How I Used to Have a Great Time Confusing My Teachers
Class and teachers from circa 1900-1920
This is a grade-school class (circa) 1900 - 1920
You do not need a program to tell you that this photo of sweet children who are obviously students of some school somewhere in America because of how straight they are standing. And their perfect posture is due to the strict-discipline taught by these serious-minded teachers.
Do you know how I recognized that the teachers were serious-minded right off? By their hairdo's. A sure give-away. And although I will never meet these teachers and students, I can tell you that these teachers had little or no trouble with these students.
Wardens of our federal prison system (back then) could have learned a thing or two from these teachers.
Beverly Hills High School, 1936
Stereotypical art of a grade school teacher
Can you see where I am going with this?
I had one good time researching the photos for this story. And I feel great now because most of the photos were way before I was born.
But I can relate to the students in the early grade-school's of America by way of having to adhere to strict discipline, and I am not in any way, diminishing the discipline that was handed-out by teachers of this timeframe, because discipline was, and still is, important.
A caring teacher was always appreciated
But many times a teacher
will get caught-up in her own power and before she knows it, she has administered too much discipline to her class and therefore stifling what spirit and creative-energy that the class has to offer by a teacher who deals in moderate-doses of discipline.
I had teachers from 1964 through 1972 that were honestly, a mixture of both moderate discipline and some teachers who didn't trust me as far as they could throw me. This was an awful day to wake-up to. No wonder that I was a nervous wreck in those days, but there was no one to talk to about this. My parents worked so hard to put me through school that they didn't have any room for any more burdens, especially by those burdens that young people carry and old people never see them.
This class has this teacher's full-attention
If I had been taught by teachers who looked this good, I might have made better grades
Most of my teachers
were near-retirement age and should have retired before my class entered their teachings. Some of our teachers were very short-tempered and to match that trait that made us all on-edge, they were short-spoken to complete the package.
Looking back, the teachers I am referring to should have just "called it a day," and drew their pensions instead of taking out their resentment on us and we may never know why they resented my class and I.
I will give you one example. When a teacher is considered so mean that she is nick-named, "The Dragon Lady," behind her back, she needs to go home.
This teacher loves her job. You can tell by her demeanor
Modern-day teacher 2014
Typical teacher in 1958
Quiz: Can you tell me the name of this student?
This teacher would get no trouble from me
You can spot a gentle-spirited teacher a mile away
The All-American class
Someone had to do something
about these hard-nosed teachers, and that someone was "me." Not that I am one to "toot my own horn," but I figured a little distraction or two just might cause these elderly teachers who had forgotten to smile to think more of "my" diversions, than trying to pounce on my friends and I who were just being ourselves--young people who hadn't reached the maturity level of adults.
So here are a few of the things that I did and I lovingly-call it . . .
"How I Used to Have a Great Time Confusing My Teachers"
- The Pencil Poke - imagine how nerve-racking the sound of a faucet dripping through the night making sleep impossible. Now imagine the sound of one pencil gently rapping on the side of a wooden desk and when the teacher would look alarmed, it would stop. This was my favorite "tool" to save my classmates from the wrath of our over-zealous teachers.
- Clearing Throats - one student in the front of the class and one in the back of the room taking turns clearing their throats but not at the same time. I have witnesses one of our teachers so irritated that she would try to glue her eyes on my buddy and I who were clearing our throats, but we would never look up from our work.
- Humming a Tune - in a low tone can drive even the most-disciplined teacher to drink. I hope not. That's what I did when we had been given an assignment to finish while in class. The tunes varied from "America," to "Jesus Loves Me." I never confessed to doing these things, but I always suspected that my humming was appreciated.
- Scuffling Feet Boogie - when you are a poor person, you do not have the best shoes to wear. That was me. So sometimes the sole of one of my shoes would tear loose and it would make this slapping sound if I pulled it back far enough, so when the teacher had her back to us while she wrote on the board, "Mr. Shoe," would do his thing. Some of my friends knew it was me, but they were having such a great time, they didn't think of "ratting me out."
- The Diverted Reaction - was another favorite thing to do to pass the time in class. I could tell when it was time to do something off-the-cuff, for our teacher, (a) Mrs. Handley, would almost split her lips from tightening them up for having to explain things twice. So when she would ask us, "Do you have any questions?" I would look at the work in my book and literally create a problem for her to explain. And since it was the beginning of the so-called "New" Math, she wasn't that up on it yet, so I had her at a direct-disadvantage and we loved to hear her stammer and mumble.
- Sign My Paper - I wonder why my teachers never paddled me for this one. All I did was do a few math problems and take it up to my teacher and ask her to sign it for my parents to see. What was funny was these math problems were not even in our lesson plans.
- Tell Us a Story - And when things got really boring, we would have someone to do some research our teacher's background, then pick-out a certain thing that she might love to talk about then ask her to tell us about that time in her life.
- If it Smells Like a Duck - this one took guts to do. All it involved was someone bold enough to bring a rotting egg to class and then for a handful of co-conspirators to get her attention while the student with the rotting egg to put it in the trash can that sit at the front of the class and when the heat came on in the winter time, what a smell it gave off. Sometimes the teacher would try to question us to see whom brought this disgusting item to class.
- Steam Goes Wild - this trick was not recommended for the feint of heart. All you needed was a seventy-five cent water pistol-small enough to fit into your hand. And at recess, you hit the boys' rest room, fill the water pistol, and when class resumed, shoot the steam pipes that ran along the edge of the classroom ceiling--sending puffs of white steam into the air. What fun.
- Gazing Into Eternity--what was also fun to do was sit and gaze without moving, out the window and sure enough, when the teacher's curiosity got the best of her, she would ask, "What are you gazing at?" I would reply, "Oh, ma'am, you didn't see that deer running across the grounds? Look! There it goes again." That was worth about twenty-minutes of good distraction.