Tuesday, March 7, 2017

MISEDUCATION

by Theodore Svenningsen


It is difficult to decide which childhood memory to write about. I have memories starting from around age two. More and more memories exist from the time closer to kindergarten. By kindergarten almost every day is remembered. The first day of kindergarten is vivid. Mothers were bringing their children. I liked it there. Ronny, the boy who lived next door to us, was crying and screaming. The first thing we did in school was to draw a red ball.

I've decided to write about several incidents all having to do with early school years.

The first incident: We had just moved from New Jersey to Maine. I was in the third grade. The teacher during our spelling lesson, wrote sentences on the blackboard; each sentence used one of the words we were learning to spell that week. In New Jersey when this occurred we had to make up our own sentences using the words of that week's lesson. I did this same previous method now; I wrote my own sentences. I received a fail on the test, a red check on every sentence. I asked a fellow student why I failed. He said that I was supposed to copy the sentences from the blackboard exactly. The teacher did not even have a thought that I must have not understood what we were supposed to do. She never called me up to her desk to talk to me about the test.

The second incident takes place a year later. We had moved back to New Jersey from Maine. In school we now had multiplication. In Maine we had not had multiplication. I had no idea what was going on with all these numbers. I was too shy to approach the teacher and ask. We had a test. I simply put down a bunch of numbers not connected to anything. Of course I received a fail. The teacher didn't have any thoughts about why I was doing this and call me up to her desk. She simply failed me and moved on.

A third incident involves the writing of a story. This happened in the fifth grade which would make me ten years old at the time. We had recently read Rip van Winkle and now the assignment was to write a short story based on the idea of falling asleep and awakening many years later. We had about forty-five minutes to write our stories. In Rip van Winkle the American Revolutionary War had occurred during the years that he had slept and many things had changed because of the war. The war was important to the events in that story so I thought that I should put a war in my story. The Second World War had recently ended at the time of this incident and the idea that there could be another big war like that was in the air. I put a Third World War in my story. I thought that such a war would make sense.

After the allotted writing time, we all handed our stories to the teacher. She read each story aloud to the class. When she read mine she yelled at me saying how dare I want another world war. She said that I was getting an F. I still remember one of the boys in the class saying that he thought it was a good story and the teacher saying that my story being good had nothing to do with my grade on the story. She said I failed because I had put a war in my story and that I wanted another war. I attempted to explain, but my inability to ever speak up for myself kept me from saying anything.




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