? I admit I miss the mountains more this time of year. But some day I'll go home for good. Bet on it.
Yesterday I had my third class in what looks to be a long, dreary series of useless exercises in educating educators. At least I have a name for my "professor." From here on out, he will be known as Mr. Bigwand. (Buttroy was a close second, but that one more or less can only be used by my dear Yellowdog Granny.)
Mr. Bigwand has a big boat and a big, impressive teaching resume that he likes to reminisce about constantly. He tells very amusing stories about his days in the classroom. Some of the stories are so amusing that he tells them every week.
He does rather ramble, but what else do I have to do on a Wednesday afternoon except sit and listen to him?
Inevitably at conflabs such as this night school class, the predominant question is that of student discipline. How do we get the attention of these fine young minds, and keep the attention long enough to impart some wisdom?
When pressed for an answer to this widely-held conundrum, Mr. Bigwand told yet another story. He is proud (quite proud) to say that he taught at-risk students at an inner city school in Philly. He had 20 kids in a room the size of a two-seater privvy (or some such). One day he got a new pupil, the toughest kid in the school.
Pinky swear, this is what Mr. Bigwand told us.
When the kid began to act up in class, Mr. Bigwand invited the kid out into the corridor. Mr. Bigwand shoved the kid into a locker, closed the locker door, and had a conversation with the kid while the kid was stuck inside the locker. Needless to say, Bigwand concluded, the kid never gave him any more trouble.
I'm trying to picture myself following this edifying advice.
Maybe in some places.... no, wait. I can't even insult the citizens of the usual states that I'm fond of insulting! I'll bet they don't even shove bad kids into lockers in such bastions of brilliance as Idaho and Utah!
If Mr. Bigwand is giving us his true age (and he looks about the age he gives), he must have pulled this stunt when I was still a college stripling. And even then, the 1980s, I can't imagine how he got away with it.
This charming anecdote -- plus the suggestion that one should hover over misbehaving students and pat them nicely on the shoulder -- has been the sum total of Mr. Bigwand's advice on how to deal with discipline problems in the classroom.
I would ask him how to handle a situation where 20 out of 25 students are giddy simultaneously, and school rules prohibit my touching any of them, even in the most kindly way, but why set him off on another long-winded diatribe?
Let's see how this motif unfolds, friends. Bigwand has me in his thrall for ten months. I'm not sure I'll be able to bite my tongue that long without sticking my teeth right through it.