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Category Archives: Humour

Riding Lesson

I learned two things
from an early riding teacher.
He held a nervous filly
in one hand and gestured
with the other, saying “Listen.
Keep one leg on one side,
the other leg on the other side,
and your mind in the middle.”

He turned and mounted.
She took two steps, then left
the ground, I thought for good.
But she came down hard, humped
her back, swallowed her neck,
and threw her rider as you’d
throw a rock. He rose, brushed
his pants and caught his breath,
and said, “See that’s the way
to do it. When you see
they’re gonna throw you, get off.”

I came across a new poem today and the message reminded me of being in the classroom. Yesterday, I read an article about things students remember teachers for and they are relational i.e. humour, kindness, compassion, a good listener, etc.

Kathy comments I was a good junior high teacher, because I am an overgrown adolescent. In that way, I retained a sense of humour about the learning I did with kids. When I messed up, similar to the last lines of this Henry Taylor poem, I would often say, “I planned it that way.” Over time, the students would respond in kind.

We learn because we get up, dust ourselves off, and get back to living our lives. In French, the word for experiment is expérience and life is that. Life is unpredictable with its twists, turns, and we will be bucked off metaphorically and it is richer when experienced fully. Humour and forgiving ourselves when we fall off are important. Kindness begins at home with us and extends outwards.

Elegy in the Classroom

Anne Sexton wrote this wonderfully provocative poem. I am unsure of her context for the poem, but an elegy is a lament or a mourning for something past. As with anything, when we grow past the love and passion for what we do and the compassion for the people we do it with it is time to take our leave. I want to be remembered as ‘gracefully insane’ or eccentric. I love learning with my students and their families the second greatest reward I can receive. The first is learning with my family. I think, in both cases, I could be called somewhat ‘disarranged’.

Teaching is a place of great creative for me and fills a whole in the hole of my soul.

Oh my, Anne Sexton discovered and chose great words for teachers.

In the thin classroom, where your face
was noble and your words were all things,
I find this boily creature in your place;

find you disarranged, squatting on the window sill,
irrefutably placed up there,
like a hunk of some big frog
watching us through the V
of your woolen legs.

Even so, I must admire your skill.
You are so gracefully insane.
We fidget in our plain chairs
and pretend to catalogue
our facts for your burly sorcery

or ignore your fat blind eyes
or the prince you ate yesterday
who was wise, wise, wise.

Dirty Face

I was professionally developed today. I am tired and struggled to find a poem that I wanted to write or post. I perused my library and found this Shel Silverstein poem. I wonder if I had shown up with a dirty face if I could have answered with such wonderful words? And, when I got to the last line, would someone scold me? Oh, do I need to find out? Is it just that teachers just want to have fun?

Where did you get such a dirty face,
My darling dirty-faced child?
I got it from crawling along in the dirt
And biting two buttons off Jeremy’s shirt.
I got it from chewing the roots of a rose
And digging for clams in the yard with my nose.
I got it from peeking into a dark cave
And painting myself like a Navajo brave.
I got it from playing with coal in the bin
And signing my name in cement with my chin.
I got if from rolling around on the rug
And giving the horrible dog a big hug.
I got it from finding a lost silver mine
And eating sweet blackberries right off the vine.
I got it from ice cream and wrestling and tears
And from having more fun than you’ve had in years.

The Old Man and the Sea – The Limerick

We wrote limericks again today. Some students finished the ones they had begun and others were absent. One student from the latter group wanted to know what could go with something about the sea. I threw this out, but she wasn’t interested. I think it is the abridged story of the Old Man and the Sea.

There was an old man who lived on the sea.

He loved an occasional cuppa tea.

Unfortunately, he the water was from the brine.

He joyfully turned to wine.

That drunken old man who lived on the sea.

Limericks

I started on the academic work last night. I was productive as I tracked down some books that I have in my library and added to the library with a book order.

Yesterday, we began our poetry unit at school. I enjoy it and I think, for the most part, the students do as well. They grumble a bit, but, when they start writing they are laughing. We wrote limericks. I wander around the room, talk my way through limericks, and write one or two down on the board. It is mostly off the top of my head and they are fairly rough, but the students get a charge out of it and realize not to take it too seriously. I wrote these two on the board and decided to share.

There once was a boy named Earl

He wanted so desperately to be a squirrel.

Allergic to nuts, his dream were dashed.

Distressed he wailed and his teeth he gnashed

That young fellow named Earl.

There once was a boy who loved basketball

Three-pointers were his downfall.

He went to shooting school

There he did rule

Today, he has fame and is in the Hall.

Blessings

The retreat was a welcome retreat. It was a time to be quiet and still find one’s voice. A theme which resonated throughout the weekend was a sense of being spiritually lost and what we should do when that happens. Part way through, I recalled an outdoor education class I took during my undergrad days. An expert outdoors man, Mors Kochanski, spoke to us about being physically lost and he gave us the same advice as I walked away with this past weekend. When you are lost, find a place to sit down and be quiet. Sometimes I know what I need to know and I only need to sit down and be quiet. The wisdom is there.

Ronald Wallace wrote this poem and it reminded me of blessings I take for granted and help me to find my way in life when I stop and am quiet. I can do all those things. I only have to stop and be quiet.


Occur.
Some days I find myself
putting my foot in
the same stream twice;
leading a horse to water
and making him drink.
I have a clue.
I can see the forest
for the trees.
All around me people
are making silk purses
out of sow’s ears,
getting blood from turnips,
building Rome in a day.
There’s a business
Like show business.
There’s something new
under the sun.
Some days misery
no longer loves company;
it puts itself out of its.
There’s rest for the weary.
There’s turning back.
There are guarantees.
I can be serious.
I can mean that.
You can quite
put your finger on it.

A Note

Well, I made it to the finish line this week and had a good day today. I ran out of steam after lunch, but afternoons have been kind this week. We are writing Fractured Fairy Tales and students get into this activity. I find opportunities to work 1-on-1 with students who need a little extra help. It is a great unit plan and can be modified for different ages.

Wislawa Szymborska wrote this poem. It fits with recent reflections about the extraordinary nature of ordinary life. My father-in-law, Bill, used to ask, “Who has more fun than people? More people do, of course!” I recalled his quirky, wise sayings as I read this poem. It is simple things, often overlooked, that give life its fullest meaning.

Life is the only way
to get covered in leaves,
catch your breath on sand,
rise on wings;

to be a dog,
or stroke its warm fur;

to tell pain
from everything it’s not;

to squeeze inside events,
dawdle in views,
to seek the least of all possible mistakes;

An extraordinary chance
to remember for a moment
a conversation held with the lamp switched off;

and if only once
to stumble on a stone,
end up soaked in one downpour or another,

mislay your keys in the grass;
and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes;

and to keep on not knowing
something important.

 

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