I had some thoughts about doing a series on octogenarian perspectives. The problem with octogenarian perspective at this time is that it could become just an opinion page and I’m not into publishing mine. 1See my previous blog “Opinions”
Considering that I spent at least 35 years of my adult life involved in some form of education. I’m going to write some memorables from those years.
My teaching experience actually started when I was in the Army. Frankly the first day I stood in front of a class was mentally horrifying and gastronomically disturbing. I was a staff sergeant with the academic administrative authority to recommend flunking a bird colonel aide to a base commander, a GS-13 embassy civilian, a political appointee, or some whose status and rank was purposely kept from me.
Teaching at a junior high school was my first public school experience. In retrospect, but for different reasons, the first day was as gut wrenching as teaching Top Secret procedures in the Army Security Agency.
My career also included high school, Christian school, and school administration as a substitute principal or vice-principal.
Disclaimer: I have notes on some events, but most will be from memory. If you recognize yourself in an episode, it may or may not be you because all characters are composites. However, each event depicted did happen.
This wasn’t my first day at the junior high, but it was soon after.
I felt that it was important to introduce writing into the shop classes I would be teaching. The principal didn’t agree but said a prior teacher had used a written assignment to replace detention if a student couldn’t attend. One student had enough detentions from several teachers to do a full day of half-hours by mid quarter. He was one who couldn’t do more than ten minutes after school and ten minutes at lunch time.
I had to give a detention after several warnings about behavior. I decided on the written assignment option but to go a little easy on him, so I’d get some result. I told him, “three pages, one-side only on a woodworking process of your choice.”
He asked, “What kind of paper?”
I told him lined notebook paper would be ok, but if it came from a spiral bound notebook, he should cut off the fringes. The next morning his three-page report was in my school mailbox. I caught him as he entered the shop saying, “I don’t think this will do. I said notebook paper.”
His reply, “Mr. Benson, you didn’t say what size notebook paper and all I had yesterday was the 3×5 (teacher name deleted) makes us have for spelling words. I hadn’t used it yet!”
I’m sure he expected some kind of negative feedback from me, but I knew a good gotcha when I saw one. And I learned to be very specific with instructions for junior high kids. 2This isn’t the last time you’ll hear about this one.
I will continue to include quotes from what I’ve written.
For example: Calvin Parker in Echoes of Nam: Absence from war is not the same as peace of the soul “Jeez Goor! If I’d known you were going to really write a book, I wouldn’t have made up so much stuff. Anyways, send me a copy. CP: