Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tigers All

A book of cartoons and a place to learn understanding. Comic books?

Remember Miss Wormwoood of Calvin and Hobbes? The teach who transported Calvin to outer space as he fought off the monster teacher demanding he read his book report, aka, Miss Wormwood? Book report? What in the world is that?

It is hard to imagine a place where people challenge you to learn as anything but a joy. Yet, it wasn’t always true. As a child, many hate school. And for me, it was a place of hate without doubt. A fearful world that could not be understood.

Miss Wormwood? Try Mrs. Blinkler, Mrs. Staids or Mrs. Zimmerperson (not real names). Educators in a prison-like place of teachers, who not only could not teach or understand, but who did not care to—or so the Calvin in me remembers.

Oh yes, there was Miss Nelson, an angel of a teacher who had me in band and parading on the school grounds. But for the most part, school was for me as this cartoon shows: a world of total miscommunication.

Ironically, one of the most useful books in my library (for I have since found the joy of learning) is a primer I never used. It wasn’t until college I truly began to study and write.

I do remember writing a rendition of sorts, a short story of mistaken understanding in high school where a man dying on a desert actually turned out to be a turtle. My turtle. Not original, but guilt over something I had done was copied in a skeletal form from a short horror story. On that day, my instructor actually read my story in front of the class.

It was not totally original, but it was mine. And I have seldom been prouder.

A few years ago I came across the text all the "smart" kids used in high school--the English class I never took. Had I taken that class and had written my tale, I would have felt shame. My bad grammar and mistakes would have never been accepted, or so I felt at the time.

Ironically, the story was all but a perfect piece of prose. Not a good student?

Yes, what a bunch of garbage.

For the record, this old text book is as easy to understand as it is to use a computer. If only Mrs. Blinkler, et al., had been from Mars too.

Here’s looking at you. And the gentle teachers teaching all. For all of us who wanted to learn but never could seem to manage, I thank you for trying and having faith in us.


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