Monday, November 28, 2011

Spent today in school. Observing third grade this fall -- ten different classes, two different schools -- is bringing back so many memories of my own experiences in that grade 42 years ago. The teacher described here in my Seven Teachers anecdote as "Maybe He Thought Third Graders Liked Gross Stuff" almost sums it up. The other half of the day I had a wonderful teacher, and (in what may be a commentary on what is remembered -- the bad more than the good) not a lot of specific memories.

I do have two. First, the teacher cut her hand badly preparing Thanksgiving dinner, had to have surgery to repair the damage to her ligament, and was out of school for (what seemed to an 8 year old to be) a long time. Second, it was during third grade that we learned the times tables. Luckily, it was the wonderful teacher, not the lover of disgusting lesson plans who taught math. But I remember we had to memorize each number sequentially, and then pass a series of progressively faster timed tests.

At the end of each - 9 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes, as I recall -- we got certificates with gold seals and ribbons. This exercise was a great source of anxiety (and in many cases failure) for a large number of fellow students, although also luckily, not for me. I know the method gets a lot of criticism and has been abandoned in more places than not, but today I am thrilled to have that invaluable information cemented in my brain.

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