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Volume 2 • #11 • July 2003


Last month’s newsletter about music reminded me of a story.

Years ago when I was teaching a bunch of boys in junior high school, I had a big, tough kid that nobody else wanted. He was dyslectic, so when I asked for him the administration was only too glad to turn him over. He was supposed to be learning math as well as reading with me, so I got a bunch of Cuisenaire rods and dumped them on the desk and let him fool around with them for a few minutes while I did something else with the other student.

When I went back to him he had made a beautiful construction with what looked like four towers in the corners and a “building” in the middle. This was a kid right out of the slums, so I wasn’t thinking when I laughed and said, “Wow, that looks just like the Taj Mahal!”

“It IS the Taj Mahow,” he said indignantly. Somewhat startled, I asked him where he had heard about the Taj Mahal, and he said that his mother had it on a calendar at home and it was the most beautiul building in the world.

So the kid was artistic, and a little investigating on my part turned up the information that he had a beautiful singing voice. Well, I figured I knew what to do to tame this one while I got him over his dyslexia and eased his anger at the world. Clearly he needed to take an extra music class, join chorus, and have an art period added to his schedule. While he was excelling in these activities, I would take on his dyslexia so that he wouldn’t be embarrassed by bad reading and spelling.

To my surprise, the administration went along with this plan. His music teacher was also the director of the chorus and a wild woman who brooked no interference with anything she said. The second day of music class, he was standing up when she came in and didn’t sit down when the rest of the kids did.

SIT DOWN” she barked at him.

Big mistake.

When he didn’t, she marched down the aisle to push him down into his seat. But when she got close, he simply moved his desk between them so she couldn’t touch him. Unfortunately it didn’t just slide: it tipped over and fell with a thud on the lady’s instep, breaking it!

So there went music and chorus. He was transferred to an “alternate” school for bad boys, where there was no music, no art, no chorus, and no special reading program. And certainly no pictures of the Taj Mahow.

I have often wondered what became of him and where he is now. Maybe I shouldn’t ask.

Teaching Tip:

I haven’t got an idea in my head. My jumping jack has quit for the year, I am about to head to a beautiful lake in Maine for a week to join my children and grandchildren, and all I can think of is what to stuff in the car.

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Archives (2001 files in .doc format):

May 2003 - Vol. 2, #9 May 2002 - Vol. 1, #9
April 2003 - Vol. 2, #8 March 2002 - Vol. 1, #8
March 2003 - Vol. 2 #7 February 2002 - Vol. 1, #7
January 2003 - Vol. 2, #5 January 2002 - Vol. 1, #6
December 2002 - Vol. 2, #4 December 2001 - Vol. 1, #5
November 2002 - Vol. 2, #3 November 2001 - Vol. 1, #4
October 2002 - Vol. 2, #2 October 2001 - Vol. 1, #3
September 2002 - Vol. 2, #1 September 2001 - Vol. 1, #2
August 2002 - Vol. 1, #11 August 2001 - Vol. 1, #1
July 2002 - Vol. 1, #10  



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