Nostalgia II

(If you’re interested, here’s Nostalgia I, complete with awesome comments from RtB fiends.)

Do you find yourself getting melancholy about things that have passed into obscurity? Yesterday — and I don’t know why — I had a major attack of it.

Maybe it had something to do with fifth grade. In choir yesterday, I pulled out a song for the fun of it. “Pinball Wizard,” by The Who. Out of 40-some 10- and 11-year-olds, only a handful knew what a pinball machine was, so I got to describe it for them, which was surprisingly challenging. HA

As is my custom, if there are weird lyrics in a tune, we read through the text and define anything that needs clarification. Had my hands full with Pinball Wizard:

  • Soho, Brighton
  • Bumpers
  • Always gets a replay
  • Bally table king
  • Crazy flippin’ fingers

The cool thing about 5th graders is that they’re still somewhat impressionable. That is to say, they don’t know it all yet. :-) We had a nice discussion. It was fun watching them wrap their brains around it.

It got me thinking about lots of other bygone issues, especially after I read this in the Columbus Dispatch. As if book knowledge on a subject is the prime indicator of teaching ability…good lord, people. Anyway, I thought about (*wince*) when I was in school — when things were different, to wit:

  • Teachers and administrators didn’t field daily calls from parents, blaming their child’s bad grade/bad behavior on the school.
  • It wasn’t unusual for a smart-mouthed kid to be slammed up against a locker by a teacher once in awhile. It served as a fantastic deterrent.
  • Kids. Just. Didn’t. Talk back to teachers. Regardless of how we felt about Mr. Smalley, we never sassed him. Nobody did. We respected him as an adult.
  • If I had sassed Mr. Smalley, I could only imagine the horrifying fate that awaited me at home, after my parents found out.
  • Writing classes were compulsory at the high school level.
  • “Latch key kids” were the exception.

I know, I know. Times change, so get on the train or it’ll  leave without you. But I will put in writing for the first time here: I worry about the future my grandchildren will face as adults. Makes me all nostalgy for the olden days…


4 thoughts on “Nostalgia II

  1. PKPudlin

    I had a 6th grade teacher who had a reputation that inspired fear in every student. He was known to throw erasers at students not paying attention (and he was a dead-eye, lemmetellya). Then he would not allow the student to wipe away the chalk dust, forcing them to wear the ‘chalk-dust badge of shame’ for the rest of the day for all to see. He would smack the boys on the shoulder or back when he got frustrated with them – never the girls – although he would get in your face if you deserved it, no matter which rest room you used. The behavior and performance bars were high in his class. You either loved him or hated him – there really wasn’t any in-between – but you came out of his class having learned a great deal – not just about the subject matter, but about life in general.

    I have said for years that if you expect nothing from kids, that’s what you get. Teachers all want to to ‘liked’ by their students, but they know there is a very fine line between being liked and being respected. Parents fall into that trap too – wanting to be the kid’s ‘buddy’ rather than doing the sometimes nasty job of parenting. (Everybody wants to play with the puppy, but nobody wants to clean up after it.) Add to that all the recent psychological flap garbage about putting limits on kids and the evils of corporal punishment, not to mention the legal ramifications, and you’ve got a recipe for trouble. Kids who smart-mouth at home will smart-mouth at school and expect to get away with it. My dad (a retired music educator) said that classroom teaching was glorified baby-sitting in some cases – keep them from killing themselves or each other for an hour and then send them home. Frankly, it’s a job I certainly appreciate, but not one that I would want for all the tea in china. My congratulations and condolences to you and all your colleagues.

    As for Kasich and his merry band – what they are proposing will be too costly and unmanagable to really implement. Note there is no mention of what will happen to the students in the ‘incompetent’ schools that are closed down. With the teacher shortage and lack of building space, the students’ families will move away, filling the state with ghost towns. They’re sabre-rattling. Just ignore them. Remember: Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

    Guess I’ve rambled on long enough. Time to go fight my own dragons.


    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Preach it, sister.

      One guy in the comments of the article suggested they shut down the under-performing schools and send them all to [insert four affluent Columbus districts]. Those teachers are “motivated, and they’d turn them around right away.”

      Of course, I couldn’t let that go, so I responded that in my 18 years in the public schools, that has never been the case. Let Dublin, Olentangy and the rest get a belly full of those low test scores, and they’d be crying foul — “Get those kids out of our district; they’re dragging down our test scores.” There’s no magic fix. It’s almost like the system has to completely break down before it can be repaired. The future, unfortunately, doesn’t look too bright.

  2. Wendell

    Jaxly, I love it that you are sharing the oldies with your choir. Sarah told me the Pinball Wizard tale, including informing me that she DID in fact know that song when you asked the class. Gotta be due to her Mom’s good taste in music! Plus a little Rock Band thrown in for good measure!

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Sarah was the one who said, “Hey, that’s on Rock Band!” :-)

      This concert will have a lot of tunes from our era. If I ever get the parts written, that is….yeeps…


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