There was a long-standing tradition of "Billy" drawing some of the Sunday "Family Circus" cartoons. These were every bit as funny as any of the daily strips, but it afforded the maestro Bil Keane a chance to present his world from a more child-like perspective (as if that were possible). This ritual went through my mind as I decided to include some of my students' reflections on their fourth grade experience.
This is an assignment I give every year: "Why I Should Pass Fourth Grade". Many of my students are pragmatic and straightforward with their reasoning: "I do all my work and turn in my homework." Tough to argue that. These are generally the ones who are interested in getting from point A to point B. "I come to school every day. I listen to the teacher." Not terrifically high expectations, but at least they meet them.
Then there's the group that aims a little higher. They tell me things like, "I work hard and pay attention most of the time." I give her points for honesty. The same can be said for this fellow: "I sometimes to all my assignments and sometimes do all my homework. I sometimes do all my writing." If that's true, then he sure picked the right assignment to turn in.
There is yet another set of kids who are invested with their family honor. "I should pass fourth grade because my family wants me to have a strong education," or "I want to make my Mom and Dad happy," and "It would make me and my family proud and encouraged." It's nice to see ten-year-olds thinking outside of their four foot sphere of influence. These are also the same ones who have a vision of the future. "It would also help me reach my life-long dream of becoming a paleontologist." Since she appeared in my room at the beginning of the year spelling paleontologist correctly, I hope she realizes that dream. "My family wants everything to be perfect when I reach the Air Force." Off you go into the wild blue yonder, I say.
And then there's Robert. "I've had a great time in the fourth grade and I have to pass because I have already been in the fourth grade before in Miss R's room." Fair enough, Robert. You won't have to come back to my room either. Vaya con Dios.