Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I'll Show You Fair

"If this guy could see the clowns that are operating on him, I think he'd faint." - Trapper John from MASH.
I was filling out report cards this evening - trying out various permutations of the phrase "hard worker but easily distracted." It occurred to me that I could probably find this same comment on one or more of my elementary school report cards, but the notion of "permanent record" didn't really exist then, did it?
Nonetheless, here I am, creating someone's permanent record. When I was a senior in high school, my Elementary Functions teacher Mr. Seery took me out in the hallway and said this to me: "I can't fail you for your behavior, but I can make it very hard for you to pass this class. You're an instigator." It's true. I was an instigator - at times a real cutup. So I dropped the class and ended up in Selected Topics in Math - math you can skip.
That was twenty-five years ago, and now I'm busy deciding the fates of ten and eleven year olds - or at least who gets a raise in their allowance and who gets to eat standing up for a day or two. It's a trivial bit of power, but one that I feel momentarily ambivalent about. Does anybody really read the comments on their report cards? Or are they just looking for that bottom line - Placement for Next Year?
No one in my class if flunking - pardon me - no one in my class is being retained this year. Are there students who would benefit from one more solid pass at fourth grade? Yes, there are. By the same token, there are at least a few who were ready to move on sometime in February - but that's not how we're running things this year. For now, you have to wait until Mr. Caven says it's time to move ahead one space. Mr. Caven - the Instigator.


Anonymous said...

Fair commentary!!


Anonymous said...

Dave Caven, an instigator? a cutup? a clown? I must say that is hard to imagine.

But Dave marking people's permanent records? Neidermeyer would be proud.