Friday, February 15, 2008


This next week my local school districts have taken the whole week off calling it "President's Week". This is new to me. This is not "Spring Break" or Easter Vacation Week but extra. They also take a week off at Thanksgiving now. I guess they add it all on at the end or beginning of the school year calendar. (when it is usually "beastly hot"...but now all rooms have A/C) Anyway, in preparation for this "Patriotic Week" this one school's 5th graders were being asked to memorize and perform, en masse, the Preamble to the Constitution of Our Country and "God Bless the U.S.A." (also known as "Proud to be an American") I subbed at one of these 5th Grade Classes this week and feel very qualified to "comment" on their "rehearsal" that I watched. I used to teach this level and do alot of Verse Choir and Choral Singing with them. By and large it is a lost and dying "performance art". (especially if "God" is mentioned.)

The first thing I wondered when I heard they were attempting to do it as a large group (at least 4 classes) is do they have an adequate "performance space"? Most schools don't now days. This school was trying to "pack" 90 to 120 kids of the 10-11 year old stature in a very small multi-purpose room by making them sit uncomfortably close to each other on the carpeted floor. There were protests and "behavior problems" of a on-going nature. Several had to be "moved" and resituated in a very strong disciplinary manner. i.e. spoiling the performance mood.

The next thing I questioned was whether or not they knew the meanings of the words and had they memorized all of them yet. This is absolutely necessary for a "top notch" performance. They should also be standing in "groups" not smashed together on the floor. Key words that should be memorized and understood for correct pronunciation and inflection are: Justice, domestic Tranquility, common defense, general welfare, Blessings of Liberty, Posterity, ordain and Constitution. Just the way the students were "herded" and "handled" both as a large group and as individuals left "much to be desired" and called into question if they had even gone over the purpose or meaning of the PREAMBLE. It was originally meant as an "Introduction" to the Constitution to tell the "Purpose" of it and the importance of it. Pre-Amble from the latin means "walk before" and this points up a school/class problem as I see it.

This school has a school-wide rule that all classes must walk places to and from the rooms in an orderly line on the lines of the black top if possible. Hands to yourself, straight etc. Well, I was "walking before" my subbed class from the Computer Lab to the Multipurpose Room when another 5th grade teacher stopped my line and verbally accosted and "abused" two of my students who were not quite lined up and "messing with a baseball cap" She was ready immediately to give one or both the dreaded "detention". They spoke for each other and finally the one, initiating the "extraneous actions", was "bannished" This kind of "treatment" continued throughout the rehearsal. Needless to say, this was a very "reluctant Posterity" who mostly were just trying to attain "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness". At the ripe old age of 10-11 there is alot of "pursuit of liberty and happiness". This school's teachers (and aides) are so afraid and paranoid about any lack of "control" and "its consequencies" that they come down very heavy most of the time on most of the kids. Lots of referrals and detentions and intermediate measures are evident. During one of my stays I had two different kids who had been sent from other classes to "cool off" and do their work in my class at a separate table off to the side. Lots of hostility and agression ensues, naturally in such a negative environment. Not many attempts or programs to "catch kids (groups and individuals) at being "good", "kind", or even "random acts of friendship". And we wonder why our upper grade institutions, H.S.'s and Colleges are having to "lock down". Just this last week we had reports of "shootings" in 4 differnt schools at the upper levels. i.e. today Northern Illinois University, an Oxnard Middle School also. Kids are stressed and nervous going to our "institutions" now days. And we have the gall to say and go to the "rest of the world" and try force "liberty" and "democracy". Why don't we take care of our own "Posterity" first here at Home..."the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave"? (if you have a hand gun) RRR


The Maturekid said...

Thank you for sharing your insights. It is always beneficial for the public to find out about what is going on from those who are involved in education.

Thank you for your service,

The Maturekid

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reading my blog and commenting. I have no idea how many are reading it and if they agree or not. I'm both frustrated and enthused at times in my "guest teachings". I must follow the lesson plans left for me but I try to "plant some seeds" of renewal, responsivness and rejuvenation. RRR