From The Storyteller
May 27, 2019, Sundial
“It doesn’t look like the big hand to me.” This is typical of Michael (not his real name). Me, “The long hand is the big one and the short one is the little one.” Michael, “But the shorter one is bigger than the longer one.” If there is the possibility of a hole in what is being presented Michael will find it. The boy is not a trouble maker, nor a kid with an attitude. He’s simply the one who wants to know how and why things work.
It’s 1969, and I’m student teaching a 5th grade class that includes Michael and 24 others. My plan: Teach the concept of time using the clock on the wall, my watch, an hour glass, a sundial, and a calendars. I figured this to be a piece of cake, and for the first 5 minutes it was. Then the big hand/little hand controversy began and it went downhill from there.
“How can a sundial tell you what time it is when it’s cloudy?” (Michael again). Me, “You wait until the clouds go away.” From my response you probably can tell the 5th grade class had won. I write about my humiliating defeat because I truly respect teachers as a group. What they do is tough. Each day they need to be creative, understanding, and patient (think Michael here), because without these three, not much learning takes place.
You have good days and bad days, so do kids. Imagine teaching a class of 25 preteens who rotate good and bad days, or being a high school teacher who, during their 8 daily class periods, will deal with a total of 140 hormonal teenagers. It takes a special kind of person to do this. I’m not one of them, but I’m married to one.
Moral: Giving credit where credit is due.