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They are Finally Letting Me In

So, it looks like, in the middle of my Summer of Purging, I might end up going to Harvard.  I know.  You are thinking, “But, Mrs. Cap’n Firepants, haven’t you already been to Harvard for 4 years?  It’s quite apparent from your erudite vocabulary that you attended an Ivy League school.”

Which leads me to my true topic for the day, which is, “Why do people think that I know things that I don’t?”

I am going to Harvard for a week-long conference on a topic that I never heard of, substituting for someone else who registered and cannot go.  She kindly recommended me to take her place, and I am really excited.  Because the Car Talk Guys, Tom and Ray, are in Cambridge.  And they are retiring in October.  So, this is my last chance to be in their “fair city” while they are still broadcasting.  Although it’s not like I’m going to visit them or anything.  Probably.  I mean, I’m not planning to stalk them.  Not in any kind of illegal sense anyway.

For some reason, this person who cannot go thought of me and Harvard in the same sentence.  And that cracks me up.  But it doesn’t really surprise me.  I exude an air of Harvardness, I guess.  It’s been my curse for years.

People are always asking me questions to which I can’t possibly know the answer, and then they seem completely shocked when I say, “I don’t know.”

For example, we passed a work crew on a busy street the other day, and my car passenger said, “Are they putting in a new telephone pole?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Well, what do you think they were doing?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

And so continues the questioning, with the same answer every time, until the person sullenly admits defeat or the next slightly out of the ordinary scene catches the person’s eye, and I am subjected to a new round.

The reason these questions bother me is because A) the person assumes that I was perceptive enough to observe the same exact thing he or she saw, and I am both completely blind and thoroughly unobservant 2.) the person assumes that I am in charge of city work crew assignments, and III) the person assumes I give a care.

And, for some reason, people seem to think that, if they ask me more and more detailed questions, that I will suddenly have a revelation and be able to answer what I could not answer before because they pried it out of me with their amazing interrogation skills.

This is why I like teaching gifted students.  They are all under the assumption that I know absolutely nothing, and they are pleasantly surprised whenever I reveal a modicum of wisdom.  When I say, “I don’t know” to one of their questions, they just move on instead of trying to pull out my fingernails one by one until I give them the answer.

So, I will be going to Harvard later this summer.  But I’m not going to tell anyone I know because their expectations are already way too high, and I am pretty certain that 5 days on that prestigious campus will qualify me for about as much as my achievements playing Pocket Law Firm on my iPad.

Great quote. Too bad I don’t know what it means.
photo credit: NKCPhoto via photo pin cc


The Teachings of Mrs. Cap’n Firepants


One of my students wrote this on my dry erase board, and it made me feel –  well, dead.  I mean, I don’t know anyone alive who has “teachings”.  The only people I can think of that have teachings are  Buddha, Confucius and Socrates.  And, while that “s” at the end of the word “teaching” appears to give my time spent in the classroom an extra sort of  dignity that I never knew it had, I would like to state, uncategorically, that I am not dead.

Oh wait, I think the Dalai Lama has “teachings”, and he’s not dead.  And Yoda.  Who technically isn’t dead when you think about  it…

Since I do have aspirations to join the Order of the Temple of the Jedi, my “teachings” may be similar to Yoda’s.  But, I like to think I’ve put my own spin on them.

Size matters not a lot:  Every year, my 5th graders watch an A&E video that lists the top 100 people of the last millennium.  Because there are a few artists in the list, I always preface the video by reminding the students that sometimes artists portrayed the human body unclothed, and that I expect the students to handle this maturely when it appears on the screen.  This lecture worked fine when we were watching the video on the tiny t.v. in the corner of my classroom.  When we transitioned from that to a big screen and projector, though, I don’t think anyone was more surprised than me when the full-frontal closeup of the statue of David by Michelangelo made its appearance on our 4′ x6′ screen.  To their credit, the kids did not start snickering and guffawing until I tripped over my own feet racing to find the remote.

Do or do not… there is no try but at least give it a try: O.K.  Yoda was so wrong here.  You have got to try.  If I told my kids what Yoda said, their response would be, “Thanks.  I think I’ll choose ‘Do Not’.”  Maybe that works when you are training Jedi Knights who weren’t raised on Earth, but on this planet trying is pretty much the only thing we can do.

Grave danger you are in. Impatient you are I am:  I probably can’t take credit for this one because it’s some weird phenomenon that works with all kids.  If you start counting really loud after you’ve asked them to do something, they suddenly rush to finish it.  You don’t have to give any kind of consequence or even tell them a final number.  They apparently have been programmed to think the world will blow up if they don’t complete their task.

You must unlearn what you have learned when your teacher accidentally showed you a bigger than life-size David statue on the screen:  I wish I could unlearn that, too.

Control, control, you must learn control where is my remote control?:  Not just a problem when really well-endowed sculptures suddenly appear on the classroom screen, Remote Control Loss happens to me on a daily basis.  Partly because I have so many to keep track of:  projector, document camera, iPod player, etc…  I’m not really sure what my students learned from this, other than the fact that it was easy to convince me they had turned in an assignment, and I just “must have lost it” – most likely in the same place where I set the remote(s).  I’ve decided that, next year, I will just velcro them to my face.  (The remotes, not the assignments, and certainly not the students)

So, there you have it, all of my wisdom in one handy, printable blog post.  If I decide to come up with any more gems, I will make sure you are the first to know.  If I’m not dead, of course.

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