Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Queen Mother Reads Her Subjects' Epistles

As I have explained before, my Queen Mother teaches high-school Spanish to a motley crew at a Southern California Catholic institution with a reputatation for being a jock school. Many things that should not be tolerated are brushed aside for the sake of protecting the football/basketball/whatever team, or these days, the flow of tuition money. No body, no booty.

However, I can't honestly point the finger at one school or one class. The duel of wills encompasses every teacher in every classroom to some degree. One of Nature's Indisputable Facts reveals for every student commmitted to learning, at least one other is committed to simply occupying mass.

Nowhere was that more obvious than when Mom taught an high-school English class in Kansas City. She required the students to keep a writing journal, and a few of those entries are "freewrites." The rules are simple: write for one minute on any topic that's on your mind. It doesn't have to make sense. Just write.

I used to sneak a look at some of those journals when Mom brought them home to grade. I saw evidence of frustration...

Look at her, her hand is moving! What is she writing about?


I forgot my homework for next hour. Oh well, I'll just borrow (so-and-so's) paper and copy it.

Guns 'N' Roses...

Where do we go now? Where do we go now? Sweet child 'o mine.

...and the usual complaints about how boring the class was and how boring my Queen Mother was. She would shake her head, dole out the grades, keep calm and carry on.

One day though, she caught two girls in an unassigned freewrite: a note passed back and forth, the most advanced form of secret classroom communication known before the advent of text messaging. Mom glanced over it and found the boilerplate griping, but her eyes paused at one sentence: "Wouldn't a toke feel real good right about now?"

"A toke?" I asked in my teenage naiveity.

"You haven't heard of that?" she puzzled. "That's a marijuana cigarette." She told me about that old song by the Kansas City duo Brewer & Shipley, "One Toke Over The Line."

"I may be a square," she said. "But I know what a toke is."

"Did you read it out loud?" I queried.

"No, I showed it to her parents at conference time."

Not surprisingly, they denied their daughter inhaled anything but air.

Her Royal Majesty, fortuantely, has never had to deal with any class-A dope fiends. Cheaters and copycats, always, but she is blessed to enjoy enough appreciative students to make the job worthwhile, or at least get her through to the day where she will repair to the Crown's Estate and finish out her years without having to grade another notebook.

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